I sure didn't realize I would have to make so many test swatches, just to find out all the possibilities of plying. There are probably a few more colours I could try out, but this will have to do for now.
After doing the white, I realized I didn't try the opposite end of the scale and use black. I have some nice soft shiny black of unknown fibre content which I've been spinning for about a year, off and on. I don't know what to do with it. But it will work great for a swatch.
So I plied a small sample with more of my colourful singles. This is the ply on the spindle.
Again, you can see the barber pole effect and it shows the eveness (or not) of your plying. The colours do seem to be a bit brighter, don't they?
I then knit up a sample swatch, as always. And this is what I got:
You can quite clearly see that the colours are much brighter when put next to the black. The white seems to weaken all the intensity of the colours, while the black will increase whatever colour there is.
For comparison purposes, here they are side by side.
It's a little hard to believe that these are the very same singles, plied with a white and a black. If I hadn't done them myself, I may not believe it either. I've known that white tends to wash out colours, and have seen that in some examples of knitting, but when it is shown like this in side-by-side swatches, you just can't deny it.
Now, the problem is that I am not sure which would be best to use for plying. I had an idea in my mind when I first started this so very long ago, and with all these samples, that idea has become muddied a bit by the results. I mean, there is nothing that is entirely wrong. Each swatch I've done has some redeeming qualities, and depending on what effect I was trying to achieve, and what item I was knitting, one of them would be the correct thing to do.
Here are the other four samples, with (from left to right): grey, blue, red, itself. I am looking at them now, admiring each of them, and can see that each would be quite perfect for a different kind of item. I can't say No to any of them.
So now I have another dilemma -- what is it that I want to make with this yarn? I think it will have to sit for awhile longer, letting them stew for a bit, and one of them will finally jump out at me and tell me what needs to be done.
In the meantime, I've been working on another bag of delicious combed top in another range of variegated colours. Will I have the same trouble again? Let's hope not.