[The doctor quest has begun and I've been sitting here fuming over an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon last Thursday. I'll blog it when I can do more than spew profanity. Y'know how if all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail? NEVER GO TO A SURGEON IF YOU DON'T WANT CUT OPEN. AAARGH FUCKING HELL A:OEWIG:OEIT]
Because my buddy W wants to know how to spin a copy of a Crazy Zauberball. (Hereafter referred to as a Zooberball, 'cause she got drunk one night and it was fucking hilarious.) Ultimately, what we're talking about, here, is fractal spinning. The term refers more to how colors are managed than any real mechanical method of spinning; you could do this worsted, or woolen, as heavy or as thin as you wanted the yarn. The usual version will give you a two-ply at the end.
Knitty has an article on fractal spinning, here. Why don't you go read that. I'll wait.
What you're doing is, one ply with a long color repeat, and one ply with a short color repeat. You get something like this when it's knit up:
As you can see, there are long, wide stripes, with color variation within them. That's the long color repeat making the wide stripe, and the short color repeat making the variations. You get the same thing with a Zooberball:
There are two ways to do this. The True Fractal, and the Half-Assed Fractal. Discussion below. (I went through my archives, and I have almost no pictures of a fractal in progress. Sorry. It was the Great Phone Catastrophe of 2013. I'll probably do another post with more detail when I spin a fractal next, and can take pictures.)
This is more a math thing than a required fiber technique, but whatever, I know I've got geeks reading. Let's say R=red, B=blue, and Y=yellow for the diagramming. You'd have one ply, of long color repeats, that'd go RRRBBBYYYRRRBBBYYY and another ply of short color repeats, exactly copying the sequence in the long ply, RBYRBYRBYRBYRBY. When you ply them together, you get perfect reflection between the long and short.
To accomplish this, you get your usual multi-colored, dyed top. Split it in half, as best you can, lengthwise. This will give you two super-long snakes of fiber, with exactly the same color repeats. Spin one as-is, that's your long color repeat.
Take the other long snake, this is your second, short repeat ply. Split it lengthwise like you did before, but this time, separate it into as many long snakes as you can. (Or have the patience for.) Then spin them, one after the other, joining ends, for your short color repeat.
Then ply them together. Viola. You will have some of one of the plys left over. Nature of this method. Annoys me too, that's why I developed the...
Which doesn't leave any leftover plys laying around all wasteful. This is my version, with less mathematical perfection and less fuss. I'm sure I'm not the only one doing it, but I don't know anyone else, personally, who uses this method.
Start with your dyed top, like before. Instead of splitting it in half lengthwise, split it in half horizontally. (If it's eight feet long, pull it apart into two four-foot lengths.) Just open it up, fold it in half, and pull it apart. It doesn't have to be rocket science; the whole idea of this is less fuss.
For your long repeat ply, spin the big fat snake of top as is. You'll probably need to pre-draft it out a bit, discussion of my method can be found here for the curious. When you're done with the long ply, ON THE SAME BOBBIN, join in the short color repeats.
For the short repeat ply, pull the top apart lengthwise, making as many smaller snakes as possible. If you get shorter bits pulled off, just spin 'em in. The color repeats are meant to be random, anyway. Join the short repeats onto the ply of long repeats, and just keep spinning on the same bobbin. You want one long ply, half long repeat and half short repeat.
When you're done, wind the singles off into a center-pull ball. The easiest way to do this is to just bust out your ball winder and get to town.
This method takes a bit of practice but, again, is not rocket science. I'll do another post about plying from both ends of a ball, once I can re-take some pictures. But in the meantime, a quick Google turned up this, which isn't bad.
This method will give you a yarn that has the long and short color repeats in it, but not the exact repeats like a true fractal spinning method. I prefer the random, myself.
So there you go.