I remembered reading a friend's blog post about creating a gradient from a braid utilizing handcarders. She includes some great links, including this one, which was my tutor for making good use of some handcarders I have on an indefinite loan from a dear friend.
I jumped to it.
When I unbraided the fiber, I noticed that the color sections were short and didn't seem to follow any pattern. I tried unsuccessfully to find a color repeat.
Next, I began fluffing out the fiber by teasing its thickness out, then pulling tufts off the end and separating them into piles according to color. I chose to follow the color progression in the fiber, which placed turquoise at one end of the spectrum and dark blue at the other. As you can see, the staple length of the fibers meant that it was difficult at times to get a pure color.
Next, I spent probably the next forty minutes carding everything into lovely rolags. The first couple were awkward, but I rewatched the video and became a bit more confident. It was exciting to see the colors blending as I carded them.
Speaking of color blending, I think it's fair to use this as a learning point. You may notice that the photo in my blog's header shows some rolags that have some very distinct colors. Why are they different?
The answer lies in how they are created. The rolags pictured here have been dubbed "pseudorolags," since they are not carded at all. To create them, I pulled very small tufts of fluff from the ends different color sections of a dyed braid, then layered them on the table and rolled them up using a couple chopsticks. By contrast, the process of carding blends the fibers as I 'brush' everything together.
I'm rather excited to see how it turns out! I am thinking it would be nice to wheel-spin a fingering/sport-weight gradient that I could knit up as a lace shawlette. If I felt more confident with my rolags, I'd use my tried-and true spindle chain-ply to keep the colors separate; as it is, I think I will use the wheel and leave it as a single ply yarn.