I did my first few samples of blending variegated fiber (Maya from Cjkoho designs) and a taupe-y natural colored fiber. They are my standard three variations, the ones I do first. I make them a lot, teach them in my color classes, and I never ever get tired looking the the results. And having all of the samples in the same colors and all together to compare is even better.
My first sample is a single of variegated and a single of variegated plied together. It's the classic candy cane, barber pole or marl. When the colors are high contrast I don't like how it looks, but marled yarns where the contrast isn't so extreme are growing on me. In these samples the natural color and dyed colors are mostly evenly distributed in the yarn. In the swatch the taupe looks flecked on the colors.
The second sample is variegated fiber and natural drafted together in a singles, a combination draft or single marl. I like the blendy-ness and uneven distribution of color in the yarn and the swatch in combination drafted yarns.
The third is the variegated and natural drafted together and then plied, in this case into a 2-ply, double marl or combination draft 2-ply. This one is always my favorite. I like the smaller spots of color and the extra random distribution of color and natural. I like how the natural look more integrated into the colors.
If you are in the mood to knit with marled yarn, but don't want to spin one, Jill Draper makes a gorgeous tonal three-ply yarn called Rockwell.
In my next round of samples I'll add plies and play with adding the neutral fiber between colors in a single before plying.
What are you experimenting with?