Playing With Color

Randomizing Colors

Sept, 2020

Almost every new hand spinner has a stash of lumpy, bumpy, super random yarn. I know I'm not the only one who has thought about turning that stash into a blanket. Since there is (usually) such a range of colors, the question arises about how to disperse the stripes.

Using the power of Fiberworks, I simulated the effect of randomizing the color of the warp, weft, and color order. I used bright rainbow colors for my samples, but the same principles apply to most full spectrum color palettes.

Randomized Warp, Weft, & Color Order

This looks like static to me. Personally, I would steer away from this design, but it can look nice enough with a limited palette.

Randomized Warp, & Color Order

I kind of like this one. The larger sections of color in the weft would make it easier to weave and also tie the work together so that you can start to see the design

Randomized Color Order

This is also nice ... I would be tempted to use lighter colors for the warp and darker colors for the weft (or the reverse), but that would no longer be random.

Randomized Warp & Weft

Just by creating a color order (although still chaotic), the static effect looks awesome! However, I wouldn't really want to keep track of the weft order.

Randomized Warp

This retains some of the chaotic look of the previous design, but makes changing color while weaving a little easier.

Not Randomized

This design is pleasing but, if I'm being honest, a bit boring.

All of these designs can be modified by changing certain aspects. What would they look like with a solid weft? What if you used a limited palette? How does the weave structure change how it looks? What about using novelty, variegated, or painted yarns?

The warp to the right was my first attempt at a random-yarn warp, inspired by Barefoot Weaver, Cait Throop. I started with a large pile of fancy yarn bits and stash ends and decided on a color scheme from there. I created a semi-gradient between gold/orange on one end, through red/fuchsia/purple in the middle, and on to blue/teal on the other end. I used a black cotton yarn for the weft so that the colors and textures of the warp would stand out.

Color Pooling

Variegated yarns generally don't create a pattern when woven because the color repeats are short and they don't line up in any particular way. I personally don't like the effect of variegated yarn unless the colors are close in value and/or hue (see the weaving to the left).

Planning a Scarf with a Warp Gradient

Aug, 2019

This was my first experiment with color pooling. I started with a single skein of green and brown wool by Knit One, Crochet Two. The color repeated every 1.5 yards, so the scarf ended up with a 3 yard warp - a bit longer than I would normally use, but I'm tall, so it's still doable.

I wound the warp so that the color repeats lined up ... more or less.  Since it was a stretchy knitting yarn, it was fairly easy to fudge the tension in order to make sure the colors kept in line. 

Once I wound all of my yarn into a warp, I counted my ends and looked around for a draft that felt right. I settled on the German Bird's Eye from Davidson's green book (pg 20). I wanted something that evoked foliage without being too busy or distracting.

Fiberworks is cool, but doesn't have a way to design painted/pooled warps. To give me some idea of how it would look, I made due with a horizontally gradiated warp. I could have put the gradient in the weft yarn but this wouldn't work out with a structure that wasn't a nice even twill.

Surprisingly (or not), the hardest part of planning was finding the perfect weft yarn. The warp yarn was soft and very light and airy, so I wanted something that would match and also be a good color to contrast with both the green and the brown in the warp. My first pick was a very dark green, but I was unable to find any yarns in that color with all of the other attributes I wanted. I tried out different browns including some of my handspun romney, Louet Gem sport weight, and some kind of alpaca. I also tried some acid green, but it looked awful once in place! I had given up finding the right yarn and decided to use the Louet Gems which was too thick and too light in color. After I wove about 3 inches, I discovered a small skein of a very dark llama/wool blend. It was a *little* scratchy, but it was very light, the right thickness, and a great color. I unwove the Gems immediately and am super happy with what I ended up with.

Fancy Pearl-Cotton Shawl

Aug, 2020

A year later and I'm at it again. This time I have 6 skeins of space dyed cotton (or maybe rayon? I haven't tested it). I am winding a five-ish yard warp for a pair of shawls.

I am getting about 80 ends per skein, so if I set it at 24epi, I'll get about 20 inches out of them. I might need to set the yarn closer, in which case I may add some darker stripes into the warp. I can't really work on the design until I have the full count of ends available and decide on the proper sett.

May, 2023

So, it took me three years after winding that warp to get around to weaving it. I went with a 12 shaft point twill based on "The Endless Knot," #41 in the Thomas Jackson, Weaver monograph. Both shawls turned out nice, plus I used a bit for some echo experiments that will need to be repeated before I can chat about them here.

Color & Weave

Color & Weave lets you get MORE design from less structure. The effect is created by alternating between two (or more) colors in warp and weft. This technique can be combined with any weave structure, but it is most common with plain weave or twill.

Color & Weave Hand Towels

Aug, 2019

I'm working on a set of hand towels as a gift for my mother. She requested "blue" and I decided to use some blue 'estate' cotton I had sitting around. I had two cones, one a medium blue, the other light - the perfect opportunity to try out color and weave!

Color and weave usually involves two yarn colors and tricky swapping in order to get the illusion of a woven pattern where there isn't really one. Log Cabin is a really classic example of this. I didn't want to use plain weave because I want the towels to have a nicer hand, so I started with a twill and then played around until I found some interesting patterns. I decided to just stick with ABAB for my color sequence rather than mess around with anything too complicated. The treadling is just a repeat of 11, so not too difficult (these are going on the table loom >.< ) Here's the (first) final design:

It was actually originally wider, but I realized I was running out of yarn, and there is no way for me to get more of exactly this kind! So, narrower towels it is! (As it is, I'm not going to have enough weft to make all the towels I wound warp for ... another lesson in planning ahead for how much yarn you have).

These are pretty cool but I found that I was procrastinating working on them (the original design was from February, and I still have the warp sitting on my shelf). This last weekend I finally purchased a license for Fiberworks PCW so I can save my drafts. I opened up this old towel draft and started playing around. I had tried adding other colors when I originally designed the towels, but never found anything I liked. This time I added a pink warp stripe right in the middle and liked what I saw, so I added a larger stripe to the side and the effect was immediate. The design is so much better now with some color interest and asymmetry:

I wound a bit more of each warp color and threw them into some dye. By over-dyeing the main colors, it was more likely that the colors would coordinate well. Next up is hauling the table loom out and warping it up.