Posted on 2 Comments

Design for Weavers: Colour Theory & Practice

Colour is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.

Claude Monet

Colour is the child of light, the source of all light on earth.

From “Colors: The Story of Dyes and Pigments”

My weaving colour choices are an emotional response, a response to some stimulus that has moved me—a flower, a painting, a picture in a magazine. I see something that I love, and then I interpret it in coloured yarns.

Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong; sometimes it looks stunning, sometimes—less stunning. But the great thing is, there’s always more yarn and there’s always another opportunity to try again and make it better.

Talking Colour

Colour is a big subject, and it has a vocabulary all its own. In designing, I work most with three aspects of colour:

  • Hue
  • Value
  • Saturation

Hue

Hue is easy. It’s what we naturally think of when we think of “what colour” something is: red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple.

Another way to think of hue is where the colour sits on the colour wheel:

Value

If you were a painter, you could easily achieve a wide range of colours simply by adding black, white, or grey to your hue. This changes the lightness and darkness of a colour. This changes its value, which is the lightness or darkness of a colour.

If you add white to a colour, you have a tint:

If you add black to a colour, you have a shade:

If you add grey to a colour, you have a tone:

Saturation

A hue at its purest and clearest, as it would appear in the colour wheel, is said to be at its maximum saturation.

As you add grey to a hue, the hue becomes more desaturated—making it less clear and more muted. In the picture below, the outermost ring is the pure hue at its most saturated. As you move in to the centre of the circle, the colour becomes increasingly desaturated.

Using Colour

Weavers can’t mix on a palette like painters do, so it is important to play with combinations that might strike you as unlikely, because you’ll be amazed how some of them work in the cloth.

You will see in the sample work on the online guild that varying colours that have high and low saturation can give you the most amazing, complex colour in your finished piece.—Sort of like having a party with your quiet family, and then the loud crazy cousins come in and it becomes a hootenanny. ☺

I have some favourite moves I like to make when using colour, and I’ll share them with you here.

Gradations

I love gradation work.  This is where you can put all the tints and shades of one colour that you might have in your stash. A gradation builds movement across your weaving from light to dark.

If you then add an overgrid on your gradation, it makes an entirely new graphic:

You can shift through analogous colours, or in and out of one set of colours—for example, dark on the selvedge to light in the middle, or vice versa.

Analogous Colour Harmonies

I use analogous colour harmonies more than anything else in my weaving. They are the colours right next door to each other on the colour wheel.

Analogous colours flow into one another. Gaia uses them all the time: just start looking at flowers!

Some colour systems include four colours from the wheel in a row, others three. Personally, I think you can use as many as you want to create your own personal rainbow. If you are working directionally around the colour wheel you can never go wrong.

Analogous colour harmonies are the perfect place to start if you are unsure about using colour. Then you can add gradations of light and dark.

Complementary Colours

Colours that are right across the colour wheel from each other are called complementary colours, or complements.

Complements for Zingers and Accents

Complements make great zingers and accents.

When deciding how you want your complementary colours to interact, keep in mind that colour plus its complement (in theory, anyway) gives you a muddied look. For example, if you use one colour for your warp and its complement for your weft, the resulting piece can be very muted, possibly more than you expect.

If you want that big contrast, keep blocks of complementary colours larger in both the warp and the weft, so that the eye does not blend them into gray.

Our plaid sample is a great example of this. We have big red squares and big green squares. Where they weave on each other, they look muddy. But because our eye is drawn to the solid square of each colour, we don’t even notice the muddy areas.

Split Complements for Pairing

For a split complement, we first identify the true complement of a colour. Then we select the colours on either side of it to pair with the original colour. For example, the true complement of green is red.

To find the split complement, we look at the colours on either side of red.

If you are looking at one colour family and want to find some nice pairings, split complements always work. They make great zingers, too. Start looking for split complements in nature and you’ll start seeing them everywhere.

Many of the samples in the previous 2 posts use these principles.  Go back and have a look here and here.

So happy to share my approach to colour with you. To explore colour further, I invite you to join the JST Online Guild; our 2018 season focuses on Colour & Design, and you’ll receive immediate access to all published videos when you sign up! Click here to learn more (you’ll also receive our free PDF guide, Project Planning 1010).  Happy Weaving!

Like this post? Pin it!

Posted on 7 Comments

Design for Weavers: Fibonacci & Division of Space

Division of Space In my colour and design workshops, we always look to the world around to gain our initial source of inspiration. Photographs, gardening, travel, and fashion magazines can provide you with images that make your heart sing. I have a huge stash of magazines for students to thumb through, and once they find the right one we get started on the second step of the design process.

It starts with division of space.

The weaver has a canvas in my mind—perhaps a tea towel, blanket, or a scarf. They have already decided what yarns they want to use, what the EPI/PPI is, and the overall size of the canvas. Then they divide up the space on paper.

You can divide a canvas anyway you want, but I usually start with a division of two and build from there. I draw vertical lines first that represent the warp and then I play with horizontal division of space which represents the weft. You can add a frame, you can imagine a darker line or zinger. It’s playtime!

Sketching should be fun, fast, quick. Leave your rulers in the drawer; this isn’t about straight lines.

Our guiding light for division of space is the Fibonacci numeric sequence. Basically, it works like this: Start by counting 1, 2.

1, 2

Now add those together. The sum is your next number: 3.

1, 2, 3

Now just keep going: add the last two numbers in the sequence to get the next number.

1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21

…until you want to stop. —Sounds a bit contrived, but this sequence underlies some of the most stunning designs in nature—including your own DNA, the spiral formed by the hairs on your head, the leaves of a lettuce, the seeds of a sunflower, and the shell of the nautilus snail.

Now that’s magic in design. And we can leverage that magic to help us make decisions in weaving.

There are so many ways to use this numerical series. My first decision is the big division of space. I can divide the canvas in 2, 3, 5, or whatever number I want.

I use it to help me create striping sequences, like in the example below.

  • 1 end of yellow
  • 2 ends of orange
  • 3 ends of red
  • 2 ends of orange
  • 1 end of yellow

I use it when I’m working with block structures and it helps me create with unit weaves, like in the example below.

  • 2 units of A
  • 5 units of B
  • 8 units of A
  • 5 units of B
  • 2 units of A

I use it when I trying to figure out how many inches…..hmmmm,

  • 1” of green
  • 3” of blue
  • 2” of purple
  • 3” of blue
  • 1” of green

The numbers don’t have to be used in sequence. Use them however you want.

I never let it lock me in a corner. Say I have a perfect gradation of 7 reds…..and they all move beautifully into each other, I don’t worry that is isn’t a 5 or an 8. I just put them all together.

But if I can’t decide how wide a border should be, then I trust that it will be either 2”, or 3”, or 5” depending on the width of the entire piece. It gives me peace of mind when I need to make decisions and I don’t get analysis paralysis.

After the initial division of space I think about other words…

  • Framing
  • Zingers
  • Stripes
  • Plaid
  • Checks

I can add any of these things to the big division of space. It is a development.

Look at the photos below and see all the different ways the Fibonacci Numerical series has been used.

Plain Weave: Division of Space in 2 with a black zinger. Weft stripes are 3’s with a little zinger between them.
Plain Weave: Stripes are 2,3,5,3,2. Division of Space in 2 with a border and stripes. Weft colours are 3’s and 1’s in the colour changes.
Log Cabin: 5 Blocks of Log Cabin, 3 grey stripes.
Repp Weave:Asymmetrical Division in 3: Solid Left, Centre developed into 3, Right hand 3 blocks.
Repp Weave: Asymmetrical Division 5: Log Cabin Blocks of 3 and 1, Zingers of 2 and 1.

We go into this in great detail in the JST Online Guild – click here to learn more & download your free Project Planning 101 PDF.

Hope you enjoy Fibonacci. If you liked this post, be sure to save it to Pinterest for future reference!

Posted on 2 Comments

Colour & Weave Inspiration : Plain Weave and Twill

Colour and Weave Inspiration

During the past few weeks some great cloth has walked through our doors and I just have to share it with you. All of these pieces are based on Colour and Weave Technique…. basically working with dark and light colour combinations in simple cloth. In my workshop Colour and Design we do a Colour and Weave Gamp…. Dark/Light over and over, Dark/Dark/Light/Light over and over, Dark/Dark/Light over and over. There are 7 different combinations of Dark and Light. That is what Colour and Weave is all about. As striped fabrics with all the colour in the warp and just one simple weft you get amazing striping sequences but the real magic begins when you weave with dark and light in the weft. In our camp we basically follow the striping sequence in the warp to get the weft sequence. Charlotte had a opportunity to weave a very special gift and we wove the gamp exactly how it is in class but without the dividers. She choose JST’s 2/20 Tussah Silk in Double Chocolate and Glacier sett at 20 epi and woven at 20 ppi. to create this amazing scarf.  The hand and drape of this cloth are evident in the photos below.

Tea Towels

 

I am the lucky recipient of yet another tea towel…. that must make around 500…. but who’s counting and no one can ever have enough tea towels. Not when they are as beautiful as the ones I have….. I don’t mean to brag…. just sayin!

This towel was designed by Sharon Broadley after she saw a flock of White Sussex Chickens at Salt Spring Cheese during one of our workshops. Inspiration lurks everywhere on Salt Spring Island. This towel just makes you smile. Sharon’s borders are Dark/Dark/Light/Light in the warp & Dark/Dark/Light in the weft with a couple of red zingers all on a bed of beautiful white cotton. Plain Weave kids…. just perfectly wonderful plain weave. JST’s 2/8 cotton sett at 18 epi and woven at 18 ppi. Take a look at that corner, looks like little chicken foot prints :^)

The Benefits of Sampling

Sampling is one of the best things a weaver can do. In the end you gain knowledge that you can use again and again. You save money by spending to a bit to learn and practice on and in the end you are generally very happy you did it. There are many different reasons to sample but the most important in my mind is getting your sett correct. Nicole Onetto is a new weaver who has taken sampling to heart. She sees the benefit of sampling in her end products.

Recently she has been weaving blankets…. first just Harrisville Shetland and then Harrisville Shetland Warp and Mohair Weft and now she has sampled to get the best fabric possible using Shetland and Alpaca. Nicole’s goal was to create a very special blanket for her son and she has done it.  Her journey took her through many samples, testing for sett and ‘colour and weave’ ideas on Twill. What happens when you take all those wonderful dark/light sequences you’ve played with in plain weave and overlay a 2/2 twill on top. The results are stunning.

We have draped Nicole’s beautiful blanket on Mary our lovely mannequin. You can see how this fabric would make a stunning coat or poncho.

Nicole’s sampling provided her with the knowledge she needed to make the best use of the yarns she wanted to use. Harrisville Shetland at 12 epi, JST’s Prime Alpaca at 12 ppi. 2/2 twill weave structure.

I want to thank all my wonderful students for sharing their fabulous work. Bang On, Far Out, High Five, Gold Star to my wee Charlotte, Sharon and Nicole. You kids make teaching a joy!

Posted on Leave a comment

Fall is a Festival of Colour

 

Well, the Equinox has come and gone. The days are getting shorter and colder and the studio driveway is strewn with the burnt orange of fallen leaves. We are surrounded by the yellows, reds, greens and browns of the changing season.

So much material for inspiration!

One of our dear friends, Rita John sent us this beautiful photo of seaweed that had washed up after a storm. It was amazing because I had just been putting together a similar colour combo.

 

Our Honing Your Basic Weaving Skills class was a lovely day of warping, bobbin winding, shuttle throwing, selvedge control, beating and tie-up. Oh, and delicious food too. We had home made onion soup and fresh vegetable sandwiches compliments of Jane’s garden. Yum! It makes me excited for the two Lacey Places workshops that we have planned in November.

 

Our October Newsletter will be coming out shortly – look for new patterns and the 2011 class schedule!