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How do you choose projects and colors?

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WeaverDave's picture
Joined: 12/13/2010

I'm curious,

For all of the weavers here - how do you select your next projects?  Do you find projects in Handwoven or weaving books?  Do you get kits from on-line yarn shops?  Or, do you create your own drafts and patterns?

I'm also curious to know how you choose colors.  I don't think I'm good enough at this "art".  I see colors that look great on the shelf in the weaving shop.  But, when I start weaving with them, it looks different than I had imagined.  Do you make your own test squares?  Or, are you just really good at picturing the outcome?

I need a new project! 

LauraFry's picture
Joined: 05/25/2009
Hi Dave, Colour in weaving

Hi Dave,

Colour in weaving can be a bit of a challenge.  :)  One way to learn more about using colour is to make a colour gamp.  You can make stripes of colours in the warp, then cross them in the same order in the weft.  As you need small amounts of lots of colours, weavers sometimes buy kits for this purpose.

When working with colour, be aware of the value of the colours you choose to work with - combining a very pale colour with a very dark colour doesn't always work very well - keep the values of the hues similar, or work with monochromatic tones (same colour, different values) or with colours beside each other on the colour wheel.  As you gain confidence you can branch out into using complementary colours.

I design my own textiles and choose my own colours and weave structures.



Lauries's picture
Joined: 12/20/2009

I took me a while to get comforatble with color. I started by using only  white or natural and than two other colors. I plan my own projects. I like to weave towels. Laura idea of a color gramp is a good one. I do look in decorating books to help  me decided on colors.

Karren K. Brito's picture
Joined: 11/13/2009
Yes the color gets diluted

Yes the color gets diluted when you cross one color with another.  The only way to get the same color as you see on the cone is to use the same color as warp and weft but how boring. 

The way I learned about color in weaving was to sample, not usually a separate warp but the begining and end of warps.  When I start a new project I usually set down at the loom to weave a new project I take over 3 wefts; the one I think will work, and two others that are different in hue or value, and at least one neutral.  I hold them in the shed and study them.  If they pass the first test then I wind a bobbin and weave them in ; relax the tension and study the color.  Do I have enough woven to get a real sense of the color?With complex color or varigated yarns it can take 6"-10" before I get a feel for the overall color. Sometimes I cover the other parts (header and warp) with black matte board to isolate the color combination I'm studying. 

Based on what I see I'll try the next weft color or I go to the stash to find a better color.  Value can be more important than hue, but then my personal tastes doesn't usually go to high contrast. 

Sometimes the first one I try is great, other times I've tried a dozen and don't like any.  Usually with 3-6 I find one I like. 

Then what to do with the woven samples. I can leave the samples and start weaving or I can unweave it.  If the warp is precious and weft isn't, I move the center warps out of the way and cut the weft down the middle, then grab the loops at the selvage and pull it out.  

When I come to the end of the project and there is still more warp, I experiment! I try this color in this weave structure and then maybe a different weave structure.  Fun, fun, fun.

I do all my own projects, derived from other drafts, projects.  I have notebook, sketchbooks full of ideas.  The hard part is which ONE to do next.


jemwork's picture
Joined: 06/13/2009
color & pattern

Sometimes I let a project happen out of our annual Guild winter Challenge. One year it was towels, another year 5 card draw, this year make an old pattern new. These are open ended projects, color & pattern mostly up to me.

Drawing out what you want is a good start. Learn how the yarn will interact by making a drawdown. Do a few by hand before thinking about computer software - you want an understanding about what color might do when crossed and woven in a pattern.

Handwoven or weaving books are good places to start. Kits are okay, at least until you have the basics. Handwoven uses currently available yarns, so you would be able to recreate a look. 

I try to use yarns I have, those I dye & am starting to get better at weaving software - enought to get dangerous!


Joined: 06/08/2009

Ages ago, I happened into a LOT of very nice wool yarn - about 800 kgs and some 100+ colours (though some were shades of each other). This had meant I have had plenty opportunities to test even the most un-probable colour combinations and some of them work much better than one could ever guess. I made colour gamps, but also reserved at least half a meter on each warp just to test the unlikely combinations.

Even without such an abundance, it is easy to do the same. It might be just me - but usually there is a little weft left over from each project. Use the leftovers to make small swatches - especially of unlikely combinations.

And, most important: have fun!

Michael White's picture
Joined: 06/26/2009
Color Trends 2011

Here are the colours for Spring 2011: Color trends 2011: 6 you can't miss: http://www.refinery29.com/2011-color-trends-for-spring-2011-1.php

Or try Panatone the industry standard: http://www.pantone.com/downloads/articles/pdfs/FCR_SPRING_2011.pdf

Have fun

Michael White's picture
Joined: 06/26/2009
Projects and color


I guess the first question for me is what do you want to weave?? Inspiration comes from lots of places, once you figure out what you want to make.  Is there a structure you want to try, do you need a gift to give, or do you want new placemats?? If you start with say a set of placemats, and lets say they are for a gift, the colors will come to you. What color are the recipients dishes?  Are they rough pottery, or delicate china with flowers on them?  this will give you color and structure direction.  Another idea for color inspiration if you are uncomfortable- pick a print you really like (it can be a piece of gift wrap, wall paper, a piece of fabric, or even a photograph you like). If something about that print resonates with you, chances are you like the colors.  Choose the background color and then estimate the amount of each of the other colors in the print.  This will give you the proportions of colors to mix in lets say a striped warp, You can choose one of the main colors to be the weft and since they all looked good in the print, they should look pleasing together. I have always loved color and tend to be bold and adventurous ( and I have been weaving a long time) but even if you are not don't restrict yourself to neutrals, as color is fun!! And if you are good and make lots of samples the worst that can happen is you will learn something new!!

Most of all have fun and enjoy your weaving,


WeaverDave's picture
Joined: 12/13/2010
These are great suggestions!

My neice is pregnant and will be the first of her generation (in our family) to have a baby!  Just a year older than my eldest son, she's turning my sister into a Grandmother and making us all feel just a little bit older.

My own Grandmother, who passed away back in 1984, used to make all sorts of knitted and crocheted blankets and ahfgans for babies and adults alike.  There is nobody left from her generation that makes such things, which is why I wanted to cary on some kind of fiber art in my family.

I would like to make a cudly, can't-live-without-it, baby blanket for my niece.  I knitted one before for a friend of mine, but that was a labor-and-a-half of love!  Took forever, but the baby girl just loved it to death.  here is a photo from the pattern.  I used a slightly darker rose color, which turned out nice. 

I have a 36" Leclerc Inca loom that I got 30 years ago, and I would like to use it to make the blanket.  Is that wide enough?  Please let me know if you have any favorite drafts/patterns for a baby blanket. 

tien's picture
Joined: 05/09/2009
A good book on color is Deb

A good book on color is Deb Menz's ColorWorks.  She addresses the use of color in a lot of different crafts (including weaving, I think).  I like it a lot, even though I've got quite a few books on color theory by now.

WeaverDave's picture
Joined: 12/13/2010

I just found her website.  http://www.debmenz.com

lkautio's picture
Joined: 06/11/2009

I like the book "Color and Fiber" by Lambert et al.  Pricey but a great resource.

As for projects, I design everything I weave and never weave the same thing twice.  People's approach may vary by what they want to get out of weaving.  Do you want finished products for gifts?  income fabrics? creative/intellectual stimulation? teaching samples?  exhibition showstoppers?  It takes longer to design everything and takes a certain minimum skill set, which does not suit every person's needs.  My main personal goal is intellectual stimulation (figuring out how structures and design work, and occasionally testing it out with teaching samples or a finished piece). Those kinds of goals fit well with teaching and writing. I have my more advanced students consider their goals as a way of directing their weaving and learning.  If your goal is absolutely perfect pieces for sale, you may weave miles of similar pieces.  If your goal is to learn as much as possible you may weave fewer pieces, with each one unique.

Happy weaving,

Laurie Autio

jemwork's picture
Joined: 06/13/2009
36" works

36" is a fine width for a baby blanket. You'll need to allow for pull in & shrinkage as well. If it seems skimpy, how about a knit or crocheted edge?

Then you need to think about materials. The baby yarn for knitting is usually acrylic, which is easy care. Knitting yarns can be too stretchy or "soft" for a beginner - not sure how you fit in.


Marsha A. Knox's picture
Joined: 04/10/2010
choosing colors and projects

Wow...I would be willing to say that I have always lived in an entirely different (think lower) income than most of you.  Here in the deep south I have never even seen anyone else weave...EVER.  I don't know many who knit or crochet either. Too hot to use much of it here I guess.

My best friend's parents own Gilmore looms though and one day she got a loaner loom from her mom.  She doesn't weave much so she loaned it to me.  I was in a bad accident and out of work for a year and 4 months and needed something productive to do with my time.  The loom was a Mirrix so tapestry was the direction it took me.  I couldn't even find books on weaving here in FL.  Had to order everything off of the internet, and my friend loved to crochet, so she donated yarn, yarn and more yarn to the cause. More than half of the time I ordered the wrong book.  I actually thought all looms can produce all weave structures.  Oh yeah thats right, I didn't even know what a weave structure was.  LOL

Soon, everyone was donating yarns.  I didn't even own anything wool, let alone spin my own yarn.  I certainly didn't know how to care for it or where to get it.  It was cotton or acrylic.  I soon discovered I hated acrylic and decided cotton was the most easily accquired and condusive to my environment.

I took up sock knitting and went the same way. Cotton, cotton, and more cotton.

As time went on I had an entire room with yarn in it...so rarely do I say to my self 'Self lets do a weaving that is this wide and this long in this color'.  For me it is walk into my shelf (an entire wall) of yarns, Greens together, blues together, etc....and I would say 'Self I LOVE this color and oh look!  this looks really good with it.  And I think I will add a little of this too.'  Then I would go to the loom and get started.  Sometimes I even warped the loom with a neutral color warp and just look at it for days, until it told me what it wanted.

I still work pretty much on this system.  Even with my warp face pieces.  I rarely follow someone else's pattern.  I couldn't even figure out what the book was saying alot of the time.  So I just had to wing it. 

I think it has served me well though.  My friend who started me on this path says 'anyone call follow a pattern', you take what you have and CREATE MAGIC.  She produces wonderful artistic things, so for now I am just going to trust, as I have for the last 15 years, that she knows what she is talking about.

It is supposed to be fun and if YOU like it that is all that really matters.  The baby won't know anything except Uncle Dave made it for me.  Not sure if this actually helps you, but is how I do it.

WeaverDave's picture
Joined: 12/13/2010
Would pearl cotton work?

I used acrylic when I knitted the baby blanked.  But, I really like some of the pearl cotton I've seen.  Very "pearly".  :)  They recommended pearl cotton for towels in Handwoven a few issues ago.

I haven't yet decided what the patten will be, but this is going to be fun.  I just have to put my Leclerc back together.  We got flooded back in the fall and had to move eveyrthing out of our basement.  It's OK, but one of the blocks cracked that holds on the treadles.  I can replace that and then start weaving.

Bonnie Inouye's picture
Joined: 06/15/2009
Cotton baby blanket

Like Laurie, I design each piece that I weave. I enjoy creating new drafts and then seeing the cloth grow on the loom. Usually my warps are between 8 yards and 15 yards long, so I will make several finished pieces and a bunch of samples and some small pieces to show students; no two pieces use the same draft and most will have different wefts.

I have woven several baby blankets and I like 8/2 and 10/2 cotton because it is machine wash and dry and is durable.

Dave, you can enter "baby blanket" into the Weavo search window and then choose Projects, and see several pages of woven examples by members here.


Sally Orgren's picture
Joined: 06/08/2009
I thought this was a *great*

I thought this was a *great* question and enjoyed reading everyone's answers.

I have been weaving for 15+ years, and still have trouble defining how I "start" a project. I cannot say which generates the initial project idea most consistently for me — utility-function, color, weave structure, or materials. I find that whichever one starts the process, I am quickly making adjustments across all of the categories until I end up with something that I haven't seen before. I guess I feel if something is already in a book, why do I need to weave it exactly as is? The world has seen it.

I think it's important to be flexible when thinking about fabric you are planning to weave. As I work an idea out, I may discover it's not suitable for the initial purpose I intended. At some point, I may have to ask myself, what is more important to me, developing an unusual and interesting cloth (and figure out the purpose later), or change the design and materials to serve the final function?

When I refer to project recipes, I typically use them as starting points for new directions instead of literally following them. I always laugh when someone tells me they followed a recipe, but used "their" color (which I have noticed happens to be purple for at least 60% of the weaving population! ;-)

I also don't subscribe to folks who tell you that once you thread your loom, you are "stuck" with it. (So don't ever feel locked in and end up stuck with a "dog on your loom.") I have been known to take Sharpies and change the color of individual warps to test an idea, and would think nothing of resleying, rethreading, or even adding warps if a better idea occurred to me when sampling at the beginning of a project.

A tip I learned early-on is to use the *beginning* of the warp as your "what if" warp, not the end. It was just too frustrating to conclude a project and then find out when sampling the last little bit of warp that I liked something a LOT better, and wished I had thought to do the whole project that way. Sometimes it's an advantage when the warp doesn't come out like you so carefully envisioned it. You arrive at an idea that was better than you could have conceived. And that builds your skill set for future weaving.

(Was this just a long-winded way of saying sampling is important? ;-)

WeaverDave's picture
Joined: 12/13/2010

for letting me know about the cotton.  I also liked your baby blanket projects that came up in the search.  But, I don't have that many shafts.

Still, I'm learning a lot about project creation from the contributions everyone is making in this thread.

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