Thursday, January 22, 2015

Marking time with masking tape: keeping my place in tapestry

Someone asked me this week how I keep track of my colors while weaving. The answer is tape.

My work to date has involved a lot of color gradation which includes yarns that are very close in value and hue. Sometimes they are so close it is difficult to tell them apart before they are woven, but the mistake is always visible in the tapestry should I pick up the wrong butterfly.

To keep my colors straight, I use a simple system of tags that I make with masking tape. I should probably buy stock in 3M.
I use a singles yarn and right now am using three of them in a bundle. As you can tell from the above photo, I do ply them on the spinning wheel to get maximal color blending. Each combination of colors gets recorded on a sheet of paper. One sheet of paper for each area of the tapestry where I have to keep track of colors in this way.

Below is the table on which I am organizing the formula sheets and the little balls of plied yarn for each gradation.

If I dye two colors that are close (or not), I can create two more colors in between them by mixing the strands. For example: the following formulas would create a gradation between two colors using three strands of yarn in a weft bundle.

Color A x 3
Color A x 2 + Color B x 1
Color A x 1 + Color B x 2
Color B x 3

As you can imagine, it takes a lot of tape to keep track of all those combinations.

Below are the balls of singles yarn with the dye formulas tagged. From these balls I mix the weft bundles that go in the tapestry.
And here are some of the wefts going into the tapestry, tags on the free ends of the butterflies.


  1. I like your choice of masking tape. It's a lot less expensive than the merchandise tags I put on my color balls of yarn. Of course, I'm not grading color like you (not yet anyway) so I can do that. I did use a lot of colors for my last small tapestry so I made a list bunching the greens together, then the blues, etc., writing the color number down and taping a piece of yarn next to it so when I needed another color I just looked at my list first instead of trying to rifle thru 20 or 30 balls of yarn to find the right color in my basket. That helped me a lot. I also have not tried spinning multiple threads together on my wheel and making a ball of that mix of colors. That's a great idea and I hope to be using that and the masking tape idea of yours one of these days soon. Thanks for the great ideas, Rebecca.

  2. Now I know why I will never be much of a tapestry weaver!......I could never be this organized!......but I do enjoy playing with tapestry and love seeing what you are least I get a inspired!.......thanks for the wonderful information.

  3. I've been using little white tags. I'll use masking tape once they're gone.

  4. I've been using little white tags. I'll use masking tape once they're gone.