Monday, November 24, 2014

The process... so much happens before you start weaving a tapestry

Do you ever get completely carried away with something and just don't want to stop? I started dyeing yarn for my new piece a few weeks ago and I just kept finding new colors I wanted to try. I was forced to stop by sudden sub-zero temperatures and freezing fingers, even in the garage. I considered cranking up the heaters, but decided the universe was trying to tell me, enough already.

Though I like to think that a new tapestry is something I can just jump into, it turns out my process is somewhat ponderous. Slow. Doesn't so much turn on a dime as pivots like an 18-wheeler. My current piece is no exception.

I wrote a bit about the design and cartoon process in THIS blog post. I had the first version of this piece ready to go when I had my studio in Santa Fe. Actually, I even started the piece last spring and had to cut it off when we moved. Then change happened and the design evolved and the new piece took awhile to arrive out of the ether or wherever new designs come from. (Hint: They come from a lot of very hard work.)

Once the design was largely finished I started the process of finding the right colors. I have quite a lot of yarn on my shelves, but it is all leftover from old pieces, dye experiments, and teaching. Most of the balls are no longer tagged and I have no idea what dye formulas I used to create them. In a large piece like this, I have to have enough yarn and I wanted to be able to replicate the colors should I run out (frankly unlikely since I dye enough to cover castle walls though I don't have a castle).

I was having so much fun dyeing, it went on and on.
Eventually I created this matrix of purples. This are three different purple formulas with two further options for each color, one toned with black and one with brown.
I did some sampling with these yarns and eventually I decided on the specific combination for the piece and dyed five more intermediate colors for a gradation for four of the sets from that matrix.
I also dyed a bunch of these fall-like colors for another aspect of the piece.
The weather has gotten warmer again and there were a "few more" colors to dye (turns out a few is 30 for me). There was a large part of the design for which I was going to use a set of colors from another tapestry. After sampling, that idea went out the window. There was too much black in it and I needed something lighter.

So today was a 12-pot day. Thirty colors, three days. Normally I wouldn't do 12 colors in a day, but I couldn't bear one more day of it. The glittery fun that is dyeing my own yarn lost its luster about 15 pots ago.


  1. I can't wait to see your new tapestry as it unfolds. Hopefully we shall get a glimpse i of it now and then as you progress. By the way I love how you tell it like it is - the joys and the weariness, each part of the journey, and good for us beginners to know so that when the lack lustre days come crawling in we might remember that this is all part of the journey! I don't often comment, but I always read your posts.Love your blog!

  2. I was just wondering what was your inspiration to choose those colors?

    1. Actually the colors in these photos are pretty significantly off. The matrix is purple blue--more purple than blue. The oranges are a mix of yellow and hot pink and were chosen as compliments. I did a lot of sampling!!


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