Friday, May 29, 2015

Color theory for tapestry -- the fun part is messing around with yarn

Though I have been telling people that I have been having a great time playing with yarn and working through color exercises for an upcoming Color Theory for Tapestry class, the truth actually is that I've been trying to figure out how much will fit into two suitcases and a carry-on. The three very different workshops at Michigan League of Handweavers Conference call for fairly different supplies and whatever I can't fit into my allotted two bags, I have to ship. I could, of course, fly with another checked bag, but I will tell you right now that this is absolutely all I can manage alone in two airports at 6 am.

This was the answer to how much to ship (in re-used HD boxes no less--I figured if they could stand up to 40 pounds of yarn cones, they could handle 20 pounds of balled yarn and Hokett looms).
I pretty much just gave up at the end and shoved as much as I could in these two boxes and hope the people who needed looms told me they did already. My suitcases will only hold a few more. Now that that bridge has been crossed I can go back to weaving my samples and reading about color.

Though I have scaled back on how much yarn dyeing I do for workshops, I do feel that a greyscale is important and that I have to make myself. I haven't found a commercially dyed grayscale that doesn't have an undertone of some other color. The Harrisville Designs grayscale is pretty good, but the yarns are heathered and I want solid colors.

So a lot of this got dyed over the last week.
Eventually I lose my grip on the rest of the world and you can find me out in the garage, perhaps having pulled on a dye-proof shirt, just after rolling out of bed something like this:
7 am tapestry yarn dyeing
The call of the dye pots is a weird and constant thing. Fortunately for me and the status of the house and studio, the last four pots are cooling right now and I can return to weaving more samples.

Here is one sample I've now finished having to do with simultaneous contrast. Yes, those two center red-violets are the exact same color.
And all these adorable little balls of yarn are for the student exercises. Aren't they the cutest thing?
Some of the most fun I've had is weaving samples from different tapestry yarns. One of the most-asked questions by people just getting started in tapestry is about weft yarn. I've collected many different ones in the last few years and I'm presenting them in samples and a yarn card in one of my upcoming workshops. *
This is but a few of the examples I'm bringing for them.
They will be able to make their own sample card for reference when they are ordering yarn in the future.

I am endlessly fascinated by color. I love the stories about dyes and the meaning of colors and I love figuring out color combinations that make me smile. And so the stack of color references grows. These are just the ones that were on my desk.
I have one more week before the next workshops and I suspect I'll use most of it savoring these books and learning more about color... though there are those samples to weave. And once I get them woven I'll post more photos here. Many are done but are still on the scattered bunch of Mirrix looms in the studio.

*Because some of you will ask, Introduction to Tapestry at the Michigan League of Handweavers Conference is the lucky bunch who are getting the sample yarn cards. You can thank me June 6th.


  1. Rebecca, I love the idea of different yarn samples to look at so much that I wove my own. I picked 5 different wool brands that I like or wanted to try. I set up my small Little Guy Mirrix at 8 epi at a width of 8" and wove them all, by themselves and mixed. I then labeled each section so I'd know exactly what I did. Now, I can look at the samples and decide which yarn or combination of yarns will work best for a particular design. I don't dye my own yarns so I sometimes need to use more than one yarn type to blend colors. I will do this again as I see new yarns coming on the market. In fact, I can think of two I didn't include in my sample which I'll keep in mind for the future.

    1. That is great! I think it is such a good thing to do and can't believe it has taken me this long to do it. Ironically, I've woven all the samples of the yarns I really don't like and still have to do my favorites. I suspect that is because my favorites cost a lot more, I have less of them, and I don't want to "waste" them. :-) Silly really.

    2. I agree 100% Rebecca, it was hard for me to use Faro for example. I actually hadn't used it before so I had to order two skeins just to sample it. Did that with several others, but I found yarns I really like and will use now because of that.

  2. Hi Rebecca, I just followed a Pinterest pin over here to your blog and I am just tickled pink to find you. I am totally new to tapestry weaving and well, weaving in general. I have actually yet to weave a single thing... still in the research/reading phase :D I really look forward to learning from your blog posts and wanted just to say hello and thank you for having this blog! By the way, the Harrisville Designs boxes gave me a giggle because I live just down the road from them! I don't go in very often because I can't afford my binges when I get in there, lol! Nonetheless, it is nice living so close to such a store!
    Hugs for now,
    Beth P
    Harrisville, NH

    1. Whoot! Pinterest pays off! :-) (True confessions--I'm addicted to Pinterest. It is like a little electronic hoarding thing to pin photos.)
      Welcome to the tapestry world! Have fun with the blog archives. I love Harrisville. I hope to come back to teach there again soon. There are some blog posts about when I was there in 2013. I use their yarn and their rug loom for my work. Great people, fun place. I understand what you mean about going into the store!


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