(I’m going to drop the accurate-but-dull date headings. It’s the day after yesterday! Whoo!)
I have a terrible weaving craving right about now. Fortunately, about a month back I had ordered yarn to weave a tote bag from Woven Treasures:
I love that bag. And as much as I want to weave towels or napkins or ZOMG EVERYTHING right now, I figured it would be good for me to have a couple of small projects to start with.
For one thing, if I don’t get my warping mojo back, there’s going to be a messy mental crackup around here. Those little scarves on the Cricket took me HOURS to warp.
It wasn’t the chirpy Cricket’s fault, it was mine, because I was full of Stupid that day. But a little practice with simple warps wouldn’t hurt, just to build up the old psyche a bit before threatening it with an actual TOWEL or something.
I’d been intending to weave the main bag fabric on my 24″ rigid heddle, and the straps on my new inkle loom. As I started getting the RH loom bits together the other day, I discovered the project needed two heddles, and I don’t have a second one for that loom. A bit of fussing later, I realized that if I just ripped off the bow-wow warp on my 4-shaft Norwood, I can weave the bag fabric on that (hel-LO! Mc-FLY!).
However, at 3:30 AM this morning when I was wide awake, the Norwood was inside my studio, behind a closed door with a broken doorknob, a door too close to Sleeping Nicholas to fiddle with at that wee hour.
So I got out my yarns and the inkle loom and started setting up for weaving the straps.
First, I had to make heddles. Heddles, in this case, are loops of string which help the weaver raise and lower the warp (“vertical”) threads so the weft (“horizontal”) threads can go over and under the warps.
Then I warped the loom. It was my first time warping an inkle loom by myself; it was very easy and quick (compared to my other loomy experiences, anyway).
I only made one goof-up (tying the warp ends to the peg instead of to each other) and that was easily fixed once I saw it.
I decided at that point that it was in everyone’s best interests if I tried to get at least a little more sleep before I wove myself into a lovely pick-up cocoon. (Wisdom really is the better part of valour, especially when dealing with 52 warp ends in the wee hours of the morning.)
Here are the colours I chose for the bag:
Actually, the green and pink are significantly brighter (the word “neon” might apply) than in the photo.
I don’t feel confident with colour. I’ve read the books; I’ve taken art classes; I know the colour wheel and I remember what hue and saturation are (sometimes for whole minutes at a time). But it doesn’t seem to “stick” like my other crafty knowledge does. When I learn a weaving thing, I learn it and then I can apply it, and expand on it, and experiment with it to make it my own. I can do that with knitting, and crochet, and beads, and sewing, and all sorts of things…but not colour.
I’m trying to figure out why this is. The only way I know how to face my colour deafness (that’s how I think of it, being colour-deaf) is to study what I like about the colours other people choose and try to figure it out from there. The words, the terminology, and the theory just refuse to “stick,” so I’m sort of trying to take the back way in.
The madness to my method
I started by looking at the photos of Sara’s tote bag in the book. I like her colours, but I wanted to use my own. I realized one thing I really liked was the glowing green stripe down the middle of the straps. At first, I thought I liked it just because I like that shade of green. I kept coming back to that though: Why do I like that green stripe? It bothered me, until I realized that I like it because it GLOWS, not just because it is green. It’s the glowing quality that makes that stripe really call out to me.
So: Start with one glowing colour, a colour which will be used sparingly, as an accent only. OK. I can do that. I went to the WEBS website where they show the colours of the yarn I wanted to use, and chose the glowing colour I liked best…which happened to be the green:
Then I looked at Sara’s bag again, trying to see what sort of relationship her glowing accent colour had to her main background colour. She chose a deep blue; I was sort of hoping I could use…well…purple.
I’d heard that you were supposed to squint at colour combinations so you could see their relative, uh, values. (I think that’s the right term.) Squinty-eyed, I looked at Sara’s dark blue/green contrast and compared it to the contrast between my purple/green, and decided they compared favourably. I also noted that green is two steps away from purple on the colour wheel while blue is only one; however, both are in the same direction “away.” That was my highly scientific analytical way of saying Good Enough.
I needed two more colours. Next to Sara’s green is an orangey colour, kind of hot compared to the cool green. Just as the green glows, so does the orange; the orange is the glow-y-est hot colour, whereas the green is the glow-y-est cool colour. I could see two possibilities for my tastes (since orange is Evil in my personal colour wheel). Either salmon/coral:
Or a vibrant rose pink:
Once I had it narrowed down to those two, I got stuck. I mean, PINK. Anytime I can justify putting pink, especially a bright pink, into a fabric, I’m really stoked. But the salmon would be a stretch for me, something I never use normally–and stretching is good.
I decided I needed to choose the fourth colour first before making the pink versus coral decision. Looking at Sara’s bag, she has a dark colour between the blue and the orange on the colour wheel, creating a rainbow or spectrum effect. So I went looking for a colour between purple and the pink or the coral on the colour wheel.
The real colour is deeper, richer, and redder than the picture. That’s the trouble with working with internet photos, of course. It’s all a crapshoot unless you order the actual yarn colour cards.
At Interweave, we had literally an entire library of yarn company colour cards. That was one of the perks of working there: If you wanted to look at colours for a knitting or weaving project, as long as no one else was using the colour card binders, you could sit with the binders in the library and play with the little snippets, hold them next to one another, see how the yarns took up the dyes and how the finish on the yarn affected the colours. I loved that. Such a luxury!
Can’t do that with web photos. I knew the colours would be different, a bit, from what I saw onscreen. It wasn’t the actual shades I was choosing, however; it was the relationship between the colours I was looking for in this project. I was looking for light/dark, squinty-eye values, and vague colour-wheel relationships. Or at least, that is how I framed this particular colour adventure to myself.
Finally, I got a clue. I have photo-editing software. I have little pics of yarn colours. I can put the colours together to see how they look.
The difference here doesn’t look at pronounced as it did in my photo-editing software; maybe it’s the conversion from tiff to jpeg or something technical like that. Still: It was very helpful to actually be able to lay out the colours side-by-side to see the relative effects they had on one another.
Of course, I ordered all five colours in the end. Good to have pink around, because I like pink. Good to stretch my boundaries with the coral. All good.
I’m using the pink in the first bag. I’ll use coral for another one later. (I bought enough yarn for two, figuring I’d play with the colours more once I saw them in person.)
Of course, there’s a TON of judging going on inside my head. “You always pick such garish colours.” (Garish? Whose voice is THAT?) “Your stuff looks like a twelve-year-old girl picked it.” (Jealous much?) “Those are very unsophisticated colours.” (Has anyone noticed that I am not the sophisticated type?)
Begone, Inner Critic. It’s grey and white and cold here and if I want to weave things in fairytale brights, then I’m gonna do just that.
Today’s Random Good
Know what’s better than a colourful hand-knit mitten for Sir Nicholas?
A colourful hand-knit mitten with a red cashmere-silk lining!
Even better would be TWO such mittens. Working on it.