(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:

Pick-up tote by Sara Lamb

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 looks so innocent...

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.

Inkle inklings

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.

Zoe helps me tie the heddles

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).

Action shot: heddles

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.)

Colours, colours

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:

The real thing is WAAYYY brighter than this picture

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.

Maroon, anyone?

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.

Spectrum with bright rose


Spectrum with salmon/coral

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.

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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11 Responses to colouring

  1. Torrilin says:

    Yes. Very important to have a healthy, loving relationship with your inner critic… and it’s hard to do that when the inner critic is saying such horrible things.

    (mine is currently alternating between wanting to frame this one chunk of Crosspatch Creations fiber, and wanting to call it ugly as sin for having silk noil and daring to clash.)

  2. LynnH says:

    Good for you, you did fine. In the end, we choose colors from the gut. I always choose what sings for me, then I can figure out the color theory which would explain it. I don’t typically say “I want analogous variety.” I say, “I really like purples and blues with a hot yellow-green next to them.” Follow your eyes and you’ll do fine.

    I’ll never try to be sophisticated again. I’m good at vibrant and energetic, miserably bad at subtle and sophisticated. Welcome to the happy-color club!

  3. I am glad other people have trouble feeling good about color choices. I usually like things once they are completed, but I’m always insecure until then.

  4. Laura says:

    I love the analysis of choosing colors, as I would also describe myself as color-deaf. Unless the color is a shade of teal, in which case I will always choose it. Always. (Ok, perhaps that is proof of being color-deaf!)

    But what I loved most about your post was your dialogue and then banishment of your Inner Critic. Mine is equally loud, though the comebacks against her aren’t nearly as witty.

  5. Lynn says:

    To my eye, that’s a great and sophisticated-enough colorway. I think it’ll turn out great!

    (and if it doesn’t, you have more yarn. Smart move.)

  6. molly says:

    i do love the concept – i am colour-deaf. i can pick two colours that go together…that’s it. three colours? no way.
    BUT i can tell when they don’t go together – almost always after i have finished a project…
    my inner voice always says “i’m sure they don’t look THAT bad together”

  7. JJ says:

    I love the colors you picked. They’re actually in my usual color palette (not the salmon. I was voting noooooo! on the salmon). If you end up hating the bag, you could send it to me!

  8. Sharon says:

    I’m colour-deaf too and now feel I am in good company! I can manage three colours, if I’m working with beige with light and dark brown, but I’m at a loss if I want to do a brighter scheme. This is unfortunate because I love to make Icelandic yoked sweaters and do other colour stranding and Fair Isle, and often the colours in the patterns aren’t ones that look even ok on me. I’ve made some terrible mistakes substituting even a couple of the colours, but like others, tend to find this out once the project is well underway or even finished.

    I’ve tried reading articles about how to choose colours that will sing when they meet in my knitting, but the advice doesn’t stick for me either. I end up making snap decisions in a yarn store because the colours I’d picked aren’t in stock, so I go with whatever might look good and has enough balls in stock. I know I should walk away and rethink, but I’m usually very motivated to start the new project. I know, it’s a blueprint for disaster!

    I really liked how you analyzed the colours in the bag and figured out their relationship to each other. That’s something I can take away and use next time I need to change colours in a Lopi sweater.

    I really like the colours you chose, but I’d have gone with a vibrant orange, not coral. Orange is right on top of my list of colours that make me feel happy, especially during the gray rainy winter months. Just curious, but what do you have against orange?

    I hope you are going to be showing us your progress as you make this bag! I’m not a weaver, but I’m enjoying reading about your weaving.

  9. Chris says:

    You did an excellent job with the colors! You instinctively chose a split complementary color scheme. And either the pink or the coral works within that scheme. (Personally, I prefer the pink – never was a fan of coral.) Begone, Inner Critic, indeed!

  10. You’ve done fabulously. You analyzed what you liked about the colors in the original, and modified it to make it your own. I’m looking forward to seeing your bag.

    And now….red cashmere silk? What love you are knitting!

  11. Melissa says:

    Love the mittens, and especially the idea of a red cashmere silk lining. Would you be willing to share the name of the pattern, please?

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