Colour Passion

In this season of white and grey, I am craving some delicious colour.

I think its safe to say that the way I look at colour dominates the way I view the world and the way I order my world. I think I like all colours, but only when they are used in proportions and with adjacent colours that I enjoy. Mostly I prefer strong bright colour, but just look at these browns in the dried leaves I see all around the cabin in Alabama. Perfection. Nature often does that, I have noticed. 

I do like mainly monochromatic colour schemes. And that is why I am surprised when a total random collection of colours pleases my eye. For example, playing with blocks with my grandson, it is surprising how beautiful all these primary colours, in such varying shapes and colours, fit together. I think that is because they are all the same intensity, and let’s face it, very jolly. But the same mixture in a garden of flowers, for example, does not appeal to me. I have only recently started adding yellow flowers or lime green foliage to brighten up a mass of dark purple flowers. And I do have one bed with dark orange and yellow flowers, but added dark purple to ground it, give it some gravitas. There was a beautiful burgundy and cream honeysuckle vine in the same bed which had to go elsewhere!

I purchased this hand crocheted wool afghan at a thrift store, and have looked at it in amazement many times. How could someone use no rhyme or reason to choose the colours for these blocks and then put them together any which way. But in a weird way, it sort of works, is that because it is totally random? Or maybe just all the same material (wool). 

Weaving allows so many ways to enjoy colour. Starting with the warp. The colours of the warp create the feeling of the finished piece. I learn from every warp. The way I decide which yarns belong together is by trying them yarn by yarn on the warping board. Looking at the cones and balls together isn’t accurate.

Then we can talk about the weft. The colours of the weft create the feeling of the finished piece, much as a wash does for a watercolour. I almost always use various yarns in the warp and a single yarn for the weft. The piece is calmer to my eyes that way and falls better. Selvages are more even. The weft is almost an easier option. Often before I start the actual weaving, I weave in a few rows of scraps and am amazed by how this random choice can be so pleasing. Often I make a few colour decisions at this point. Again, I usually choose a monochromatic colour range.

But there are some tried and true pairings used all through the ages. The combination in this warp was dictated by a carpet in the room next to my studio. I had planned to do a purely blue warp. But the siren song of the blue/rust pairing diverted my plans. Those colours I remember from ancient tiles in historic Mediterranean settings. Maybe even ancient Egyptian tiles. Chinese patterned kimonos, etc.

I had so much fun with these rag rugs. I used red cotton warp and those plastic vegetable bags for the weft. A friend who volunteers at the food bank saved me a lot of bags. Now those are saturated colours. I like to weave bright colours in the winter, and the combinations of reds and oranges almost made me groan with pleasure. I found it interesting how a stripe looked rather too prim, a more free flowing pattern with odd strips of other colours really suited the colours of the components. Purple and white from garlic bags, yellow from onion, rare pink bags from grapefruit. I always enjoy weaving rag rugs. My grandmother wove them, so maybe it is a genetic force in me.

My latest grandchild was born on my birthday and I have wondered if she might be a weaver one day as well, just wondering, no pressure! So far she shows no inclination to play with colour but children often have strong colour preferences. This young customer of mine chose and loved this blue scarf.

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