In the course of writing outlines for my Handwoven articles, and listing up all the swatches I will need to weave for each article, I came up with a neat (if retrospectively obvious) way of sampling colors on the loom. Simply paint the warp, using 1 bout for each color you want to use in the warp, and making sure that the correct color combos line up. Then put on the three bouts in your selected color sequence, and weave away! As long as you are using the three colors in the same threading sequence throughout, you can sample whatever color combos you want, with very little effort.
Obviously this doesn’t work if you are trying to match specific colors of yarn that are already in your stash – unless you are willing to go through the considerable bother to get an exact color match, it’s easier to do a yarn wrap or take photos and simulate in Photoshop – but I think it will be handy for color experiments – seeing what happens if you mix orange, violet, and blue in different proportions and at different hue/value/chromas. (Although, if you want to know more about color theory, ColorWorks by Deb Menz covers the subject very well, and is written for crafters. It’s got a generous set of examples for each principle, covering knitting, embroidery, beading, and weaving. I must own eight or nine books on color theory by now, and it’s the first one I reach for.)
For this series of samples, I will probably throw at least one of the warps up over a trapeze, so I can adjust it if it gets “out of whack”. I also plan to allow generous allowances for painting inaccuracies, probably 6″ or more, so I can guarantee getting a sample of the correct length with the correct colors.
Another ingenious thought I had was to thread the different colors on different shafts. This will simplify threading immensely – the loom controls which shafts are raised for each thread (so I don’t have to think about that), and all I’ll need to remember is which shafts color 1 is on, which shafts color 2 is on, etc. This obviously doesn’t work if you need all shafts for the pattern, but in this case I don’t: I’m using a two or four-shaft weave with three colors, which comes out to 6 or twelve shafts depending on whether I go with plain weave or twill. Since I’ve got 24 shafts, I’m golden.
Meanwhile, despite a stupid error which required going back and rethreading 1/3 of the warp, I’m ready to start weaving:
My mom’s in town, though, so today we’ll be out and about, and I probably won’t start weaving (or dyeing more weft) until tomorrow. I need a very pale brown for some of my sampling, and the reproducible-results dye process for Cibacron F requires about 2 hours start to finish, so that may take a couple of days. It’s OK – I have plenty of ecru/taupe and white thread to use as weft, and will probably start by weaving that for awhile.