As you may have guessed from my relative silence over the last few months, putting together a new business is no cakewalk. Warp & Weave has been soaking up most of my creative energy for several months now, which is why I’ve been posting less frequently here – though I do hope to get back to a more frequent posting schedule once I’ve gotten past the frenetic startup phase.
If you’re wondering what Warp & Weave is about, it’s my online teaching website. It’s focused on how to choose and use colors in handwoven designs. This is a topic that puzzles many people – in fact, when I did a reader survey to see what people’s greatest creative challenges were, color was one of the most frequently mentioned concerns. “I feel like an idiot when it comes to color,” “Color terrifies me,” “I don’t understand color at all” were pretty common responses.
And yeah, I’ve had my share of color mishaps (and feeling like a color idiot, too). One of my earliest projects was a shawl made of expensive silk/wool yarn (Jaggerspun Zephyr), in colors that I hand-dyed myself. Because I had dyed eight brilliantly vivid hues, I thought I was going to get a beautiful rainbow shawl. Surprise! I got a dull, muddy mess instead. The shawl is still stashed away in a drawer somewhere, a testament to color disasters.
It’s not surprising that color mishaps happen fairly frequently to weavers. Weaving is the most complicated fiber art when it comes to color, because we are always mixing warp and weft in our work. In knitting, it’s easy to put a patch of solid purple next to a blob of bright yellow – in weaving, a purple warp and a yellow weft will interlace, creating various mixes of purple and yellow (how much of each depends on the weave structure, among other things). So weavers need to understand color mixing far better than other fiber artists in order to create attractive projects.
That said, color is not some mystical understanding that is bestowed on some people via divine guidance. Color follows certain basic rules, and anyone who understands them can design effectively with color. The problem is that, as far as I can tell, nobody is teaching those rules. I’ve spent a good chunk of the last few years studying color theory and color mixing (that’s part of why I dyed 1,500 sample skeins this year), and while I’ve found bits and pieces of color theory in various fiber-related books, I haven’t found a single resource that explicitly covers color theory as it relates to weaving.
My ambition is to fix that. I want to give people a systematic understanding of color, so they can choose and use their own handweaving palettes with confidence. I also want to dispel the illusion that it’s some supernatural talent. I was a color idiot until I spent several years educating myself. Now I know how to use color effectively. So I can tell you from personal experience that color is not an inborn talent; it’s a skill. It’s knowledge that anyone can learn. And it doesn’t have to take years and years; in fact, I’m hoping to impart all that knowledge in weeks, not years.
My plan, with Warp & Weave, is to do two things:
First, I’m writing a biweekly article/blog post about how to use color in handweaving. The article will focus on solving specific color problems that weavers face. For example, the blog post that was published this morning is all about what to do when your bright colors weave up into muddy, boring ones.
Second, I’m developing some online classes about color in weaving. (You can sign up for Early Bird notification here.) The intent of those classes is to teach people how to design with color – how to pick a color palette, color proportions, and weave structure to produce whatever kind of fabric you want. The difference between the blog articles and the classes is that the blog articles solve individual problems; the classes will teach you a system that enables you to identify and solve your own problems.
This is a huge undertaking, of course – way more effort than writing my book was. It’s not just about understanding and explaining the system, which I could do relatively easily. It’s also about weaving samples to illustrate each of my points, creating and recording slide decks, learning to shoot and edit videos, and a ton of other stuff required to create and sell online classes. But I’m really looking forward to it, because difficult projects are interesting, and I think I can do a lot of good for the handweaving community by demystifying color. I also think I might be able to make a living at it, which would be good. (For me, if not for you. 🙂 )
This does not mean that I’m giving up my other projects. Far from it! I just finished dyeing the last of the skeins for my stole commission. I’ve gotten Amazing Grace’s warp tied on, debugged, and ready to weave, which means I can get going on weaving samples for Everett’s stole. I’m also playing with a fractal design program so I can create more pieces like Marvelous Mandelbrot. On the dyeing side of the house, I am almost (only one dye session left!!) done dyeing the 1,500 cotton sample skeins, and getting ready to embark on my 1,500 silk fabric dye samples.
So there is lots going on on the creative front, and I plan to write plenty about those projects in this blog. But there will be a lot of activity on Warp & Weave, too – so if you are a weaver, and interested in color, you may want to hop on over to the site and sign up for the newsletter, so you’ll find out about blog posts there.
Coming soon on this blog: a new post about my experiences with Lady Ada, my new-to-me 8-shaft Baby Wolf loom, and the hilarious things that can happen when you pair a high-tech weaver with a low-tech loom. Watch for it!