A New E-Book: Color: Everything a Weaver Needs to Know!

color wheel
Runner by Tracy Kaestner

When I was growing up in the 1950s, all I knew about color were rules like: pink and red don’t go together and blue and green don’t go together (along with: you should never wear a floral pattern with a plaid). After college, when I got my first apartment, I had to buy incidentals for it—dishes and towels and such. At Macy’s in San Francisco, I found some bath towels that I really loved. (In fact, I wish I could find them today.) They were blue and green in an overall floral pattern. I was convinced at the time that because I bought those towels I had personally discovered that blue and green DO go together. I was breaking the rule because of my sophisticated taste (unaware that if this color combination was being sold at Macy’s, someone else had thought of it first).

Making effective color combinations is a skill that mysteriously involves both knowledge of what works, personal taste, and cultural trends at the time. We don’t all like the same colors or the same combinations. In spite of those towels, I remember going through a yarn store with Michele Wipplinger, a master colorist. We paused at a shelf of green silk, and I said: Well, I don’t really like green. She looked at me and said: Oh, you don’t like green! It was Spring at the time and everywhere outside all shades of green were a delight to see. I think my dislike of green came from my not ever wearing green, not looking good in green. My color choices before I became a weaver were mostly about what to wear (except for those towels). 

As a beginning weaver, when I shopped for yarn (this is still more true than it should be), I only bought yarns in colors I really liked (madder red and indigo blue). I probably have the largest collection of yarns in every fiber in shades and tones of those two colors. Only after many years of observing what worked for other weavers did I realize that pieces that knock your socks off are woven with colors that work well together even if you don’t love one of them alone. Not only that, but there are principles you can learn that help you determine which colors work well together. You can use colors that do not appeal to you individually and bring them together for an overall effect you really love.


It would have saved me many years of madder red and indigo blue if I had had this e-Book from the beginning. In it, Deb Menz and Karen Selk give all the principles of combining colors. You’ll learn the terms you need to know (value, hue, intensity, primary, secondary, warm, cool) but more than that, how to use them to create beautiful cloth. With the projects in this e-Book, you’ll see these principles applied along with explanations of the design process. See how Tracy Kaestner picks colors based on a musical score, how Bonnie Tarses uses a horoscope, Kim Bunke chooses the colors Nature combined in her spring garden, how Bobbie Irwin creates iridescence, and more. 

You’ll also learn the ways different interlacements combine colors to create new ones. With plain weave (especially in fine threads), combining two colors, one in the warp and one in the weft, is as close to mixing paints as a weaver can get. With twills, two colors can blend and contrast at the same time. Overshot and summer and winter allow blends of warp and tabby weft with a third effect created by a contrasting pattern weft. As you design your own pieces, you’ll refer to the articles on color theory again and again. This e-Book is truly a weaver’s complete handbook on color.

Scarf by Laura Fry Spacer 5x5 pixels Scarf by Bonnie Tarses Spacer 5x5 pixels Napkins by Beth Ross Johnson
Scarf by Laura Fry   Scarf by Bonnie Tarses   Napkins by Beth Ross Johnson

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