Building Textiles with Color and Texture

This time of year has me reminiscing about what Santa used to leave under my tree. I was a girlie girl, so dolls were always high on my list. First there were baby dolls and Chatty Cathy. Later came Barbie, Ken, Skipper, Midge, and the rest of the gang. (Remember Midge?) Then I had brothers. While dolls and Easy Bake Ovens where still dominating my pile of gifts, I was growing increasingly fascinated with my brothers’ stash, particularly anything that involved building things: Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, and the like.

Color and Texture in Weaving  

More than just a pretty face


Flash forward a few decades and I’m in the toy store helping Santa fill my sons’ wish lists. Somehow Legos always ended up on those lists, though in all honesty, I’m not sure whether it was at their urging or mine. We started with the big, chunky toddler Legos—which always remained my favorites—and eventually moved to the tiny ones that invariably ended up buried in the sofa cushions, lost under the furniture, or mangled in the dog’s mouth. These colorful little blocks would entertain the boys for about ten minutes. I, on the other hand, could spend hours building non-descript Lego shapes.


Is it any wonder I became a structure/pattern weaver fascinated with block designs? So when I picked up Margo Selby’s book, Color and Texture in Weaving, which just made it across the pond from England via Interweave Press, I wasn’t bowled over with anticipation. Sure I always enjoy flipping through a new book with photos of beautiful woven textiles, but would there be any “meat” here for me?

Rockefeller Sample
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Bond Sample
Selby stretches the limits of
weaving in her book. 

My quick thumb flipped through the collections of 150 fabric designs, which make up the bulk of this book, was slowed considerably as I found sample after sample that left me asking, “Oooo, that’s cool. How’d she do that?” I filed my structure/pattern bias in a drawer temporarily and went back to the beginning.


I discovered that Margo has broken woven textile design into all the individual components that must come together to weave successful cloth: fibers and yarns for warp and weft, a color palette, striping patterns, texture, finishing techniques and, yes, there it is, construction. She has also surrounded each textile in the collection with clear pictures and drawings of every component that went into that particular textile design.


It was like seeing the picture of the finished Lego castle on the box and then sorting out all the different colors of blocks necessary to build it. For me, however, the real fun of playing with Legos had very little to do with recreating that picture. It was about what else I could make by switching out all the blue blocks for green ones, or by grabbing colors at random and just snapping them together.

That’s how I plan to use this book. Pluck a warp stripe and threading pattern from Canterbury (Gathered Weft Stripes collection) and combine it with the treadling plan from Grape (Small Stripe collection) and the weft striping in Huntsman (Prince of Wales Check collection). Now select warp yarns and colors similar to those from the Pleats collection and wefts from the Ombré Pointed Twills collection, and see what happens! 

I’m telling you, HOURS of fun. And you won’t have to worry about stepping on sharp, tiny Legos in your bare feet.

Happy Holidays!


Karen Donde


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