How Structure Affects Color in Weaving

  With a 3/1 twill weave structure, you can guarantee 75 percent of your warp threads will be dominant.
imageplaceholder Sara Bixler
Contributor, Weaving Today

Color theory in itself can be a complex subject for most weavers to tackle as there are so many components that can affect your desired end product. In addition to the type of yarn you’re using, its luster, and your sett, you also need to take into consideration the weave structure. In color theory, your end product and the color interactions that are created are directly affected by how the threads interlace with one another in the weave structure you’ve chosen. Let’s discuss a few common weave structures and how their anatomy changes the look of your fabric and how your viewer perceives the colors created when mixing warp and weft colors.

Plain weave is our most basic and stable fabric. This fabric is one that the threads intersect with one another in the warp and weft direction traveling over one, under one, over one, under one from selvedge to selvedge. In a balanced, plain weave fabric, the mixing of two different colors (one for warp and one for weft), the two are forced to optically mix and find the middle value and color. Because of how they interlace and it being a balanced weave, your eye sees exactly 50 percent warp and 50 percent weft. Depending on the colors chosen and their value, it’s sometimes easier to anticipate its outcome. For instance, if you were to warp with royal blue and your weft is grass green, you may hypothesize to see some sort of aqua or teal from a distance. Although it can get more complicated to anticipate if you’re using two very different colors both in their relationship to one another on the color wheel and their value such as olive green and pale pink. This is where a color gamp can be so valuable!

When considering other weave structures, this is where a bit of common sense and knowledge of the weave structure you’ve chosen will be to your advantage. When selecting a structure such as a 3/1 twill, consider the interlacement of those threads traveling over three threads and dipping under one thread. Knowing this, you can guarantee 75 percent of you warp threads will be dominant in contrast to the 25 percent of weft threads floating on the surface on one side of your fabric, and the opposite result on the opposing side. This can be to your advantage when you’re looking to over-emphasize one color when planning a project.

A structure like Bronson or Huck lace will give you another opportunity to have plain weave fabric where the colors are mixing 50/50 in the border areas, but in the lace units you’ll have a chance to allow one color to pop forward and become the main focus where the warp or weft threads float over 3-5 threads.

Although color theory in weaving can seem like an endless stream of exceptions and unknowns, you can rest easy knowing you have a bit more control knowing more about your chosen weave structure and use it to your advantage. For more information about color theory specifically relating to woven fabric, please feel free to join me for my live webinar on March 16th at 1:00 pm EDT.


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