Saturday, February 7, 2015

To Variegate or Not To Variegate

To Variegate or Not To Variegate?
Yes, that is the question (with my apologies to William Shakespeare).

Since I was very young, variegations have attracted my eye. It's innate if you ask me, I truly can't help wanting to include as much color interest as possible in everything I weave.

Every available color way of variegated yarn, especially 20/2 cotton, must join my collection. Call it compulsive if you must. I don't care. It doesn't matter whether I have a particular use for it or not, if it is available it must come home to my studio.

Considering color choices for my current warp
When planning a project, all my colors come out on parade. They line up on the loom bench where they can be arranged, re-arranged and contemplated. Out come the variegated yarns along with the solid colored. I arrange the variegated yarns with likely base colors. If you ask me, the most important thing about using variegations is to use them sparingly. A little really does go a long way.

Variegated from reds to oranges to yellows
Solid yellow or solid red to coordinate
The goal is to find a solid colored yarn to match one of the mid-range colors contained in a variegated color way. This variegated yarn is a combination of shades from reds and oranges through to yellow. My preference would be to pair this variegation with an orange solid color. Right now I don't have any orange. So red or yellow solid can do and I have used both. But neither are my actual first choice.

The variegated yarn is wrapped around the solid yarn cone to get an idea of how they would work together. My aim to use a mid-range color is so the colors come and go within the whole of the warp. That is, I want there to be one main color into which the variegated ends seem to appear and disappear. Ideally I want these magical color highlights to be both darker and lighter than the solid main color.

Trying to decide a solid color to pair with this variegated yarn
Here are a few possible base colors to pair with a variegated that morphs from white to yellow, teal, green and purple. Since there are so many colors included in this variegation, there are lots of possibilities for solid pairings. These are the choices that happened to be on my shelf. I like the brighter teal, second from left. But there wasn't enough of it to use for the entire warp. So I used it as border stripes combined with the more dusty teal.

When winding the warp sometimes I will add a variegated end at random intervals. But this time I was using my Miniature Norse Kitchen draft and carefully planned where I wanted those extra colors to "peek-a-boo" within the weave structure.

Miniature Norse Kitchen Overshot
"Peek-a-boo" variegated ends placed at intervals
Bright teal added in as border stripes

This combination is what I am weaving at the moment. I'll show you how the towels turn out once they are off the loom and finished.

One last note. Recently a weaving friend asked me if there was a difference between variegated and space-dyed yarns. Perhaps there is a difference in process or color arrangements. I guess I'd assumed they were the same. But I honestly don't know. Do you?

Warp On/Weave Off,

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