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  • Emma Baker

Choosing colours when weaving or selecting a handwoven scarf, cowl or shawl

Introduction
6 skeins of brightly coloured yarn

Many others far more experienced than I have written at length about the use of colour in weaving and I am certainly no expert. This blog does however summarize a few of my thoughts on weaving and selecting colours for a handwoven scarf, cowl or shawl which may be of interest to other weavers. I also talk about how I have tried to make it easier for people to purchase by colour on my website.




What influences the colour choice when selecting a handwoven scarf, cowl or shawl
nine different coloured  handwoven cowls being worn on the neck of the model

Colour and appreciation of colour is a very personal thing. People have favourite colours or ranges of colour and the choices that people make when purchasing a scarf can vary with the season and at different times in their lives. When I am at events selling my handwoven scarves I find that visitors to my stand will often hone in on a particular colour. Not only do visitors know exactly which colours they but like they are often specific about the actual shade and depth of the colour. A cowl might be an orange cowl but it isn't always the right orange for a particular person. I understand where they are coming from, orange isn't just one colour!


How does weaving impact on the final colour?

Handwoven doubleweave merino cushion in grey and pink red shades sitting on a pink chair

When I first started to weave it is fair to say that I made some quite disastrous choices with yarn colours. I have on a number of occasions been disappointed when two beautifully coloured yarns have been woven together to create something which I felt was rather underwhelming. Understanding how yarn colours interact in the weaving process is key to achieving a desired outcome and is not straighforward. The colour seen is a combination of the yarn colours in the warp and the weft. If it is a balanced weave then the eye will combine the two colours equally. Certain patterns can accentuate the colour of either the warp or the weft whilst other patterns might create a more subtle colour mixing. The cushion here is a doubleweave design. The third row of squares from the bottom looks a bright cerise pink to my eye and this has been created by having a red warp and an electric blue weft.


Colour selection when weaving

There are a number of things that I will do before weaving to help decide upon the weaving colours. Sometimes I will do some watercolour painting. Commonly I will do a card winding where yarns of different colours are wound close together showing how the colours look alongside each other. Sample weaving is another useful approach and I use my small TabbyandTweed square loom to sample yarns quickly so that I can visualise how the colours will appear when finally woven. I have discussed this process in more depth in a previous blog: Cushion Commission



Taking Inspiration from Nature

I am lucky to live near the New Forest and as a keen gardener I often take inspiration for my weaving from the colours of nature around me. The weaving below was inspired by the pink hawthorn in flower this last spring time. The pink flowers are represented in the pops of pink in the square twill design shawl.


Which is the most popular colour for people to choose?

This is a hard question to answer. I think its fair to say that a wide colour range of handwoven scarves and cowls sell. Pink is always popular. Whilst high street clothes do seems to follow a trend with Forest Green seemingly being on trend at the moment I don't often find that these trends necessarily translate into what people select from my handweaves. I think this is to be expected and it is my hope that purchasing one of my scarves, cowls or shawls will be a considered purchase of an accessory which will last for many years and bridge the changing trends. My view is that if a selected scarf is a treasured and well loved accessory then it doesn't matter whether it is on trend today?




What about the pop of colour?
purple, lilac and teal handwoven large blanket shawl

When I am teaching others to weave I often show them this picture of the purple and teal shawl and ask them to say where their eye is drawn to. Invariably they say the pale teal stripe at the bottom. I call this a 'colour pop' meaning an area of the weave that is a different colour or shade to the rest of the fabric. It is this 'colour pop' which often stands out to the eye. It is my view that it is these 'colour pops' which create interest, uniqueness and excitement to a handweave. This being said, the intended use of the fabric might influence whether vibrant and contrasting colours might be suitable or whether more muted tones would be more appropriate.




How do I make it easy to shop by colour on my website?

I have now got a 'Choosing by colour' menu tab on my website which enables people to select an item by colour. Of course, I can't guarantee that the shade of orange, blue or green will be the right shade but hopefully it helps to narrow down the choice.


row of different coloured scarves

Colour choice is one of the most interesting parts of the weaving process and is complex. Do sign up to receive my news email to see further colour choices on the loom, with details of new products, events that I will be attending and future weaving workshop dates: Click to sign up here.

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