I recently started to learn how to design and use profile drafts with my weaving software. My prior experience with this was mostly with a pencil on graph paper or by copying and pasting rows and columns of blocks using Excel, a spreadsheet program. I’m also learning how to use a feature called “block substitution” in my weaving program that can generate patterns of different weave structures directly from a profile draft. Amazing! A profile draft is made up of blocks and is a shorthand notation of a thread-by-thread draft. To learn more about profile drafts check out Kerstin’s website: Part 1 and Part 2 of her clear and enlightening explanation about this topic.
Starting out with a fairly simple 4-block profile draft, I tried several different weave structures and chose a diamond twill (turned twill). I liked it but I just had to see what would happen if color-and-weave effects were added. I liked it even more and wove this scarf:
To weave the Scarf I used 5/2 pearl cotton with a sett of 20 e.p.i., washed the finished piece by hand, air dried it until almost dry and then steam ironed it. Here are the profile draft and thread-by-thread weaving draft for the Scarf:
The colors I chose, blue and red/orange, appear to mix (referred to as optical mixture or visual mix) as the viewing distance increases into a lavender-like color, and the pattern appears subtle with small areas of color next to one another. Drafts 1, 2, and 3 are identical in threading, treadling and tie-up and the only variable is color. So, if instead, I would have woven the Scarf with solid colors in the warp and the weft, there would be larger areas of colors next to one another and the pattern would be more striking with less optical mixture and look like this:
The size of the areas of color next to one another and the viewing distance is important in how optically mixed the colors appear. There are also other important factors: 1) value – how light or dark the colors are in relation to each other, 2) hue – what color family they belong to such as the warm family of red, orange and yellow or the cool family of green, blue and violet, and 3) intensity – purity of the color, whether it has black or white mixed in it. There is more optical mixture if the colors are not only small in area and are viewed from a distance but are similar in value, hue, and intensity with value having more effect than hue or intensity. So, if I wanted the pattern to be even more striking with even less optical mixture I could have used a lighter blue and a darker red/orange and it would look like this:
I learned about color theory in an art class back in college in the 70’s, and Josef Albers’ book, The Interaction of Color, was the guiding textbook for the course. We had to go to the Library to be able to see the early version of the book that had all the color plates in it. What an inspiration that was!
There are a series of incredible articles on color theory in “The Weaver’s Journal” magazines. Unfortunately, these magazines are probably not easily available but libraries or local weaving guilds might have them. The articles, “Color Theory for Handweavers” are in four parts written by Pat Boutin Wald: Part I: The Basics (issue #38, Fall 1985), Part II: Visual Mix (issue #39, Winter 1986), Part III: Visual Illusions with Color (issue #40, Spring 1986), and Part IV: More Visual Illusions with Color (issue #41, summer 1986).
Lastly, here’s an enjoyable way to learn about color theory, from a lecture at the Textile Museum in Washington D.C. on color in oriental rugs and textiles. Thanks to the weavers who recommended it!
Just one more thing – there are links to other posts I did about color-and-weave on my “Weaving Drafts and More” page.