Wednesday, 25 March 2009

On colour again

It's an oft-asked question: what do you do with dyeing disasters? The mark of a good cook is how well the bounce back from a kitchen disaster: could the same be true of a weaver?

I hasten to add that this is not my dyeing disaster. Some may argue it's not a disaster at all, but it's a bit busier than I'd normally take a project. This is one of a number of skeins I bought cheaply off ebay from someone who'd tried weaving, found it wasn't for them, and later sold on the stash they'd bought in the first flush of enthusiasm. I've bought some good bargains that way. This skein was worth taking on because it came with a number of other silk skeins which had not been dyed. The base silk is a lovely soft grey, and it's been splodged with rose pink, green and blue.

My usual approach to design is completely instinctual. I do some conscious design, but more normally yarns and drafts are left lying around in close proximity to each other, and finally they group themselves and present themselves to me as a fait accompli. I keep thinking that I ought to approach design in a more conscious manner and occasionally I do, but the instinctual approach seems to be what my brain desires after a day spent doing hard, conscious science. My weaving is, after all, not my day job. For now.

The usual answer to a dyeing disaster is to dye some more. But as I've looked at this over time, I've come to think, can it be made to work? Can the silk be used as it is, making the various colours look attractive sitting beside each other rather than a dog's breakfast? And the answer may be that it is. The trick is to use the multi-coloured stuff as an accent rather than a whole warp, and interchange it with complementary colours. Perhaps use it as the centre of a scarf, with a thin stripe of rose pink and a selvedge of the same grey as the base colour. It could work, if it were woven with a lovely complexish twill patterned draft.

The blue and yellow silk caps are floating around with it to see how they like the idea of becoming a weft with these colours. The blue is saying no, the pale yellow yes - and the pale yellow is also liking the golden yellow silk skein above it. The yellow, a lovely soft colour, is a few silk caps I threw into the exhaust bath of the lovely tangerine dyeing.

There's enough of the syed silk skein there for 2-3 scarves, so there's room for experimentation. This is 1-2 projects down the list, so watch this space.


  1. I say, work it up into a project and see what happens! Who knows, it might be wonderful.

  2. Yes, that's what I'm thinking. At the very least, winding it into a warp will tell me fairly quickly if it's going to work.

  3. Curiouser and curiouser!! Sometimes I think that what you see as instinctual is based on your conscious thinking and learning thus far?

  4. Almost certainly. What I'm referring to as 'instinct' follows things such as colour theory. I think that knowledge is so deeply ingrained that I accept it as a matter of course.