I thought there were just two options when it came to fibre colouration: dye it or leave it natural. It never even occured to me that just like I mix my paints, I could mix my fibres and BLEND to create new colours. Did you know this? Am I the only that missed this memo?
When Wendy Bateman, Grand Empress of All Things Textile, starting demonstrating blending fibres on hand carders in Haliburton, I was spellbound. Two or more colours went on the carders and with just a few swipes magic was created. A whole new tone, shade, hue or value emerged.
Of course I tried to hide my delight and play it cool.
Just kidding. I practically started vibrating in my seat with pure excitement.
I love the depth of colour that fibre blending creates. The space and shadow between the variety of fibres allows for a richness of colour different from single dyes. So. Glorious.
Here’s the trick with blending. Here’s a few tricks I learned when it comes to blending.
1. CARD IT GOOD. My first few attempts with blending resulted in some streaky, bloby yarn because I hadn’t adequately carded the fibres together. It’s worth it pull apart the rolags and change direction when loading the carders. And then take a few extra passes when you think you’re done.
2. PULL OUT THE SHORT CUTS AND PILLS. I hate that stuff. All those little bits make for miscoloured slubs in your yarn. Pull it out while the fibre is still on the carders.
3. CLEAN OUT YOUR CARDERS. As someone who can be a tad over-enthusiastic to get started at a new project (I hate to admit it but it’s true), I forgot to clean my carders before changing to a new set of colours. This made for some rather odd mixtures emerging. While I normally am excited for unexpected results, when completing your OHS homework or working towards a precise colour, it is a serious pain in the tush to pick out all the wrong colour.
4. RECORD. RECORD. RECORD. Once again, as someone that enjoys experimentation and chance, recording my process isn’t generally in the forefront of my mind. This is a big loss when I happen to create a colour that is truly awe-inspiring. I am training myself to write that s*&! down. Record your percentages and combinations. Take photos. Keep a wee bit of fibre as a sample. Hold back a bit of yarn. As much as I hate to slow down the creative process with record keeping, it is (sigh) worth it.
5. PULL OUT THAT COLOUR WHEEL. Remember studying the colour wheel in highschool art class? Reacquante yourself with it. Take a look at what is complementary and analogous. Remind yourself of what hues, shades, values and tones are and how they are assessed. Try to figure out what colours are mixed to create that tone of lime green sitting across from you on the subway.
6. TOSS OUT THAT COLOUR WHEEL. After you’ve hung out with the colour wheel for awhile and have memorized primary, tertiary and all other terms, start playing. The rules are great place to start but they aren’t the whole journey. Explore the terrain beyond the wheel.
Do you have any fabulous tips or tricks on colour blending? Share the wealth and post below!
Leave a Comment