Tried and True: Simplify Subtle Color Changes

When I pick up a color of thread I don’t want to have to guess if it’s the right color. Four of the five blues in the weft sequence are close neighbors in value. The one color that is easy to identify is the navy blue, which provides a good contrast among the blues.

Five blues in 8/2 cotton. 8-shaft twill.
Weft color order follows the sequence of the warp color order. Five blues for this 8-shaft twill in 8/2 cotton.

The weft order matches the warp order, and is marked out on a ribbon. I am using a separate boat shuttle for each shade of blue. But how do I know which color is which, when the difference is subtle from one color to the next?

Simplify Subtle Color Changes

  • Give each color a number. Write the numbers next to the colors of the warp order on the Project Notes.
Project Notes for weaving with 5 blues.
Weft colors are the same as the warp colors. The Project Notes show all the details. “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” is added to the sheet to give each color a simple number.
  • Label the thread tubes with a small piece of blue painter’s tape. Each tube of thread is numbered to correspond with the numbers on the Project Notes.
Make removable labels with blue painter's tape.
Handy blue painter’s tape is used to make removable labels.
Five blues are labeled for simplicity.
Thread tubes are labeled with their identifying number.
  • Label each boat shuttle with its assigned color number, using a small piece of blue painter’s tape.
There are five blues for this 8-shaft twill.
Each boat shuttle holds its own color.
  • Place wound quills under the rubber band of their respective thread tubes.
Simplify subtle weft color changes.
When I wind an extra quill I place it with its thread tube so I don’t accidentally pick up the wrong color quill.

It is easy to keep track of these five numbers as I follow the weft sequence that is marked on my reference ribbon. Now, it’s shuttle #4’s turn…

Simplify subtle weft color changes.
Next in line…

May you find a way to simplify.

Happy Weaving,

16 thoughts on “Tried and True: Simplify Subtle Color Changes

  1. Good morning Karen,
    No mix ups. No loose ends tangling. Great organizing system.
    Years ago a teacher told our class, ” The lightest pencil is better than the best memory.” Imagine what a sharpie can do. 😉
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. This is a gorgeous project… would you ever share a draft? This is a linen warp/weave I could fall in love with. Thanks so much for the tips on the labels and the colour sequencing. Very helpful for this “just past novice” weaver!
    Bethany in Kingston ON Canada

    1. Hi Bethany, I think this would be sensational in linen. I’ve done this weave in alpaca and in 8/2 cotton, as on the loom now. Maybe linen will be next. This 8-shaft twill has a strong tendency to draw in, so with linen I would be especially mindful of adequate weft, and use a temple, of course.

      This is a draft for the “Alpaca Scarf” from “The Big Book of Weaving,” by Laila Lundell, p.148. I adjusted it for size and sett.

      Thank you,

  3. Your work is always so beautiful! I can’t even imagine making such stunning and complex creations happen. Thank you for sharing with us. Your advice is so helpful to those of us struggling to improve.

    1. Hi Cynthia, I’m right there with you on finding ways to improve. I’m so happy if something here can help you on that journey!

      Thank you so much,

  4. You are so organized! I learned a lesson recently. I wanted to redo a pattern I did several years ago. I do not keep the best project notes and I could not find which notebook this particular pattern was in. When I did find it the notes lacked the information I needed. I basically had to start from the beginning. Hopefully- Lesson learned!

    1. Hi Maria, Thanks for sharing! My project notes have become more and more detailed over time, for exactly the reason you described. I would go back to my notes and see that the one thing I wanted to know was something I hadn’t written down.

      I don’t think I am “naturally” organized, but I do like having things in order. I have to work at it, knowing it saves me time in the long run.

      Happy weaving,

  5. Hi Karen, do you use the marked twill tape on all your projects? Is the tape the length of the entire project or just a section that repeats? Is the tape reusable or a single use item? I’ve learned so much from you over the years! Thanks!

    1. Hi Bonnie, I like your questions! I use a marked twill tape on almost all of my projects. Usually the tape is the length of the particular item I’m weaving – 1 towel, 1 scarf, 1 blanket, 1 rug, etc. Then, I use that same tape for all the same/similar items on that warp. The tape is reusable. I write on it what I’m weaving – “Towel” or “1st skirt panel”, etc. However, I seldom reuse the tapes. I make new plans, new sizes, new ideas for every warp, so I normally start from scratch and mark up a new twill tape for what I need.

      On this particular project, I am not using the tape as a measure, but only as a guide for repeat of weft stripes. When I get to the end of the tape I am turning it around and weaving the stripes in the opposite order. This is going to be one long length of fabric that I will cut and hem into smaller pieces.

      Here are two blog posts I’ve written about how I use these twill tapes.

      Tools Day: Measured Weaving and Tried and True: Designing Handwoven Towels

      I hope that gives you some ideas!

  6. Hi Karen,
    I am a new weaver and really appreciate your organizational tips. Could you talk a little more about the tape? What is it exactly, do you mark it for each project?

    1. Hi Cathy, I’m glad you asked! 🙂 I’d like to refer you to my response to Bonnie. You both are asking great questions.

      Happy weaving,

  7. Thanks so much for sharing your tips. I was just about to warp my new Julia when we are now moving, sooooooo?
    We have a farm out in the country (and we will still have that) yet the house in our town is quite nice and charming. It looks as if I will have my own loom room, not big but very adequate, Closes in May and Julia will have to be partly taken down for the move to the house in town.

    So, I’m thinking I’ll not warp but working on finishing two other pieces, amongst all the process of going through everything and deciding what stays and what goes to the town home or what needs trashed or given away.

    Back to this post, as always you are very inspirational and encouraging to us all.

    1. Hi Linda, That’s exciting that you will have a dedicated space for your Julia! I understand about waiting to put a warp on her. Moving will give you plenty to think about and do.

      I’m pleased to have someone like you enjoying this journey with me.

    1. Thank you! I appreciate your kind feedback. This fabric would make lovely towels. This time, I am weaving one long piece of yardage. I will be using the fabric to make arm and headrest covers for my mother-in-law’s recliner.

      Happy weaving,

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