Category Archives: Color

Well, look what came in the mail


Sarah Swett’s book is handsewn

Sarah Swett has written and produced this small book about weaving a bag on a box. You can buy it here. I love her drawings and you can see more of them on her blog, A Field Guide to Needlework. Clever name, right? I’ve actually tried weaving on a box before, not very successfully, but after reading this small book, I’m thinking maybe another try is in order. It seems there are remedies for the problems I had with this type of weaving.

Inside the envelope Was a postcard with a picture of the very first weaving I saw of Sarah’s. I remember being astounded at the range of color she achieved with natural dyes, the detail, vitality, and energy in the piece. I still think that.

Energetic postcard

Energetic postcard

In my effort to become more observant, I have been taking a lot of pictures. I’ve driven by this sculpture a million times and decided to take a picture this time. I especially wanted to get at least part of the pink window with the red sculpture, which is in front of the studio of Rebecca Low, the sculptor.


Rebecca Low’s studio

Taken using the remote shutter

Taken using the remote shutter

While shopping in Target the other day, I picked up a Bluetooth Remote Shutter. All you have to do is put the battery in, turn it on and pair your phone with it, turn on the camera, and push a button. Voila! A picture is taken. There’s not one on the Target website, but the one I got is very similar to this one at Amazon, except no wrist strap. Lower price too.

Below you can see my project for,the week–putting the table loom together. I really wish the directions were better, or that there was at least a list of parts with pictures. This really will probably take the week. Why did I decide to do this?!!


Ashford table loom in pieces


I love this stuff!

Original colors

For some reason, I’ve ended up with a pile of green yarns that I don’t like very much, so I decided to overdye them with turquoise. The image above left is the original colors and below that is the dye result. As you can see, there’s not a huge difference in the final colors, but the olive one on the right turned out to have a lot of depth to it. I have more of these same colors, which I will overdye with blue. Over dyed with turquoise

I’ve also been dyeing yarns for the next project, that is if there is ever a new project. I’m thinking the small piece on the loom may never end. There’s just something about having 50 butterflies going that seems to slow things down. Because of various life circumstances, my weaving time has slipped, so I’m working really hard to get back that discipline. My goal for the week is 18 hours of loom time. At the rate the current piece is going, it may take 2-3 weeks to finish. It’s size is only increasing by 1/2 inch per day.

I love seeing the yarns coming out of the depots! Wonderful colors. More pics later.

Color-lots and lots of color


This morning I walked to my loom and noticed how great all the brightly colored weft butterflies looked. Well, the picture just doesn’t capture that deliciousness. This is an experiment while I get the rest of the yarns dyed for the next project. I also changed the sett, which means that I have now re-sleyed the reed about a jillion times. 6 epi for now. So, what do you think this will be? 60 inches wide, and I’m thinking 5-8 inches high. Lots of bright colors.

My new favorite toy for dyeing


On the right combination of blue and magenta, a dye mistake.


I’m doing some lots of dyeing right now. My way of dyeing may be somewhat unconventional because I don’t make dye solutions. I did when I first started, but it’s just so time-consuming, and since I’m doing this in a building without heavy duty electrical outlets, I use a tea kettle to heat water. I bought 1/2 gallon containers to make the solutions, but I just don’t. For me it’s just easier to go directly to the dye, weigh it out and add it to the dyepot. Yes, there are a few colors that require more care, but those I just wet up and add to the dyepot.

This method does have its own issues, though. If your are doing small samples or using a formula that requires a minute bit of one color, well, that’s just a problem. My triple beam scales are good, but…

This is where the new favorite toy comes in. I don’t remember where I read about these scales, but they’re available on Amazon and, at $20, they are not hugely expensive, especially when compared with the triple beam. I used them for the first time this morning. My dye formula needed 98% orange/2% magenta. 2% is hard to weight when you’re not dyeing pounds of yarn. That means that I needed 0.06 grams of magenta for the amount of yarn I’m dyeing. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, but at least this amount was easy to weigh. Will let you know how it turns out.

Oh, yes. The picture at the top? This is what happens when you plan to dye a combination of mustard and blue, but pick up magenta instead of mustard. A nice color, but it doesn’t fit in anywhere in the current weaving plan.

If only… I would go to NYC

From Amazon

©Sherri Coffey-Journey

This was designed in the “Matisse way.” Everything was cut out of paper and arranged to make the design.







February is probably not the best time to travel to NYC, but I seriously considered a quick, two-day trip to see the exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at MOMA.  Matisse has been a favorite artist of mine for a good long time. I have written, or at least mentioned him often. When I analyze the reason for this admiration, I think it boils down to color. He definitely has a way with color! So, since I am seriously considering a long trip to Peru in the fall, I passed up on going to New York, even though flights and rooms were reasonably priced. I just went to a film about the exhibition instead.

The film was held on one night only, in one local theater only, but it was well worth it to get out in the cold, blustery wind. At night, no less! The film includes additions that would not be available at the actual exhibition (maybe?), such as a segment of ballet, including how it was filmed, a segment on a chapel which Matisse designed, and film of how the exhibition groupings were decided by the curator. I have to admit that I never knew he designed a chapel, and it’s wonderful! Here is an image of my favorite of the many stained glass windows he designed.

One could say that I’ve been consumed by this exhibition. I admit it. I bought the exhibition catalog, but there is no way that it could compare to the film. The pictures on a page of a book in no way allow one to see the scope of the cut-outs. The cut-outs are huge, and are much more impressive when seen on a wall, in context with the rest of cut-outs. But in defense of the book, which I have not examined thoroughly, there is more detailed information about the materials Matisse used. Of course, in the film, there were actual clips of Matisse cutting, of his assistants placing the cut-outs on the wall, and rearranging them at the direction of Matisse.

I am inspired once again, eager to do some designing. I came home all revved up after the viewing. I know I am not alone in this. Other artists have commented to feeling the same. By the way, I have always heard that Matisse started making the cutouts because he couldn’t see well. That was debunked in the film.


October 6-12

©Sherri Coffey-ZigZagII

ZigZag II, hand-dyed with natural dyes, wool yarns, tapestry, 33.5 x 58 inches, private collection. ©Sherri Coffey-ZigZagII

A lot of things need to be done this week. In fact, ever since I hurt my knee, my life has been a quagmire, at least after I could walk again. There were physical therapy appointments, appointments to get shots in the knee, and eye appointments. All but the eye appointments are over with. The last surgery on my eye is tomorrow, then two more follow-up appointments, and I’m done.


In honor of fall, here’s a snippet of a Color Thesaurus by Ingrid Sundbird. You can see the whole thing here. It goes from white to black and all the colors in between, really quite interesting.

The weather is getting nicer and I’m feeling more energetic, although we are expected to have more days in the 90s this week. So, in addition of doing my knee exercises and walking, goals for the coming week are:


  • Finish work on Rain
  • Warp baby loom
  • Clean studio


  • Organize carport
  • Make a donation run to Goodwill
  • New toilet installed


  • Eye operation
  • Post op appt
  • Attend two events on Friday, one at 4:30, other at 6:30

From this to….this

Dyeing was to begin, and it did, but not without a snafu first. The yarn was in the dye pots, burners turned on, and I went back inside and set the timer. When I went out again, the burners were off and the propane tank empty. I attached a new tank (which I know was full because it was so heavy) and nothing happened. A bit of flame, then nothing. So, off to the propane place to refill the first tank. By then it was too late in the day, so everything was started again the next morning.  I untied the first sections so that I can weave even it the other sections are not dyed yet.  My big fear now is that the sections are going to be in different dye baths. Even if everything is done carefully, each dye bath will vary somewhat in color.

Stretched yarn tied

Stretched yarn has been tied with the design. The cartoon is visible beneath the stretched yarn.

Ikat-tied yarn pile

Ikat-tied yarn pile




Ties removed


Hanging to dry. From here, the sections are wound into balls and then put on a rug shuttle. The labels will remain until the section is ready to be woven.


Learning lessons

Ikat So, 10 boards just like this one have been stretched between the boards and the pattern has been tied.

Label, label, label!

Label, label, label!

Ikat-tied yarn pile

Ikat-tied yarn pile. The picture of the pile of yarn doesn’t show how high the pile is.

My method for a design that has been stretched to 128 inches is to cut it into sections. I label each one with the title of the piece, top and bottom, and the number of the section. As I worked on this particular design, I decided that I needed to also label the width of each design element and the centers. You can see all the labels if you click on the picture.

After stretching and tying the yarn, I also label the top and bottom (ask me how I learned to do that!). So I thought at least.

When I dye, I weigh each skein and then use a formula for how much dye and additives to use. That’s harder for me to do with ikat, since there are sections that are tied off and there is no need for dye there. I had first thought I would use a 4% solution to get an intense color, but I’ve decided to go with 3% to compensate for the tied off parts. So, I separated that pile into the individual sections and weighed each one.

Forgot to add the labels before taking off the board.

Forgot to add the labels before taking off the board.

That’s when I discovered that one section had no labels for the top and bottom of that section. I put all of the the cartoon pieces on the floor, along with its matching yarn section until I found the correct one.

The yarns are all weighed, the spreadsheet is ready … Dyeing begins soon!

And the winner is … and grayscale again

253g The first ball of yarn on the new Nancy’s Knit Knack’s ball winder. I love it! No grinding of plastic gears. This skein was 253 g and wound on easily. You can also get a motor for the winder, which I had rejected because of my tangled hand-dyed skeins. I’ll try a few more skeins on this hard worker and possibly reconsider that decision.

The piece that I’m currently working on is made up of green and blue yarns. Below are small pictures of the work, first in color, then black and white. I think it’s interesting that the 4% blue square is still visible in black and white, but the 2% blue is not. Which only means that the value (or tone) of the two colors is very close to the same of is the same. I admit that, not being an art major, I don’t know a lot about this, but there are resources online. Here’s one that I thought was good.  There is a previous post about value and some tools to use, but I think Photoshop wins overall.


Two shades of blue, green background. 2% blue on right. Combination of 2% blue and 1% blue on left.


Two shades of blue, green background-black and white. The first section of blue disappears.










4% blue on green background


4% blue on green background-black and white



Habits, photography, beaters


My photograph

Habits, photography, beaters–now there’s a combination!

In reference to my post about habits, there is good news. My morning walk has become enjoyable! Instead of keeping my eyes forward to the distance goal for the day, my mind has started wandering, often to design and weaving. Yippee! Years ago, I walked five miles daily. One of the best things about that was going out for my walk with some sort of problem in my head and returning home with the solution.



This is a picture (left) taken with a good camera, but you can see how dark the picture is at the top, but especially the bottom, which means I need to learn about lighting.  As I think about this, the top part is because I was blending yarns from different dye lots. There’s a really bad picture–taken with my phone–on the Habit post. It’s not the phone’s fault that the picture is so bad; it’s that I played around with editing it, and the original disappeared. Monday I got a professional photo made (right). Find differences? What do you think? Better? Not worth it? Chime in.



My new beater from Weaving Southwest arrived, and not a minute too soon. I am experimenting with weaving two small pieces at the same time, and this beater works better for this than the loom’s beater.  I love the weight, the length, everything about this beater. The old one is very beat up after being dropped on the floor too many times. I even glued a tine back on, but not successfully.

Do you see things graphically all around you? I do. Things like shadows, lines in a building under construction. Sometimes I detour to take pictures. Yesterday I saw a huge concrete wall being propped up with tall metal rods

Tornadoes Possible    West Texas Snowfall

Tornadoes Possible West Texas Snowfall

which crisscrossed each other. I loved the pattern, but unfortunately, while driving 65 on a busy highway, stopping for pictures is not possible. These small pieces are based on something I (we) see quite frequently on TV, in the newspaper, in social media, etc. I have no idea if they will be successful or not, but I’m experimenting with the rest of the warp on the loom, before I put a new warp of linen on. What everyday stuff appeals to you graphically? Keep a list and let us know.