In today’s tutorial I’ll show you a technique for weaving a simple two-colour gradient that you can use to create an ombré effect in your woven pieces.
Weaving multiple strands of yarn simultaneously, and gradually swapping in a different coloured thread as your weaving progresses creates the ombré effect.
It is a technique commonly used by tapestry weavers to blend colours or adjust the weight of the weft yarn.
The project I’ve chosen is a simple sampler. My only objective was to experiment with the technique and test how the yarn behaves before applying it in my final piece.
Project: Woven Ombré Sampler
- Gradually blend two colours across the surface of the fabric to produce an effect reminiscent of ombré.
- Make a small woven sample to test the effects of colour transitions and to see how the chosen yarn behaves when woven.
- Plain weave
- Colour changes – Half-hitch method
- Building a yarn – see ‘Sampling and ‘Method’ below
My set-up comprised a frame-loom warped to a width of approximately 10cm (4 inches), with 4 warp ends per 2.5cm (4 ends per inch).
I wove in a ground weave using spare warp thread. This helped space the warp and provided a firm base to start weaving.
My plan to secure the warp and weft was to start and finish the piece with a row of double half -hitches.
I decided on a lace weight (2 ply) yarn in two neutral tones that were of similar contrast.
Colour 1: BLUE - Morris Maya Lace Baby Alpaca, #3213 Winter Sky
Colour 2: CREAM - Morris Maya Lace Baby Alpaca, #3224 Erlicheer
The method relies on grouping a number of strands of lightweight yarns, which are then worked as one weft yarn within the piece.
I tested grouping 8, 10 and 12 strands, weaving a few rows of each yarn to see which would sit best within the warp.
I went with 10 strands as it seemed to fill the space between warps evenly - 8 strands lay too flat, and 12 strands was too bulky.
I also tested the visual effect of the gradient by swapping-in one or two strands of colour two. I went with a two-strand swap-in as it was more time effective and achieved similar results.
My sampling produced six colours within the gradient of blue to white.
The thread composition of each yarn is as follows:
- Yarn 1: 10 strands blue
- Yarn 2: 8 strands blue, 2 strands white
- Yarn 3: 6 strands blue, 4 strands white
- Yarn 4: 4 strands blue, 6 strands white
- Yarn 5: 2 strands blue, 8 strands white
- Yarn 6: 10 strands white
To build each weft yarn I measured out ten lengths* of each thread. Holding the strands at one end I carefully wound them on to my bobbin^.
*My lengths were about six arm lengths long, enough for multiple samples.
^A shuttle, weaving needle (for shorter lengths) or winding the yarn into a butterfly would also be appropriate.
Using Yarn 1 (blue), I wove a row of double half-hitches to secure and space the warp.
Continuing in Yarn 1 I wove in seven rows using plain weave. I finished the row and secured the yarn tail using a half-hitch.
Progressing with Yarn 2 I wove another seven rows, hitching-off on the opposite side from which I started – alternating the ‘hitch-on, hitch-off’ point will help space the weft evenly across the face of the fabric.
I continued this pattern, working through each colour change methodically.
On completing the last colour change I used a row of double half-hitches to secure both warp and weft before cutting the piece from the loom.
No finishing techniques were applied but I might use this sample in the future to test the effects of steam blocking on this particular yarn.
Opportunities for further experimentation
- I could use this stranding technique to incorporate more lightweight yarns into my work.
- It opens up a wide range of yarns that could be used in my work, this means more colours and textures to choose from!
- Blending yarns could be used to introduce subtle colour variations.
- Possibility to create really interesting colour and texture combinations.
- Use stranding to create the yarn I want!