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.
An ombré effect is created by weaving multiple strands of yarn simultaneously and gradually swapping in a different coloured thread as your weaving progresses.
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!