Colors & Fiber Arts

At some point I will attempt to write up an article about how I personally incorporate colors in my fiber arts. But as most of you can imagine it’s a very personal topic and not easy to articulate clearly how I go about sampling and making selections. In the meantime, please find a list of resources I find helpful when choosing colors.


Books – I like to refer to these books when I’m stuck or looking for ideas

  • Lambert, Patricia, et al. Color and Fiber. Schiffer Pub., 1986.
  • Menz, Deb. Color in Spinning. Loveland, Colo., Interweave Press, Cop, 2005.
  • —. Color Works : The Crafter’s Guide to Color. Loveland, Colo., Interweave Press, 2004.

Magazines – great articles on different blending, spinning, & plying techniques on how to use different colors.

  • SpinOff Magazine
  • Ply Magazine

Even though most of these sources focus on spinning and weaving ideas on color THEORY are similar and can be applied to different crafts.

Also, it may be easier to think of blending fibers and colors on hand cards/combs/hackles/blending board etc as a painter’s palette and how well you mix the fibers together as how well a painter mixes their paints to create different colors and textures. Yes red and blue mixed together make purple, but do you want swirls or flecks of blue and red in the purple? A solid purple or a gradient? If you want more texture instead of blending red and blue of the same fiber you would use a red wool with blue silk noil or recycled sari silk, etc to create whatever effect you are looking for. Perhaps a blue fine wool with a red long wool locks.

If you are thinking about weaving 2 different yarns and aren’t sure you will like the effect, the quick and dirty way to check before you even start with any serious testing is to roll the 2 yarns between your fingers, basically plying them together and see if you like how the marled yarn looks.

The Lambert book discusses terminology, such as hues versus values, and opalescence versus pearlescence. This is helpful as you read more advanced techniques, especially if your fiber education is largely hobbist and self taught. I like having terms defined so that as I read and discuss things with other fiber geeks we have a common vocabulary or short hand. And it also makes reading more advanced books on color theory and textile techniques more accessible.

Perhaps because I grew up bilingual and often don’t have the words in the language I’m using at moment to explain an idea. I find the idea of a common textile language appealing. Essentially, you can’t discussion advanced ideas until everyone agrees on what common terms to use.

Some thoughts for further consideration.