Composition and Design – Color

I seemed to have missed the Composition and Design post for September but I will just move on to the next element of design, color. I have discussed color many times here especially the year that we had color as the focus of our quarterly challenges. But it’s always good for a review and to think about how you use color in your compositions.

Mixing Color - Color Wheel

Color occurs when light in different wavelengths strikes our eyes. Objects have no color of their own, only the ability to reflect a certain wavelength of light back to our eyes. As you know, color can vary in differing circumstances. For example, grass can appear gray in the morning or evening or bright green at noon. Colors appear different depending on whether you view them under incandescent, fluorescent or natural sunlight. Colors also change according to their surroundings.

There are three properties of color which are hue, value and intensity. Hue refers to the color itself. Each different hue is a different reflected wavelength of light. White light broken in a prism has seven hues: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Remember Roy G. Biv? White light occurs when all the wavelengths are reflected back to your eye, and black light occurs when no light is reflected to your eye. This is the physics of light.

Contemporary Designs by Deb Stika

Color value refers to the lightness or darkness of the hue. Adding white to a hue produces a high-value color, often called a tint. Adding black to a hue produces a low-value color, often called a shade. Value can be used for emphasis. Variations in value are used to create a focal point for the design of a piece.

Intensity, also called chroma or saturation, refers to the brightness of a color. A color is at full intensity when not mixed with black or white – a pure hue. You can change the intensity of a color, making it duller or more neutral by adding gray to the color. You can also change the intensity of a color by adding its complement (this is the color found directly opposite on the traditional color wheel). When changing colors this way, the color produced is called a tone.

Certain colors have an advancing or receding quality, based on how our eye has to adjust to see them. Warm colors such as red, orange or yellow seem to come forward while cool colors such as blue and green seem to recede slightly. In the atmosphere, distant objects appear bluish and the further away an object appears, the less colorful and distinct it becomes. You can use this tendency to give an illusion of depth, by using more neutral and grayish colors in the background.

Various color schemes can be used in your work. A monochromatic color scheme involves the use of only one hue. The hue can vary in value, and black or white may be added to create various shades or tints.

Leaves Printed in Multi Colors

An analogous color scheme involves the use of colors that are located adjacent on the color wheel. The hues may vary in value.

Hand Stitch Sample Book

A complementary color scheme involves the use of colors that are located opposite on the color wheel such as red and green, yellow and purple, or orange and blue. Complementary colors produce a very exciting, dynamic pattern.

textured felt for cutting close.

Or how about triadic? (Thanks to Ann for the photo above.) This color scheme involves the use of colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel. The primary colors of yellow, red and blue could be used together in a color scheme to produce a lively result.


What’s your favorite color scheme? Do you push outside of your comfort zone occasionally and try colors you normally wouldn’t use?

Water Lily

How can you use color to evoke different emotions? Do you connect certain emotions to certain colors?

form barette

What does using a monochromatic color scheme do to your composition? Complementary? Analogous? Or Triadic?

Online Course Embellishing Felt with Surface Design Techniques - A Mixed Media Approach by Ruth Lane

How do you choose your color scheme? Is it affected by the subject of your composition? The mood you want to achieve? What is the impact of choosing a color scheme that is the opposite of your normal choice?

Chemo Curtains

What would your composition look like with all the same values? How can you use value changes to improve your focal point?

I’d love to hear about how you use color and whether you think about it in advance or just jump in with your favorite colors.


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More Natural Dyeing with Cochineal

This is the last of my summer experiments with natural dyeing.  Cochineal are those little scale insects that are picked off of cacti.


I’ve seen some really nice results using cochineal such as Nada’s experience she posted on the forum this summer.

As with my previous experiments, I used small amounts of silk habatoi, silk gauze, silk mulberry, wool yarn, and merino and corriedale rovings.  They were pre-mordanted.

The cochineal had to be ground.  I used a wooden mortar and pestle, then put them in a blender, then made it into a paste before adding boiling water.

The mixture was then left overnight before adding to the pot. (This was divided into three parts first to use with different modifiers.)

The first pot I used only cochineal.

20160625_155500The second I modified with cream of tartar.


The last I added iron.


After each batch was removed from the pot, I left it “cure” for two days.  Since I didn’t have both the a lot of room to spread them out I left them bunched up hence the lines. They also dried much lighter as you’ll see.


This was cochineal with cream of tartar.  You can see the little bits of bugs on them.20160628_112634Once they were cured, I rinsed them out and hung them to dry.


Cochineal only.


With cream of tartar modifier. A nice bright pink.


With the iron modifier.


While the results were not exactly what I expected, I believe because the bugs weren’t finely ground I got lighter colors.  I may over dye the first batch when I find an electric grinder.  If I had to order cochineal again, I’d look for powder.

Have you done any natural dyeing lately?




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Fourth Quarter Challenge

How did you get on with saving all your bits of threads, yarns and unravellings ready for this Quarter’s Challenge? In case you missed it, I gave a heads up earlier this year that the challenge for this quarter would be to use things people* usually throw away, such as little snippings of sewing or embroidery thread, the last few inches of yarn or those annoying bits of unravelled thread which get everywhere when you tear fabric. (*Not fibre people apparently, I realised pretty much all of us save every little scrap!)

I made a few pieces to help get the ideas flowing, this first piece is some unravelled knitting with some wispy layers of Merino. I’m not sure of the wool content of the yarn, though I think it’s possibly 40% ‘British Wool’. I just put the tangle of yarn down on my netting, then added the wispy layers on top (working upside down/back to front):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis next piece also uses some unravelled knitting. I made some handspun yarn earlier this year, then knitted a little square. It was too small and chunky to do anything with, so I unravelled it. Using the same Merino as above, I laid out two layers, then pulled apart some lengths of the yarn. Where it was extra loose, I teased it apart. Once the top was covered, I felted it:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used the golden tassley fringe of a charity shop scarf for this next piece. I’ve used bits of this scarf before, a weird thin pinky fabric, which had loose soy-like fibre trapped between layers in parts. I’m not exactly sure  what the wool I used with it was, it was from a Botany Lap Waste bag from World of Wool, it feels like fine Merino with a tiny bit of silk in. I laid out the tassel strip, added some wisps of wool, rolled it up and placed on top of a couple of layers of the Merino ‘blend’:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used the same Merino wool blend as the base for this next piece, which is just embellished with lengths of embroidery thread and floss:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis piece is also embellished with emroidery threads and floss. The top part is untwisted strands of cotton perle 5. The multi coloured lengths on the right side are from one multi length of floss. Most of the rest is single strands of floss, but over on the left I used some untwisted thread with the fibres fanned out, and also balled up some little pieces of floss.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used some threads from my tub of ‘mixed threads and unravellings’ for this next piece. I spindle-spun some wool also from the Botanly lap waste, which felt like 23 mic natural Merino, with the threads, just picking up bits, teasing them out a bit and spinning them with the wool. I left it on the spindle overnight, then let it unwind/loosen before using it. I used the finer Merino ‘blend’ as a base, then added lengths of the thread-yarn on to the top and felted:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese next two pieces were made with a wool I hadn’t used before, Charollais. I got the tops from WoW fairly recently then forgot about them. It makes really spongey felt. For this first one, I just got a handful from the same tub of ‘mixed threads and unravellings’  I used on the previous piece, and put them on top of two layers of Charollais:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis next piece was laid out the same, except I used bits from my ‘threadbare scarves and fabric pieces’ tub. I just ‘sprinkled’ them on top, then felted.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo now you’ve seen a few simple ways of the scrap pieces being used, get your thinking caps on, get out all your tubs of leftover threads, yarns and unravellings, and come up with some creative ways of using your ‘free’ embellishment fibres!

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Some Fall Colour to Inspire You

Fall is here and the trees are turning colour and the fall bl00ms are out.

This is the View I have every morning on my way to work


The rest of the pictures I will do mostly smaller so as not to overwhelm peoples computers. If you click on them they will open larger.

fall-1 fall-2 fall-3 fall-4 fall-5 fall-6 fall-12 fall-13 fall-14  This one you will need to enlarge to see. It is one of the Maples that is such a dark green it looks black. Now it is a really dark purple.

And now for the fall blooms. I do not know what most of them are. Perhaps Frances will see this and help us out.

fall-9 fall-10

These are wild sunflowers I am told. You have to beat them back several times a year to keep them under control. In the background is the same flower as on the right, Michaelmas daisies.

fall-18 fall-16

I am sure these are just different colours of the same flower and blow is sedum. Apparently it is tasty because the sheep eat mine this year.


I left this one big so you could see the bumble bee.


The apples looked so nice against the blue of the sky I had to include them. Lastly I have a few crazy violets blooming. I have no idea what the white flowers are.


Are the fall colours starting where you are? In the southern hemisphere I think the spring flowers must be starting. I hope my fall colours inspire you in your work this month. Fall is my favourite season I think.




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Woven Burlap and Wool Basket

Recently I was sent some free burlap products to try out from They sent burlap in different colors, bags, strapping and a table runner. I gave some of these items to the women in my surface design group to play with and we will have more examples of using burlap soon.

Burlap Products from BurlapFabric.Com

Here’s a photo of some of the burlap I got. You can see more of their products here.  They also sell cheesecloth and broadcloth.

Burlap Strapping

I decided to try out some of the strapping that they sent. I used the smaller 2″ variety in the center of the photo. It took me a while to figure out who I was going to use it and then I was cleaning out my studio and ran across a tutorial on how to weave a basket from brown paper bag strips. Thus the idea for using the strapping along with some beautiful wool yarn that my friend Nanci had given me was born.

Project Supplies

So I thought I would show you how I created the basket. I am not a basket maker or a weaver so I was just making it up as I went along. I did use some paper strips to work out how long the burlap strapping needed to be and that I had enough for what I wanted to make. I ended up using 6  pieces of strapping that were 16″ long. I used about one half of the skein of yarn that was originally 90 yards long. The yarn is a hand dyed merino wool yarn.

Burlap Strap Weaving

To start, I wove the burlap strapping together to make the bottom of the basket. I wanted it to be sturdy and wasn’t too sure of my weaving skills so I decided to sew the bottom pieces together on the sewing machine.

I pinned the strips together making sure that there wasn’t any space left between the strapping. Then I sewed around the edge of the woven square. Hopefully, you can see the stitching on the photo on the right. I used cotton thread that was nearly the same color as the strapping so it would just disappear.

Next, I decide to fold in the edge pieces where I would begin weaving so that my basket would have a distinct “right angle” from the bottom to the edge. I ironed along the fold so it would make a sharp edge.

Unfortunately, all the weaving photos I took were all blurry. It was a bit difficult taking photos and weaving at the same time. I did leave a long tail of yarn when I started weaving. I’m not really sure why I did this but it came in really handy. Since I haven’t done any basket making or weaving, it took a bit for me to figure out how to get this to work. I kept fiddling around until I started using the long tail of yarn to wrap around the weaving yarn so that it would be the opposite direction when I went around the basket again. Otherwise, it kept ending up not being the opposite over and under direction when I did the next level of weaving. I’m not sure this is making sense to anyone but me or if it was because I had an odd number of straps or what.

Corner with Weaving Long End In

Here is the corner I am talking about. All the other corners are smooth but this is where I used the tail end of the yarn to start the next round of weaving. You can also see in this photo that I folded the top edge of the burlap strap and tucked it under the yarn on the inside of the basket.

Ironing Folded Top Edges

Once I had tied off the yarn end and tucked it out of sight, I ironed the top folded edge too. I am sure there is some specific way you are supposed to end your weaving but I just made it up and hoped for the best.

Sewing Top Edge

I then put the top edge back under the sewing machine and stitched it down.

Top Edge Stitching

Here you can see the stitching at the top of the basket.

And here’s the finished basket. It’s actually very sturdy and I love the yarn. I had been saving it for the right project and it worked very well for this basket. I hope anyone who is a basket maker or weaver will forgive my ignorance in the process🙂

Thanks to Pearl at for the supplies. It was fun trying out something I don’t normally use! There will be more burlap posts in the future showing what my friends did with their ideas for using burlap in fiber art.




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3rd Quarter Challenge

This quarter has flashed by for me between traveling and taking classes. When I originally thought of the dimension theme, I had something different in mind to accomplish.  But as timing would have it, the Kristy Kun’s Texture Techniques with Heavy Needled Wool fell right into the quarter.  A few weeks ago Terri Simon aka Meterrilee shared her work with us from the class in this blog.

It took me a little longer to finalize my projects, but I would say they definitely qualify for dimensional felt.

For the first project the objective was to learn to add vertical prefelt to a square background. There were three different heights of the prefelt and I had no specific plan.  I just played with it to try to learn the technique which is much different than anything I’ve done before in wool.  I made some mistakes, but learned a lot in the process.


Here is a side view to show the height.  This piece probably could have been worked a little longer to smooth it out more and I may try again.  But I had to move on to my other projects.



The second project involved joining pieces to each other and being able to use colored batts.


The last project was the flower.  This one took the most time and attention. Each petal had to be worked separately a number of times at different stages.  It was a very mindful and intense process, but well worth the effort.

20160924_155311 20160924_155325-1

For this project there were two sizes of prefelt and a number of different examples of flowers or the ability to create your own.  Since I was concentrating on learning the technique, I chose to follow an example.  But with all felt projects even though you may be following an example, the end result can be different.

I really enjoyed the class and learning such a different technique.  And of course, creating dimension in a unique way.  Thanks Kristy for a great class!

Have you finished your 3rd quarter challenge yet?  If not, there is still time.

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Some New Pieces

I’ve got some things the I made over the last few weeks at the well being centre for today’s post. We aren’t funded, so need to raise some money for supplies and have been making things to sell. We tried rosiepink’s vessel tutorial a few weeks ago and we thought the size of them would appeal to lots of people, so I made another:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is bit closer with silk and viscose embellishments, though the crop is making them look the same to me now I come to post them!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI started to make this next piece as a tea/coffee mat, I love mine it hides all kinds of stains! It was too small though, so I thought I’d full it hard and make it into a thick trivet type mat instead:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think I need to give it an iron, all the different wool breeds together with the fulling has created a lot of texture:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love the look of all the tangled fibres in supermacro photos:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we first started doing felting, everyone would choose the really bright colours, especially the pinks, but different people have different tastes and they rarely get picked now, so I started to use them to ‘save’ the other colours, but put together with other bright colours apparently appeals to a lot of people, so I did this when making a flat piece to sell. I don’t know about you, but I can’t decide which is the front and which is the back, so this is side 1:



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