Saturday, August 4, 2012

Indecision and Technoblogy twofer

Two blog posts for the price of one!  As of this afternoon, I've completed my first weaving project since 2003 -- yay!  And I'm getting excited for my second one.  I know that I want to make some sort of funky plaid, in bugga!  It'll be a table runner, or a wall hanging, or maybe become some pillows if my MIL agrees to help out with the sewing.  

So this is where the indecision comes in.  I'm choosing between two color combinations:  The Nauti Nudis (the pastel set), and Killer Bee and her posse (the bronze/brown set).

I love both of these color combinations.  But which one will make a better plaid?  To try to answer this question, I had to make mock-ups of woven fabric:

I'll tell you in a minute how I made these mockups.  (That's the technoblogy part of this post.)  But first, get thee to the comments and tell me which you like best!  Bonus points if you can say why, but one-word answers will receive full credit too.

Oh good, you're back.  Okay -- when I feel the need to do some sort of mock-up of a future knitting or weaving project, I always turn to Inkscape.  It's free!  It's open source!  It's so much more powerful than ClarisWorks was in 1999 !  (That being my main point of reference for what a computer drawing program can or can't do.)  Find-and-replace on colors?  It can do that!

So, in what follows, I won't assume you know anything about Inkscape -- I've tried to be very explicit.  The terminology is pretty simple: When I refer to a "tool," I mean one of the tools you can click on in the left column.  When I say "X>Y," the > symbol means that you go to menu X and choose option Y.  If anything here isn't clear, please ask!

1.  Import (File>Import) photo(s) of n yarns.
2.  Use the rectangle tool to draw n rectangles.
3.  Use the select tool (that would be the normal-looking arrow) to select a rectangle.  Then use the dropper tool, with the "Pick" option, to make this rectangle the color of one of the yarns.   Repeat n times.  (The dropper tool takes the average over a circle, whose center and radius are chosen by you.  Try a few times, until you get a color that seems representative to you.  Naturally, this technique works better with solid/semisolid yarns than highly variegated yarns.  As a digression though, I've sometimes found the dropper useful to help me figure out the overall cast of a very variegated skein.)  
4.  Duplicate your rectangles (use the select tool to select them, then Edit>Duplicate).  Stretch them (using the arrows that appear on the sides when the rectangle is selected) into tall-and-narrow shapes and arrange them (using the select tool, click and drag) in your desired warping pattern.
5.  In a separate area, duplicate your rectangles again, stretch them into short-and-wide shapes and arrange them in your desired wefting pattern.
6.  Select all the weft rectangles (Use the select tool and shift-click to select more than one object) and group (Object>group) them together.  Now change their opacity to 50% (Object>Fill and Stroke will give you a dialog box that includes an opacity slider.)
7.  Move the weft on top of the warp. 

All this is very fast -- it took me less than 20 minutes to do both mockups above.  But if you feel like spending extra time and getting amazing results, I have to mention the "mask" option.  This lets you take a picture of swatch (for knitting projects) or of an unskeined, straightened hank of yarn (for weaving), and use it in the place of a solid color.  Maybe I'll go into more detail about this later, like next time I make a sweater ...


  1. Well, I guess I can tell you my thoughts on these color combos-- I'm worried that with that dark green, the Killer Bee set looks too much like a Catholic school uniform. So, I'm leaning towards the Nauti Nudis at the moment.

  2. I like the Nudis as well, the extra color adds some more variation to the plaid that looks really good.

  3. I like the nudis, the killer bee is a bit too dark and a bit too stark.