How to use yarn winding for investigating colours.

It is not until the last couple of years that I fully understood the great benefit of winding yarns for investigating colours – about the same time as I started working with colour combinations for two-coloured brioche and corrugated ribbing for example.

Each of us will most likely have a preferred way of doing yarn winding, but essentially, it treats winding yarn in different colours around a piece of paper to understand how those colours influence each other.

Two colours may look great together when laying in skeins next to each other, but usually this is not how they will appear in a finished sweater - hence the value of knowing what they will look like for instance in smaller stripes next to each other.

Yarn winding gives you an idea about how colours affect each other: Do they look beautiful together? Will one of them become dull because of the other? Yarn winding can also show what happens if one of the colours is dominating, as is the case with two-colour brioche or corrugated ribbing.

I often use yarn winding to investigate how colours work together in corrugated ribbing. I therefore do my yarn winding the following way:

I use a piece of paper size 3X15 cm. I start in the one end by winding both colours in similar stripes next to each other. After doing 1/3 I change to making one of the colours increasingly dominant by maintaining the stripe of this colour whilst gradually making the stripes of the other colour smaller. Likewise, for the last 1/3 I make the other colour dominant (see the first photo).

Sometimes I also work the dominant colours by physically putting one colour on top of the other: An example of this is the second photo, where I worked with three colours and investigating dominant colours at the same time by changing the width of the stripes and working in layers.

If I am planning a specific design where I already decided on which yarn I will be using, I only work with colours of this particular yarn. However, if I am merely playing with colours I do not care too much about the yarn itself although I do care about the weight of the yarn as a very thick or woollen yarn will tend to be dominating in itself.

Winding yarn is not quite the same as doing a colour swatch but it is an easy, accessible and fun way of playing with colours before spending time on a swatch or knitting a sweater – and then realising that the colours do not at all turn out as anticipated.

Winding yarn is quite meditative and useful. In addition, some of the samples are very beautiful and decorative and hence useful for wall decoration too.

So please do your colour yarn winding in a systematic way, with an eye to detail and plenty of love!

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