Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Weaving a color gamp

This post revolves around a good old four-letter weaving term:  gamp.  A gamp is simply a woven sample or study piece that explores color combinations or weave structures in a systematic way.  In a color gamp,  you typically warp the loom in narrow stripes of many different colors of the same yarn, and then you weave the weft in stripes of the same width, in the same order.

Loom warped with stripes of all my Tencel colors
Every color crosses every other color (twice, in fact), and you end up with a very useful reference for how colors interact when they are interlaced in weaving--something that is often hard to determine by looking at a color wheel or other design tools. 
color gamp woven in plain weave, in 8/2 tencel
If you're a weaver, you may have looked a color gamp project in a weaving magazine or a yarn catalog and thought, Wow, that looks like fun!  And then you looked at the cost of ordering the whole rainbow of colors in the same type of yarn and thought, “Well, maybe later. . . .Besides, I don’t ever weave with those pure, saturated hues anyway. . .”  That was my train of thought until recently.  

For years I have been weaving almost exclusively with 8/2 Tencel and had built up a collection of 20 colors when I realized I could do a gamp using the colors I already owned.  And it would be really useful to me to see the color interactions of the yarns and colors I was using all the time anyway.  I had saved Michele Belson’s article “Color Gamps,” published online in WeaveZine, and I followed her directions.  I wound a 4-yard warp with all 20 of my Tencel colors in not-quite-2” stripes, and wove two gamps, one in plain weave and one in 2/2 twill, following the same color order in the weft as in the warp in each one.  (Michele also includes instructions for a gamp in huck lace, but I did not feel like rethreading the loom to do that one!  Also, be aware that the 4 yard warp length Michele specifies in her article would not have been long enough, at least on my loom, to do all three gamps.  Do your own math!)

Close up of color gamp woven in twill--see the diagonal twill pattern? 
Note that it is important that all the yarns you use are the same fiber and grist (thickness), so that variations in size and fiber behavior don’t distract you from the color interactions.   When I was done, I calculated the cost of the yarns I had used,  and it came to just over $40—much less than if I had ordered many new cones of yarn.  
Even before I began weaving, I found new color combinations simply in winding the warp.  I played with arranging the warp color order in a way that seemed logical and that would distribute the lightest and darkest values pleasingly.  After I cut the gamps off the loom, I was really excited to see so many iridescent color combinations!  Since then, I have referred to the gamps constantly as I have planned projects, using them to choose colors with the most impact, while confident that I know just how they will look once woven together.

Here are a few pieces whose color schemes I discovered in my gamps:

Two reds, two blues and a red-brown hue make this shawl iridescent. 

Silver, blue and gold threads create a glittery metallic weave

Multiple colors in unexpected combinations that I discovered in the gamp
The funny thing is, when I've had my gamp on display at shows, to help explain how I work, people are drawn to its rainbow spectrum immediately, and they seem disappointed to learn that it's not for sale.  One of these days I'm going to weave a scarf or shawl that replicates a portion of the gamp, in that same 2" checkerboard plaid. 

Have you ever woven a gamp?  Or made some other elaborate sample that became a valuable reference tool?  Drop me a line below and tell me how it went.  Next week I'll share the twill structure gamp I'm finishing up now.  More fun!

No comments:

Post a Comment