Value is more important than hue!

Laura Fry recently posted this quote from her Olds Class. When you state it so simply it seems so obviously. I am going to print this quote out and place it next to my yarns as a reminder. Although it seems simple, I thought this quote might generate some nice discussion, as there is a lot that goes into this concept as it relates to weaving.

My new focus for things other than plain weave is to keep the warp within the same vlue and use a different value for the weft. Again it seems simple, but I can not count the number of times I have put together a warp and there is one hue of a different value, which makes choosing a weft extremely difficult!



Embarassed  My hue today is embarrassed. I read the definitions of the terms used. I understand them until the next discussion.

Hue - name from the color wheel

Value - light to dark, like a black and white photo. You could have value contrast created by one hue (light blue and dark blue); or, use multiple hues (ivory and red).

I read 2 concepts today. (1) A solid black warp will brighten the weft color threads. Yet bright is not the same as value. Is it? (2) If the values in an item are close, the item will flatten.

I now see your problem with 2 hues in the warp. To test your warp vs weft value, the weft must be a high contrast in value to both colors.


Bright is not the same as value.  By 'bright' it means that the black will intensify the hue, white will tone it 'down' to a more pastel shade.  Even though the hue may be the same, crossing it with black or white will affect the way we perceive it.


The way colour interacts in weaving is one reason why making a colour gamp is so valuable.  You can see how crossing one colour with another will alter our perception of it...

Erica J

How timely, there is an article "Valueing Value" in the May/June Handwoven. I'm going to read this through before commenting more.

I'mmwithbyou 10ashus, Instill have tonreview the terms before talking detail about them.


Yes, I just got my issue today and noticed the article.  Very timely.  :)


with Erica and 10ashus on reviewing terms. I read color theory and understand it as I am reading it but I have a hard time retaining that imformation. I keep a small color wheel / chart near my weaving and spinning stuff to help jog my memory. I will have to get a copy of the new Handwoven.


Do you think I could effectively dye my yarn, and get different values by just using different dye saturation?  I am thinking this might be much more effective than purchasing yarn that might have more things that differ than the value.  Comments appreciated!

tommye scanlin


Yes, you can vary the value of the hue by dye saturations or depth of shade used for the dye.  Do you know the book by Linda Knudson, Synthethic Dyes for Natural Fibers?  The book has a wealth of information about dyeing, not only for depth of shade (value differences) but also a very clear way to obtain a wide color range.  You might also like to take a peek at Rebecca Mezoff's blog post about some recent dyeing she's done:



Erica J and 10ashus,

Hue = color, not just those from the color wheel. Though you could say Hue Family ( red),or Red Family From the color wheel.

Value = how much light or dark there is in the hue. Agreed, value is more important than hue.

Saturation aka, brilliance, chroma, strength, dull, weak ,there are several other descriptions= how strong or weak is the hue

Tint= adding white

Shade=adding black

Tone=adding grey 

Adding complement of hue. This doesn't have a name I don't think, many teachers put this under Tone. However Deb Menz has this in a category of it's own. When I look at the color wheel and take out the primaries, I see that all the other colors are secondary, meaning they are made up of 2 colors. If I mix a color wheel hue with it's compliment, and both hues happen to be secondary colors, then I'm really mixing 4 colors. mixing a primary with it's compliment is a secondary, so, 3 colors. Both of these are really different effects than mixing grey as in tones. So maybe mixing compliments with color wheel hues does belong in a different category.

I highly recommend Deb Menz's book Color Works. There are many color harmonies that are worth knowing that truly expand one's capabilities in designing with color. Major keys, high major keys, etc. things I had never heard of, all fantastic. It really gets you working with more colors and understanding how values and saturations can work for you.


Erica J

So I find myself in a position in which I can accurately define all these terms, but am still working on better understanding of most of them.

In the Handwoven Valuing Value article, saturation is discussed under "what value isn't". I understand in theory how to create tints, tones, and shades, but each of these still has a value correct? Value shows you what versions of different hues will contrast well with each other, right? So a variety of tints of the same hue will be of similar value and thus not provide good contrast, yes?

Thanks all this is proving a great discussion.


above is an example of a munsell color chart. Munsell was another color theorist. I wouldn't , just yet, study him because I think it would be confusing, but when you get the other stuff down, definitely do! However I want to show how on the left hand side he has the value scale, those colors that go vertically from the top down, follow the value scale, those colors on the horizontal that start at the value scale show the saturation points.

If you read the earlier post, I'm afraid I got it ALL wrong! But the munsel chart is very helpful! Good thing I'm going to a color and design workshop next week:) p.s. By earlier post, I mean the one I just erased that was sitting right here!


All this means is that I have been really lucky in my "fly by the seat of my pants" way of selecting colors for projects:-)

I will say that I found understanding and/or seeing colors (tints, tones hues, etc.) Much more critical when weaving tapestry.  Or maybe I should say, I have a better understanding of it all from the bit of dabbling that I've done in tapestry.




i have had pretty good success dyeing different values in colors. But greys in any dye is really difficult for me. I find that the black dye I work with primarily( Lanasets) at a deep DOS ,  I get a great dark black, but, the lighter I go, it throws to lavender. I've heard many dyers say that the paler greys are hard to get with their dyes because of underlying colors in the mix. I know Rebecca gets excellent greys, she's a fantastic dyer. I will see her next week for the workshop, maybe during some downtime I can ask her about greys:)

of course, if you get your dyes from Prochem, they have good lab support, they can probably tell you how to get greys and which dye to use. Wish I had thought of that earlier!


The more I learn about weaving the more I realize I'm only scratching the surface.  There's so much to learn!  This discussion is really interesting.  Thanks to those of you with experience who are willing to share what you know with the rest of us.  I googled Color Works by Deb Menz, it's available used at quite reasonable prices.


When I get done with my next couple travels (east coast next week, then back to work, then toronto for a week), I will try dyeing a series of values of one color.  My thought is to prepare a warp that goes across the value spectrum in one color (maybe blue). 

Then perhaps dyeing another set of yarns another gradient of values.  Maybe green?  maybe purple? 

I do not like gamps - love seeing people's photos of their threaded looms but have no desire to weave one -- except all this talk about value makes me think, well, OK, maybe I should. 

Does anyone have weaving/yarn store suggestions in Toronto?


And it looks like its in a fun shopping district.  Great!!!  Thank you.


Value shows you what versions of different hues will contrast well with each other, right? So a variety of tints of the same hue will be of similar value and thus not provide good contrast, yes?"  - Erica

Erica, yes, Value is one of the determining factors of which hues with their tints, tones and shades will contrast with each other, so is saturation.

I don't know how to answer the second part of your question:( I would think that's correct, but not sure. I can only suggest try it with paint chips from the paint store or make your own , and use your value finder to see what you get.

maybe if you look at the Munsell chart again, look at yellow. As mentioned before, the horizontal line for each value square gives you the saturations for that color. However all the colors on the same horizontal line ARE the same value As that grey on the same line. This may help you see the value better and answer your question.


Erica J

Yes, I think this has been a really insightful conversation and I hope others will feel free to chime in! This is one of those topics I feel like I get a good handle on it all clicks into place, then I don't have the opportunity to use the information for a while and some of my underestanding fades.

Cathie, the Munsell chart I found is quite useful. You are talking about these right?

I think I may print one and keep looking at it. :)

I also pulled out the 3-in-1 Ultimate Color Tool referenced in the Handwoven article. I didn't realize when I bought it that it has the red and green cards. I think this are going to be invaluable to me in training my eye to see value! I also like the quick reference on the back of each color card. I suppose I should fo put those links in the references thread we started? :)


Oh I lost my post:( yes, those are part of the Munsell Color Chart. I have the whole poster and have found it very helpful in using it as a color identifier when the colors are dark. If you look at the yellow and reds for instance, it's as if they really change color from their original hue family. for the same reason, I find the chart useful in dyeing.

one product I have found so educational is the Munsell Color Student Guide, it has a collection of pages devoted to each color of the color wheel( Munsell has more colors on the color wheel than Itten) . The pages just have boxes drawn on them. You are provided with individual bags full of tiny colored chips of the color wheel hues. Taking one color wheel hue and corresponding  page, you fill in the boxes according to ascending value and increasing saturation. You may have 15 chips for one color and 9 chips for another. It's a great excercise in that it trains your eye.  The chart or book does not provide an answer sheet for this excercise !

You can find them on Amazon. New ones are expensive 75.00 I think, but you can get used ones. I'd just take the chips out and redo them, unless they are stuck in too tight:( I find the ones I do aren't and I use rubber cement.Still it makes a great reference. Also in the back are all these color excercises to do. Be sure if you buy one of these books it is meant to come with the color chips. Their is a little search button on the left of the book " look inside"  and it says "search" just type in " color chips" and it tells you. I saw one on their for 17.00.

I do them over and over again ! 


Training the eye is key.  I think people who made (or still make!) jigsaw puzzles have done a lot of 'training' already.  Using various tools will help, but as someone observed, if you don't use it you lose it!

another good exercise is doing wrappings of different coloured stripes.  Of course you really need lots and lots of colours to play with. :)


Actually , Laura, making colored wrappings would be a great guild study group activity as well ! If everyone dipped into their stash, lots of colors!

danteen (not verified)

I have recently dyed a gray scale using lanaset black and got grays in the light values.   But I also get a nice pearl gray from the right mixture of lemon yellow and violet Lanaset.  The proportion is 50:50.   I'll try to post a picture of the gray scale in projects next.



Thank you Teena! I'll remember the 50:50 lemon yellow and violet. That does make sense. What do you think I'm doing wrong to have my light values throw to lavender? I'm very careful about rising to temp. Slowly. I just can't figure it out. Cathie


Teena, just looked and your value scale is really nicely done! I'm fine until I hit the .05% and lighter,  so that means I need to switch to the lemon yellow and violet , I guess.   Thanks, Cathie

Erica J

I thought this post by the Woolery might be of interest to folks here:

It's about using left over yarns to do very small scale samples, to help choose your colors for warp and weft. I believe their zoom loom is a peg loom.

Penny Skelley (not verified)

Munsell has a color app for the android (and probably for iPhone/iPad too, but I haven't checked yet).


Erica J


Thank you for sharing the link to the Munsell app. I will definintely look at it! I am sure we are all always on the look out for new color tools and I know I for one love a good app!

Happy weaving,



Patagonia tapestry cartoon

Here is the cartoon for my upcoming Patagonia tapestry which will be started in the fall. There is a strip that has been colored watching the values and hues going into the composition. Of particular note, are the two mountain fissures towards the top. To make them stand out more in value, a thin yellow stripe is drawn in Horizontally. This will be easily done in tapestry by just adding a fine yellow pass, or yellow in a weft bundle, or something like that. Barely noticeable, but seems to make a difference.

actually this will be hung on the wall for reference, the cartoon, which is black and white, will be behind the warp:)




I did not even notice the yellow stripe until you pointed it out. Wow, what an impace with such little color. I am getting very excited to see your vision come to fruition.


I'm so excited to work on it ! I've been waiting a long time now.


I have this long shadow weave warp, blue and white warp (with a bit of purple).  Mostly I've reiterated the warp colors (blue and white), but I decided to mix it up, keeping values similar but changing color.  In this example, I swapped the white for a light pink weft, and swapped the navy for a slightly lighter purple.  It still works, I think because values were preserved.  I also like that it seems more lively with the different weft colors.four colors

This second photo is the same warp, but using the same navy and white as used in the warp.  mostly two colors

Erica J

That is a terrific example! I agree that the slightly different wefts do give the cloth more energy!!! Way to break the mould!


The pink and purple weft adds depth to the shadow weave, when I look at it.  Good experimenting. Moves your fabric away from the predictable color combination.



and if I have enough weft, i think I will try taking it in a green direction next.  This is fun.

Erica J

Well I have planned a different value study. But as I am playing with the last of my rug warp, I have been able to check the contrast in value of my Weavers Baazar yarn. Here are my results so far.


Nice use of black-white photo to see the values. It reinforces to me what a good tool it is. Are you satisfied or any changes you want to try?

Erica J

I have noticed this particular sett is too close. I think the Vivid Purple works better than the marueen, but I'm interested to see how the purple and "red", which really looks hot pink to me work out. I think it would be great to combine the electric blue, purple, and hot pink in one design. 

I'm still working on varying the length of the blocks to get different patterns.


Queezle, I enjoyed seeing your shadow weave with the different wefts. Interesting , beautiful cloth !


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