Playing With 3 Colors

The pattern moves on and a band is created
The pattern moves on and a band is created

During our visit home, my cousin played the guitar while he and his wife sang for us.  I knew he played the guitar and they both sing, but we’ve never had the opportunity to enjoy it ourselves.  Every time he picked up his guitar I noticed there was something wrong with his guitar strap – it wasn’t handwoven >gasp<.  How did I neglect this glaring detail?  I decided that I must correct this grave injustice and weave my cousin a guitar strap.  I love learning new techniques, new to me at least, so I mulled the project over in my mind wondering what colors, type of design, and if there was a technique that I had a burning desire to try.  I instantly thought of a technique to fit the bill that a weaving colleague was working on.  Annie MacHale aka A Spinner Weaver has written a tutorial on 3 Color Pick Up.  It’s an old technique that’s been used In Lithuania for weaving sashes.  Annie deciphered the technique by studying the pictures of woven sashes.

Warping the loom.  Threading diagram.
Warping the loom. Threading diagram.

Only a minority of Lithuanian sashes were woven using this technique, as only the rare weaver had the skills to weave them.  Well, Annie is such a weaver.  She figured it out and wrote a clear tutorial on it.  Annie mentions in the tutorial that you should first have a solid base in Inkle Pick-Up Weaving, and that 3 color Pick-Up is the next logical step in Inkle weaving.  After giving it a try, I have to agree.  I can’t go too in-depth on the “how to” because it’s more of an all or nothing technique.  A little information makes you beg for more, and I have no intention on rewriting her tutorial.  Once you’re comfortable with the Baltic or Basket-weave style of Inkle Pick-Up then it’s quite easy to wrap your head around the possibilities of 3 color pick up.  I knew that I needed 3 colors with a high contrast.  Annie has a neat way to check for contrast  Use your digital camera in black and white mode.  You don’t even have to take the picture. just look at the view finder, and you will see if your yarns contrast well.  Good advice well worth remembering.  His favorite color is Pink, when I think back to the last time I wove with pink, the answer is – never.  After looking though the bands that Annie wove for samples I was inspired to use black and white with the pink.  The only satisfactory pink that I could find was perle cotton, so I’ll use 3/2 perle cotton for the strap, and I may make another (for his other guitar) with Omega’s Sinfonia in a color that is rose, not quite pink, but not-not pink either.  The Sinfonia works a tad better for guitar straps, but the 3/2 perle cotton will do just fine too.

Check warp path for mistakes frequently
Check warp path for mistakes frequently


Since this is the first time I’m using this technique, I want to learn it before I start working on my own designs, so I’m using a pattern that Annie used in her samples.  The logic in this works for me.  If I have difficulties, then I know the problem lies with me, otherwise I would be left wondering if I was trying to work outside the limitations of the technique.  It keeps frustrations to a minimum.  The next band I weave, I’ll have a broader understanding and familiarity with the technique, and be able to create and take the design in my own direction.  This technique is wonderful for diagonal lines, and the third color gives your design more depth.  Since all the yarns are the same weight, warping is fairly simple.  Annie gives two different types of threading or warping diagrams.  One of them gives the design more symmetry, although there are times that wouldn’t be necessary and the other threading would be sufficient.  It’s worth mentioning a second time that it’s important to have a firm foundation in Inkle Pick-Up before giving this a try.  You’ll have less frustration and more success when the basics are second nature.


There are ups and downs with this technique.  The downs are few, thankfully.  If you’re confused and need assistance there aren’t a lot of people you can run to – Yet.  I’ve always known Annie to be very generous with her experience and advice, but I hate to bug her – especially when it’s something I should “just get”.  I like to take projects to the guild and have one of the more experienced weavers say, “here’s your problem”.  With that said, I’m well into the band and haven’t felt the need for help, and the tutorial was easy to follow.  There are color changes, quite a few.  I prefer to cut and tie at every color change, but there are enough color changes in this band that I only created a knot when I had to join same colors.  This warping technique has created minor tension problems for me in the past, but it wasn’t an issue this time. Graphing and recording the pattern has proven to be troublesome.  Annie hasn’t formulated a good method to graphing a pattern and my attempts failed too, but I tried to graph before I worked with it and may make another attempt.  If you can only work from a graph, you’ll need to learn to improvise.

I like the smaller single diamond best
I like the smaller single diamond best

The ups on this technique abound!  All the warps are the same weight, no doubling or using thicker pattern threads.  All threads in the design area are fair play.  Continuous warping works well.  If you’re accustomed to working from a graph, this is your chance to design on the fly.  It’s nice to not have to lug your pattern with you, and be able to pick up and weave according to what you see in front of you.  It’s very “design as you weave” friendly.  Mistakes show up quickly, so you seldom need to pull out more than a pick or two.  Diagonal lines work great!  No dropping or pushing down!  I’ve found that most people who are new to Inkle Pick-Up have more difficulty with the dropping and pushing down of design threads, but this isn’t an issue in 3 color Pick-Up.  The opposite side of the band looks nice too.  Visually, the band has a lot more dimension – the third color gives you an additional shape to work with and gives the background some life.  I could prattle on about it, but I’d rather weave.  If you’re comfortable with Inkle Pick-Up and want to give this a try, her tutorial is available through her Etsy shop.

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A website devoted to learning, sharing and teaching a wide range of fiber arts. Inkle, Tablet and Navajo style weaving, Spinning, Knitting, Crochet, Sewing and Lace Making. Silver Work, Beading and Tool Making grace my bench as well.

4 Comments on “Playing With 3 Colors

  1. Janean, I am really glad to see you enjoying the 3-Color Pickup! The thing that I most love about it is that the pattern motifs can change colors as many times as you want. Still can’t get over how neat that is! Thanks for sharing and adding the links to my blog and Etsy shop!

    • Annie, you’re welcome. Thank you for sharing your talent and hard work. I really am enjoying this weaving. When I weave pick-up, I normally have my pattern graphed out, then test it, then weave from my pattern. I’m rather anal about sticking to the pattern once I have it the way I like it. With this, I feel no need to look at a pattern, I never even need to look away from my work. I look forward to many more bands with this technique. It won’t be long and we will see just as many 3 color pick-up bands as we see the Pick-Up braid.

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