Welcome to Warp & Weave: Color Courage for Weavers!
If picking colors for your handwoven creations makes you nervous, you’ve experienced a color disaster, or you’ve simply yearned to weave gorgeous projects that others admire...
Help is here!
Who I am
I'm Tien Chiu, award-winning weaver and certified color fanatic, and I’ll transform your color fears into confidence by teaching you how color works in weaving.
I'll also teach you to apply your knowledge, so you can create beautiful handwoven projects that make your heart sing and that fill others with awe.
I've been weaving since 2006, when I bought an 8-shaft Baby Wolf and fell madly in love. I got totally obsessed with designing, dyeing, weaving, and sewing beautiful handwovens.
Since then, I've written over 30 articles for weaving magazines, including:
- Shuttle, Spindle, and Dyepot
- Complex Weavers Journal
My Kodachrome Jacket was featured on the cover of Handwoven in 2011.
It was one of the winners of the 2011 Handwoven-Vav Garment Challenge!
I designed, wove, and sewed my own wedding ensemble...
...which won "Best in Show" at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers...
...was exhibited at the American Textile History Museum...
...and is now part of the permanent collection at The Henry Ford Museum.
I also wrote a book about the creative process in craft - Master Your Craft: Strategies for Designing, Making, and Selling Artisan Work.
It fuses the wisdom of 22 master artisans, working in a broad variety of craft media, with my own experience as an artist.
It gives a framework for the creative process in craft, from gathering the first spark of inspiration, to brainstorming new project ideas, creating new designs, sampling, making, finishing, and (if you wish) selling the finished pieces.
It also includes tips on evaluating your work after you're done, and improving your creative process.
I’ve read dozens of books about color, dyed 2,500+ yarn samples, woven hundreds and hundreds of color swatches, and spent thousands of hours studying color in weaving.
And now I’m on a crusade to take the fear out of color.
My journey - from color idiot to color expert
I didn't start life as a color diva. In fact, I started life as a “color idiot”. I’m the daughter of two scientists. And I majored in math at Caltech, a science and engineering school, then spent twenty years as a software project manager before deciding to become an artist. I had zero background in art when I started, and it really shows in my early work. Here's one of my first pieces:
I intended it to be a brilliant rainbow gamp, but when I wove it, I got a muddy mess. Where the yellow and orange crossed the purple and blue, or green crossed red, I got ugly shades of brown. I had no idea why.
Like many people, I believed I had no artistic talent. Not only was I not an artist, I didn’t even know any artists. Art was something that other people did - those strange, otherworldly people with gifts far beyond my own. They were fearless in the face of color, because they knew how to use it. I, on the other hand, knew nothing about color, and always feared looming disaster.
I didn’t give up, though. I wasn't an artist, but I knew science like the back of my hand. I decided to study, experiment with, and analyze color with the same rigor that I had devoted to my mathematical and technological work.
I studied color theory. I dyed over 2,500 skeins of yarn to learn about color mixing, and wove hundreds of color swatches to understand the role of the draft. I read up on the human visual system. I designed and created my color samples the same way I had labored over beakers and chemicals in my college labs.
And Eureka! I figured it out.
Color isn’t mystical. It just seems that way because it’s complicated - and, in weaving, doubly complicated because of the way cloth is created. You don’t just need to understand color theory - you need to understand color theory and how the draft mixes warp and weft colors in the cloth.
But color follows rules. And the good news is that, while figuring out the rules is hard, learning them is not. Anyone can design with color if they understand some basic principles, and practice applying them.
This is what my work looked like before and after I figured things out:
Since then I’ve been on a mission. I want to take the fear out of color. I want to teach the basic principles of color in weaving, and how to apply those principles, to as many weavers as I can. I don’t want anyone to have to go through the color disasters that I did, or to have to bang their head against the wall for as many hours as I did, to learn how to create exquisite work.
What took me hundreds or even thousands of hours to figure out, I can teach in far less time - allowing you to create dazzling projects without wasting time, money, and heartbreak on color disasters. I can teach you how color works, so you too can design gorgeous, colorful handwoven projects that others admire.
What I believe
Designing beautiful work doesn't require inborn artistic talent. I'm living proof of that.
And color isn't mystical.
Color follows rules, and it can be learned. If you understand some basic facts about the human eye and brain, and understand how our culture shapes our reactions to color, you can design with color.
Color in weaving is complicated mainly because of the way cloth is created. Weaving is like painting. The yarns are like tubes of paint, providing the basic colors. The weaving draft acts like the painter's palette, where the paint is mixed, and the brush, which determines where the mixed paint is placed on the canvas.
To understand color in weaving, you need to understand how yarn colors mix together, AND the role of the draft in mixing and placing those colors.
To design with color, you need to understand how the eye sees.
All of these can be learned.
I believe, heart-deep, from my own personal experience, that:
You do not need artistic talent to create beautiful work.
If you learn how color works,
you can use color.
I can teach you.
What I teach
Here are a few ways you can learn about color at Warp & Weave:
I teach online courses about color. My flagship course, Color & Design, will take you from a nervous color novice to a confident color ninja!
I have a free online mini-course (a "taster" for Color & Design) that shows you how to create bold & subtle designs. Register for it here.
For more information about my online classes (including the free mini-course!), check out
I also write blog posts regularly about color in weaving. Read all the articles.
Finally, if you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll get information about color in weaving, notification of new blog posts, and information about upcoming courses - and you’ll also get my free e-book about color in weaving!