Experiment Time: Optical Color Blending


We talked a little about optical color blending and how our eyes will attempt to blend two colors that are close to each other, especially when the colors are present in small portions.  This is why our eyes perceive a Pointillistic painting as an image and not just a series of dots.

Let’s put optical blending to the test.  Here’s an experiment to try.

If you don’t have the materials to try this experiment, I put together a color kit in the shop.


Can we blend primary colors of fiber and create a color wheel with secondary and tertiary colors that relies on optical color blending?


While the individual fibers will remain the original red, blue, or yellow they were dyed, we can blend those fibers together in a 50/50 blend to create optical blending.  A 50/50 blend of two of our primaries (red with yellow, yellow with blue, blue with red) will give us a secondary color.  A separate 50/50 blend of that secondary color with each of the primaries will create a tertiary color (red with orange, orange with yellow).



Independent Variables

First, choose one method of fiber blending; you want your results to be consistent across your samples and you can always go back and repeat the experiment with a different method to compare your results.

Ways to Blend Fiber

Gather together your fiber.  Again, aim for consistency and try to get the same preparation and breed (I chose three colors of the same Corriedale top).

  • 2 ounces blue fiber
  • 2 ounces red fiber
  • 2 ounces yellow fiber

Dependent Variable

The dependent variable in an experiment is what changes.  In this experiment, the dependent variable is how the color changes when it is blended.


  1.  Set aside 1/2 ounce of each of your primary colors.  This will be your constant for comparison.
  2. Blend the following colors to create the three secondary colors:
    • 1/2 ounce red and 1/2 ounce blue
    • 1/2 ounce blue and 1/2 ounce yellow
    • 1/2 ounce yellow and 1/2 ounce red
  3. Next, blend your tertiary colors:
    • 1/4 ounce red and 1/4 ounce orange
    • 1/4 ounce orange and 1/4 ounce yellow
    • 1/4 ounce yellow and 1/4 ounce green
    • 1/4 ounce green and 1/4 ounce blue
    • 1/4 ounce blue and 1/4 ounce purple
    • 1/4 ounce purple and 1/4 ounce red
  4. This should leave you with 1/2 ounce of each primary, secondary, and tertiary color.


  • How well did your fibers blend?
  • Did the colors create the expected color wheel?  If not, what happened?
  • How close or far away from the fibers did you need to be to see the individual fiber colors?
  • How does the blended color compare to fiber dyed in that same color?
  • What did the colors look like when you spun them?  How about when you knit, crochet or weave with them?
  • What happens when you blend red, blue and yellow together?


What is your conclusion?  Were you able to make a color wheel?  What would you change the next time you tried this?

Post links to your photos in the comments below or in the Discord server!


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