I'm new to weaving, and find it difficult to visualise how even simple plain weave patterns will look when woven. So I was delighted to find that a whole range of weaving design software exists. The first tool I've used is the shareware program WeaveDesign, by Bengt Nelson, which may be downloaded from the Pikes Peak Weavers Guild. It does exactly what I wanted - it gives an idea the appearance of the finished fabric.
I didn't understand all the weaving terms and how they translated to my rigid heddle loom. So, to get going I searched online for a design in the standard wif format. Specifically for the houndstooth check pattern, which is one I've actually woven. When the wif file was opened in the software I could see that I should set up the software for a single harness loom with 2 shafts and 2 treadles. And I was away!
First I found out what would happen if the two warps sequence of the houndstooth pattern were done in three colours instead of two. I chose two similar colours and a contrasting one, as this is the combination of yarns I was thinking of using.
For the next design, see the collage above, I scanned the yarn I was planning to use on a flatbed scanner . I blurred the image to even out the colour of the variegated yarn, then used a graphics program to select the colours and made a note of their RGB, HSL and hexadecimal values. I was then able to set up the palette in WeaveDesign with these colours to improve the realism of the rendering. It took me a few iterations to get to my final pattern. Once I was happy with that I also tried a version with the blue and green reversed.
There is a slight danger that I shall enjoy playing with the software so much I never weave the designs for real, but this chance to get a preview of the finished product has fired up my enthusiasm.