About Me ColorJoy Home Page Free Stuff About Me Contact Me
ColorJoy Home Page
ColorJoy Home The ColorJoy Blog Buy Patterns, Recipe Books, CDs Patterns Schedule & Potential Classes Recipes & Food Information The LynnH SockTour LynnH Polymer Clay The Fabulous Heftones - Lynn & Brian

Archive for September 14th, 2009

Fear of Color

Monday, September 14th, 2009

hotwaves2colorwayscroppedI can not believe it. I have been absolutely dry of something to say to you, for a while today. I often joke that “I have never run out of words…” Never say never.

Sometimes I offer to teach color classes, but I get few takers. So often people run away because they think they “can’t” color combine successfully. Somehow, I think folks believe this is not a skill which can be learned.

I emphatically believe that it *can* be learned, and without memorizing a color wheel or strict rules. It takes learning to see differently, and with a good teacher (and a good attitude) one is never too old to learn.

It seems that I can talk color when I am teaching a project class (a mixed-yarn stole or ZigBag, for example), and people will go along for the ride. However, a class with color as its subject seems too scary, somehow.

I will be the inaugural speaker for a knitting group which is forming at the Hope Borbas Library (Okemos, Michigan) on Okemos Road. The event will be held on Wednesday, October 7, at 7pm. I am giving a talk called “Lose the Fear, Seize the Joy!” The subtitle is “Color Choices without Color Theory.”

When I was teaching the ColorJoy Stole classes a lot, we had to come up with 5 yarns to use together. Later I developed the Party Stole which also calls for five yarns but of different descriptions. In both cases, I wrote a good deal about color-choosing in the pattern text for those who could not take my hands-on classes.

I am considering releasing just the color-choosing notes as a handout (not a pattern, but laid out and distributed in the same ways). I could fully illustrate with examples of my own work, as I am doing here, and hopefully friends’ projects as well. Input on this idea is welcome.

In my mixed-yarn stole classes, we would look for one yarn that had more than one color in it; a yarn that could make the wearer’s eye smile. We would take direction from that yarn, and choose other yarns to work along with it.

If the multicolor was a thick-thin in purple, blue and green, we might find a smooth yarn in blue. We would then perhaps add a mohair in purple, a shiny yarn in a different purple, and yet one more yarn in one more texture, in any of those colors.

There was a security in having a group of colors that felt right, as an anchor or home base for the next step of choosing a group of yarns. (A different, springlike, assortment of five yarns/colors is shown above and at right, before and after knitting.)

With ethnic socknitting, sometimes a “modern” eye in a western culture, can not understand the color choices of the knitter who created the sock. All humans will choose particular colors which we agree as a culture, look good together. I did this version of “Eva’s Socks” (shown below left) in four colors we all are comfortable seeing in one place.

In a “Turkish” or eastern-style sock, you might find a hot pink used only on the heel and nowhere else in the entire sock. evawhiteYou might find eight to twenty yarn colors used in one pair. You might see colors we insist do not work well, used with enthusiasm. The authentic Turkish sock shown below is a mild version of what I mean.

This sock uses red with orange and pink as accents. That is not a typical combination in my world, especially a red background with an orange/green band of color. I think it’s wonderful, but I would bet if I presented this as my work in an art class I might be graded down for some of these choices. (Of course, it would depend on the teacher…)

In my own designs, I am combining some of a western aesthetic with a love of folk/ethnic textiles. I tend to use a lot of color together (at one time) in my wardrobe, and I look as I want to look. However, for knitting I choose a more limited palette. I typically go for two or three solid colors (or one solid and a contrasting multicolor).

Sometimes I live a little, and follow my gut rather than logic (which says people won’t take my class/buy my patterns if I specify “too many” colors). Eva’s socks, above, used 4 colors because I was knitting a gift. It became my first commercial pattern, because readers fell in love with the gift socks and asked for me to write out the design.

At another time (on my trip to Africa) I knit a pair of socks using four colors. In that case, I was inspired by the Ethiopian flag and the wonderful baskets used as traditional dinner tables. Again, I was in a situation where I was knitting for joy, not to make a pattern for others to follow. Again, I had a wonderful time and love the result.

Flags are perfect for contrast. Socks in several colors need contrast. You can see that the flag colors really worked out well for me in this case!

Question(s) for Monday’s comments (answer any time before midnight Tuesday):

Do you find the idea of choosing more than one color to put with another, less than relaxing? Are clothing colors to wear to work easier than choosing project colors (for knitting, paint in the house, flowers in a garden or arrangement)? Do you avoid projects that make your heart soar, because you are fearful of the color-choosing phase of the project?

If choosing colors does not stop you, do you have any tricks you use to help yourself make choices? Do you find a particular item that has several colors together? Do you have a standby group of colors you know work for you? (In my case, I own a lot of turquoise, purple, hot pink/magenta, hot green… and occasionally other brights that work with them. I think anything in my closet goes with anything else, as far as color goes.)

Do you have advice for others, which helped you get over color fears of any sort? Do you have any question that is really the one thing keeping you from stepping forward?

The rules remain through Tuesday: Every comment left in words counts as one entry toward winning a copy of Joy of Socks. If you leave a link in your comment to an illustration/photo (yours or someone else’s) which makes your point, you get a bonus entry.

Thanks for waiting for this post. I appreciate your attention to my work, I have had good feedback on the blog lately. I worked a longer day than usual today and then my writing muse took a while to get back from dinner break!

Monday’s Post May be Delayed

Monday, September 14th, 2009

We were away at Wheatland Music Festival this weekend. I wrote and scheduled three posts late last week, to show up while I was away.

I’m home (it’s very good… never take flush toilets for granted, and don’t forget how great your own bed is). I love the people and the music there, but I do love the conveniences of my humble city abode.

Wheatland was incredible: good music, friendships and weather. I am falling asleep at the keyboard, though, and did not write Monday’s post yet…

It will come Monday, but maybe after dark ’round here (I teach 7 hours Monday at Rae’s shop). Thanks for your patience.