Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's.... Complicated

So, at Stringtopia I got a little help trying to get outside my comfort zone. I won't lie. I love pink. Red. Burgundy. I love the color group red from the deepest, darkest burgundy to the palest blush. Clothes in my closet coordinate not because I buy them at the same time, but because I love the same shades so consistently that they wind up matching. Unfortunately, that means that I have a really hard time picking out any other colors that aren't pink.

While I was there, the lovely women helped me out of my color rut. Morgaine of Carolina Homespun had her amazing array of fibers up on display. Liz helped me pick out a green to go with the purple cashmere silk from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. And everyone kept raving about the book, Color in Spinning, by Deb Menz. So I picked it up and a bunch of fibers to use with the exercises in the book.

Quite a bit of the book is about fiber preparation, which I can totally understand as a spinner. Not to mention, it totally cements my desire for a drum carder and combs. Chapter upon chapter tempts me with new hobbies and supplies. But for now, I'm focused on her techniques for selecting and combining colors. I picked up a batt, from Diane of Schafenfreude Fibers and then began to raid my stash to find the right colors to compliment the batt. Here's what I have so far:

Each little mini skein is only a few yards long, and has one ply from the glorious abalone-inspired batt. The mini skeins are 3-ply yarns that are lace weight. I purposely spun tiny yarns to take advantage of how the eye will blend colors too small for it to separate out. I'm completely fascinated by how colors are perceived by the human eye and how that changes when the details are too small to separate visually. These are the fibers used to make each skein.

The fibers on the left are from Ashland Bay's 70% merino, 30% silk blend that I purchased from SlimChicken's Etsy Shop. The front color is sandstone while the darker one is pewter. The fibers on the right include a batt that I made under Abby's tutelage at Stringtopia. The purple fiber on the right is a 50% merino, 25% Silk, 25% Bamboo blend from Von Strohm's Booth at Knitter's Connection. I was trying to pick colors that played off the iridescent shimmer of blue and green colors in the batt. What's got me hooked is how much those colors change when placed on a different background.

We'll start with a simple white background. All pictures were taken in my kitchen, with the same camera, with the same muted flash.

But when you put the same skeins on a black background, they change significantly.

Suddenly, the purple comes out more in the skein on the right, while the white shows much more vividly in the skein on the left. Naturally, I couldn't stop there and had to see what happens when I tried different colors.

On a purple background, the skein on the right lost its bright blue-purple tone. The dark grey and burgundy brown plies became more dominant and the skein grew more muted. It felt like the opposite happened with the skein on the left, where the blue and green tones came out more strongly. Curious, I had to know what happened when I put them on a green background.

The blue and purple tones came back out again! Something I don't quite understand happened with the comparative brightness of the skeins. You'll have to forgive me, I'm just learning to discern values and contrast - this is nothing like art class. Colors don't mix purely like they do with paint. Last, but not least, I had to see what happened to the skeins on a red background (You had to know that was coming).

To me, it feels like the clearest brightness value change shows up best in this last picture. My friend was telling me about how quilters have this tool that they use to judge relative values in different quilt blocks. The tool is a simple red film placed over different fabrics and reduces them to a comparative grey scale. I imagine it would work something like this, where it's clear how much lighter the skein on the left is than the one on the right.

While I haven't arrived on the perfect combination of colors to use on the abalone batt, I've had a really fun time exploring colors. I've purchased several more fiber sample kits from SlimChicken's shop so that I can practice blending larger skeins. Each skein will get knit into a Ten Stitch Blanket that I can keep at work. I'm determined to learn to appreciate and select other colors, and I'm going to have a ton of fun along the way.


Pumpkin said...

Those fibers look amazing to work with, lucky you!

knitwit said...

Thanks! I've really enjoyed them and trying to like colors that are not pink.

Welcome to Crazytown, where my friends have proclaimed me queen. Why did they do that you ask? For some reason, there's very little that I fear about knitting. Hmm, a dress in laceweight done in lace knitting written by vogue? Sounds great! I have very few inhibitions when it comes to knitting, and that sometimes ends disasteriously. Apparently, other people think this signifies a level of crazy that only the royalty can attain. Follow along with my escapades as I dive head first into all sorts of insane techniques and projects without much more than an "Oh! That looks pretty, I can make it!"

Those will probably be my famous last words.