A Study in Color

In preparation for our summer dye session I am brushing up on my color theory and mixing and deciding on what new colors to create this year.

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I was reading through Betty Edwards’ Color which is aimed at mixing and using paints/pigments. It is different than working with dyes because dyes are opaque and also you use depth of shade instead of adding white to adjust value, the color theory is still tremendously instructive. Her exercises inspired me to create a color wheel of my dye stocks to better arrange them in my mind of where they fall on it. Her ideas of assigning a clock face and in a circle is a great visual exercise for seeing “into” a color to identify it’s hue and it’s direct complement. You will also notice a gray scale in a circle which is helpful for determining value.

color study

All this is invaluable to seeing a given color and mixing it. First you must identify the hue from the twelve (3 primary, 3 secondary, and 6 tertiary). Next judge the value, or lightness/darkness. You can see on the black and white version of my stock color wheel below how those translate. Thirdly determine the intensity (saturation of hue). Is it closer to pure hue or “dulled”. Here’s where knowing the complements by heart is invaluable.

color study

It’s all very fascinating to me, this thing of color. It is really in the brain that it happens and it’s positively mysterious. ;-)

So, after my refresher course I went to my local Lowe’s to visit the paint department to collect a stack of chips for study and inspiration. I have three or four firm ideas to experiment with. I am leaning towards a yellow, and clear purple, and a medium pink. The challenge for me is that I have to constrain my colors to 26 in my palette and I want to keep it balanced in value and hue. This means for every new color I must discontinue one color. That’s the hard part. Saying goodbye to colors is bittersweet. New colors are fun but the old ones are familiar friends. :-)

On the knitting front I did get a bit accomplished on Sorrel this week. I completed the body and one sleeve while re-watching A Study in Pink which is the new PBS series Sherlock. I finished A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four in the book and so it was fun to watch that and get some knitting done.

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Okay I have a fair bit of work to do so I will close for now. See you later. :-)

6 thoughts on “A Study in Color

  1. Bev Moon says:

    I loved this post–I too needed a ‘refresher’ course in color–thanks. Can’t wait to see your new colors. Maybe when you decide on the colors that you will be discontinuing you could post those to the blog and the amount that you have–just in case any of us want to order them before they go bye-bye.

    • Thanks for your comment. :-) I will definitely let you have first grabs at the discontinued colors. We always mark them down to move out fast and make room. :-)

  2. countingsheepstudio says:

    Some lovely knitting, and agreed that color theory is quite fascinating. I’m glad there are amazing dyers like yourself out there to figure it all out for us!!

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