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Color 101

This week I started a YouTube series about color.  The intent is to help you to find your love and joy of your yarn collection again. I want to help you pair yarn and patterns. So today’s session is for us to get on the same page about color. Some of this you may remember from elementary school art class. But hopefully there are a few revelations.  Click here to watch the video. Below is the transcription.


 Today we are going to start to talk about color. When I’m at fiber festivals I hear people saying all the time, I don’t know what color to choose. Or I find that I pick the same color all the time. Does that sum up your experience too? My hope is that by watching these videos on color, you will begin to have the confidence to choose colors for yourself. And to choose harmonious colors. And to break out of your color rut. But let’s start at having a shared vocabulary.

Color is more than a 5 letter word! It embodies hue and value and saturation and tone, shade and tint. There are so many nuances in the word color. And so let’s start at the beginning. First of all here is the color wheel that I really like. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes.

Hue is what we are taking about when we say that yarn is blue or purple or red. It has a specific vibration in the light spectrum. And what I know is that there is a big variation in the colors people CAN see. Scientists believe that the Impressionist painters saw color in a much more vibrant way and faithfully painted what they saw. I see this phenomenon a lot when people describe blue. What I see as navy, others see as purple. The geeky explanation is that individuals have different concentrations of the eye cells that detect color. And the hues in that area slide into each other blue, blue violet, violet, red violet. They are much closer in hue than the other side of the color wheel.

You probably remember learning about primary colors in elementary school. So I’ll just mention these quickly. Primary colors are red, yellow and blue. They are colors that can not be made from other colors. Secondary colors are made by mixing 2 of the primarys: red and yellow are orange, red and blue are violet and yellow and blue are green. And then there are the tertiary colors. These are my personal favorite. These are made by adding more of one primary to the secondary. So you have colors like red-orange commonly called coral or salmon. You have a blue green which could be teal or aqua.

When classifying colors, people use the words Warm colors and Cool colors. The easiest way to remember these are that the warm colors are the colors of the Sun and the cool colors are the colors of the sea. Warm colors tend to be more vibrant. They tend to excite or agitate us more than the cool colors which are those that relax us. It’s my experience that most yarn that people collect are those on the cool side of the colorwheel. Look at your collection and let me know if that is true for you. You can comment on the video below.

Saturation and Value are very closely related. Saturation is how much of the color is in the yarn. You can have a light yellow or a vibrant yellow. Both being clear hue but one having more of the color than the other. There are times that you want that vibrant color to jump out of your work and other times you would want to have a more subtle yellow to play off the other colors in your yarn.

So that is the foundation of color that we will be using in the next few videos. Before I sign off today, I want to show you a couple of resources that I have used to develop my sense of color. 

Color wheel

The Munsell Student Color Set

So until next time, Happy Knitting!!

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