Monthly Archives: September 2016

It´s in the eye of the beholder

optical_mixture_swatchWhen I was reading about colours this summer, I came accross something that is called “optical mixture”. It´s a fancy name for something we all know well: When you see a pattern of tiny yellow and blue dots from a distance,  you will get the impression that the area they cover is actually green. If you retreat far enough, you can no longer discern the individual dots and colours. That´s the reason why, in printing, it is possible to accurately depict a wide range of colours with only Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK) as bases  without the image looking all spotted. The clue is to print tiny dots.

So what does this mean for knitting? Well, I had the idea this says for knitting that, with only three colours, you should be able to create the illusion of a colourful knitted fabric if choosing the right texture pattern. For my swatch I used the Triple L-Weed pattern because it is simple and all three colours are equally important.

If you try this at home, choose colours of three different hues.

You can create a blending effect by starting with a solid colour, here I started with yellow, and then adding in another colour, for example teal.  At first add in just a bit of the new colour, then work it more and more frequently until it becomes the next solid colour. I demonstrated this in the bottom half of my swatch.

Or you can randomly change colours for a multi-coloured look as in the upper half of the example. I think choosing a dark colour that is not anthracite would have enhanced this effect even more – but I had no dark colour at hand that I liked with the other two. And since I wasn´t patient enough to purchase the correct colour before casting on, this will have to do. – Even with this limitation though this gets my imagination going. I think I need to start working on a new design right now.

Verum

Now you can already put to use the information of the last post: My new shawl pattern, Verum, invites you to pick three colours that then get distributed over a pattern of stripes and short row segments. Verum makes this easy for you, so long as the three colours go well together, nothing can go wrong in this shawl. It doesn´t matter where you place the accent colour or which palette you go for.

The pattern asks for fingering weight yarn, preferably Frida Fuchs REMMIDEMMI Sock. In my sample I combined Vanilleschote (black), Kieselerde (grey) and Olive (green). Jana from Frida Fuchs put together that combination and I fell in love with it the minute I opened the package that came with the mail. She has a sixth sense for colour, which shows clearly in the palette of her yarns. – By the way, her shop is freshly stocked up, as of 6 pm yesterday, CET.

Verum

 

 

But back to this colour combination: I like to have two colours that are similar, or fall into one category, and one colour that is the odd one out. So grey and black are the pair in this example, and the green (Olive) is the colour that is creating a vibrant and cheerful accent. As I mentioned, in this shawl any of the three colours could be the accent colour, the pattern is well-balanced enough.

The projects of noone else but Jana from Frida Fuchs herself and my talented test knitters will provide some inspiration for you to get your creative juices flowing:

 

Verum_Frida

Jana made a sample in Hanami (speckled creme), Rosmarinheide (rose) and Kieselerde (grey). So the same concept as before works for a muted palette as well. In these colours the unisex shawl is soft and very femine.

 

Verum_Heike

Heike chose soft colours also but added in a darker shade for extra depth.

 

Verum_elisa_susi

Elisa and Susi went with shades of blue, which is always a safe pick.

 

Verum_tracy

Tracy had the same thought but added in a mustard shade for accent. And look at that tassle, isn´t it fantastic?

 

Verum_tanya

And Tanya combined a moss green with a warm pink-red and a creme shade to great effect.

 

Verum_Ramona

This shot was clearly photo-bombed. But we don´t get distracted from Ramona´s perfect choice in colours: Mustard, fir green and steel blue are an unexpectedly great match with a back-to-nature feel to it. Maybe that´s because Ramona hand-dyed the colours herself, using plant pigments.

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Colour your knitting!

How do we see colours? What is interesting about them to us knitters? Those are the things I have been thinking about lately.

Colours don´t stand on their own, they always interact with one another. It doesn´t actually happen in real life that all we see is one colour. And our perception of any particular colour heavily depends on the context we see it in.

For example, the exact same grey can look very different when it is put on a blue versus an orange-brown shade.

samecolour_singles

 

Only when you add a grey frame and, from the frame, lines to the two grey squares connecting them with the frame, does it become evident that it is, indeed, the same grey.

samecolour_frame

 

And the identical grey looks different if projected on black versus white horizontal stripes, as is illustrated on the left below. The image on the right shows the blocks of grey without overlapping stripes.

grey-on-stripes

 

The next example illustrates a similar illusion. A solid grey appears to have a gradient if placed on a gradient background. Again, on the right you see the grey block without the gradient background revealing how our eyes have been deceived.

greydient

 

There´s also this mind-boggling effect of the complementary afterglow. Stare at this bright blue for about 60 seconds, and make sure to actually last that long, then on the white image on the right, focusing on the grey squares in the centre each time. You should see an afterglow in the complementary colour, i. e. in yellow. This is something our brain does. Whenever the complementary colour is missing, it is assumed and added by some process in our brain. Researchers are still debating what´s behind this effect. Probably a contributing factor is the fatigue of the colour receptors of the eye. If a receptor for a colour gets tired, the colour it is absorbing, which is always the contrast colour, gets enhanced.

complementary_afterglow

 

 

We also tend to subconsciously assume volume in 2-dimensional images. All of the following lines are perfectly parallel. Hard to believe, right?

horizontal_lines3

 

It´s tempting to use this in a future design, but I kind of get the feeling I might cause some headaches with that. And being a headache sufferer myself, I definitely want to avoid that.

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I´m back

workshop_farben293I am back to blogging after a long hiatus. I had stopped writing here because I was focusing on other aspects of being a knitwear designer. There´s a lot to do and only so much time. But right now the writing mojo is back.

I have been teaching two colour workshops early this month. In both of them we have been thinking about colour theory, about things to consider when choosing colours for our knitting projects and about flattering ways to distribute colours in garments, among other things. The actual knitting part has been themed around stranded knitting for one, and around intarsia for the other workshop.

I immensely enjoy teaching, it is very rewarding to pass on a bit of the knitting knowledge I´ve accumulated throughout the years.

But it is a wee bit frustrating to me that I cannot talk about everything that I want to say in the workshops. There are many more interesting aspects in the wide field of colours than can be squeezed into a two to four hours time-frame, where the focus naturally will be on the knitting technique.

And oh did I try. For the first ever colour workshop I taught I had planned to talk about all techniques that use colours in one way or another. Because there was no way that we could make a swatch in each technique, I prepped swatches so that knitters could knit a row on each of them and swap them around, I guess I was thinking of the circuit training in sport. Needless to say this is a suboptimal way to teach. I learn from my mistakes and we now have lots of time to focus in-depth on the one technique I am teaching. I still wonder how it happened that knitters walked away happy from that first ever colour workshop.

But even after slowing down and all these workshops I HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO SAY STILL. So here I am. However, I have decided to write in English only from now on. It just takes up too much time to write every single post in two languages. I apologise to my German readers.

Not all posts here will be strictly knitting-related. But having thought a bit deeper about colours may help when it comes to choosing colours for your next project, so knitting will always be on the back of my mind when I am writing. Stay tuned for my colour chatter!

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