Category Archives: colours

Yarn and colours

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If you have been following my latest posts, you´ve started to delve into the topic of colours with me a little bit already. And it is such an interesting subject, I feel like I will never stop talking about it.

What is on the bottom of this issue, i.e. colours in knitting, is, of course, the yarn itself. Except you are dyeing your yarns at home – then this won´t be of much interest for you. But most knitters, at least on occasion, will purchase coloured yarns and thus draw from the palettes the yarn companies have to offer.

To me this provides endless fascination.

Some yarn companies go for a very unique and distinctive palette. For example, ITO works with colours that are originally aimed at the Japanese market, and have the appeal of being slightly exotic and unique to us Europeans. It helps that the colours are stylish and tasteful. Also, their fine yarns can easily be held double, which opens up new possibilities for combining colours.

Others offer limited but all the more exquisite colours, like Rosy Green Wool. All their colours are dyed obeying the strict GOTS rules, which is giving us knitters peace of mind and does not restrict the appeal of their colours at all. Plus, there are often limited editions for a couple of special colours for knitters who like to switch things up once in a while and who appreciate seasonal offerings.

Frida Fuchs, an German indie dyer, specialises in brilliant colours of great clarity and often amazing depth. Their colours are modern and at times influenced by the Pantone Fashion Color Report.

Of course there are many more yarn companies that have each their unique styles and palettes. I just picked these three for my post because they are among the yarn companies I have been working with during the last few months and that put them on the top of my mind.

So which colours do knitters choose the most often? It´s the greys. This makes a lot of sense. Grey knitted pieces are great matches with many items in almost any wardrobe. Plus, grey yarns can be mixed with just about any other colour and will balance out the chosen palette for a project.

Rosy from Rosy Green Wool has a great tip for choosing your colours: Get one of their shade cards and place the colours you are thinking about combining next to one another. Colours interact in the most interesting and often unexpected ways and no method is better than this trial-and-error real-life approach to combining colours (and we all know how our screens can deceive us!). – Read more about the complex interaction of colours in a recent post on the blog. – Also, Rosy regularly presents colour combinations on her Instagram and suggests you have a look at your wardrobe to find out which colours will complement it well before you decide on the yarn for a project.

And how does living a life for colours affect the producers of yarn more generally? I have heard the story of a lady who found out new favourite colours that totally took her by surprise – she didn´t think she´d actually like greens – simply due to the fact of almost constantly having colours on her mind. And it brings out creativity in people. Which is not least pourred into finding appropriate names for the colourways. Frida Fuchs, for example, only chooses colour names that go back to something edible or drinkable, which results in charming names like „Hubbards“ (a pumpkin), „Etna“ (wine) and „Mastix“ (the gum of the matic tree).

And of course, having every step of the process of dyeing GOTS labelled is one way to respect the environement which will undoubtedly encroach on other aspects of ones life too. It is one way to be mindful and kind, which is very important in times where the pace of life seems to be incredibly fast and everyone is stressed out all the time. We knitters are taking back taking some time. We produce something beautiful and useful and enjoy the process as much as the result!

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Mix It Up! (again)

Colours are a complex thing. As are fibres. And I enjoy to experiment with both when working with the ITO – fine yarn from Japan yarns. They are thin enough that it is very possible to work with two of them held together, creating a marled effect of colours and texture.

You can, for example, combine a hard with a smooth fibre. I like to spice up Urugami, which has a paper core, with the soft wool-mohair-silk blend Sensai that has a distinct halo. This way the texture of the resulting yarn is a mixture of the two. It has the strength of the Urugami, and the squishyness from Sensai. It is one of my favourite ITO combinations.

But let´s talk colours now, as I promised. Because noone has the time to knit swatches for everything, I just wrapped yarn around a white cardboard gift tag for my examples. It works well enough to illustrate the effect holding two or more threads of yarn together has on the overall colour of the resulting yarn and fabric.

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Here I am combining Urugami once in cold Mint and once in warm Mauve with different Sensai colours (from top to bottom Pool Blue, Moss, Lemon, Tangerine, Crocus, White, Smoke Grey, Charcoal). The Sensai colours blend with the Urugami shade resulting in much softer stripes than the Sensai colours alone. Also, that both colours peak out looks very appealing and gives the knitted piece some depth.

When using this technique sparsely, only occasionally adding in a second thread in a knitted piece, the parts worked with two threads, the motifs, will look almost printed. I did that in my Imprinta scarf. The look is so striking that it inspired the shawl´s naming. And in several other designs I have been working with more than one thread at a time also. Among them are North Sea Mist, Goliatha, Abacatha, Rheindrops and Lineares. Knitting any of these will get you started on your journey of exploring fibres and open up your horizon to completely new possibilities in the world of knitting. If I say so it must be true, right? 

 

Another wito_mix4-2-copy2_kleinay to use the blending effect of working with several strands is to wind a yarn with four strands of one colour. Next wind a yarn with three strands of the base colour and one strand of a contrast colour. Then wind a 2-2 yarn and a 1-3 yarn, and finally a yarn that consists of four strands of only the new colour. You have created your own gradient yarn!

Knitters are a creative group of people, I am sure many of you are already planning new projects in your head even as you finish reading. Please tag me on social media, especially instagram, (@janukke) so that I will see them if you are mixing yarns too!

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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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