Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Going In Reverse

I have a tendency to do things ass backwards….often. While learning a new concept, I have difficulties with being patient, while I read / learn about the concept…I often just want to get my hands in and play. Fiber dyeing is a case in point. Five years ago when I started Beyond Basic Knits, I simply played. I envisioned a color, sometimes changed that vision while the yarn was in the dye pot, and I applied. Most times my colorways would come out just as I had anticipated, but there were times when I got a bit over zealous with the color, and hated the outcome. My husband (who is an engineer) would look into the dye pot, and then look at me like I was crazy. I didn’t measure anything. I simply went by eye shot. I do this in my cooking too, so you next to never get the same exact dish twice. When I started hand dyeing, most people felt the same about their yarn purchases….they liked the fact that they would never get the same exact colorway twice.

Once I started knitting sweaters, this all changed. I can now appreciate the value of getting colors that don’t scream, but that sing a happy melody together. Of blending colors that compliment one another. This all brought me to the study of the color wheel, in which we are doing this year. I’m taking a step back, and playing with semi-solids, to try to learn more about tones, tints, shades, hues, and now, color value.

So what is color value anyway? Simply put, it is how light or a dark a color is. It is a comparison of a given color, to a scale of grays that range from white to black. (see scale below)

The numbers on the scale represent a percentage of black that has been mixed with white to form that particular gray.

We played a bit with this concept last month, when our color of the month was blue. We took our blue, which had a color value of about 10, added a bit of gray, which changed the value to about 30, and then added black, which changed the same color’s value to about 60. If you look at our Storm Surge Colorway, a colorway we introduced about 2 years ago, you can see this same concept in play, where we combined all 3. This is, by far, one of our best sellers. Only now, have we begun to explore these colors by applying each shade to a single skein, and the outcome is gorgeous. (As I said, ass backwards) By knowing what a colors value is, you can better plan how to compliment or contrast them, when planning a design or project. I see another sweater coming with this shade of blue.

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