Thursday, February 15, 2007

an approach to hand dyed color palettes – November

I've been working on a series of colors for hand dyed yarns and spinning fiber. Where does one start when thinking about a cohesive palette of colors? My major influence comes from natural seasonal colors, and the look of plant-based dyes, although my dye kitchen is set up for acid dyes and I like their precision and "measurability". My approach is to start with keywords of items that are touchstones to me, such as

[July—tomato, basil, marigold, grass, pool, ocean, sand, sea glass, lacewing],

then "sketch" swatches in Photoshop. The keywords could relate to plants, foods, animals, weather, man-made objects, anything at all. One of my September swatches is a color called "Girls Room". A more direct method like watercolor would work as well, this is just the tool I'm comfortable with. I like to work in the CMYK mode, and translate the "builds" into dye colors. It relates better to dyeing than RGB, for example. I'm not necessarily trying to create universally appealing color swatches for yarns to sell — that's a whole other mental exercise; mostly this is personal work, which will eventually translate into tapestry and/or knitting projects. A few of the colors of each palette will find their way into roving and yarn to sell, but not the entire range.

This is the beauty of hand dyed yarn; it creates a very personal color experience. When you are going to take months to knit a garment, the color should have personal meaning and resonance. Many of the yarn companies have pleasing ranges of colors, but I seldom find any that *sing* to me.

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