Color Workshop #1--or fifty shades of...whatever

I am often frustrated with color theory instruction because it's usually relevant to painting or website design, and not so much for working with fiber. Unless we are dyers, we generally work with the colors as we find them. Not only that, but the texture of the yarn or stitch can affect the color due to the play of shadows and light.

I've adapted some of the color exercises I've found in classic color theory books for myself in my crochet designs. Feel free to experiment along with me in your own work.

The first exercise is using a monochromatic color palette; (using only one color). Here's a picture from Interaction of Color by Josef Albers:

He used papers in different shades and tints of gray, and arranged them from dark to light. Notice how the medium gray frame looks dark against the lighter grays, and light against the darker grays. We rarely see color by itself--we usually see color relative to another color.

For the first experiment, look over your stash (or some yarn in a shop), and pick out all the black yarns, or all the white yarns. Look at them all together in good light (sunlight is best), and notice the slight variations in color. Notice how the light affects the color of the smooth or glossy yarns in a different way than it does with the fuzzy or nubby yarns. Take out some different shades of gray, and arrange them in a pattern like the picture above. (If you are trying this in a yarn shop, don't forget to put everything back in the correct bins when you are finished!)

Try designing a project using only one color.

I once made a "dream cloud blanket," a free-form crocheted afghan, all in different white yarns. I made sure I used a lot of different textures of yarns--mohair to metallics--and textured stitches to keep it interesting. Another time I was inspired by a little girl who told me her favorite color was not pink or purple but yellow. I made a stuffed animal for her, a cat wearing striped pants and polka-dotted sweater, using every different yellow I could find.

Sometimes limiting yourself can push you in creative ways you hadn't expected!

Boston proud!

I had been planning on keeping this blog to write only about crochet, and yarn, and fun--but the last few days have shown me that I do not live in a castle with a moat around me. These bad things don't happen only in those "other" places, only to those "other" people. They happen to all of us. I might not live right in Boston city limits, but I live close enough to consider myself part of it and to love it as my city.

Over the weekend I signed on to one of my favorite internet forums, searching for friends to find out how they are doing, and to assure them of my own safety.

I was surprised and disheartened by some of the comments I discovered along the way. Shocked, even. I'm not going to repeat the insensitive remarks, but I have plenty to say:

Let me assure you, we were not "cowering" in our homes this week. We were happy to stay inside so police could do their job.

Recent events had been grim. At least two people had commited some heinous acts. They were on the run, desperate, with nothing to lose, and no one could be sure what else they were capable of doing next. After bombing, killing or maiming random bystanders--including small children--they hijacked a car, robbed a store, killed one police officer, nearly killed another, threw a bomb from a moving car, and one, wearing an explosive device, advanced on police, getting himself killed, and allowing his brother to escape in the chaos.

Could there be another dramatic and catastrophic event?

So, yes, we were happy to stay inside for a few hours. What were we doing? Many of us were online, checking up on friends and family in the area, or looking for ways to help victims with donations of money or blood. Hospital workers continued to tend to the kinds of injuries one expects to see only in a war. I imagine parents, were trying to figure out what to say to their children when they themselves were confused and concerned about the constant sound of sirens. More than one persom was baking cookies to hand to SWAT officers.

Cowering? Please! You don't know Boston.

Did you not see the footage of the bombings? Did you not see random people in the crowd running toward the smoke and the screaming, tearing down barricades, jumping over pools of blood and blown off limbs. Literally tearing the shirts off their own backs to apply tourniquets to wounded strangers? And all without knowing if the bombings were over.

Did you not see us bust out singing the national anthem the next time we were in public together?

And then, Friday night, when we knew it was all over, when we saw the ambulance holding the only living person we knew of who likely committed the heinous acts of the past few days making its way through the neighborhoods--yeah, they captured him alive!--after all that, and consumed with anger and grief, did the crowd turn into a mob, banging their fists against the glass windows of the ambulance? Screaming? Demanding justice? Demading blood?

Of course not.

The people parted, and allowed the ambulance and the police cars to pass.

And they applauded.

They took to the streets and applauded and smiled and waved and held up signs and shouted "Thank you!" to the heroic officers, and treated the convoy as a kind of impromptu parade, knowing the person in the ambulance would eventually face justice. For now, it's time to simply say, "Thank you."

So, to those of you who are not from here, I'm happy for you, I truly am, that this horror did not visit you. I'm happy for you that you have the luxury of judging from afar and after the fact, what should have or should not have happened in my community. I'm happy that you have the freedom of speech to use this as your platform to make your perverse point about guns or whatever. I'm happy you have the time and energy and have nothing more compelling to do than to complain about how inconvienienced you were by not being able to watch your favorite tv shows due to all the coverage.

Lucky you.

This time.

But let me tell you this: I have never been prouder of my favorite city. Thank you, Boston, for reaffirming my faith in mankind, for showing me the best in people. Thank you, you magnificent and diverse and complex city.

You are wicked awesome!

Now where do I sign up to donate blood?