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Color Swatches

Color Swatches

I get a kick out of perusing the color trends that come down from who knows where. Just do an internet search for “color trends for home interiors” and you can get an idea of the colors being promoted by industry. Everyone from paint companies, interior decorators, furniture manufacturers, not to mention fashion designers, all have a take on what colors we want in our homes this year.

And the names of the colors can be quite poetic. Green is not just green; it’s Lush Meadow, Nile, Malachite. Pink can be Orchid, Salmon, Peach, Rose.  Phrases like “transcendent, powerful and polarizing,” “restrained and refined,”  “serene”, tempt me to read between the lines—what color are they really talking about? What does “serene” look like? I think of the soft green of a summer meadow, but really it’s a pale sky blue.IMG_0274

This is more than a casual search for those of us who create for the home. It does little good to go to all the trouble of handweaving a piece that doesn’t go with anything in anyone’s home. I used to buy odd lots of mill end yarns because the price was right, but soon discovered that those odd lots included colors that were long out of date.

There is a down side to following the trends. It takes a good long time to plan something, weave and finish it. Will that “trendy” color still be trendy by the time my handwoven hits to market? And who redecorates completely every year? A friend of mine doesn’t watch the color trends for just that reason. She creates large quantities of items for an established line and she can’t afford to have unsold pieces sitting around because a color has gone out of style.

The upside of color trends is that they are usually pretty broad. Look at most forecasts and you are bound to find some shade of your favorite hue. And the trends from previous years will carry over to a certain degree. The Marsala and Radiant Orchid of 2015 and 2016 still show up in 2017 forecasts, even if they are not called exactly that. Even the Emerald of 2014 shows up in home interior ads.

This is especially true for those of us living outside major urban areas. Often color trends on the coasts of the U.S. take a couple years to filter into the midsection of the country.

Yarns on Hand

Yarns on Hand

But when it comes right down to it, when I’m planning a project, the colors come from my yarn on hand.  When I stock up on yarn, I focus on colors that will “play well together” over time, to make something pleasing both to me and to the person who buys it.

So that’s the creative challenge for handweavers—using the yarn on hand in ways that will complement the current color trends without being limited to what someone else says we should choose.

Cotton Kitchen Towel in Aqua and Turquoise

Cotton Kitchen Towel in Aqua and Turquoise

I am not a color theorist, nor have I done any extensive study of color. What I know, or think I know, about color comes from paying attention to what’s in the market, what yarn colors are currently available, but most of all, what I like.

Look at the yarn on your shelf. What can you make from what you have?

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