“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” William Shakespeare’s Juliet made that argument in “Romeo and Juliet.” I would add, a color by any other name …

Blending colors on the warping board

Blending colors on the warping board

I ran into a color conundrum recently. My husband needed a pair of gray slacks for work to replace a worn pair. I went to a local department store, but all they had on hand were navy, black, and khaki in his style and size. Same story in the other local department stores. You’d think gray was something rare.

Next stop—on line. Ah-ha, “Dark Pebble”! Sound like gray to me. What do you think? I hit “submit order” and waited. When the “dark pebble” slacks arrived, they didn’t look like gray. They looked a little too brown to me; well maybe a little gray, but definitely not the same color as the worn pants. In fact, they were the same color as the pants I call taupe that are already hanging in the closet.

Left to right: Worn grey, worn taupe, new "dark pebble"

Left to right: Worn grey, worn taupe, new “dark pebble”

What’s “dark pebble” to them sure looks like “taupe” to me.

The incident reminded me of the “purple” bedroom in my childhood home. When it came time to paint, my mother chose a lovely lilac for their bedroom. The painter came, a crusty old local contractor. He took one look at the color choices, and shook his head. “Who paints a bedroom purple!” He and my mom went round and round about the color, but my mom insisted and the color did look quite nice when all was said and done.

What’s lilac to one person is purple to another.

Color is very subjective and color names can be misleading. Even something as seemingly straight forward as “navy” can range from deepest dark to decidedly lighter. Add variations in dye lots and it can be quite the challenge matching one yarn to another.

Medium blended blues

The medium blue bands are actually two shades of the same blue

One of my favorite weaving work-arounds is blending colors. On a recent project, I used two yarns of the same name, same company, but purchased some time apart. They looked decidedly different. If I had used first the older cone, then the newer, the change would have been noticeable. To lessen the difference, I wound the strands side-by-side. At a distance, the eye blends those close shades and the color looks uniform.

This also works with different colors of close hues or shades. Blending the colors across the warp adds interest to fabric, and can give the effect of more colors than you actually have in the warp. Combine three colors to make five or six. Multiply five into 15 or more.

Playing with colors can brighten cold, gray days of winter–no matter what color you call it!