Most of us have a favorite color. Mine is green. Or maybe blue. Some will say fire engine red or tangerine orange. I know some little girls who have to have everything purple.

Funny thing is, what I call purple may not match what they think of as purple. Purple to one person may look like red-violet to another.

Woods in the spring

My favorite green comes from a northern woods in early summer, before the heat dusts all the leaves. An intense green with blue and yellow overtones. Can you see it? Just picture a woody stream with the sunlight streaming through the branches.

For every hue, there are shades, tints, tones, and temperatures depending on how much black, white, gray, red or blue is mixed in. A color can be warm (more red) or cool (more blue). And for every shade, tint, and tone, there are some really great names for them.

Sierra (deep brown). Yale (dusty blue). Sapphire (which actually looks more green than blue to me). Grotto (light lavender). Summer Glade (soft light green). Light red. Dark red. In one yarn company’s line, the light red is darker than the dark red. Go figure.

Yarn isn’t the only medium where colors boggle the mind. Just stand in front of the paint chips at the hardware store – the color choices are overwhelming. Many paint displays allow you to change the lighting so you can better match what’s in your home. What looks light blue in incandescent light may look white in fluorescent light.

Purple and blue yarn on white backgroundHow we see a color is affected by its surroundings. Put purple yarn on a light background, then on a dark background. Same yarn, different perspective.

A gray circle on a white background will look darker than that same gray circle place on a black background. A room with windows facing west or south will get more yellow light than a north-facing room. Put a shady tree outside those windows and the color changes.

Practically speaking, one of the first decisions I make when planning a weaving project is the color. If I want to make something green, but don’t have enough of the right green, how can I blend what’s on my shelf to make what’s in my head? Sometimes adding an accent of a complementary color will intensify the main color. Too much of that complementary though will just gray it out.

Color is very personal. Everyone has one or two favorites, colors they gravitate toward and feel comfortable with. Mine is green. What is your favorite color?