Sunday, April 8, 2012

Changing Colorway

This post will begin to explore the differences your color choices will make in your finished work.  If you've ever heard several versions of a favorite song, you know that musical arrangements make a huge difference in how a piece of music is perceived.  (Think "The Grammys", "Unplugged", or "Austin City Limits".)  The energy and even the message can change.  Well, so it is with knitting. 

The mittens above were both made with my "Mondrian Mittens" pattern.  The pattern is written with the suggested yarn colors of black and white.  Why?  Because much of Piet Mondrian's wonderful work is based in black and white, with hints of primary colors.   I thought that as the mittens were knit up, some people might choose to duplicate stitch in some of the boxes in some primary colors, and make their own personal tribute to this treasured modern artist.

Original Work by Piet Mondrian

As you can see from the photos at the beginning of this post, two people on Ravelry chose to work the pattern very differently.  The different effects are huge.  The one on the left, in black and white, looks beautiful, a bit formal, and possibly even masculine.  I'm imagining it in cream and chocolate brown, which would probably have a similar formal effect.  It is the pattern I wrote, and it's executed beautifully.

The one on the right is also beautiful.  I never thought of using a self-patterning variegated yarn to work this pattern, but now that I see it, I wonder why.  The result is cheerful and beautiful.  What a great idea!  This makes me wonder how it would look if the grid was knit in a bright, coordinating color, and the field was knit in a variegated.  Probably a very high energy look.  It's still the pattern I wrote, but it has evolved with the knitter's skill and imagination.

When you look for a pattern to make, what catches your eye?  Often for me I'll love the color, and then start noticing the design details.  Of course, this doesn't mean you have to use the recommended colors.  That's when we start to edit.

If you've every been in a clothes shop and asked the clerk, "Does this come in blue?", you know what happens.  You see something, you really like it, and then you start editing it in your head to make it work with the rest of your wardrobe.  Then comes the hunt for the right size/color combination.  When you find it, you bring it home beaming with pride.  For you, that color and design are the Grand Prize.

In my own little design world, my daughter and my assistant both chide me about my color choices.  In decor and wardrobe, I tend toward natural colors blended in traditional combinations.  I thrill at the artwork of Peter Maxx, Leroy Nieman, Alexander Caulder, and Andy Warhol.  I love the colors!  But somehow they aren't me.  In Colleen's world, my palette is "a little quiet".  In my daughter's opinion, it's downright "gloomy".  (And these are people who love me!)  My fans tend to use language like "classic" and "traditional", "timeless", and occasionally "elegant".  (I like "elegant".  A lot!)  Ok.  I'm content.

I love sorting through project pages on Ravelry, and seeing all the different choices the various knitters made as they worked a pattern.  I do it almost every time I'm considering making a pattern.  I've seen plenty of work that wasn't my taste, and a little that only a mother could love, but mostly I find all the different color and fiber choices really inspiring.  

Do you think outside the box when it comes to choosing colors for your knitting?  Do you look at photos in patterns and consider them like the "serving suggestion" on the cereal box?  Or are you happy to leave the choice of color and texture to someone else, and knit the pattern as written?  No matter what you do, what matters most it that you enjoy it.  I'd love to see your photos!  Tell me the name of the pattern, so I can look up the photo that went with the original pattern.  And thanks!
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