We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to be really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.
It's no secret that I love to play with color. But my love of seeing what happens when I mix color A with color B is equalled by my joy in helping others see that they, too, can manipulate colors and motifs to realize their dream garments. People who "aren't good with color" come to my classes; they arrive feeling insecure, and diffident, and sometimes just a little bit resistant. It is scary to try new things when you live in a culture that tends to shame weakness. So many people carry around the scars of childhood, the belief that certain things are only available to those with inborn talent or extraordinary luck. The belief that if it doesn't just come to you you have failed. The fact that anyone would push against this pervasive mindset shows how powerful the desire for self-expression really is.
Here's the truth: Being good with color is not something you are born with.
Using color effectively can be learned.
In my Design Your Own Fair Isle workshop, which I've taught twice over the last three weeks, I get to watch people develop their skills and confidence--and produce some quite lovely swatches. So gratifying, and exciting! Several people have told me that the workshop is more than they expected, so although I'm reluctant to promote myself, I want to reprint an email I received last week, which brought tears to my eyes:
I can't thank you enough for your class this past weekend.... Your class was so much more than advertised, much more than I expected, and more than I had realistically hoped to learn.
So, just to be clear, I do not have the color gene. I only knit Fair Isle from kits with yarn that is pre-packaged. When I knit from Fair Isle patterns, I buy the exact yarns that are listed. When I walk into a yarn shop with the intent of choosing my own yarn for a fair isle, it is an all day event fraught with anxiety and self doubt, and the results have never ended with a happy result. I did not have high hopes for success in your class, just a reasonable expectation that I would learn something that would move me forward. I am so happy to say, this was one of those classes that was a pivot point in my knitting. Finally, some answers!
Your class filled in the holes that all my efforts leaked out of. It provided a system with identifiable steps, and an organizing template for design.
A plan to inspire: Have an idea or inspiration at hand, a color reference, and use it to get started. Leave the critic at the door, just run with it.
A plan to organize my color choices: Arrange by tonal values and color families.
A plan to begin: Speed Swatch! My new favorite thing. A specific way to knit a swatch that gives valuable feedback on color, compatibility, and that valuable but elusive element, ambiguity. Ditto for motifs.
A template for design: This was huge for me. So many elements of design in a fair isle, all competing for attention. How sweet to have a simple template concept for overlaying the design and color. A well thought out method to separate the elements, and record the information. I know the color information should have been the big deal for me, but the template provided some much needed clarity. Allowing me to see the individual elements without getting lost in them.
A workshop in fitting: OMG! Short rows in Fair Isle, what kind of genius is that? The fitting issues and designing details could be a stand alone workshop.
Thank you Janine, for a wonderful workshop. It would have been a bargain at twice the price. Please keep me in a tickler file for upcoming workshops, for which I will happily travel to other locals. I have joined your Ravelry group and will be following your blog.
With much gratitude and affection,
I, too, am prey to self-doubt about my creative life from time to time. This email reminds me that there is a bright world on the other side of fear.... I hope you are pushing against your limits, too.