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Trash Your Color Wheel and Have Fun with Color

Sep 3, 2009

Today's guest blogger is Prism Arts' Laura Bryant, who is not only a great designer but also an expert colorist. We hope she inspires you with her unexpected ideas for experimenting with color in knitwear. Please welcome Laura to Knitting Daily!

Color fills my life—from college training in fine art through 25 years of developing color combinations for my hand dyed yarn company, Prism Arts, to teaching knitters about color at venues around the country.

I work with color every day. My favorite (and only) rule is that you don’t get “Wow!” by doing the expected. I dislike standard color systems based on the color wheel—you know the ones, the complimentary and split complimentary and so on. They produce nice but predictable work that looks, well, predictable. Instead, I try to empower knitters to go where they’ve only dreamed they could, by looking at color differently.

Through years of teaching artists, art students and knitters, I have developed some great visual means of explaining basic color concepts. But how could I express a semester’s worth of color education in four minutes? Before leaving my studio for the flight to Ohio and the Knitting Daily TV tapings, I selected several sheets of colored paper for an on-air demonstration. Barry and I were to tape a total of six segments, so a lot of planning went into getting everything into two pieces of luggage. I carefully placed the sheets in a folder, where I thought they would be safe from getting crushed.

The morning of our taping, as we sorted and organized yarn, demo pieces and garments for each segment, I could not find the papers anywhere. Convinced that they had disappeared from an open pocket during the flight, I rather frantically re-worked the entire segment. With little time to rehearse in my head, the resulting video was spontaneous and nerve wracking, but it turned out great anyway! Here it is:

The idea is to forget about matching hues (putting all blues together, for instance) or brightness (such as all dull colors together).

Then take all the bright ones that don’t have an obvious spot, and start placing them one at a time at one end. Keep moving them until they seem to belong. Once you have done that, I promise you that any colors selected from a quadrant will look great together! You can download this PDF companion for additional visuals.  Simply arrange colors from lightest to darkest.

The total irony is that when I unpacked at home the next day, lo and behold—there were the papers, just where I had put them for safe keeping!

--Laura Bryant, Prism Arts, Inc.


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