A Love Story in Black & White: Wool Studio Vol. II

I love photography. The most rewarding part of my job is planning, overseeing, and receiving the final proofs from our photo shoots. Until now, only the editorial and graphic design staffers at Interweave could see the thousands of beautiful photos that never made into the print magazines and lookbooks. It’s a tragedy and it’s quite selfish of us to sit on beautiful photography.

This post is a first go at sharing some of that stunning photography from our latest Wool Studio Vol. II collection. This photography set is exceptional, and what I love most about it is the black-and-white photography included in our proofs. Our photographer, Nate, and I have an affinity for black-and-white photography, so for this shoot he sent through black-and-white photos for every project. I love black-and-white photos because they are emotive and expressive in ways that color photography is not. They are candid, raw, and unbiased—and in Wool Studio’s case, “unbiased” is what got me thinking about color bias.

I’ve always wanted to try a little experiment on social media: when a new magazine or collection is released, share both color and black-and-white shots of each project. Why? Because we are color-biased. And I’m the first to admit it. Lisa Shroyer constantly pokes fun of me for having “broken cones” in my eyes. She’s right; if you look through any of my titles—Interweave Knits, knit.wear, and Wool Studio—you won’t see bright colors or pastels. I can’t help it. I just don’t like them (not that there’s anything wrong with liking color—I’m the weirdo!). I prefer neutrals, richly saturated colors, and jewel tones. And luckily, the titles I edit allow me to snuggle comfortably within my color preference box.

Wool Studio is an interesting place to start this little experiment, because the collection is mostly neutrals peppered with subtle colors. But even so, there is still a difference in the black-and-white photos; even if the color variation is small, my perception of the garment shifts. Divorcing a sweater from color allows me to experience the garments in a new way, and I can see the sweater I would make for myself, in the color I desire just by flicking on a black-and-white filter.

I’m wondering if you all feel the same way. How does absence of color affect the way you see a project? Let me know!

Meghan Babin, Editor

Monterey Tee by Kate Gagnon Osborn.
Yarn by The Fibre Co. Luma, distributed by Kelbourne Woolens

 

Pismo Beach Pullover by Amanda Scheuzger.
Yarn Plymouth Yarn Linaza

 

Thousand Oaks Scarf by Grace Akhrem.
Yarn by Lana Grossa Alta Moda Cashmere 16, distributed by Trendsetter Yarn

 

Santa Cruz Wrap by Kephren Pritchett.
Yarn June Cashmere DK

 

Big Sur Pullover by Norah Gaughan.
Yarn Imperial Yarn Denali

 

Ojai Top by Andrea Babb.
Yarn by Be Sweet Skinny Wool, distributed by Mango Moon

 

Malibu Cowl by Susanna IC.
Yarn by Malabrigo Silky Merino

 

Topanga Canyon Cardigan by Veronik Avery.
Yarn by Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed, distributed by Kingfisher Yarn & Fibre

 

Avila Tee by Amanda Bell.
Yarn by Manos Del Uruguay, distributed by Fairmount Fibers

 

Carmel-by-the-Sea Pullover by Lana Jois.
Yarn by Sugar Bush Yarns Bold

 

Pebble Beach Ruana by Amy Gunderson.
Yarn by Fibra Natura Flax, distributed by Universal Yarn

 

Pacific Grove Tee by Sarah Solomon.
Yarn by Schoppel Wolle Cashmere Queen, distributed by Skacel

Wool Studio Vol. II – Make It Yours

 

21 Comments

  1. Linnette G at 8:06 am July 21, 2017

    The problem with your question is that the featured products don’t have bright colors, only the subdued colors of tan, green, brown.

    • Juno F at 8:27 am July 21, 2017

      Definitely do this again with a collection that has bright colors. Though as a green lover, I was much more interested in the piece knitted in green.

  2. Christina W at 8:12 am July 21, 2017

    I completely know what you mean and share your color preferences! If a garment is photographed in a color that I don’t care for, I am much less likely to consider it – even if the actual architecture of the pattern is great. It’s not really rationale, but it is definitely how my brain works. I like the black and white photos; they put the emphasis on the garment’s lines and stitch patterns and we can each imagine the garment in our own favorite colors!

    • Hannah W at 8:25 am July 21, 2017

      I definitely agree. Although the posted pics were of very soft neutrals, so the contrast was not that great, like Christina W, if I see a pattern in a color I don’t like, I often gaze right past it. Worse, even if I like the color, I have a blindspot in seeing it in another color. The B&W photos force me to think about the pattern itself and what color I would like. PS I also like B&W photography!

  3. Jeanne A at 8:15 am July 21, 2017

    I’m definitely partial to the color photos, I can look past what I might consider a poor choice of color. The only exceptions I would note is the use of dark colors that might obscure the details of the design. As long as lighter colors are used, then use color photos.

  4. Melissa T at 8:30 am July 21, 2017

    You are so very correct about this! I work in an LYS in Portland, OR, and I cannot tell you how often I’ve witnessed this phenomenon firsthand! If we knit/receive a sample for the shop, the color of the sample is always the first to sell out. And then, despite a plethora of other lovely colors, the interested knitters just, can’t quite get themselves to choose something different from the sample.
    Of course, the happens also with people wanting to knit a sweater in the exact color it was photographed in for the published pattern. Publishing in black and white is brilliant! And, it’s got rather a sophisticated look.
    Finally, I notice that most people have a narrow color pallete with which they’re comfortable. So often, customers are surprised when I point out that the yarn they’ve chosen matches/coordinates with what they are wearing. They are completely unaware that their lime green yarn matches their line green jacket & lime green shoes & lime green bag.
    So, yes, color bias is strong!

  5. Juno F at 8:32 am July 21, 2017

    For the most part, none of the stitch details are lost in the B&W photos. My eye is drawn more to the color ones because the model is in color, but if they weren’t right next to each other, that wouldn’t come up.

    The primary issue with some of the B&Ws though is when the value (how light or dark) of the yarn is close to the model’s skin. The unique neck features of the Big Sur pullover are nearly lost in the B&W because it blends into her. This can be fixed by using dark-skinned models with such pieces. As Jeanne said, you don’t want to use dark yarns because then some stitch detailing doesn’t show.

  6. Loretta P at 8:40 am July 21, 2017

    I guess it all depends on what your creative factor is – I love the color but never let it influence my decision. To me the texture and shape are the important things. I can’t remember a time when I knit something not only following the pattern exclusively but also creating it in the color shown. I like a black and white close-up of the texture to better show the details. With the ease of photo manipulation – why not show the project in a number of colors (bright, jewel, neutral) in smaller inserts.

    • Naomi G at 9:39 am July 21, 2017

      This is just what I was thinking. Show the sample in two different colorways, plus a b&w photo to allow people to see it beyond the color of the sample. That would be great!

  7. Janet H at 8:43 am July 21, 2017

    I would look right past at least half of these designs if I only saw them in B&W. The color pictures helped me see more detail and interest in the designs and made them more appealing to me. I routinely substitute colors I like into pieces I knit, so original color doesn’t matter, and in this case I would have overlooked patterns I might have considered if I had not seen them in color. I agree though that in most of these examples, the actual colors weren’t drastically different than the B&W, and the experiment should be repeated with other colors.

  8. Barbara G at 9:38 am July 21, 2017

    I don’t have a problem with the color vs. b&w, since I usually make a garment in whatever “my” colors anyway. In fact, I knit one sweater using the same color as the pattern and was embarrassed that I “copied” the picture (but hey, it was knit using “my” color! what could I do?) I do have a problem with stylized pictures that don’t show you the whole garment i.e. sitting down, arms crossed, side views, etc. If I have to search for additional pictures while thumbing through the issue so I can get a complete look at the garment, I probably won’t. I’m sure I’ve missed out on a lot of great designs because of that, but shouldn’t it be the editor’s job to give us the best look at the garment?

  9. Lissa H at 9:55 am July 21, 2017

    The only objection I have to color is when the sample in the photo is knitted in a dark color that obscures details. Even in your color shots, the lighting is so dim that details are obscured. While we all appreciate artistry, the point of a photo in a pattern is to see as much of the item – and its details – as possible.

  10. J D at 10:31 am July 21, 2017

    I totally agree with Meghan Babin. I like the idea of presenting the projects in black-and-white photography and allowing each individual knitter to use their creativity and picture the project in their favorite color. I am not biased against any color, although I only look good in certain colors. Sometimes certain projects lend themselves to certain colors. I do like the lighter colors in black-and-white photography for showing details of the knitted garment. I believe that any photo, color or black-and-white, or even sepia, should show the details clearly.

  11. Diane J B at 10:52 am July 21, 2017

    I agree with the comments that address seeing the project with a good, not artsy front, side and back view, not such stylized model shots. Also show on a model that isn’t a size 0 and 5′ 8″. Black and white is great because you can see details. But also do a color photo that’s not too dark, which does hide details. Several times I have totally gone with the color shown. A neutral color is just the same as black and white, so that is boring to me. If there are intricate details like buttons or special edging, show that up close. You can’t always enlarge a photo that’s in a magazine or hidden by an arm or hair.

  12. Amanda G at 11:22 am July 21, 2017

    On another note, when will these patterns be available as single patterns? There is only one pattern I want and I will not buy the entire book. I am trying to downsize and want no more clutter on my computer or in my house.

  13. Leah W at 5:07 pm July 21, 2017

    I agree with all the other commenters that the color photos needed more color to be a real test. Tan, brown and gray are pretty neutral. While I do find certain colors and color combinations a turn off, I did appreciate these color photos more because they had depth where the Black&white photos seemed 1 dimensional to me. The color photos seemed more alive. Like comparing a news paper picture to a living model wearing the garment. I’d also like to see close ups of detail and a more average sized models. A garment that looks good on a size 4, will probably not look the same on a size 14.

  14. Kathleen P at 6:20 pm July 21, 2017

    I have the ability to visualize color easily so black and white or neutral pictures are not a problem for me. However, as a knitter since 1970, I know that many others, including knitters, cannot visualize things differently. I look at a garment and automatically begin rearranging it by color, style, sleeve design, and so on. I doubt that everyone can do that.

    None of those designs turn me on, however. I like more structure–these designs may look ok on a perfect 25 year old figure, but most of us do not have those bodies. We need interesting structure like fair isle and cables to draw the eye away from those little bodily imperfections.

  15. Pamela P at 7:46 pm July 21, 2017

    On the Santa Cruz Wrap in either photo, I pictured it in my mind in a soft blue/slate color. I may have to go get that pattern now. I’ve never had a problem seeing things in various colorways.

  16. Amy A at 2:21 pm July 23, 2017

    It’s an interesting study, to be sure. However, I don’t think that switching the garment itself from b/w to colour can be viewed in a vacuum; the context of the colours around it also affect our perception greatly. The colour of the models’ hair, their clothes, their skin colours – it all has an effect on how we perceive a colour. The green of the Pacific Grove sweater is lovely and soft when paired with the soft grey slacks, but how would it look against white pants, or with a bright blue collar peeking out? I think that the question of perception is far more complicated when it comes to colours.

  17. Jg R at 3:08 am July 26, 2017

    I don’t care for the black and white photographs, they’re dead. I like the subtle neutral colors on the photographs, they make the picture more alive and show the details abetter than black and white.

  18. Myriam G at 2:52 pm July 31, 2017

    I love the idea of offering both: a photo in colour and a b&w photo. Colours and colour-choosing are some of the main reasons I’m so passionate about knitting garments. I’ve gotten really good over the years at ‘changing’ the colour in my mind, that one could show me a garment in a colour that I hate (there aren’t many but there are some) and I could still love the pattern and decide to make the garment for myself, in a preferred colour.

    BUT… my daughters and spouse aren’t like that. If I show them the picture of a hat or sweater, they might say they don’t like it, and when pressed for the reason, they’ll say : “I just don’t like that colour”… I use to burst out and say : “But it’s a knitted item, YOU CAN CHOOSE THE COLOUR!”, and they’d have the hardest time picturing it. My younger daughter is getting good at it, my older isn’t bad, my son is really good, but I think my spouse is a hopeless case. He still says ‘I wouldn’t wear that colour’ when seeing a pattern picture, even after 20 years together. I really wish I could say he’s kidding, but I sincerely doubt it.

    That’s why the b&w photo would be so great: he wouldn’t have the knee-jerk reaction. It’d be easier for him to picture it in his favourite colour (yes, black), or even a more frivolous colour, like dark brown or navy blue.

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