Roving Reviews: Color and Yarn Design with Deb Menz

Do you have color confidence? We all interpret color and make color choices every day, but merging our own aesthetics with the so-called rules of color theory in our spinning can be challenging. If you are a color-shy spinner or a pigment pro looking to move out of a color rut, check out Color and Yarn Design for Spinners.

Deb Menz has been one of my most important color resources for more than a decade. As a scholarship student at SOAR (Spin Off Autumn Retreat) in 2006, I took a three-day dyeing workshop that laid the groundwork for my own understanding of color in fiber arts. Since then, both of Deb’s books, Color in Spinning and Colorworks, became indispensable to my fiber library.

Deb Menz

Kate and Deb at SOAR 2006.

However, some spinners I meet are easily overwhelmed when it comes to color theory terms. Still others are comfortable memorizing color harmonies, but have trouble applying this to fiber. I just finished watching Color and Yarn Design for the second time, and it will now be my favorite recommendation to these fiber folks struggling to gain color confidence. This 90-min lesson gives you a streamlined version of Deb’s personal approach to applying color theory to spinning. (I find this incredibly useful despite having read her other resources and workshops.) The video allows you to see Deb develop colorways and yarns from scratch with several methods using different color tools. This not only gives us an opportunity to see Deb move around a colorwheel and a pile of fiber, but also to hear her gently remind us, “This doesn’t have to be scientific—guys, we’re spinning!” Don’t forget to have fun! (A few years ago, Deb shared some of the ways she still has fun with color.)

Here are 3 of my favorite lessons from Color and Yarn Design for Spinners.

Deb Menz

Deb Menz walks you through her amazing color skills step by step.

1. Start with a color you like. I often work from images, ideas, landscapes, etc. Just choosing a color I really love and building a colorway (or two or three) around it is not something I do very often. Deb suggests picking one color and then exploring split-complimentary or triad color harmonies.

2. Find a color’s components. To better understand a color, you can get more familiar with its component colors. Deb uses colored pencils. She adds layer after layer of color, creating a swatch that gets ever closer to the color she is trying to match.

3. Curate a colorway. Deb’s process is playful: add colors, give it a try, and decide if you like it or not. You can then tweak your results by going back to your original idea and changing a color, proportion, or blending method. As Deb would say, “you can do this!”

Featured Image: Photo by Kate Larson


Get comfortable with color with Deb Menz!

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