The magic of creating complexity, simply


Deb Menz shares her color skills in her new DVD.

Deb's sampling, from colored fiber to blended batts to yarn and finally a knitted sample.

Sophisticated mud blended to match the palette of a beachscape.

Create your own double rainbow in yarn

I'm a somewhat monochromatic person. Nothing makes me happier than looking out the receding layers of gray-blue foothills and mountains west of our little town, or even just the shadows playing on a plain gray wall as the light changes. Everything in my closet is pretty much the same color, or close to it, so I can get dressed in the morning with my eyes closed. My mantra is "low contrast." I know this sounds boring, but somehow I'm not bored.

Deb Menz, on the other hand, is a color maniac. More, more, more is better! Spin a rainbow? Heck—why not spin a double rainbow? The interesting thing, though, is that in spite of this tendency to excess, Deb's yarns and projects are subtle. Her color harmonies don't shout, they hum. I love looking at her stuff.

I love her idea of "sophisticated mud"—that is, color combinations that have so much of everything thrown into them that they're in danger of being neither this nor that. But somehow, there's a little magic that makes them intriguing instead. An unexpected but perfect fleck of buttercup yellow or ultramarine. You just never know.

Watching Deb in her most recent video, Color and Yarn Design for Spinners, I was struck by how she often starts with a very simple color harmony—a complementary such as blue and orange, for instance—and then adds layers and layers of complexity to it as she blends her fibers on a drumcarder. Pretty soon it has gone a long way from the "team colors" look that she started with to something much more organic and intriguing. And then she samples, samples, samples as she designs the perfect yarn for the project she has in mind. A given color blend can look vastly different when spun into a fat or thin singles, plied or not. It can be plied with itself or plied with a yarn in a whole different color scheme—really! And look wonderful! Whether you like to blend your own color preparations for spinning or whether you buy them off the shelf (as I do), there are important lessons here. You'll see.

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