Use color to get the yarn you want

Deb ready to play with color.

Colors blended to match the palette of a beachscape.

Sampling helps Deb get just the results she wants.

Beige to subtle, sophisticated yarn

When I first started learning to spin in the early 1970s color wasn't an issue. Fiber was wool, and wool was white or gray or blackish or maybe brownish. Of course, you could dye your wool, but that was with backyard plants, and the color was goldish. Or beige.

I did quite a bit of spinning and dyeing in those days and amassed a significant stash of yarn in the white-grayish-goldish range, which I wove into tote bags and little rugs of a nondescript character. Oh, I love how times have changed.

Here's one way they've changed, by way of example. When Deb Menz came rolling into town to shoot her DVD, Color and Yarn Design for Spinners, her SUV was loaded to the roof with storage tubs of colored fiber. And I do mean colored. Many, many little puffs of fiber, no two the same hue. These were not my idea of pretty colors. They were hot pink and screaming turquoise and neon yellow and baby blue and shameless red—you get the idea. Deb had not dyed these puffs herself, though she could have (that is a story for another day). The point is, you can buy or dye fiber in all these colors! Dozens of colors! The magic began to happen when she started using them as her raw materials for subtle, sophisticated yarn design.

Deb's way of working with color makes it seem like child's play, with "play" being the operative concept. Though she uses some classic tools such as a standard color wheel and some color harmony overlays (included as PDF downloads on the DVD), she uses them like a kid might use a sand shovel at the beach or a pair of chubby scissors. She plays with them, for heaven's sake. And yet that play leads to some pretty amazing results. A knitted sample for a sweater that recalls a favorite beachscape or yarn for a scarf that picks up all the color nuances of a collage she has created. It's magic to watch her blend together colors that, by themselves might make you wince—and see them transformed into deeply interesting, original hues.

Deb takes a playful approach to sampling, too. Whether it's throwing an extra little something into a fiber blend, or spinning yarn at different thicknesses to see how the accent colors pop, or plying one, two, or three different colorways, it's all fun, and one idea invariably leads to another.

The upshot is an approach to spinning yarn for a project that gives you the best possible result—even better than you could have imagined. It's not just technique, it's a life philosophy: give your best to your work and do it with joy.

PS Color and Yarn Design for Spinners is a perfect complement to Deb's books, Color Works and Color In Spinning—both available in limited quantities in our semi-annual Hurt Book and Overstock Sale going on now.

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