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  • wonderful, clear explanation. I am an artist and knitter and often wish my fellows in both areas would study color.

  • Who knew? Not me! This is a great, easy to understand lesson. Thank you.

  • Wonderful! I am trying to learn as much I can about colour. It applies to everything, not just fibre arts. I am also trying to figure out colour and weaving. I guess the answer is sample and swatch! Try it and see what happens, but first I’ll take photos.

  • I have been employing the squint technique for years. Its really helpful. I also subscribe to the technique of piling all the yarns together, leaving them out on the table, and just giving them a passing glance as i walk by the table. If it doesn’t distinguish itself, then something is wrong.

    And finally, I will just add that absolutely nothing I have made in the last 10 years has garnered more compliments from total strangers than my Albers scarf, based on the Albers Cowl above. (6 squares instead of 3). Plus: it is incredibly fun to do, and is a great road trip project. Make it! (unless you are extremely shy and do not want to be bothered with all those compliments!)

    • Ditto on the Albers Cowl! Mine has four squares after I made the first as a gift with pattern’s spec’d three. Mine garners raves, as I’m sure BFF Sarah’s does in Durham!

  • I had not heard the grayscaling a photo trick before. Brilliant and easy to do while standing in my LYS with an armload of yarn. I am about to cast on for Stephen West’s new marled KAL and will take a photo of my yarn pile first!

  • Thank you for a terrific series.

  • Squinting is great. Bear in mind blues are lighter than they appear and reds are darker. Computers are not fooled. So the dilemma is, do you judge on eye or go with the computer’s greyscale? – given that it will be looked at by humans.

  • Your “not-so-bad” and final versions say it all. Great illustration!

  • That was an awesome article, thank you. Have used my phone to check yarn colours before, when my son was choosing yarn for his sweater. A value finder sounds like a fun tool though!

  • As you and I have talked about before, I have trouble with using a lot of contrast. Add to that my reluctance to use white (thank you Kaffe Fassett) and black (thank you Kristen Nicholas) I am often left without much contrast in value. Are there other ways to get contrast or do I need to suck it up?

  • The smartphone greyscale tip is one of my favorites — bionic eyes! — but I always think it needs to come with a cautionary note: not all “black-and-white” or “greyscale” filters on your phone are created equal! Some can be very misleading if you’re using them as a value assessment tool.

    What you want is a *neutral* greyscale or black-and-white filter. Some of the more “dramatic” filters are digitally recreating clever tricks from film photography, such as putting colored filters over your camera lens, then shooting with black and white film. These filters purposely change the values of colors, in order to achieve an interesting effect (a famous one: turning a pale blue sky dark charcoal).

    My hints for finding a neutral greyscale filter, since most of us aren’t digital photography experts:

    – Look for a greyscale filter with a more boring name (e.g., “Mono”, not “Noir”)
    – Take a photo of something like a color wheel and try a few different greyscale filters on it. Watch out for ones where one color (blue, for example) suddenly appears to shift in value.
    – Instead of using a filter, take a photo, then manually reduce the saturation to zero (this is possible using just about any smartphone camera’s built-in editing tools)

  • Great information – thank you. I find that my best color combinations include a color I don’t care for. This isn’t really a dark/light issue, but it is an antidote to choosing favorite colors that are only so-so as a combination. I no longer take colors I don’t like out of a mix, and I sometimes choose one on purpose. Of course, now I find I like more colors 😉

  • I seem to remember being told to put my yarn selections close together, and then make a circle with my hand and put it to my eye as if using a telescope to view the yarns. This would help me see how the colors work together.

  • Thank you for wonderful explanation and intro of grayscale feature on my phone

  • That makes this another explanation simpler and more memorable than any I got in art school. Thank you, Ann! I’m putting this information to immediate use.

  • Before I discovered knitting, I did a lot of needlepoint. I was married to an attorney who was an incredible painter. When I mentioned that I wanted to take a course re: color, I was told that I didn’t need to as I had honed an excellent eye for color without any formal training. Interesting comment then and now