Category Archives: color

Wardrobe: Fall 2017

So, after living with my “improved” minimalist wardrobe for the better part of two seasons (spring and summer), I’ve decided I need to make a few tweaks to things as I’m heading into fall and winter planning season, also known as “August” for everyone else, especially if I’m going to try to make some pieces for my wardrobe during autumn and winter.

While actually making the graphic for this post I realized that on some level, I’d rejected at least part of The Curated Closet, which stresses minimizing and removing things and keeping to a very limited color range for maximum mix-and-match potential. The author’s own aesthetic, as shown in the book, centered around soft peach, gentle blue, and soft neutrals. The photography in the book looked clean, feminine, and beautiful.

I loved it. I sort of hoped to emulate it. Using the author’s suggestions and my own preferences, I built a rainbow of colors. Yes, I emphasize my focus colors and liberally use my neutrals. The rainbow is still there because I’m drawn to color in general. Every time I try to leave out a color (I’m talking to you, yellow, orange, and red) it ends up back in my closet.

What can I say? I’m drawn to whimsy. Whimsy is often colorful. I should have named my style “Classics with a whimsical twist” instead of just “classics with a twist.”

It’s time to acknowledge that I like what I like and stop trying to mold myself into someone else’s aesthetic. Other people’s style might be pretty and it might be inspiring to some level, but it’s not *my* style. It’s time to stop trying to be something I’m not. The number of times I thought “that would be gorgeous in (name any actual color)” when looking at the pictures in the Curated Closet was pretty high.

I’m sure she’d say similar things about my own sense of style. (That would be beautiful if it were pastel or gray, I imagine her saying.)

That’s the thing about style, right? All the fashion leaders say it’s about being yourself, not conforming. Why should I conform? I like putting a spider web motif scarf with a trucker jacket and tomato red skinny jeans (let’s be honest, they’re jeggings), or wearing my killer bunny socks with a red shirt and my black business slacks. I like throwing on a gray t-shirt dress with black leggings and adding a crochet rainbow scarf or a hand knit orange cashmere lace shawl. I like simple shapes and unusual details or unexpected colors. That is my “twist.”

Tell me to limit my colors and I build a rainbow. Sigh.

I shifted the colors I consider to be my Focus Colors from Olive, Navy, Plum, and Charcoal Gray, to Light Khaki, Dark Olive, Navy, and Violet.

Interestingly, while many people consider Khaki a neutral, I’m so sensitive to it (possibly because beige was one of Mama’s favorite colors and for a very long time I resisted anything remotely beige) that I consider it a color unto itself and specifically “light Khaki” (aka the most common color of Khaki trousers in the USA.) Olive has become Dark Olive for the sake of specificity. Plum has become Violet because the purple in my wardrobe is a more neutral purple and doesn’t skew red.

Charcoal gray shifted down into my Neutrals in part to give Khaki a spot up in the focus colors and in part because I read charcoal and black as interchangeable. Since they’re interchangeable, they must both be neutrals. White remains unchanged.

My Accents shifted slightly. The new Accent colors are Turquoise, School Gold (Gold Yellow), Orange, and Tomato Red, which is a change from Robin’s Egg Blue/Teal, Dark Periwinkle, Orange, and Tomato Red. Robin’s Egg Blue/Teal became Turquoise because I’m always matching to my Turquoise jewelry. School Gold (Gold Yellow) got added to the list because I keep wanting things that color despite the fact that it’s not my greatest color. I’m giving into the golden yellow. Dark Periwinkle got bumped out of the accent list. Mentally, I lump this with denim, which is “navy” in my book (other people’s mileage may vary), so it doesn’t deserve its own spot. Orange and Tomato Red remain constant.

The real problem becomes figuring out what to make.

Atlantique is still really high on my list of things to make. I like it with the elbow length sleeves and I think the neckline is clever. I even have the right yarn to make it (read: the yarn called for in the pattern) in a color that’s basically khaki (read: the same color as the sample.) This seems like a winner to me, assuming I can actually manage to get it to come out. It’s a season spanning piece that will work year round in the office or for a night out. I may need to light a candle to the patron saint of sweaters to break my sweater curse. I’ve never managed to make a sweater that fits nicely enough to actually wear outside the house.

I’m also sorely tempted by the Wonder Woman Wrap. It appeals to my whimsical side. I’m sure I’ve got colors I could make it from that would work with my palette (a tomato-y red and a golden yellow). Who am I kidding? I have colors to go with almost any palette. I am very close to being a yarn hoarder. Alternately, I may say to heck with it and go ahead with colors more like those in the Wonder Woman movie armor because a little whimsy is not a bad thing and it would look great with the olive and khaki in my wardrobe, not to mention the black and charcoal, even if it isn’t 100% my color story.

I’ve also been tempted by celebrating my knitter-versary by finally knitting the pattern I saw that made me want to learn to knit in the first place, Muir. The yarn I originally got for it is Dark Olive (the now discontinued color, Moss), which tells you how much I love olive green. Even 10 years ago, it was undeniably “Sabie’s Green.”

Obviously, the list is still very much a work in progress. Hopefully, I’ll have it more settled in the next few days so I can move forward with more preparations.


What to make of this?

Winter Berries on Super Single Sock by The Painted Tiger

Brooke of The Painted Tiger created a really pretty holiday colorway for the December Yarn Club.

I have no idea what to make it into. 

I originally thought socks. It’s a singles yarn, so if I make it into socks, they won’t be hard wearing. 

I then thought that it might make a good Project Peace cowl. I think it might be too busy for the stitch pattern. 

Maybe I should get some white sock yarn, warp my loom, and use this as the weft? It would be the first time I’ve warped my loom, so it might not be the best time to use a yarn that’s one of a kind and thus precious. 

Or maybe it is and I’m just not sold on the idea.

Anyone have any suggestions?

It was a good idea. What could possibly go wrong?

Two shades of chroma fingering and a simple chevron pattern. What could go wrong?

Quite a bit, actually. The way the colors blended together way too well, even though I was using two different colorways of KnitPicks Chroma Fingering (Mix Tape and Roller Skate, both sadly discontinued). They had some colors in common and some different colors to change it up. Mix Tape has grey and bright green as well as purple and red purple. Roller skate has purple and pink with a bright blue and a true green. The colors looked coordinating, but not matchy-matchy in the skein. When I started knitting, though, they were lining up was making it look less like the Missoni scarf I was hoping to emulate and more like just a blue, purple, and green striped scarf.

It was an idea that looked good on the surface. When it came to the actual implementation, it failed. It wasn’t a stunning failure. I could have kept going with it. Nothing was actually wrong with the scarf, perse. It just wasn’t what I was shooting for.

For a while I keep knitting, hoping it would get better. Eventually, though, I had to admit it just wasn’t working. There was no sense in knitting any farther when I wasn’t going to like the project. 

If I really believe Maxim 70 (and the Japanese Proverb that says Fall down 7 times, stand up 8) then there’s nothing wrong with admitting failure. It’s what you do after you fail that counts.

In this case, I ended up ripping it out and adding the two colors to my Color Therapy Bruinen, instead.

My lesson was “no really, swatch.” (the start of a scarf counts as a swatch in this case. Just saying.) Also, I normally trust self striping and color change yarns to do the work for me. In this case, it’s a case of “trust, but verify.” 

I’m doing much more planning and manipulating the colors. The pattern has a 7 row repeat. I had originally thought I’d just swap colorways at the end of a pattern repeat. That’s not always the most pleasing place to switch. Instead, I am switching between my different colorways at color coordinating spots instead of waiting until the end of a pattern repeat. That’s improving the harmony between the colorways.

Bruinen is a top down shawl, so my rows are getting longer as I go. I kind of just let things happen in the shorter rows toward the beginning. I’m being much more mindful of what colors are appearing across a row as my rows are getting longer. I had one and half skeins of (also discontinued) Prism and have started doubling the length of some of the color runs by splicing in an additional length of the color from the other skein.I may do something similar with the remaining Mix Tape and Roller Skate. 

Since each skein has several repeats of the full color run, I should be able to wind off some of the yarn to make longer runs of the colors for the remaining bits of the shawl. We’ll see how this works out.

Rows are finally getting noticeably shorter on my deep stash Killara.

My Killara, made from Robin’s Egg Blue and Koi Pond Tiger Sock by

from Instagram:

I’ve been working on this since July. Finally, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel on this project. I’ve reached the second decrease pattern, which takes out 3 stitches over eight rows. Still quite a ways to go to bind off, but I imagine it won’t be much longer now. 

There was a point where I was tempted to give up on this project because it’s kind of boring. I mean, boring can be relaxing sometimes. Sometimes you want something more mentally challenging. I kept envisioning wearing it with my peach tea dress. (meaning a peach dress to wear to tea, not a dress that’s the color of peach tea, or something like that.) That vision kept me going. Now that it’s close to done, I can envision wearing it with lots of different things in my wardrobe.

A splash of color can brighten up a gloomy day, and with winter just around the corner, I forsee a lot of gloomy days coming.

A study in black

I wear too much black. At one point I might have tried to deny it by pointing out the amount of grey and white I wear, too. After a coworker pointed out that she didn’t recognize me because I was wearing a pretty color (a coral t-shirt, for the record), I have to admit that my color palette for work shirts might be a bit too limited.

The thing is, I’m not sure how this happened. Even in my semi-punk stage in the ’80s, while I rejected pink and mint Polo shirts (and after a certain point, the preppie look all together), I embraced color enthusiastically. Yellow and blue sweaters. Purple t-shirts. Rainbow striped Oxford shirts with safety pin earrings and black lip stick borrowed from one of my friends.

I have proof: I make colorful accessories despite the fact that I don’t really wear colorful accessories. Oh, once in a while I’ll pull a scarf out and wear it, but I’ve become so used to primary black that sometimes I feel like I don’t really know how to wear color anymore.

Proof in the form stack of shawls and scarves I’ve made. from Instagram:

The problem, I think, comes from finding color in plus sized women’s clothing that isn’t garish or inspired by the leisure-wear of Bozo and his brethren. I want rich colors in classic styles, or barring that, something that’s more boho/hippie chic and less center ring at the big top.
Not that there’s anything exactly wrong with Clowns, I mean coulro-Americans, per se. Coultrophobia aside, they’re creepy. Living that far down in the Uncanny Valley obviously has to take a toll on them, which their unique sense of fashion and style is an obvious reflection on their tenuous grip on sanity and the fact that most clowns are probably one misspelled name on a Starbucks cup away from perpetrating some serious Falling Down style mayhem. 

But they must be super environmentally conscious. I mean, how many people do you know who would car pool with 35 of their closest friends in a Smart Car? 

The riot of clashing colors obviously makes them happy (or at least keeps them from slipping over the edge all the way. Most of the time.) It makes some people very happy who aren’t coultro-Americans. My dear, sweet Aunt Net. Knitwear designer Stephen West. The people who by and large design what passes for fashion for the zaftig set. 

Not me.

I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing a costume. I’m desperately searching for one perfect, deep, neutral red blouse. Not too tomato or too fuschia. Neither too sheer, nor too heavy, with cuffs, collars, and sleeves all in a classic cut that will look stylish for years to come. Too often, all I find are fashions from the Center Ring and Pennywise himself standing by the three way mirror.

“We all clash down here.”

To avoid it, I end up in the fat-girl clothes ghetto, a study in black, or grey, or white, and Paul Simon was right: everything looks worse in black and white.

I’m trying to change, though, and break out of my cage of black and white and at least branch out a bit. With fall here and winter on the way, it’s easier pull out a scarf, wrap it around my neck, and go. I just wish I felt more confident about it. Maybe that will come with practice.