Sparkling Diamonds (and other Birthstones) in Color!

After I started hand-dyeing my own line of yarns in January (you can read about this here), I decided it was the perfect time to start creating skeins inspired by the birthstone of each month. Here are my birthstone skeins so far. (Click on any photo to go to that yarn in my Etsy shop.)

Garnet, January’s birthstone, followed by Amethyst (February) and Aquamarine (March):

Aussi wool in Garnet
My Garnet hand-painted colorway, shown here in Aussi (100% Australian merino wool).
Garnet in Buttery Thick (100% alpaca).
Garnet in Buttery Thick (100% alpaca).
Garnet in Ticklish (100% nylon novelty flag yarn). Click the photo to see this yarn in my Etsy shop.
Garnet in Ticklish (100% nylon novelty flag yarn).
Amethyst in Softy (80% merino wool/20% cashmere). Click the photo to see this yarn in my Etsy shop.
Amethyst in Softy (80% merino wool/20% cashmere).
Ticklish in Amethyst, February's birthstone. Click the photo to see this yarn in my Etsy shop.
Amethyst in Ticklish (100% nylon).
Aquamarine in Ticklish
Aquamarine in Ticklish (100% nylon).
Aquamarine in Airy
Aquamarine in Airy (100% alpaca).

Aside: Each of these sets of skeins was hand-painted with the exact same dyes; can you see how each of the different fibers absorbs the dyes differently? This is just one of the many things that intrigues me about dyeing… End of aside.

And now April is almost here, so it’s time to prepare to dye all over again. But wait— April’s birthstone is the diamond! How the heck do I dye yarn to look like diamonds? I guess I could go the deconstructivist route and simply sell undyed (white) yarn, but that seems like a cop-out (or maybe that’s just me). What about the currently-popular colored diamonds? Lots of options there, but looking at a list of the whole year’s birthstones, and not wanting to be too repetitive color-wise, I settled on the lovely yellow, or as I like to think of it, canary diamond:

Canary diamond
Canary diamond. (Source: Click the photo to go to the article.)

Of course, since I’m hand-painting my skeins, I’m not going to simply use one shade of yellow. There’s something about dyeing projects that has made me really look at color sources in a very different way; in this case, I can see not only many shades of yellow and gold in this diamond, but also deep ochre, coppery golds, even dark greys. These can all function as accent colors in my skeins, as you’ve already seen in my other birthstone skeins. Here’s a 5-color palette I created based on this diamond:

Canary Diamond palette
My Canary Diamond palette. I’ll probably use the 2 main colors overall, with painted bits in the accent colors (skinny stripes in the palette). Click the palette to see this and more color palettes on ColourLovers.

Okay, I think I have a plan now for some individual skeins for April’s birthstone, as long as I make sure to mix up some really wearable shades of yellow. And I’ll need to take the fiber into consideration too; when I look back at my Garnet skeins, for example, I can see that the nylon yarn (Ticklish) came out a deeper color than the alpaca and the wool, and the alpaca is not quite as vibrant as the wool. So maybe, if I want to keep these yellows from being overwhelmingly, well, yellow, I could dye some alpaca, which seems to have a softening effect on colors. (Whew… dyeing involves a lot of decisions, doesn’t it?)

To finally get to the point, hinted at in the title of this post, my next idea is to paint a set of skeins, each in a different diamond color, that will create a color sequence (you can see my first color-sequence skein set here). I did a quick search for diamond colors, and found this:

Diamond color chart
Diamond color chart. Source: Click the picture to see the article, which is quite fascinating and informative, going into details about natural vs. created colors, stone quality, etc.

Well, I’m clearly not going to put all of these colors into one sequence, so I’ll have to play with all these colors. I could put the warm tones together— orange, yellow, gold, green— but that might be too close to the canary diamond skeins I’m also going to make. Maybe I’ll work with the cool range of colors; something like shades of pink, lavender, blue, and black?

What do you think? In a set of 5-8 skeins (one color per skein), what color range would you like to see?

Stay tuned— I’ll show you how the finished skeins somewhere around April 1!

Autumn Palettes: Variations on a Leafy Theme

I was out for a walk the other day, impulsively snapping pictures right, left, and center (and a few overhead) with my iPhone, while admiring the gorgeous autumn leaves. When I got home, I took a look at my photos, and as usual this time of the year, felt like I didn’t come close to capturing all the brilliance of the colors I had seen. Here’s one example:

Leaf photo (original)
Leaf photo (original). Compared to how I know these colors look in reality, this looks quite faded to me. (This photo is shown as it was taken with my iPhone, completely unretouched.)

Okay, not a great photo. Nevertheless, I think it could still generate some nice color palettes. Let me just ask you first, though:

What colors do you see?

Did you say red? Yellow? Pink or gold? Me too. Then I loaded the photo into my ColorSchemer Studio software, and this is what it generated automatically:

Barking palette
“Barking” palette. 4 of the 5 colors came from the bark; the peach color came from part of the leaf. (Click the palette to see it, and my other palettes, on ColourLovers, a fantastic color-centric site.)

Tip: I like to use ColorSchemer Studio to initially generate my palettes, then I duplicate them on the ColourLovers site, using the hex-number color identifiers from ColorSchemer Studio. Personally, I find it easier to tweak the colors and experiment with alternative palettes off-line.

However, you can do all this directly on ColourLovers; hover your mouse over the Tools menu near the top of the page, and scroll down to COPASO. From there, you can import a photo. (As far as I know, you do need to set up a free ColourLovers account first.)

Going back to ColorSchemer Studio, I moved the white color-picker circles around until I got this palette:

Screen Shot
ColorSchemer Studio screen shot of my second leaf palette. You can see the white color-picker circles that can be moved around to find the colors you want. ALso note the hex number in the upper right corner; this is the identifier for the selected color, the one with the white line connecting the circle to the color swatch. (Click the photo to find out more about ColorSchemer Studio software.)

And here’s the finished palette in ColourLovers:

Coral Leaf palette
Coral Leaf palette. This is the opposite of the Barking palette: 4 colors are from the leaf, and the taupe is taken from the bark. (Click the palette to see it on ColourLovers.)

I was going to do a third palette, but I think I will do that in my next post; right now, I think it would be a good idea to talk about ways to actually use these palettes.

Let’s start with Barking. Clearly, it’s quite dark, except for the lighter grey and bright pop of peach; where could this be put to use? Funny, the first thing that comes to my mind is a bedroom. I know the modern trend is to have bigger bedrooms, the theory being they can become multi-purpose rooms, but personally, I like a bedroom to be dedicated to sleeping. (Okay, maybe also for coffee and crossword puzzles on a lazy morning.) If you picture a room in which most of Barking’s darkest colors happen in solid wood furniture, it could make sense, especially with sheets and an accent pillow or two in the peach and silver shades. And I could see a Berber-style carpet in one of the lighter grey tones.

Moving on to Coral Leaf, my first inclination is to use it in a wardrobe context. In warm weather, I could see a creamy, pale-gold linen dress, worn with coral, pink, and peach accessories (multiple mixed-texture bangle bracelets in assorted colors, deep coral-red shoes, print scarf), with a taupe clutch to ground all the soft floral tones. (Red lipstick would be a nice finishing touch too.) In cooler times, perhaps taupe wool trousers with a cozy sweater striped in corals and pinks, pale gold leather gloves, and red shoes.

Well! I don’t know about you, but neither of these palettes was what I had in mind when I was thinking about doing a post on autumn-inspired color palettes. This is a good reminder to really look at everything, or rather, to see what we’re looking at— the whole picture, background and all.

Please note: I don’t get anything at all out of telling you about either ColorSchemer Studio or ColourLovers; they’re just (respectively) software and a website that I really like. If that changes, I’ll let you know immediately.