On not being remotely predictable

Oooh, no, not at all. What, moi?

It’s colour again. I thought I’d made – finally – an original choice for my first serious spinning on my new wheel. There wasn’t any black involved; purple did not feature. OK, I’d managed to blend something similar a couple of weeks ago, but that included black. This doesn’t. It’s vibrant, it’s cheerful, it’s something I’ve not been anywhere near before or, come to that, seen in nature.


(Ignore the state of the yarn on the half-finished bobbin, by the way – me and the wheel just had words.)

Last year I went to Shetland. It was wonderful and I took about 5,000,000 photographs. I was looking through them the other day (work? pah) and I nearly fell off my chair. No, I’d definitely not seen that combination of colours in nature, no sirree.

This is at St Ninian’s Isle:

It may look Caribbean, but it wasn’t the warmest place with turquoise sea and silver sand I’ve ever been. About the best, though. But who needs the Caribbean when you can have the little beach at Hoswick?

After all, this has kittiwakes. And a knitwear factory. And an amazing independent designer. Ahem.

And the same colour combination persisted throughout our stay, as soon as the sun came out and the mist lifted. Here is the astonishing sea at Meal (near the place I snapped the Shetland sheep on the blog header, by the way). There was a porpoise here. Plus the usual debris of island life – fish boxes, a rubber glove, old bits of rope. Who cares?

There’s no doubt about it.

I’ve been spinning Shetland, unawares.

It all made me wonder about colour preferences, and just how deeply they are entrenched even, and probably especially, in those of us who consider ourselves creative. I’ve always been partial to green and liked black – I was desperate for a black party dress (with long sleeves, if you please) when I was about six, but my mother put her foot down and placated her Mini Morticia with one made in a flower pattern that included black. I never, ever went through a pink phase and though the long-sleeved party dress did involve some pink, the effect was mitigated with black and grey and a white background. But the blue / turquoise / green combo is a new one on me. I know it staggered me in Shetland; I must have been unconsciously storing it up for later use.

And then I was working up at the top of my garden on a sunny day recently. We cleared a load of rubbish and had the giant Bonfire of Doom – we don’t waste fine weather here in Snowdonia – and I suddenly had a new view (for about five seconds, until the heap for the Even Bigger Bonfire of Doom builds up).

There it is again. OK, the blues were more emphatic in Shetland (though we can beat them on the greens – it’s all down to west-coast wetness), but this is a general effect. Particularly bright sun on a combination of sea and greenery – it’s everywhere. Once you start spotting it, you realise that it is all over the place, and then that you don’t even really need the sea, either. Or, come to that, the relatively clear sky; interesting light effects can produce something similar. So this colour combination can’t be a recent, Shetland-acquired tendency; it must go much further back.

Don’t care, I like it.

Evidently. Because I bought this shawl while I was in Shetland, from Neilanell at Hoswick:

Wonder why I chose those colours? I can’t think…

So how many of us, I wonder, are really aware of our colour influences – rather, that is, than our colour preferences? And where do they come from, how far back do they go? I was essentially brought up in the country, so it’s not surprising that I’m drawn to the combination of green and blue, of leaves against the sky, of grass running down to a blue sea. Would it be different if I’d spent all my childhood in a city? Would the colour of the stone of the Palais de Luxembourg have had the same effect? Hang on, maybe that’s why I was happy with the muted shades of my party dress… or perhaps that is more down to the usual grey colour of the North Sea.

Whatever, for the moment I’m happy to be spinning Shetland, knitterly (and all-sorts-of-other-thingserly) paradise. Maybe next year…

Now I must go and talk to my wheel again, firmly this time. I’m getting there.


22 thoughts on “On not being remotely predictable

    1. kate Post author

      Thanks – I don’t think you can fail to take good pix in Shetland – the light is terrific (and the water is – er – let’s just say cold…)

  1. ohdebs

    I had to smile when I read this. Green is MY color. Always has been. When I was a little girl everyone thought it was odd that it was my favorite color. As mentioned previously (I think) my paintings nearly always feature greens, blues, tans. Water, land, sky. I also have a thing for islands and mostly either tropical or Pacific Northwest islands. There is just something about it that won’t let me rest. So, I am sure I will be spinning islands myself very soon…especially since I a about to embark on the dye adventure. Yep. My supplies arrived today. Now I just need to quell the fear of dyeing. No pun intended.

    Love ALL your pictures Kate! I hope you and your wheel resolve your differences. “Lola Jr” and I are still getting to know each other but I think I am finally gaining the upper hand in our relationship. xo

    1. kate Post author

      Hooray, another person who was a pink refusenik! Why on earth are little girls supposed to love pink? I have a friend whose daughter (8) actively hates it and calls it ‘the P word’…

      Good luck with the dyeing – I’m sure you can get some lovely shades of green!

      1. ohdebs

        Hahaha! And I won’t even mention what my husband thinks of pink. Well, I will say that he says pink is fine in ‘some’ places. And if we are selecting a color for something and he doesn’t really care and lets me choose he will often say “Anything but pink!”

        It seems like purple might be vying for taking the place of pink for the ‘official little girl’ color. My own daughter has always liked blue though.

        1. kate Post author

          Your daughter has obviously picked up on your attitudes to colour!

          (I definitely haven’t – my mother used to complain ceaselessly about me drooping around the place in black…)

  2. islandthreads

    Kate as I read your post and saw the photo of not found in nature colours I thought you were joking as blues and greens are all about nature have you been living blindfolded all your life, then when I read you grew up in the country I understood, you are not the first country raised person to take colour for granted and be so used to seeing the beautiful colours of nature that you don’t see them any more, it’s nice that you have opened your eyes finally to what has been there all the time,

    I’m not sure why I like wearing black but it could be that it is easy, goes with most other colours and is said to be slimming, my love of blue as a colour not necessarily to wear if I analyse it could be I find it restful and big blue skies, big blue oceans are wide open spaces, room to breath which may come from growing up on a large housing estate near a big city where a wide open space was confind to the local parks, Frances

    1. kate Post author

      I’m sure you’ve hit the nail on the head – we really don’t notice what is right in front of our eyes half the time, or perhaps that should be that we just take it for granted and accept it as the norm. I’ve always loved the colours, it’s just that I didn’t always really see them in context (especially the turquoise).

      Yesterday when I was driving back from the supermarket – 15 mile round trip – the sea was the most extraordinary pale jade with blue-greyish aquamarine and spots of the bright turquiose – nearly drove into a wall. No colour spotting while driving!

      1. islandthreads

        lol Kate it can be adictive, when I did the C&G courses and we had to do design boards and colour swatches etc. you notice soooo much more but take care when driving and crossing busy roads, Frances

        1. kate Post author

          Isn’t it, though?

          I did one of karibu57’s colour workshops with Rowan at Stash in Chester, and it really made me quite dangerous on the roads for a while – guess I’m going the same way again. I just love it… ( I had a good friend who was a naturalist, and he had to drive everywhere with the sun visor down so he couldn’t be distracted by passing herons / peregrines / red kites etc. I don’t think that would be the solution. Dark glasses?)

  3. karibu57

    Firstly, what a view you have…stunning!!! and definate competition to my view 🙂 Second: as you might remember, I love those colours, they are ME and I frequently buy clothes in them, buy yarn in shades like these and in short, my wardrobe is full of those colours. Only this morning could I not resist buying a cardigan in exactly the colours you have just spun. What are you going to make with yours?

    1. kate Post author

      Your view is pretty damn good too, unless you are hiding giant factories by being selective in your photography – no, I know you’re not, ho ho. We are lucky…

      I’m a relative newbie to these colours, so I’m not sure. I’ve just plied about 200m, somewhere between aran and DK weight, and I’ve spun about half the fluff, so I could have 400m in the end. I’ll have to do a pattern search on Ravelry and see what I can find that matches (oh, and that I like, of course!).

  4. knitsofacto

    Yup, that’s Shetland, the yarn I mean. Another country lass here, brought up in a house surrounded by orchards (greens against blue sly), opposite a grave yard (grey stone’s, lichen colours), with dark woods to play in at the end of the lane (more greens and browns). Guess what colours I like?

    Great post Kate, made me think 🙂

    1. kate Post author

      It’s extraordinary, colour, isn’t it? Mind you, I’m now spinning naturally dark fleece (Shetland, Moorit), so I’m back in subdued territory. Phew…

    1. kate Post author

      I have now covered the entire sitting room floor in magazines and patterns, been through my Ravelry library – and have a shortlist (I originally typed that as ‘shortlust’ – ho ho) of about 500. Help….

  5. woolythymes

    wonderful post!!! i’ve only been to Shetland once–but it was enough to crave a return trip; those colors really nailed it—-you most definitely are spinning Shetland.
    I was forbidden to wear black as a child—so I guess that’s why I’m making up for it now; but black serves as such a grand backdrop for just about any color—you name it, I think I have a shawl in every color (except black!–no Morticia here!!!)

    1. kate Post author

      You are SO right about black – everything looks good on it!

      I think it’s time you found your way to Shetland again, I’m sure I can hear it calling… sigh. It’s certainly calling me!


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