My ongoing experiments with blending colours on the drumcarder - see also Spinning and Dyeing - since Fibervisions are leading me to look more closely at local sources of inspiration. I remember watching Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Knitting programme series years ago (I later lent the tapes out and lost them), while my sister was staying with us from England. Anne and I wandered around the farm looking at buildings, mossy stones etc with newly opened eyes, thanks to Kaffe - exclaiming "There's a sweater!" as we found yet another subtly interesting combination of shades that would normally have gone unrecognised. (I was lucky enough to visit Kaffe at his home, in 1986, and admire him tremendously.)
Although Clive gets a bit impatient with me at times, when there's wool all over the house for instance, he can also be very supportive of my craftwork - and is wonderful at helping me pick out colours since he has a good eye for them. When the ferns were in full colour on the hills here, for instance, he bundled me and my camera into the Tank and off we went to take digipictures. We also collected samples of the plants in their various shades of red and orange, brown and green, then when we got home we went through my dye sample book (see Fibervisions) to match plant shades to dyeing references. We did this with diddledee too, but it was a laborious business trying to spot just which shades there were.
Nowadays I have begun to use various tools to help this selection process, and intend developing all the possibilities when I get time. Then I only have to spin the yarn and dye all those shades... I may cheat and use our millspun yarns for this.
I recently discovered (almost by accident) that the computer which links me to my cyberspinning friends is also a priceless design aid. I was cropping a quite ordinary shot of some ferns (see photo earlier) for elsewhere in this site, when I got bored and decided to try out some artistic editing effects on it. The program, if you are interested, is MicroGrafx Picture Publisher v.8 and I am only just beginning to tap its possibilities in this role. First I tried the oils effect, and this immediately showed more clearly the various shades which actually exist within this simple picture. So then I tried the watercolour effect... Wow. Much more interesting. I was on to something here...
I dug out other pictures to try. The diddledee with berries might be interesting... I was wanting to try the dark green and red combination but there seemed to be more going on in this plant than met the naked eye and I wanted to avoid the Christmas decoration effect - so I tried the oils effect on it - then the watercolours.
The results amazed me - this plant was far from just dark green and red!!
Next came some scenic shots which I'd taken round the house here. I was happy with these in themselves but it was not that easy to identify the actual component colours that made the overall impression so effective. It's fairly easy to take good shots in these lovely surroundings, but not so easy to break them down.
First a deep blue evening sky... - well that's just deep pinks and blues - and black I guess, from the trees in the foreground? Wrong.
With the help of the special oil painting effect, I found there was more to it...
Then a sunset - basic photo rather nice, but let's try using oils effect - then pastels - then watercolours. Mmmmm... I think Kaffe would be proud of me!
OK, how about a stormy evening sky... using the same effects. I liked the oils effect.
Or a calm sea. Using the oils effect and - of course - watercolours...
Very nice... and much easier to see which exact shades would be required to reproduce this scene in a tapestry or knitted garment.
Ok, so that's scenery - but there's more to the Falklands - so how about wildlife? The redbacked buzzards which visit us regularly have some wonderful colouring. Maybe just pastels and watercolours this time, as it is a dark picture taken on a gloomy day using a zoom!
Yes - a redback sweater would have subtle, rich, warm tones, maybe overdyed on natural coloured wools - lovely.
How about the good old sheep?? - No, far too boring?
But hang on a minute - let's just try it anyway. OK. Oils first. Mmmmmm... very subtle... creams and pinks and all sorts going on...
Yes, that's nice. Now pastels tweaked to watercolour...
O boy... I see a tapestry - for someone far more skilled than me!
Let's try zooming in on the pastels-then-watercolour version. Say 800%... Sheesh... You could make a miniature tapestry or even a sweater - just out of a sheep's eye!!
Why don't you try this. It's so much fun. Most graphics programs have a zoom capability even if they don't all have the artistic tweaking, and if you don't have a digital camera why not scan a favourite picture or postcard.
You'll be amazed at what you see.
And I absolutely guarantee (if you enjoy colour) that you will have fun.
Updated 1st August 2006