Which colour makes you feel happiest?
Updated: Feb 13
My first knitting project was a huge grey shawl. All one solid colour. While I am not beyond seeing the beauty in grey, and in fact I love combining it with other colours (hello grellow!), I think my days of knitting a solid grey item in one uniform colour might be behind me. As time has gone on, I have become ‘braver’ in the range of colours I knit with, and subsequently the colours I wear. I think discovering the knitting community on Instagram was pivotal for me, as suddenly I had the opportunity to see the same pattern knitted in hundreds of different colour combinations, which was a huge source of inspiration for me. And I think at least as much about how I will feel while knitting the garment as I do about wanting the end result. So despite feeling it would be really practical to have a small black cardigan to wear over a dress if I go out in the evening, I don’t find the process of knitting in very dark yarn appealing (as my mum has always said, it really IS harder to see what you are doing, and lets face it, that isn’t getting any easier with age!), and it may never get to the top of my ‘to knit’ list.
While I don’t think I have ever bought an item of yellow clothing, I now own a yellow sweater and cardigan (Amarillo cardigan, left) which are some of the knits I reach for most often. I think I was originally attracted to the idea of having a sunny, happy knitting project which I started on a summer holiday on, and I continue to feel that warmth and joy when I wear them throughout the year.
One of my most satisfying experiments with colour was my Shifty Sweater (below). Alongside the main colour , which was also a handdyed variegated yarn, I used up lots of small amounts of my ‘fancy scraps’ of 4ply yarn. Due to the pattern of slipped stitches the yarns combine in a way that means no matter which contrast colours I chose, they blended in to the design, and by using up small scraps it also had the function of reminding me of many other projects that the scraps originated from. While I usually would try to plan out my use of colour in advance, for this project I intentionally decided to use each colour intuitively. So, I started with one, knitted with
it until I felt like I wanted a change, and then looked at the bag of scraps and chose the one that was most appealing at the time to use next. This was quite a departure from my usual method of planning colours out in advance….although it turns out I drew the line at mismatched sleeves, and I made sure I had enough yarn to make them symmetrical.
The joy of colour
One of the most universal themes to emerge from series one of the Why I Knit podcast was the appeal of knitting with colour, and the opportunity to play with combining different colours in knitting. Betsan Corkhill, an expert in therapeutic knitting advocates choosing knitting projects not only to fit your current state of mind but also in order to reflect the state of mind you want to move into. It seems that many knitters deliberately choose colour as a way to do this. The idea of colour bringing joy was a common theme.
James McIntosh said that he feels that ‘we all need more colour in our lives’ and wanting to create more colourful clothes, as an antidote to the ready-to-wear men’s clothes that he felt were boring and monochrome. In a similar way, DWJ said that a big part of the appeal of knitting was to play with colour and to knit things that have ‘joy and levity’ to them. She spoke about experiencing this during the process of knitting something, as well as when wearing the finished object. She also said that she had recently opted to buy a ready-to-wear sweater because it was in a neutral colour that she had no desire to spend time knitting with. This really illustrates the importance of colour in the appeal of knitting, and in its benefits to our mental health.
Creativity with colour
As someone who is known for their use of colours in interiors and sewing as well as knitting, Atia Azmi spoke about this being part of the appeal of knitting ‘Well, I just really enjoy using different textures, and working with colours. So I feel like sometimes when knitting, if you're knitting something very small, you can use colours in quite a bold way’. She spoke about being attracted to the opportunity to be creative in her combinations of colours in knitting, and that small projects might offer a ‘safe’ way of experimenting with this.
DWJ also highlight that the act of choosing the yarn and colours for a project is part of what she enjoys about knitting, and that the creativity begins at this planning stage. As she pointed out, although we may be following the same pattern as other knitters, our yarn and colour combinations are a reflection of our own creative choices and can result in very different finished items.
Ros Edwards also spoke about noticing that her colour preferences change over time and that she is attracted to different colours along with the changing of the seasons, gravitating more towards greens and lilacs in spring and more vibrant orange and pink in summer. This led me to wonder whether there are certain colours that make us feel happier, do these change or remain the same?
This is something I hope to explore more in series two, but I would love to know whether you gravitate towards certain colours? Does it change over time or with your mood?