Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A colourful spring is on its way

As I type this, the view from my window is basically white on dark things.  Finally: snow!  It's very pretty though definitely not colourful.  I don't know about you but while my relationship to colour has been up and down over the years, after a few rounds of peaceful muted winter shades I am ready for a whole lotta green.  I'm not there yet, but I will be.

This old thing is the perfect hat for February, don't you think?

That's lucky because the stars have aligned to put me into not one but two colour-specific workshops this spring.  The second one is the one you'll care about for sure - it's for knitting, more on that in a moment! - but the first might appeal too: I'm taking a three-day course in colours, emphasis on paint, as they related to interior decor.

Maria Killam is the instructor - Lynn put me onto her and I've found her advice to be incredibly helpful as I choose all the stuff for our house.  Her focus is on how undertones affect a colour and its ability to play nicely with other colours, and since reading her e-books and following her blog I have definitely caught myself on the brink of making huge errors on tile and cabinetry.

Thanks to Maria's insights, we are making (almost) all the hard finishes in the house - the floors, the counters, the cabinets - totally neutral and timeless so that our paint and fabric choices can change whenever we want something fresh, and the whole place will still look put together and current.  I mean, it's far from a hardship to think of retiling a space when you have somebody like Ray you can call to do it, but he's going to retire eventually.

White: the perfect, peaceful frame for repeats of a single colour

When I mentioned Maria's approach to Jan, who is herself an artist, she shrugged and said "I just pick what I like," and I have to say, that attitude has always worked well for her.  For me: not so much.  You all know about my decision-making issues and on top of that - we are doing THE WHOLE HOUSE.  I am responsible for four bathrooms, my office, the master bedroom, the entire main floor. I haven't even looked at the basement yet but it'll need flooring too and also paint and I would really like my laundry room to be a place I enjoy spending time because let's face it: I spend a lot of time in the laundry room.   And when that's all done... I have to do it all over again at the condo so we can quickly rent or sell it.  Jury's still out on which.

If you only look at floors you will still have a lot to sort out. The beautiful 1942 hardwood floors in our original version of the house went with everything we threw at them, but I noticed issues in the basement when we had to choose laminate floors and laundry room tile.  You know what?  Flooring makes a huge difference to a room, and to the way one room flows into another.  Yeah, you probably knew that.  I probably did too, but I didn't appreciate the magnitude of the subject until I had to start choosing my own and got it wrong.  The whole process helps me understand why interior designers are such an important asset - many of us have the ability to choose what we like and make it work without professional assistance, but few of us have the time to go through all the things that won't work so we can get to the ones that do.

The tile floor in the old part of my favourite downtown bank tower.
Too much fuss in a way but I wish I could have little triangles in my house too!

I remember telling Jan another time how excited I was to think of our house looking like it was in a magazine and she said, "Why would you want that??" which made me laugh because so often, rooms get staged so far beyond real life for a magazine that of course, I never would want that.  Her question made me clarify what appeals to me about those idealized rooms and the answer is, they don't have paper clutter all over them.  They show the potential for future living, not the mess of past living.  My favourite magazine rooms suggest a backdrop for creative ideas to blossom, unlike the actual rooms I usually occupy, which require me to look away from clutter and things that have to be taken care of as soon as possible.

So, I still want my house to look like it's in a magazine, but what I really mean is, I want built-in storage and lots of doors so I can tuck activity-specific things into space-specific places and always have a clean place to work.  And I want all the colours to blend so beautifully, without jarring, that they cultivate my mind instead of distracting me from my ideas.

The idea of colours that are warm and encouraging without being bright or invigorating is fairly new to me.  I used to have an entire wardrobe of what I thought of as Crayon Colours - I loved one outfit in particular that paired a bright red with a bright version of navy, because it made me feel like a drawing in a comic strip.  I always, always matched my shoes to whatever I was wearing on my legs and had tights to go with all of my office footwear, most of which was suede because I loved the texture.  My living room walls were bright yellow and I couldn't put enough red check and bright florals onto the furniture.

And then life got so busy, and I was so tired, and before long, my entire wardrobe was black, and my living room walls were white, and my furniture was all upholstered in a sage green solid fabric.

I don't want so many bright colours any more.  I want peaceful spaces.  Subtle shifts in muted colours calm me down and I like that.

And yet...

When I look at yarn, I'm drawn to colour of all kinds!  Muted and soft, or bright and cheerful.  I love working with yarn dyed by independent artists, people who clearly love colour and love creating combinations that are exciting and fun.  I mean, how many pairs of stripey Vespers do I have?  (that's a rhetorical question, please don't hurt your brain by trying to count them all.)

Also: I'm good at colourwork. I don't do it often right now because it's less portable than a sock and hello, Time Constraints, but I do have stranded knitting skillz. Remember the time I knit this sample for Kathi Taylor when she was writing Fearless Fair Isle Knitting?

So, when Trish told me she'd signed up for a colour workshop at this year's Knitters Frolic I asked her to sign me up too. Yeah, I know, I should have just done it myself, but I was walking to a meeting when she called and it wasn't like there was time to spare because Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is the instructor!!  Yep, after all these years in the same city I am actually going to a talk given by The Yarn Harlot.

I told Holly because I knew she'd be excited and it turns out she got a spot too, so Yay!  There was only room for 24 participants and it sold out quickly.  Actually, all the instructors and topics this year are great, and I wish I had time to do more courses.  I will however make time for some shopping in the marketplace, even though I really, really don't need more yarn right now.

And now, back to my view of white on branch.  Isn't it wonderful that snow is so textural and sparkly?  I mean, if you have to look at a complete lack of colour, it's so nice to see those other special qualities.

Hope your day has special in it too no matter how otherwise uneventful (though really, in my experience, there is a lot to be said for uneventful) and I'll see you tomorrow.

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