Falling in Love with a Color
“Suppose I were to begin by saying I had fallen in love with a color. Suppose I were to speak this as though it were a confession. Suppose I shredded my napkin as we spoke. It began slowly. An appreciation, an affinity. Then, one day, it became more serious.” -Maggie Nelson, Bluets
I have thought often of these opening sentences from Maggie Nelson’s book, a lyric essay on love and on color. Some days they just drift into my head, and the feelings of that book come rushing forth. Making me think of both the feeling of falling in love, and the idea that one can fall in love with so much, beyond people and animals and plants.
Beyond the objects so often sold to us as love. That one could not just love a color, but fall in love with a color, was revelatory for me, at that time in my life. It still is, when I hold the idea in my head and let it burn.
It made me wonder what such a love made possible. It made me curious, not about her reasons for blue, which she provides in beautiful detail in the book, but about how she came to the realization that this was love. She talks about that, but, as is often the case, the love has an air of the inexplicable. But I too, have often been struck by love, not of a single color, but of them all, and like my love of words, even more so by the power of many of them in combination.
Sewing and knitting furthered this love of color, and especially the love of combining them
Until I started selecting fabric and yarn I’d never considered the idea that I could have a palette, a set of colors that felt like me. I’d always noticed color. But I didn’t think it noticed me. And yet here I had found a community of people that spent hours considering color. Loving color. Noticing it and being noticed back. What a bright world to inhabit.
I had a lot of ideas about colors
That neutrals were timid, jewel tones were bold, pastels were girly. That I had to choose which I was and stick with it.
But I feel different almost every day. Sometimes I want the comfort of a soft grey, which I no long see as timid, but as familiar and timeless.
There are mornings when nothing makes me happier than a peachy pink or sunny yellow. I’ve found myself drawn to colors I never thought I’d love like ochre and rust and brick red. And a cobalt or navy blue finds me on days when I want a color, but also want to feel relaxed and comfortable.
As I returned again and again to these colors when pulling yarn from the shelf and fabric from the bolt, I saw I had grown a palette without even realizing it. And I began combining these colors in my outfits and home. Now I find myself adding bits of green and dusty purples. My sunny yellows sometimes fade into soft oranges, my greys into pale browns and creams.
It sounds like it happened all at once, but it has been a slow process
And I like it that way. Sewing and knitting are slow things for me now, and I take inspiration from my favorite, most worn pieces, like a honey yellow, textured sweater, a blue dress, or an ochre, hand embroidered top, when I consider what to add to my wardrobe. This method feels more true to me, and though I am making less than I once was, and more slowly, I am happier with what I create.
I feel so in love with color, and so in love with making these days. It hasn’t always felt like that for me. I used to feel like I had something to prove with my sewing. But now that I have a clearer sense of what I want, and more of a focus on the process and the act of sewing, I feel proud of what I make and a stronger connection to other makers.
When trying to develop your own palette, look at what you already have, and what you reach for first in the morning, and figure out what is about that piece that you love. Color, silhouette, fabric?
Don’t be afraid to love a color others might think is too bright or too girly or too anything. What matters is how it makes you feel.
For me that changes almost daily. Some days I wake up and need to feel brave, so I reach for red. Some days I need to feel calm so I reach for cobalt or grey.
And sometimes I just want a little something extra, and need a splash of pink to feel playful and happy. Sometimes I want to feel all of those things! Brave and playful and content. And color is just the beginning, really. When you make things yourself, the possibilities are wide open. I still find myself amazed by this each time I make something new. I hope that feeling of discovery never ends. For any of us.
I can so relate to this. Depending on my mood and/or the weather decides what colour I wear. I have a few favourite colours and varying shades of them. My house is full of the same colour palette. 😃
Color is the story of my life. I have my favorites, of course; teal, aqua, yellow, gold, etc. I love all colors, just not equally. I’ve painted the inside of my house in a favorite blue-green. I’m currently decorating my sewing room in many of my favorite colors. I can’t tell you how hard it was to find sewing notion-motif fabrics in my colors! But I persisted, and I did. I am constantly inspired by the colors in fabrics; I love to match prints together with sometimes surprising, yet harmonious colors. When I’m not in a good mood, I look at fabrics to cheer myself up. Colors make my eyes happy.
I used to say my favorite color was blue. I’ve found that as I’ve matured, my tastes have become more refined. I like colors with nuances; colors that are mixtures of other colors. And yet on some days, I still like the primaries, red, yellow, and blue. Currently, I own lots of bought clothes. Though I did manage to get some of them in the colors I love, they don’t make me happy. Once I get my sewing room up and running, I have plans for some very special clothes in my favorite colors.
I am in the process of creating a joyful space to sew and design in. I haven’t had a space in which to do that for quite some time, so I am chomping at the bit to get started on sewing. But I’m forcing myself to take the time to make my sewing room a place that is welcoming and conducive to creativity. The colors will invite me in and the organization of my tools and notions will allow me to just enjoy the process without having to search for what I need along the way. I am so looking forward to the time when I can really start creating! But in the meantime, I’m enjoying putting my sewing room in order. It’s going to be my favorite place ever.
Debi, I love this comment so much! This is exactly how I feel about color, and I am so excited for you in creating your perfect sewing space, and continuing your color journey in this way!
I have gone back and forth over the years, narrowing and expanding wardrobe and home’s color palette. In the last two or three years, however, I think I’ve finally settled on what I like and (equally as important) what I will actually wear. I’ve realized that I like having some quirky pieces, but more than that, I like being comfortable. Some days, comfortable means my favorite grey leggings and a huge sweater. Other days it means wearing a white tee and jeans. Others I want to wear what I’ve dubbed my Shirt-of-Many Colors (it’s a serious nod to Dolly, to be sure). I’ve realized that I love rusts and bricks and olives, but equally so rich navy and gray and warm whites and browns. I think the things we make and the way we decorate our homes or ourselves is a pretty solid reflection of life in general: sometimes you expand, you want to be noticed and you want to be loud. And sometimes you just want to be quiet and mellow and be (maybe just me) almost invisible. I’ve gotten to the point that I not only am okay with the constant expansion and contraction, but I welcome it. It’s a blessing to get to choose and be all the things.
Thank you so much for your musings on color! Building one’s palette is a discovery that takes time, I agree! Before I was diving into making my own garments, I was drawn a lot to the cooler side of the color spectrum, blues and teals and especially greens. You could tell by looking at my t-shirts. I am still drawn to those colors a lot, but I am opening it up to rust and ochre and neutrals.
Also, when I was a teenager there was a time when I would only wear greens and browns, almost religiously. It makes me laugh now.
I find that my unconscious makes my colour choices and then changes them subtly over the years. When I was really young it was all pink and green, then when I was trying to get pregnant it became earth colours of rust and ochre, next came red and purple and now I find myself slowly moving into blue – the colour I said I’d never wear!
Isn’t it funny how we change like that? I never thought I’d wear and love ochre and brown, but here I am so drawn to them now. Color is lovely like that.