Today I took a color theory class with Brandon Mably. Brandon is part of Kaffe Fasset’s design team and a great designer and author in his own right.

In the beginning of the class, Brandon asked us to pool all our yarn and create two balls by tying short strands together–a light ball and a dark ball. Then we were just to knit the simple poppy fair isle pattern and see what happened.

While I was working I was wary and not very happy with my swatch, I thought my color changes were too stark and the repeats were too long. At that point, I switched up and started using shorter pieces of yarn, which made for more interesting knitting. We were allowed to change what was in the ball, but not to rip out what we were doing.

This was not a technique class, but Brandon did share a quick little technique for weaving in ends as you go–Its a technique I’ve used a little for intarsia, but it works just as well for this magic ball project because you have all the ends where you’ve tied the pieces of yarn together. Basically, you flip the ends over and under the working yarn so they’re woven in the back of the work for four stitches, the you can snip off the excess.

While we were knitting, Brandon played music which made us knit more and talk less-it was a brilliant idea, especially considering he was cramming a day-long class into a three-hour time slot. I was surprised by his choice of music. Tho’ I don’t think he’s much older than me, it turns out he’s a bit of a folk-y playing Pete Seeger, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchel, and more. I seemed to be the only one humming along.

At the end of the class, Brandon took all of our swatches and pinned them to the board and then came the best part. He described what he liked about each swatch making its creator feel like a true color genius. Brandon described the colors like someone might describe a fine wine using elaborate metaphors and creative descriptions–one set of poppies was a gravel road, another a sunset. My swatch, which I had been ambivalent about was now “bold, daring and hip.”

Magic Balls