“I love this teal-y blue. It’s so beautiful. It’s such a shame I can’t wear it.”
There is a version of this colour choosing agony we go through most days of the week in the shop. Sometimes it starts with a list of colours which were approved as skin tone compliant by a bossy friend or Getting-your-colours-done session. Other times it’s to do with what will be ok for an expected baby, whose sex isn’t yet known. More common still is the case of the knitter who’s trying really hard to choose a colour they don’t usually wear because someone remarked that their wardrobe is too boringly blue.
There are various ways the shopkeeper can respond..
a) The hands-off shop-keeper..
..leaves the knitter to ponder in peace as they cycle through rounds of intuitively selecting and reluctantly de-selecting. The shopkeeper responds only if asked for their valued second opinion, but steps away when the knitter defers to their friend on Face Time for a third opinion, then watches as they think better of what she said, re-selecting the original colour and cycling through the sequence all over again
b) The Customer-is-always-right shopkeeper..
..looks at the Colourist’s list of approved colours which puts a ban on blues and greens in favour of rusts and aubergines and gets busy with finding all the yarns that match as closely as possible, lays them out on the table and with a heavy heart quietly feels sad they can’t suggest that beautiful ocean blue the knitter really loves.
c) The Cat-amongst-the-pigeons shopkeeper..
..suggests a baby blanket with big colourful stripes and throws a sneaky pink in amongst the yellows, blues and creams, and quietly fist pumps another victory for creativity, freedom and fun in their covert campaign against the chromatically suffocating practice of colour coding babies as soon as they’re born.
I suspect that I’ve spent time in the shoes of all 3 of these shopkeepers at various points in the last 8 years of running the shop, but these days I’m leaning much more in a whatever-colour-makes-you-twinkle direction. It’s not that I reject the science of the colourwheel (it’s just that we don’t all roll that way), or that I want to discourage colour adventurousness in the unadventurous, or even that I think baby girls shouldn’t wear pink (I think *everyone* should be able to wear pink. It’s just such a great colour!).
What it is, is that mostly I think people know the colours they love. I know the colours they love because they start smiling when they see them. They remark on the colour when it’s there and something in their faces sparkles at the sight of the colour. These are colours that call to you when you walk into the shop. And what I really think is that that’s the colour – the one that draws you over for a closer look and a bit of squeeze. I think that regardless of your skin tone, or your baby’s known/unknown sex, or even whether the last 87 sweaters you made were in various shades of that colour. I think that if you love the colour, you should knit with it. I know I’m running the risk of irritating your better informed colour expert friend, traditionalist father-to-be son-in-law, but really. You’re the one who’s going to be knitting all those stitches. You and that wool have a long journey ahead of you which may include some tricky sections, so you need to get on really well. So there’s really only one question we need to know the answer to, to work out if it’s the right colour.
Do you love that one? OK, that’s it then!