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Colorful Inspirations
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Colorful Inspirations

Do you find yourself subconsciously (even unconsciously) being drawn to certain colors and themes in your crafting?  You may be really “feeling” the blues lately, or the fiery oranges and reds.  For the last few weeks, my eyes and my mind have been drawn to two main shades of colors…

My creation

Using the Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker application with Flickr, I have created some “color story boards” that really inspire me to explore these shades of colors more.  I know that I am particularly drawn to whites, ivories, silvers, grays, and soft neutrals right now because of the season.  I love the winter, and I am still hoping that we see a big snowstorm before spring comes.

My creation

The muted color palettes… the soft texture of these colors… so much to go on.  And  I didn’t realize until I got  home from the yarn shop the other day (after an amazing Super Bowl sale – 25-55% off of everything…), that my  purchases directly corresponded with my color inspirations.  I was subconsciously drawn to the stock shelves with the light gray mohair- and to the basket with the neutral silk.  I am planning garments (aren’t I always?)  a simple mohair pullover with the Jo Sharp Rare Comfort Kid Mohair, and a summer tunic with the RYC Natural Silk Aran.

On the other end of the color wheel, I am equally drawn to deep reds and orangey-pink tones.  Maybe it is the desire for warmth and comfort amidst the cold temperatures?

My creation

My most recent cowl was a nod to my recent red fascination.  Just like the grays before it, I was drawn to the red and orange tones at the recent yarn shop sale – I still can’t believe my luck in getting so many beautiful yarns for such wonderful prices…

My creation

I have so little orange in my stash, as I thought it was a color that never really complemented my skin tone, but I am starting to rethink that – or at least disregard it, because if I like it, I am going to wear it! For these beauties, I am planning a tank or a tee with the Berroco Pure Pima, and for the heathery red Jo Sharp DK Wool, a vest or a top-down raglan.

All of this color inspiration has me thinking about the next round of Project Spectrum.  At first, I wasn’t sure where to start.  After three years of PS, I wondered if there was still a place for it in the online community.  I felt a little “tapped out” because I felt that the PS Elements idea was probably the pinnacle, and nothing else could really match it.  Of course, it is not about outdoing the previous year… but I did want to make something special.  With the help and ideas of some of the Ravelry PS group participants, I got really turned on to the idea of exploring the colors through the lens of the cardinal directions…  so many cultures associate the directions (North-South-East-West) with colors, and I thought it would be an interesting cultural exploration on top of the general colors.  I found a website that outlines many of the cultural traditions that associate colors and cardinal directions.

If we were to choose this idea, I would want to try one of the models that has four distinct colors for each of the cardinal directions, e.g. the Tibetan model:  North = blue, East = Yellow, South = Red, West = Green.  So, to broaden this idea, we could use the color next to it on the color wheel to have a color set, e.g. North = blue/black – East = yellow/orange, etc.  If you look at this webpage (scroll towards the bottom), it also states that these directions AND the colors correspond to elements and materials like wood and metal.  It might be fun to play with these materials too during the tenure of Project Spectrum.

Other ideas that were mentioned:  Seasons/hemispheres – exploring the northern and southern hemispheres and seasonal changes through the colors.

~ OR ~

The tried-and-true color wheel approach of the original Project Spectrum back in 2006 = ROYGBIV.

I want to make a decision soon (end of the week?) and possibly start the next round of PS in March 2009.  If you have an opinion or any feedback on these ideas or Project Spectrum in general, please feel free to share here in the comments or on the PS Ravelry forum.

Like so many things in life, it is what you make it.   You want Project Spectrum to be special this year?  help me make it so by telling me what you think! :)

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44 Responses

  1. Petunia

    I like the North-South-East-West idea. Less colors might cause some of us to “stretch” our boundaries more. I first thought – nope, I don’t do yellow, it makes me look like a banana. Then, well, I thought, how could I do yellow? Maybe if I put it here? Or there?

    Often, we find that the color we’ve avoided just needs to be looked at in a different way.

  2. Alicia

    I really like the cultural idea. I agree with Petunia, I think if there are less colors we will have to stretch.

  3. Christina

    Ohhhhh…. you’re pictures just make me want to sit down and knit the whole day away!

  4. Julie

    I’ve never participated (gasp) so I can’t really address the N-S-E-W idea. But… while I think both of your “story boards” are lovely the first makes me chilly and I am SO tired of being cold and grey. The reds and oranges are so cozy and warm right now!

  5. k

    I like the compass points idea – I also like Petunia’s comment about stretching our boundaries with less colours. Last year I didn’t try hard enough to move outside my colour comfort zones.

    Thanks also for the lovely pics – while I am always drawn to reds, I am definitely enjoying them contrasted with soft greys and neutrals right now.

  6. Rhian

    I think your N/S/E/W idea is lovely! I haven’t ‘done’ Project Spectrum yet but have watched others’ colour journeys with interest. (This time I intend to participate.)

    I love the basketweave (?) wrap on the bottom right corner of your orange/red mosaic. May I ask where you found the image? It looks like a pattern I might like to try.

  7. Thalia

    I like the colors/directions/elements idea, in part because I find those associations fascinating.

    I’ve been feeling this strange draw to warm, deep reds lately, which is odd for me. Usually it is blue across the board, with some greens or even a purple thrown in. It’s funny – maybe it’s the Winter.

  8. Anne

    I like the idea of the Cardinal Directions very much. I found this link:


    that covers a lot of different religions/ethic backgrounds. I personally am very drawn to the Celtic idea of the 4 different directions having elements associated with them. I know it’s similar to what we did last year too, but I can envision a lot of great projects associated with this!

  9. Stephanie

    I love the directions approach. I like it because it’s new and fresh, but also because it allows us to explore traditions and cultures and I’ve been feeling the need to do that – maybe it’s the yoga I’ve started, but I feel like I’m isolated in my culture and while I learn bits and pieces of other cultures through knitting, I know there’s so much more out there that I could be exploring. You always amaze me with your ability to come up with new and creative ideas and I have no doubt that PS 2009 will be another outstanding success.

  10. Brenda

    Stunning mosaics and photography.

  11. Kristen

    I love the Cardinal direction idea. This will be my first Project Spectrum, but I like the idea of being forced to stretch and work outside my comfort zone a little.

  12. mai

    i really like the N-S-E-W idea, but the simple ROYGBIV approach works as well. you shouldn’t feel that you have to one up the previous year, and i think that people would enjoy the ROYGBIV idea every year if that’s what you decide to do :)

  13. Kim

    In modern Neopagan thought, we associate certain colors with the 4 directions, as well. Probably drawn from other cultures over time, but here are my associations…

    North (deep winter) black, forest green, Earth tones, the element of earth
    East (spring) pale greens, yellows, pinks, blues, the element of Air
    South(summer) fiery reds, oranges, yellows, ochre, the element of Fire
    West (autumn) watery colors to represent the emotions and psyche, violets, blues, greens, the element of Water.

    I like the RoyGBiv idea, too. Nothing like the rainbow to inspire us, especially us in Hawaii!

    Wow. 25 – 55% off all yarn at your LYS. I’m trying to get my head around it. Your haul is lovely! I adore that Jo Sharp rare comfort mohair.

  14. Lisa

    I haven’t done Project Spectrum before at all, but I’ve enjoyed following the ideas for this coming round on the Ravelry group board. I really like the idea of the directions and their corresponding colors. I’m in a “directions” mode right now in life, so it would be very fitting for me, anyway. :)

  15. Dagný

    Hmmm… I actually don’t have any ideas but your idea about the cardinal directions sounds wonderful! Yellow is exactly the color that comes to mind when I think about the East. I’ve never participated in project spectrum but it sounds so fun. :) I’m actually a bit sad that I missed the year of Elements! If I think of anything I’ll let you know.

    I don’t think I’m attracted to any color in particular these days, I think I’m in some sort of colorful phase where I appreciate most colors I see and am immensely grateful for my cone cells every day. :) Although perhaps purples and violets could be particularly attractive to me… I’m knitting my purple glittens and I just picked up my hibernating purple Eyelet Cardigan the other day. But otherwise I have for example planned a shawl in Loðband yarn, and the colors I chose represent a mountain that defines the borders of the capital area here. It is so beautiful in winter, I decided to honor it with a shawl in some natural and neutral colors. Can’t wait to cast on!

    I absolutely love your color boards, they truly are inspiring! ;)

  16. Rae

    I like the idea for the Cardinals very cool. Ever since I have been knitting I seem to be drawn to varigated yarns. I may have to look into the Project Spectrum idea.

  17. mel

    Lolly, I always enjoy following PS and the flickr group because of all the lovely inspiration there – it seems rare that I can participate because of the pull of other specific things I may already have designated time for (that and perhaps that I am not always a very good multi-tasker!) – BUT, I do find a lot of inspiration from your posts and others and all the lovely photos – it gets me thinking even if the action may come much later or be just personal photographs or what have you. And I love the idea of the association of PS with the cardinal directions, I think it builds nicely on the elements theme from last year, and also fits in with your focus on travel and culture. For what it’s worth!

  18. jodi

    I really like your idea of doing something with the directions, and I also like how adopting a far eastern approach dovetails so nicely with your new status as a yoga teacher-in-training. Not that it’s all about you, of course, but as the person whose initiative this is, you are in a way our guide.

    My personal colour/direction associations are a little different that what you’ve listed above, based on my own mental map of Canada, and are mostly in keeping with the colours given at the bottom of the page you’ve linked to: blue/green/gray for east (Newfoundland & the north Atlantic); red/orange for south (things that only grow for a short time, or grow more plentifully to the south of us); yellow/tan for west (the prairies); white/gray for north; pink for the centre. I have no idea why in my mind the centre is pink, unless it has something to do with the British Empire being pink in all of those old atlas maps. I guess in the States you guys wouldn’t have ever looked at your country on a map as being pink, though.

  19. Jane Murray

    Please please tell me where the pattern came from the red basketweave wrap!,…it is absolutely GORGEOUS! thanks JAne

  20. Marianne

    I love your site and think the Tibetan model would be marvelous. The cool mosaic is so
    calming to me,but as the Dalai Lama wears yellows and reds-the idea is a balance. Harmony and Calm within and without,but fire when needed.

  21. Melissa A.

    How did I know this was going to be about PS? ;) I have never managed to make it through an entire season of PS, maybe this year I will try again.

  22. Jacey

    I’m hoping to join this year, and the directional concept is interesting, although I wonder if might be a bit subjective. On the other hand, I suppose that’s part of the point: to explore your own interpretation during each phase of PS. I honestly look forward to participating, regardless of the selected theme.

  23. meg

    gorgeous colors, yarn, projects and images, color boards are awesome!

  24. Amy

    Your mosaics are lovely. I could imagine them blown up really big and hung on a wall. There is something mesmerizing about the juxtapositioning of shapes, textures, objects, etc. when they’re drawn together by a color palette.

    I like your idea for the cardinal directions version of PS. Kim’s version seems particularly intriguing to me. Of course, there’s something powerful about simplicity and ROYGIBIV fits the bill.

  25. valokki

    That North-South-East-West idea sounds really good to me. Plus I think hole cultural thing gives a lot of inspiration. I started instantly thinking something yellow combined to something oriental. Maybe chinese symbols or dragons or something bollywoodish. Of course everyones east isn’t China, it depends where you live and that makes projects even more variable. Sorry, I’m babbling, I’m just excited.

  26. Nicole

    Thanks for including me in your gorgeous neutrals mosaic. These are the colours that are making me swoon right now.

    And I love the yarns you’ve bought. That Natural Silk Aran looks especially luscious. Can’t wait to see you transform it into a gorgeous garment.

  27. lindy

    Really, if you are looking for snow, come visit me. We got ANOTHER foot today and it’s still snowing.

  28. Prunila


    I just wanted to say thank you, because you have motivated me to make more yoga!!! This month I will start with 2 days per week, not much but for me it’s a lot. The lessons a re a bit hard, when I cannot anymore I think about you and I know I have to try to go on :) ))

    And this “color” post is one of my favorite subjects, ummm

  29. debbie

    oh, i love the idea of the cardinal directions – lots of exploring and interest makes for some thoughtful planning (which is half the fun!) and knitting!

  30. Jenna

    I love the idea of your inspiration boards. It’s interesting how some colors call out to us at different times more than others. I find that I go in long phases with them. I’m totally into gray these days, too!!

    I’m amazed at how you continue to find new directions (pun not intended) and inspirations for PS. It’s amazing how many different ways we can look at color! I really like the idea and look forward to being involved this year. Besos.

  31. maryse

    yay! i was wondering when project spectrum was going to start up. i like the cardinal directions idea with one color for every direction. it would be fun to use that one color to explore different combinations of colors. say — exploring yellow with blues or greens, or pinks, or neutrals, etc. anyway, whatever you decide, i’m ready to play.

    the other day i went to my LYS and came home with two yarns in turquoise (ella rae classic and cascade ecowool) and sock yarn in a deep wine color. i love the combination of the two colors.

  32. Erica

    I love your color collages. I know what you mean about being drawn to a set of colors. We went for a drive last weekend, and I couldn’t stop marveling at all of the beautiful colors in the dead grasses and bare trees along the side of the road. That feeling of looking with new eyes on the world is one of the things that I like most about designing. Can’t wait to see what your yarns become!

  33. Jess

    I love the mosaics, as they’re so opposite but they complement each other so well. I’ve really found myself drawn to neutrals lately, too. Mostly off-white and grey.
    As always, I prefer ROYGBIV to the compass idea, but I do like both of them. I’m really just glad that you’ve decided to continue Project Spectrum for another year!

  34. britt

    i find the directions as a source of color an interesting and inventive approach. i am all for giving it a shot.

  35. Emily

    Two thumbs up for the cardinal directions idea! I totally find myself drawn to the same colors over and over again, too …. not so much in my knitting, surprisingly, but in nail polish! I keep getting drawn to the nail polish displays, only to find myself picking the same colors over and over! LOL.

  36. Allison

    I really like the cardinal directions idea, and I’d love the added challenge of seeing if I could create projects that in some way corresponded to those directions or the associations I make with them. As always, thanks for being so inspiring!

  37. Fiona

    In the Wiccan traditions, the directions are represented by the same colors that the Tibetans use. I would love to do the directions, and the elements that are associated with them.

  38. Elemmaciltur

    Whatever your decision turns out to be, I’m in on this year’s Project Spectrum and hopefully I will get to really participate in it this year (unlike last year).

  39. Kala

    Beautiful colors, so inspiring!

  40. sheree

    I really love the Cardinal directions idea with the cultural twist as well as the elemental twist. But I’ll be participating this year no matter what. I only participated in one round before and am hoping to catch this year at the beginning and follow through with the whole series.

    I’ll keep checking the ravelry group and flickr group for updates!

    Thanks for organizing this again.


  41. Lee Cockrum

    I always love your photographs! I also love it when each part of the mosaic is labeled. I am particularly interested in the middle row, left frame of the red group, I’d love to see the full size photo. Did you make the yarn? I don’t recall reading about you spinning?

    I really have no desire to spine, but I love the look of the handspun. I think I need to find someone to barter with!

  42. Maisha

    Hi there,

    Where did you get the pattern for the red wrap in the lower right-hand box. It is lovely. I went to the knithound brooklyn site and couldn’t find it.


  43. Josiane

    The cardinal directions is a great idea! It’s always fascinating to see what different people and cultures associate with abstract ideas. Just as it’s always interesting to see what Project Spectrum inspires to those who participate. I may try to get on board this year…

  44. Cassy

    I want to participate in Project Spectrum no matter what the theme. I do think the directions sound interesting though. I’ve never participated, but I’ve always drooled over the colorful posts that are related to the project.

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