It is not, as I have explained to Joe a million times, that I am picky. I am not picky. I am precise. I like things done the right way (and it is totally a co-incidence how often that correlates to my way) and I like to give things a lot of thought before they happen to make sure that things do mostly work out and I minimize uncomfortable surprises.
This makes knitting pretty much the perfect hobby for me, since there’s nobody to tell me that I can’t have it my way the right way all the time, and pretty much no limit to the number of times that I can rip things back and mess with them to satisfy my own set of peculiar standards, and it makes me just about the worst person in the world to be whacking dye on things.. because it’s so hard to plan and I know nothing about it and I don’t understand how it works and all of that would be bad enough – but add in that dye is permanent and you get someone (that would be me) who’s really reluctant to dye yarn- lest I get a mess that I can’t fix. This is bad enough with regular yarn, but with handspun? I would be less likely to take up emu plucking as a hobby than dye handspun.
Now my friend Tina, she’s not afraid of dyeing anything- and if you’re as dye repressed as I am, I would bet you $5 that the amount of abandon she has around this topic would be as disconcerting for you as it was for me. Tina dyes like nothing bad can happen. She dyes like yarn won’t be ruined if you make a mistake, she dyes like there’s no limit to the amount of dye and yarn there is in the world… she’s just not worried about it at all – and this makes us an unlikely dye team. I stand behind her and say "Are you sure you want to put that much dye on?" or "That seems like a lot" or "Why not one skein instead of two" or "Can’t we just dip a corner in?"
When Tina hears this, she just smiles and says something subtle like "Me dyer. You writer. Shut up."
I do. Mostly.
This weekend, Tina and I spent a good long time trying to dye my handspun. I had a specific orange in mind that I wanted, and Tina was determined to help me find it. We started by looking at other oranges (oranges inferior to the one in my mind) and critiquing them. When Tina had an idea what I wanted, she started testing.
My job? Be picky precise. We spent hours. We had conversations like this.
Me: Tina, that’s not right.
Tina: Not right how?
Me: It’s too blue. The orange is too blue.
Tina: Right. The orange is too blue – so more red?
Me: No. It needs to be dirtier.
Tina: Dirtier? Like this?
Me: No. Like that. That over there. That bush has almost the right colour of orange flowers except for they are too rosy.
Me: Too rosy. And it should be fiercer.
Tina: Fiercer… like that?
Me: No. Now it’s an angry fierce. It should by cozy.
Tina: Cosy like brown or cozy like red?
Me: Cosy like brown. But less pink. Not a pink brown.
Tina: Of course not. That would be ridiculous.
Me: Exactly, and it shouldn’t have cool yellow. Warm yellow.
Tina: Just warm, or warm and dirty?
Me: Warm and dirty.
Tina: Awesome. Like this? Does it need to be cozy, warm and dirty or are we done with cozy.
Me: Oh no. Still cozy.
Tina: Naturally. Let’s do another skein.
On and on it went, with Tina making notes and mixing dyes and me describing (poetically) the sort of orange that I wanted and the general mood of the colour.
(Again, I point out that I am not picky, it is just that I care a great deal. I’m misunderstood as an artist.) We went on and on and Tina… well. She seemed to be having a lot of fun, which is interesting, because it’s sort of the opposite way that Joe seems to feel about the version of this that you play when you have to choose a colour for the kitchen paint job.
We knew we had it when we pulled out a test skein that had both of us gasping.
Perfect. Absolutely perfect. We duplicated it on another skein…. just to make sure it was repeatable…
and then my handspun had its turn.
Perfect orange. Just perfect.
I still don’t know what I’m going to make out of it.. but the pleasures of a deeply personal orange can’t be underestimated.
I love this colour, and I think Tina must too, because in the last 12 hours-
She’s put it on everything.