Tuesday, May 24, 2005

My Dream Job

I want to be the person who gets to name the colors.

You know what I mean: you ogle a gorgeous sweater in a new Rowan Magazine, and when you glance at the pattern in the back, you see that it was knit in a color called “Ravish.” (And all along I thought that color was called “light blue.”)

I want a job where I sit around all day looking at yarn shades and figuring out exotic names for them.

Believe it or not, this is a topic I’ve thought a lot about. I’d give Rowan a gold medal in the color-naming Olympics for its use of intriguing but inscrutable color names, like “Ravish.” Guess what color the following shades of Rowan 4-ply Soft are (no looking at a color card, now):

Honk
Nippy
Whisper
Wink
Buzz

They are, in order: red, cream, a light gray-blue, fuschia, and periwinkle. Don’t feel bad; I’m sure you would have guessed that “Leafy” was green, and “Sooty” was charcoal-grey, and that “Splash” was a turquoise blue. Wouldn’t you have?

Another company that always cracks me up is Artful Yarns. Each of their yarns uses its name as a theme, and the name of each colorway relates to the theme. So if you’re looking at Artful Yarns’ Candy yarn, you’d find shades called Fireball (yep, it’s mostly cinnamon red), Sour Apple (shades of green, natch) and Lollipop (blue, orange and green). When I first heard they were releasing a yarn called Circus, my imagination went wild: would I see a shade called “Freak show”? “Bearded lady”? “Sword swallower”? “Elephant dung”? Nope. But I was heartened to see that some other knitters also shkeeve clowns: “Scary Clown” is, in fact, one of the official Circus colors. Don’t even get me started on their Limerick yarn: not even the nastiest of knitters would dream of naming a color “There once was a man named Dave….”

Every once in a while, a color just doesn’t seem to translate. Jo Sharp, who usually gives her colors names that are very nature-oriented and mellow, just like the palette of colors she uses, has a yarn shade called “Casket.” Now the dictionary will tell you “casket” can mean a small case used to hold jewels, which is probably what Jo Sharp intended; but c’mon, don’t we all think of the pine box that a body is buried in? (And no, “Casket” isn’t black; it’s a tomato-red.) Berroco has a shade of Chinchilla named “Brussel Sprout”, no matter that no one I know really likes those tiny, cabbage-shaped veggies. Jaeger’s shade “Garlic” is a neutral beige, but the name conjures up stinky associations; and just ask your boyfriend or husband whether he’d like a sweater made out of Jaeger’s “Blue Ball.” (I’m guessing not.)

One day, when the shop was pretty quiet, we sat around knitting and dreaming up our own inscrutable color names. We came up with Angst (a deep indigo), Paranoia (bright yellow-green), and Vengeance (blood-red); Grime (mud brown), Panic attack (neon orange) and Grout (mossy green). How about Glue Stick (a chalky white), Sunburn (a painful-looking orange-red) or Dryer Lint (grey, with flecks of other colors)?

On second thought, perhaps I’d better not quit my day job.

4 comments:

Kathy Merrick said...

Hey, I go away for a few days and you start this cool thing. Feh.
I'll become a fawning sicophant loser right off the bat and say I love this blog.
Can't think of too many yarnshops I think should have a blog.
Rosie's would be at the top of the list.
Salut!

Anonymous said...

Yo Caro--I told you what that job is called in the land of paint colors, right? It's called the Swatch Bard. I now dub you the unofficial Yarn Swatch Bard. Go nuts with yo bad self.
xo,
Lisa

Anonymous said...

heck with naming the colors - I want the drugs that those who name colors must take.
k

Anonymous said...

yo, carol, you give good blog!