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Book Review


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  Color Works: The Crafter's Guide to Color
by Deb Menz
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When it comes to assembling the right combination of colors for a project, many of us are overwhelmed by the vast realm of possibility. How do we know which colors to use for the background, foreground, trim, or detail?

These are difficult questions. And after more than 20 years as a knitter, I still ponder them myself. Or at least I did until I read this book.


Mighty Menz
Some of you may recognize Deb Menz as the author of Color in Spinning, considered by many the ultimate reference for blending colors in handspun fibers.

Those of you who've been lucky enough to take a class with Menz—a professional textile artist who teaches regularly around the country—will agree that she approaches her work with almost scientific precision. This book is no exception.

Narrowing the Vast
Menz manages to distill an enormous universe of color theory into a few basic easy-to-understand principles: the basic ways of describing color, understanding the different color values, recognizing the types and effects of contrast on colors, and the different ways you can combine hue families on the color wheel into what are called color harmonies.

Running the Creative Spectrum
The book is called "The Crafter's Guide to Color" because Menz discusses not only knitting but handspinning, weaving, surface design, hand and machine embroidery, beadwork, pieced quilting, and paper collage.

Most extraordinary of all, when illustrating each concept, Menz uses beautiful, lovingly crafted examples from all nine mediums. That's one heck of a lot of work that not all authors would do—I stopped counting at 200 finished samples. (She was helped by several gifted artists, and to all of them I tip my hat in appreciation.)

A Book and a Tool
After walking you through each photo-filled chapter, Menz leaves you with a marvelous set of removable color tools in the back. You'll find a color wheel and value scale, plus cards with more detailed color values within each hue family—a great tool to use when shopping for yarn.

My favorite addition are the eight sheets with differently located punch-out slots so you can view isolated color families on the wheel. If you've ever looked at the wall of paint chips at your local hardware store, you'll know how difficult it is to distinguish one color clearly when surrounded by so many others.

Get Your Ph.C.!
Color theory can be a meaty topic, and this isn't a book for light browsing. Nor should it be read passively.

Rather, consider it your ultimate color textbook. Surrender to each chapter. Read it fully, and then grab some yarn from your stash to try swatching samples for yourself.

Before you know it, you'll have mastered the mystery, and this will be the best $24.95 you've ever spent.

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