Both of these classes focus on color, although in two different ways, and they've convinced me that while I may still be hesitant about my own color sense that doesn't mean I should avoid it altogether!
Then I started spinning.
I approached choosing fiber like choosing yarn-- I paid a lot of attention to fiber type, and I chose colors in single lots, thinking I would just spin it up and it would act like hand-dyed variegated sock yarn. Turns out, not so much. The colors that I loved as pure areas in the fiber would mix in spinning, and get muddy. If I kept them clear, and plied them, I got beautiful barber poles that knit up into headache-inducing swatches of so many colors it was a wonder nobody had a seizure. I was resigning myself to spinning up unusable yarn when Felica Lo's class came to my attention... and I figured, what was there to lose?
I am really grateful to whoever put that class on the roster and available to the public. While I was initially concerned that it was a wheel-based class, and as a spindle spinner the techniques wouldn't really translate, I was very happy to discover that with very few exceptions the techniques weren't about spinning at all! More than half the class is a discussion of color theory and its application to fiber as a medium. Ms. Lo is a wonderful, soft-spoken teacher with a deep understanding of color and a clear love of all things fiber. There's a slight focus on creating striping yarn, but even within those lessons, there's so much more information available about the interplay of color and the options a spinner has to truly create unique and intentional effects.
Once again, I was so thrilled that I'd taken the chance. Ms. Mucklestone has an open and enthusiastic manner that immediately soothed my first-timer jitters. While much of the information in the lessons is widely applicable to sweater/vest knitting in general, the specific close-up shots of holding the yarn, comparing yarn dominance, setting up a steek and finishing one (which still looks like something I'm going to want to do a shot before attempting!) and weaving in all the ends (or not) was so useful I didn't mind the lecture on the importance of gauge and swatching (and blocking). I do wish the camera angles on the close-ups had been a little more mindful of her hands blocking her actual work, but over all I was incredibly satisfied.
I picked a braid from my stash-- it's a 2-tone BFL from Abstract Fiber in Laurelhurst-- and I'm in the process of trying out Fractal Spinning, which is just a fancy way of making sort of marled or tweedy stripes. I'm not sure how it's going to turn out, since I'm still a rather inconsistent spinner, but I'm looking forward to finding out! My hope is to end up with two skeins of about 2 oz each; I split the original 4 oz braid in half, and then in half again, and I'm planning on making a 2-ply (which I guess is obvious since it's Fractal Spinning), so in theory, it should work.
For the latter, I started at the library, with a book that I would recommend to anyone, and may end up purchasing when buying books doesn't mean immediately packing them into a box: The Essential Guide to Color Knitting by Margaret Radcliffe. This was a great resource for someone just starting out in the world of color, with a section on color theory, one on stitch patterns that incorporate color in different ways, and a really extensive section on the various methods of colorwork. I loved it, and I read it cover to cover. However, since I knew that my goal was stranded fair isle, on that same trip to the library I grabbed 200 Fair Isle Motifs, by Mary Jane Mucklestone, because in addition to being an extensive pattern dictionary, it includes an entire section on the history of Fair Isle knitting, how it differs from other stranded knitting techniques (like Icelandic, for instance), and on Shetland yarn and substituting for Shetland yarn (I want to make The Hat in Shetland, but I'm thinking I want to practice with something from stash).
It happened that Craftsy was having a(nother) sale around that time, and recognizing the instructor for The Fair Isle Vest I signed up for it... even though I didn't much care for the actual vest. Having taken it, I'm so glad that I did because it was a wonderful resource, and will continue to be as I start this colorwork kick I can feel coming on, but I still don't think I'll be making that vest. While I think I'd like to (eventually) try a large garment that incorporates colorwork, I doubt that I'll be making one for myself, or Devin, or either of my parents with an all-over motif. We're all, um... larger as opposed to smaller people, and with that in mind not a single one of us wears things with small repeating patterns covering our torsos. As for making something like that for anyone else... My dearest knit-worthy friends live in Tucson, Arizona. They don't wear sweaters.
Of course, I collect dictionaries.
I also watched one of the freebie classes, Know Your Wool with Deborah Robson. I've read the book this class is based on (cover to cover, over the course of a month or two. It was my bedtime reading, although I had to stop waking Devin up to show her pictures of sheep because, well, she'd really rather sleep) so the class was more review than anything else, but if you're curious about Craftsy and want to try it without buying anything, it's an interesting class.