“That’s Lovely…..Does It Come In Black??”
I think it’s every knitter’s nightmare question – the one that makes us all bang our foreheads on the nearest table. Why? Read on…..
Well for me, black is one of the coolest colours. It’s the colour that’s most readily been adopted by subcultures in the UK over the past sixty years from the 1950’s rockabilly look, through the beatniks of the 60’s, to the punks of the 70’s, the metal, goths and psychobilly movements of 80’s and beyond – black is the absence of light. And when it comes to knitting, that’s a problem.
Knitting to vintage patterns requires a knowledge and competence in the use of different stitches. As I explained in my ‘shapes and silhouettes of 1940s’ blog; embellishments were often too expensive or unobtainable, so an easy way to add definition to a knitted garment was to vary the stitches. In this way, definition could be added by the use of cables, bobbles, lace patterns and edging.
Cables and bobbles provide a three dimensional aspect to a garment, playing with the natural light and shade available. Lace patterns and scallop edging emphasize the spaces between stitches, playing with the negative space as much as the stitches. As black is the absence of light it does neither of these – it doesn’t emphasis the negative space or create shade; and therefore brings very little to the table. Of course it’s cool, it looks good with all other colours, but why bother spending time knitting what might be a complicated stitch pattern if you can’t see the stitches?
There are, as always, exceptions to this – for example, a yarn with a bright sheen, such as a high silk content where the light will bounce off the yarn can look really stunning. Likewise, black works well in combination with other colours where it can help showcase the colours in the scheme and make them ‘pop’ out.
Many a knitter has made the mistake of setting out on a project with great enthusiasm, to then be disappointed when the results of the hard work can’t be seen. I’ve done this myself. Never again. Then again, despite being a pig to knit with, not being able to see my stitches when knitting in black also means I can’t see my errors…..which is possibly some kind of pay off! Maybe ignorance is bliss!