Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gail Callahan: Thinking about Color

Writing my book, Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece, has taught me the value of process. I know it sounds trite, but watching the evolution of the ideas I had coming into this project and seeing them in print with beautiful photographs and text was truly exciting. A few weeks ago I received a call from Gwen Steege, the editor for the book, asking me what I was doing that day. My heart started to skip — that question meant she had a book in hand! Later that day we met, and I got to see the baby for the first time. Looking at the galley pages does not do justice to the final product. The brilliant photographs and clear, crisp text invite the reader into the world of color and hand dyeing.

My intent in writing this book was to convince everyone, even the color blind, to think about color, not necessarily to become a hand dyer but to explore his or her own interests in color. For me there were so many barriers to dyeing. All of the health caveats, the fear of ruining all of my surrounds, and my history of feeling that I did not “get” color kept me away from attempting dyeing in the first place.

Over time, while editing each passage, more and more feelings spoke to me about why I had not had success with color in my childhood. I have always loved color and texture. (A joke in my family was that I asked my mother to feel my tan!) While waiting for my parents to shop at Famous Barr Department Store in St. Louis, Missouri, I remember walking around the kiosks studying and touching all the fabrics. In art classes with a fresh box of crayons and a huge piece of white construction paper, any creativity felt daunting. When the teacher showed the color wheel, I was dismayed that my box of crayons had black and brown and the color wheel did not. It was a tool that became a hammer to my creativity!

Writing this book has taught me that I define myself by color. Learning to express myself and teach others has taught me there is no mystery to color, just a journey into our own preferences. We all like what we like because we are individuals. I do not intend to persuade anyone to adopt my own sense of color, just to reveal it to them. I hope this book will give readers tools to reveal their own color sense, as well as teach the basics of dyeing and yarn and fleece.

Gail Callahan discovered weaving in the 1990s, leading her to a small business called The Kangaroo Weaver. A few years later she began dyeing for personal use. The following year Valley Yarns asked her to dye yarns exclusive to WEBS, America's Yarn Store, in Northampton, Massachusetts. She now teaches dyeing at WEBS and continues to dye for them as well as for her own business, The Kangaroo Dyer.


kholeobrod said...

Could you tell me where I can buy your book in France (yes, I'm french) because I would like to try to dye some linen for a friend.
My english isn't very good but I hope you'll understand my question.
Thanks a lot for your answer.

Kristy Rustay said...

I don't think this book has been translated to French, but if you are looking to purchase the English version our European distributors are Bill Baily Publishers' Representatives. Fax: 44-1626-331080

Good Luck!