Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Meet Gail Callahan, Genius behind the Color Grid and a Giveaway

I'm kicking off the Fall Knitting Season with a fun interview with Gail Callahan. Several years ago, when Julia was quite small, I was at the grocery store at the deli counter. I saw a woman looking at me so I figured she was a knitter. We struck up a conversation and it turned out she was The Kangaroo Dyer - Gail Callahan. Gail and I became friends through fiber and color. She wrote the successful Hand-Dyeing Yarn and Fleece a few years ago. While she was working on the book, she had to write about color and how to use it. Out of that project, she developed her "Color Grid." This past year, Gail launched her "Color Grid" as a stand alone tool for knitters, crocheters, stitchers, gardeners, artists...... anyone who is curious to learn more about using color, or perhaps fearful. 

The other day Gail and I got together for this interview and a little photo session. I hope you enjoy it. Here's the best part - three lucky readers/commentors will receive their very own Color Grid courtesy of Gail!

Gail Callahan with her Color Grid and luscious hand-dyed yarns

KN: Gail, tell us how you got involved in the yarn business. I know you are the colorful creator of the Webs line of hand-dyed yarn and your own Kangaroo Dyer lines. How did it all start?
GC: It sounds silly, but it was because I had to. I was working at Webs (yarn.com) and weaving blankets, using a lovely mohair, available only in natural. Barbara Elkins, the founder of Webs, suggested I try dyeing. My response was that I was afraid to dye. She told me I'd better learn because she wanted me to do a demonstration in the store! Two lessons learned; put yourself on a time line to learn something new, and to create what is not there in the market. I dyed my way through the Cushing dyes, all of the blues and greens, because I knew they would go together, started teaching classes, the name of the first class was "No Fear Dyeing" subtext; if you can cook a potato, you can dye yarn.

I never looked back, I started dyeing every natural yarn that came in the store. Of course, since I was a dyeing fool, I had no time to use it, so I gave it away. One day, Linda Burt, the Customer Service Manager, asked me if Kathy and Steve Elkins. the owners of Webs, had seen my work. She felt strongly that they should sell my products in the store. That's when the exclusive line was developed. Kathy and Steve have been just wonderful encouraging me and giving me carte blanche to work with their yarns.  The yarns are Valley Yarns by Gail Callahan the Kangaroo Dyer.

KN: Why did you develop your Color Grid?
GC: I didn't understand the color wheel. It just didn't work for me. I was writing my Hand-Dyeing Yarn and Fleece book for Storey Publishing and I had to write about using color. I decided that I had to find a way to explain color in a different way -- without the color wheel.  I figured if I didn't understand the color wheel and I have worked with color my whole life, there had to be others out there. 

KN: How did you do it?
GC: I'm a horizontal thinker. I think about shelves --- putting things on and taking things off. I dreamed up a shelf with buckets of paint dripping down. As the buckets dripped, the colors changed in value and then mixed together.

KN: Wow! That is something else. How is the Color Grid organized? 
GC: It is based on primary colors - red, yellow, and blue. Then secondary colors - orange, green, purple, and then tertiary colors. It shows the different shades from light to dark. But it is built out of boxes so every color and shade is shown, versus the standard color wheel which hides colors and values.

One of my Knit It Felt It Bags illustrating how I use color and how Gail's Color Grid will help you.

KN: Your Color Grid is developing quite the following. Clara Parkes wrote about it on her weekly Knitter's Review column. You have definitely tapped a market that no one else thought about. Congratulations! How do you use the Color Grid
GC: The Color Grid comes with a template which has 9 holes punched in it and a long slot. A knitter (or crafter of any type) lays the 9 holes over the family of colors they want their project to be. These colors are all related (or analogous). Then they look at the color that appears in the small slot. That is color they should choose to be the "spark." 

A swatch for one of my new designs again showing how to use The Color Grid

KN: Oh, I get it. The "spark" is what is known in color wheel terms as the "complementary" color. Very clever! Why do you think the Color Grid has taken off so quickly? 
GC: I think there are many people like me who just don't get the color wheel. They are color-phobic knitters. The Color Grid gives them a way to practice selecting and using color without the mystery and the dials of the colorwheel. There are so many people who are fearful of color. I work at Webs one day a week and I see it every day. People need help with selecting and combining colors. They aren't all like you Kristin, using color with wild abandon.

KN: Yes, I understand that - I see knitters all the time who just don't understand it. But once I explain it to them, they become less fearful. Gail, you have developed a product that can be carried around with them, to yarn stores, to fabric stores, to gardening centers that will help people become less fearful! That is awesome. Do you have any funny stories you can tell us? 
GC: I got a large order from a man who owned a tattoo parlor. He purchased the Color Grid for all his tattoo artists. It's nice that it crosses different kinds of arts, crafts, and hobbies and helps all kinds of people out. Color is universal after all. 

For gardeners too!
KN: If there is one part of this business that is your favorite, what would it be?
GC: I love seeing people build their confidence using and choosing color. It happens when I teach dyeing, but that is such a niche population. Now with the Color Grid, I see the lights shine in people's eyes when they figure out how to add a spark to their project. I cannot tell you have many people have said; "I finally get it!"

Thanks so much to Gail for taking time out of her busy dyeing day. You can buy the Color Grid directly from Gail here. Check out the beautiful silk yardage she dyes here (which just happens to have been featured in Elle Decor magazine here) and her gorgeous handknitting yarns here. You can also find Gail's work for sale at Webs where she is the "in-house hand-dyer." 

Contest is over. Thanks everyone for entering! I have contacted the winners and Gail will be sending the prizes.
To enter the Giveaway, leave a comment answering the following question:
What is your favorite color combination and why? 
Contest ends Sunday September 9th at 11:59 p.m. As always, please leave an easy way to get a hold of you - email or Rav id. Good luck everyone!

95 comments:

auntiemichal said...

Good Morning, Kristin! What is my favorite color combination and why? Right now it's black and white because I can add ANYthing else to them for reliable results. Of course, tomorrow my answer will be different!

Can we hear and see more about the sump pump kittens? Please? Thanks!

Sidra said...

Pink and green. Ever since I read The Official Preppy Handbook.

Anonymous said...

that is a hard one. i love all colors and love to experiment.

Fracksmom on Ravelry

Love your farm stories

Jo said...

Definitely, purple and green! I am not as daring with color as I'd like to be. The Color Grid looks like an amazing tool. Great interview!

Aimee said...

I love chocolate brown and pale blue
Or chocolate brown and salmon
Or chocolate brown and teal green
Or chocolate brown and royal purple
Or. . .

I think you get the idea. :)

Debbie said...

My fav color combo is yellow and lime green. It's poppy and cheerful!

iowagirl said...

I love blue and pale yellow. Always looks fresh and crisp.

Omainiowa on Ravelry

Ruby said...

I love the green colors. From the more vibrant colors to the more subdued greens. I am a fall person so mixing those greens with the sparking colors of fall just lights up for me. But I have kids that like the pink and purples so that is another colorway where I need help with putting things together. Rav: MzCruse

Susan from Vermont said...

My favorite color combos for knitting are different shades of orange and red. However, in my outdoor flower pots I use orange and purples.

Fibercrafter said...

Purple with orange! This occurs in my garden in several spots - everything from periwinkle to deep purple works great with orange.

Wicked Faerie Queen said...

I just love moss green and deep purple. These are colours I have always been drawn too. They seem very earthy and comforting to me.

Thanks
Sue

Kieren Dutcher said...

What a great idea. I definitely want one to hang up in the art room where I teach kids!
My fave color combo right now is deep cranberry red, with a citrusy lime green... geraniums on my kitchen table with variegated sage leaves, just gorgeous!

Beth said...

Well, I recently finished a quilt with cyan and turquoise shades and chartreuse and other greens with a light brown neutral thrown in. Now, I'm working with greens and yellows on another quilt and turquoise, other blues, and a bit of red for yet another. I think the Color Grid would be a great tool to use in for choosing quilt color combinations. What a neat idea and great giveaway! Thanks.

Lori in Texas said...

I like all kinds of blues and greens together, maybe because the are soothing. And I can't wait to see the beautiful fall color that I hope you will be posting in the coming months. RavID Loriburris
Thanks.

Ana said...

Wow, what an interesting way to present colors! Would love to have one!

Kathleen C. said...

I love purple and green. Especially in rich but dark jewel tones. I design costumes and it seems that every large show ends up with at least one purple and green combo!
I'm intrigued by this new way to look at color. I don't have a problem with the wheel, but a grid does offer new ways to see connections and continuities...

nancy said...

Salmon pink and sage green--my wedding colors from 30 years ago and still my favorite!

Patty Clark said...

I love blues and how they can gradually turn to purple. My knitting usually is with yarns that make gradual changes, blues, greens, purples. When I paint rooms I use blues with pale yellow or tans and browns. I have never understood the color whel, would love this grid.
Patty
pclark204@comcast.net

Anne said...

I love blues/purples/greens! But I also love the bright colors of a Buddhists monks robes... Needless to say, the Grid is now on my wish list!
Anne annegp on Ravelry

kayteau said...

I'm a huge fan of color, but right now my "go to" seems to be medium to dark shades of grey. spiked with eggplant or chartreuse. Or sometimes cranberry or turquoise...

Erin said...

My favorite color combo is yellow and turquoise. It feels vintage to me and reminds me of my nana's kitchen.
As a knitter, I would LOVE this color grid!! I am a color-chicken, and never know what to do, and am always envious of the projects of the color-adventurous!

Steph.K said...

First time commenter, long time lurker! This is a hard answer to pin down for me. I suppose I would have to say "A Riot of Colors." I'm not talking a rainbow here but rather super intense saturated reds, yellows, blue, turquoise, pink, purple in a variety of shades. I know it sounds like a rainbow but when I picture it in my head I see all the colors of an indian market or color splattered faces during Holi.

Anonymous said...

My mother had 1970's long, dark turquoise raw silk Guatamalan folk dress, with a needlework yoke of birds and flowers in deep cherry, orange, lime and more turquoise and teal. I love this color combination so much that I turned the dress into a pillow, which pops against the orange bed spread. I think of her every time I see it, and smile.

Cherie M - Colorado said...

I vote for plum and peach - great as a bowl of summer fruit or as a knitted treasure! We are currently visiting Olympic Natl. Park, where the best combo is spruce green and ocean blue (also home of Twilight series). See you in a few weeks.

Sunrise Knitter said...

I love the orange/bronze yellow combinations.

sunriseknitter@gmail.com

mn_bird said...

My favorite, favorite colors to work with in knitting are purple, orange and green, in particular chartreuse. I use them so much that sometimes I will set a design goal and try not to use these colors!

minnknitter on Ravelry

Sarah TX said...

I am making a high-contrast blanket in navy blue/light blue with rasberry accents, and it's delicious.

Lilea said...

Right now my favorite colors are pale pale purple and sage green with a natural grey/beige mixed in. I working on a shawl and these colors are beautiful together.

Sallie said...

I like red and turquoise together. They are bright and cheerful, and have a slightly retro feel.

Suzanne said...

I love the look of brown and pink. Or brown and a light blue. I have put together brown and lavender. Not sure what about it I like but I have seen it in other places and I just like the combinations with brown.

Gracey is not my name.... said...

Any shades of green...I love green and purple together...especially a bright green and a darker purple...I'm also a sucker for pink and brown...I don't do a lot of pink, but so drawn to it when combined with brown...I am not afraid of color..the only one I tend not to use peach..but I am a kinda matchy-matchy person and have to make myself be unmatchy...

Anonymous said...

I love red and white (sometimes with black). Cheery and clean together :)

Natalie

Nataliekanaby@hotmail.com

sally said...

Today I'm thinking of my dyeing session tomorrow. I'm going to try brown and amethyst. Favorites change from day to day.

Willow said...

I'm totally a blue girl. My current fave is turquoise with spring green. Why? I think it's because although I adore cobalt, you can have too much cobalt. turquoise and green lighten up the cobalt in my life and my house.

Sheila said...

I love purple and teal. Both flatter my coloring, making the combo easy to wear. And a purple and teal item will match most of my wardrobe.

Cate said...

One of my favorite combinations is purples and blues. I attended a machine quilting class where we were invited to bring finished quilt tops and receive advice from the instructor on designs to use in quilting it. When mine was unfolded, the teacher commented on how the blue and purple fairly monochromatic piecing had a "calming effect" on the viewer. That wasn't my intention, but absolutely goes with what I was probably needing at the time I chose the colors.

denise said...

Kristin,
Love your blog. I tend to love all greens and browns.

Just walk out my door and they are bursting with nature everywhere.
denise
dpluta2001@yahoo.comtaryCD

Sally said...

Glad to meet you Gail! I feel like I know you already since I was the lucky winner of 3 skeins of your gorgeous yarn in a giveaway from Kristin a few years ago (now all living new lives as socks out in the world). Hi Kristin, I love every kind of yellow imaginable, paired with just about anything, but especially with limey, mossy green plus eggplant- or merlot- purply red.
Thanks always for your blog, inspiration, lovely patterns, stories, giveaways, etc etc etc

Susan B. said...

It's hard to pick a favorite color combination. There are so many I like. But I guess I'd pick orange and purple. Orange is warm and comforting, while purple makes me think of summer nights.

Mk said...

Thanks, it was interesting to read :)
It was period when I liked cold colours and I can't explain why, because it's changing, I noticed that now I need green, yellow, orange colours :)
My e'mail is mezgantiskaimas@gmail.com

Mar said...

I am a colour nut. I live in the woods, so I love all the different greens, browns and flower colours. I look best in intense jewel tones so I love those too. I just finished a Colour Affection shawl in muted grey, green and blue and am planning another in cranberry, orange and sunshine yellow. I guess that about says it all. Thanks for a great blog.

Lisa C. said...

I really like chocolate brown and pink. I am awful at picking out colors. I really need this color grid!

Elaine said...

I really like orange, fuschia and kiwi green!!

billicummings said...

I am one of those phobic color knitters! I love reds and greens. I am not sure how to put colors together so I ask my daughter or husband to help me. I have a large stash and just stare at it. The color grid looks much easier! Would love to win one!

billicummings@gmail.com

Nancy w said...

I love tan with dashes of bright colors. Right now I'm knitting an intarsia purse in this palette. It's lovely.
Nancy

Anonymous said...

My favorite colour combinations all seem to revolve around pink - bright pink. I love bright pink and green, bright pink and various purples but my all time favorite - bright pink and black. Thankfully when my niece was younger her favorite colour was pink so... I was able to knit with pink often.
(Now she favors earth tones not as much fun for me to knit with!)
Paula
p_calestagneAThotmail.com

Ana said...

For some reason, my eyes are instantly drawn to blue and green together. When I really want to relax and de-stress, I'm drawn to browns, creams, tans. My bedroom is a "brown study"....I loved your interview and love this Color Grid. I really hope to be a winner!

Anonymous said...

Green-fave color. don't know why exactly, my eyes are green, maybe.

lariluu on Rav

Patti said...

Black and white because of the high contrast. I love many colors in a design with a B/W border be it a quilt, sweater, or any piece of art.

Diane said...

My favorite color combinations change every year. Right now it is in the green family but last year it was reds. Maybe next year it will be the blue/purples.

Barbara Daiker, Ph.D. said...

I am drawn to intense colors, like a royal blue with fushia or emerald green. Throw in some gold or orange. Yum! I love your use of colors - never dull and always fun.

Candy said...

Currently my favorite is turquoise and red. I don't know why. It just stuck on me. But it will change. I'm very fickled. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your farm stories. Thanks for all the beautiful photos.

Lisa Viviano said...

Morning Kristen,

My very favorite color combo is green and blue in luscious jewel tones. Here's hoping your day is filled with great rich colors!
vivianos3@aol.com

Kathy said...

I'd love to own the color grid. Gail has helped me several times at Webs, and I enjoyed talking with her very much. For me, I love combining greens and violets.

KEP on ravelry

Julie Witt said...

I like blues and greens in all their shades and values. Thanks for the chance to win this great prize!

Abbie said...

My favorite color combination is yellow and blue. I have always liked both of those colors separately, but then in college I visited Sweden and fell in love with the combo. And of course, they are the colors of my husband's alma mater--the University of Michigan.

Denise said...

I'm a color-phobe! My wardrobe and my house are black, white, and beige, in varying shades. However, I do like to see fuchsia and orange together - such a fun combo.

flgirl1987 At yahoo DOT com

Susanne said...

I love blue so putting it with anything is fun! Blue with brown, blue with yellow, different shades of blue...you name it ...if it has blue in it..it is fine with me.

Susanne said...

blue with anything...blue with brown/yellow/other shades of blue. I try really hard to not use blue but up it pops...I love it.
Susanne
scheusie@shaw.ca

Tobie said...

I seem to always pick green with reds or oranges.
I'd love to use that color grid-it sounds most helpful.

Susie said...

What a wonderful tool! I've not seen this - sleeping somewhere. I love bright green and a deep blue/purple together. Thank you,
Sudsbrew@gmail.com

Celeste said...

What a nice give-a-way.
thanks

Laurie said...

I love bright green with just about anything. Pink, gray, blue... I haven't seen the Color Grid until now and I too have never been able to figure out the Color Wheel. This is really cool! Thanks! My RavID is grantsmom

India said...

Very hard to come up with ONE favorite color combination. But I do like to put jewel tones together--teal, emerald, purple, magenta, peacock blue. However, I could certainly use a tool like this to shake up my color view! andyindy2@gmail.com

Jan said...

I wear a lot of black and accent with the bright, clear, jewel tones: cherry red, hot turquoise, and fuchsia are my favourites. I am also a shepherd and love to dye my own Romney wool but I, too, have a lack of confidence in picking colour combinations and would LOVE to win Gail's Color Grid. What a wonderful tool she has developed! Love your blog, Kristin!
Jan (dunedinfarm on Ravelry)

tjf said...

I really like combining greens, golds, browns, deep reds - hmmmmm. . . .fall colors, I guess! And, after reading all the comments, I see lots of other combinations I think I'd like. I love your books and all the colors you use; I am not as bold (or brave?) as you are. :)

Tricia
thefankells@mesanetworks.net

Jane said...

Hello Kristin, I'm looking at the Houzz pictures a lot – what you've made in your house is inspiring.

My favourite colour combination for clothing is probably red and pink, saturated shades. Any tartan – and tartans together, like the quilt my mum made me. I also like to lift subdued colours with a bit of zing.

I'm trixiebacon on Rav.

Kathy at Knitting Off The Grid said...

What a wonderful giveaway! I love blues and reds together because they make a design "pop"!

I'm KathS on Ravelry

Helen Hart said...

Hi Kristin, your blog is great. I started with many yarn fibers in white mixed together. Ok, but...Then I broke my barrier and started working with color. My favorites are turquoise, dark blue, purple and a bit of yellow for bling.
HelzHart@aol.com

Susan said...

Hi Kristin,
One of my favorites color combinations is purple and green. The purples can be leaning toward red OR blue and the grrens can vary from teal to moss.
Susan

Barb Rechtfertig said...

Hi folks! One of my favorite combinations is drk forest green and light blue. I lived in Northern California for quite a while, and driving through the redwoods, that was what I saw. Lots of variations on the colors, depending on the season (especially the blue) I'm getting all warm and nostalgic just remembering...gorgeous!
thanks, Barb (bjjiminy@aol.com)

Carol said...

I love the colors of The Southwest and the beautiful artwork and jewelry created by Native American artists. My favorite color combinations, that I keep coming back to, are shades of deep brown and turquoise.

Leslie said...

My favorite combination, for my personal use, is purple and green. The purple can be any shade as can the green. My color sense has taken a long time to develop but I normally feel if I can find the colors together in nature, they go together. That color grid looks a lot easier to use than the color wheel. Congrats to Gail on a great idea.

Tracie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joan Busby said...

I love something butter yellow fo the summer.
Fall, give me a warm brown with a warm red

Robin said...

OH...that's a hard question 'cause for me color is constantly evolving! In other words...I not only an A.D.D. knitter but my color palate changes often! Right now I'm loving the Turquoise/Brown combo!!

chantelle said...

All the fall colours, especially intense shades of copper, rust, ginger, green, orange.
Ravelry ID - brighidgreen

Chelsea @ Garden-Me.com said...

What a great tool! Its hard to pick one favorite color combination :-) In my garden I really like the combination of purple and yellow--purple is so rich and deep while yellow is a happy color. Thanks for the chance.
chels580 at yahoo dot com

Janelle Wertzberger said...

I am a sucker for blues and greens together... not sure why, really! My favorite color has always been blue but lately I've been sporting more green, and of course, the two of them in combination.

I am about to spin a braid of gradient Fiber Optic fiber and would like to use it in a Stephen West shawl that uses 2 colors. I'm not sure what solid to put with it. I think the color grid could answer that question for me!!

Mae said...

Teal and grey (like Gail's Silver Mining for Turqoise) - but I'd love to add a third color and would do so with cofidence with a color card!
I'm new too this blog and loving it!
Maeven@charter.net

Joyce said...

I just re-did my sewing room and I matched the colors to the sage plant that is visible right outside the window - muted sage carpet and cool pale lavender walls. All of the things I do in the room add lots of color (quilting, books, knitting, spinning, weaving) and so these colors are a restful backdrop for the action. I love your blog - it is always interesting and inspires me to try new things and new color combinations.

Beau said...

I have many combos I like ... depending on how they will be used. One of my favorites for a very long time is a turquoise/teal/navy.

Ack!Tivity said...

Pink and green. But for a rather pedestrian reason, my favourite colour is pink and my wife's is green. Though I really do think they look great together.

(just found your blog today, thanks to Brenda Dayne. I LOVE the pictures of your rooms)

Mary said...

I usually gravitate to the cool colors, I don't know why. They've just always been my favorites. The Color Grid looks like it would be very inspirational.
(marymort @ aol.com)

schwip said...

I like Red and Black and Turquoise and Black.

Robin V said...

My favorites are shades of green and yellow. Here in Michigan, in spring, the trees morph through wonderful shades of green, which I dearly love.

The color grid sounds *wonderful*!

RobinV on Ravelry

Leanne said...

Loved the interview and the Color Grid. I love cobalt blue and mustard yellow together.

Anonymous said...

Blue and turquoise - reminds me of summer, even on the gloomiest of winter days.
Rav ID Kiwikaye

Angeluna said...

If I had to pick just one color combination, I would say earthy yellow green and dried blood red. Why...I don't know. It's just very pleasing to my eye, perhaps reminiscent of seasonal colors. The more complex colors interest me most, tertiaries I suppose. It always takes me at least 3 words to describe my colors.

I'm "allergic" to blue and pink.

Just returned from my yearly vacation in Massachusetts and Vermont, so beautiful there.

Rav ID Angeluna

Maryanne & Duke said...

I have some of Gail's yarn that i bought from Webs, and it's gorgeous!

My favorite color combinations have to do with gradients, so I'm a sucker for rainbows and ombres.

Wil4ds on Ravelry

Unknown said...

I love purple and green together. I have knit socks with Kangaroo Dyer's sock yarn in that color combination. Greens are always great in my book, so I'm often attracted to handpaints that include green with purples or the autumny colors.

Persimmontree on Ravelry

masshag said...

I love pink and green. The why...I really don't know. It just maks me smile. I love your kittens and am so happy you found them before our torrential rain last night.

chag50@comcast.net
Masshag on Ravelry

Katherine said...

What a great product! I love green and yellow together. Cheery colors and two of my favorites.

Janis said...

Chartreuse and gray! Love those colors together.

Ruby said...

I love colors but knowing which ones go together are sometimes a challenge. I love greens, most favorite are the jewel tone greens - emerald/forest/kelly green. Being a redhead, I love some of the colors that do not typically go with a red head unless muted in some fashion.