the tyranny of black

As you may have noticed, lately I’ve been knitting a lot for others, and while most of the gift-knits were surprizes, I have done a few items by request. Since I also post my work on Facebook, most of my friends get to see it and I often get comments in the vein of “I want one! Pretty please.”

I am more than happy to oblige, with a few conditions. Primarily, that I get to do it when it suits me, time-wise. This is usually a given, but I do suspect (though no one has ever said it) that my friends expect to get the things they ‘requested’ a bit faster than they usually arrive. For example, I promised to make the hat for Tajana, which I posted about recently, more than a year before it actually got done (and also, unfortunately, too late to be worn this winter).

My second condition, and one that is much more difficult to enforce, is the choice of yarn. Or rather, color. It is incredible how many people want black. Or some other extremely dark color (like dark purple, or dark brown). I could go on to them about how it is difficult to knit with dark colors (almost impossible in artificial light, unless you want to go blind in a record time), but honestly – my real reason is: I hate black! I hate everything about it: the fact that it’s devoid of life, the fact that it’s so conformist, the fact that in the winter it is the predominant coat color, making the season look even more bleak… I own very few black items of clothing (my winter coat is in several shades of purple!) and I have never, ever, knit anything black. Nor do I want to. So when people are making requests, I find it incredible that they are able to ignore the fact that almost all the things in my album are in lively, powerful colors, and that there isn’t a single black thing in there. Shouldn’t there be a bit more respect for that? Perhaps I’m being a color-fascist, but if you’re asking someone to put in hours of their time and effort to make something unique for you, shouldn’t you also take into account that the person making it wants to enjoy the process as well, and wants to like its outcome? It feels silly to call on artist rights, since I’m making things according to other people’s patterns and with yarn someone else made, but at least I’m the one that gets to say how those two things go together, no? Of course, I have no problem with people telling me their color preferences or coming with me to choose the yarn themselves, but I do have a problem with black.

I have been struggling to finish this for over a year. Impossible to knit on anywhere but in bright natural light.

Also, I don’t presume that everyone has the same style as me and that they should be wearing clothes that I like, but if they’re asking me to make them something on the basis of seeing my previous work, presumably they like what they’ve seen?

Darkest item I’ve ever made. The recipient chose the yarn.

Do you know that urban myth about the first line of Ford Model T? “You can have any color, as long as it’s black.” (It’s actually not true, but still sounds great…) Well, here’s my version: “You can have any color, as long as it’s not black.” And if that’s one way to spread a little more color around and force people to be a little less conformist, then I’m happy to be called a tyrant for it.

My kind of color! Beware, the color tyrant is lurking… ;)

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About fridica

I started knitting completely by accident, when I was visiting my parents for a holiday in 2008. On a boring Sunday afternoon, I decided to dig through their stash of books to see if there was anything interesting to take back to my apartment. A knitting manual happened to be one of the books I found. I got curious, my mom immediately dug out her old needles and yarn stash (which she hadn’t used in a decade at least), and in a few minutes we were both casting on - she by memory, I by following the instructions from the book… :) Since I normally prefer learning from books, this was ideal.. I took the book home with me, and very very soon - I was an addict.

12 thoughts on “the tyranny of black

  1. I love both of those hats, especially the red one! i dont know if I have knit anything in black either come to think of it, too hard a strain on my eyes. I used to knit quite a bit with navy but it becomes with the same problems and dark colors dont show up the cables as much. What is the pattern for your red hat if you dont mind me asking.

  2. Hehe, I feel the same way about knitting with black. I absolutely hate photographing it too. My husband always asks for black things… and I have some black yarn stashed so I guess there will be some black knits eventually in my future.

  3. From my experience, people who don’t knit or do any craft work, don’t have respect for our work, as much as they should have. They usually don’t respect time that we have invested to make them some things, and that is a bit frustrating. At least for me.

    • I understand what you mean, it definitely feels like that sometimes, though I have to say my experiences so far have been 50-50 between people who don’t really understand how much effort goes into it (and therefore don’t appreciate it as much as they should) and the people who are over the moon with joy and appreciation when I give them something – and they make it all worth while. :)

      • I would also be frustrated if someone wanted a black knit – I haven’t done any either. Also, my only black garments are a winter coat I’d bought when my father died, one skirt and one pair of trousers.
        Up to now I have been more happy with people’s appreciation of my work. When I made the last scarf for my elder daughter her husband – who doesn’t wear scarves at all – wanted to know how many hours I’d spent on it, calculated the price on a very low hour rate and came up with about 70 Euros. Although I could never sell it for this price he appreciates it as being worth 70 Euros! Lucky me!

  4. What lovely hats! And yes, if you’re going to knit something for someone, you can most definitely have a say in what you knit! Knitting with black is awfully tricky. But I suppose maybe they just don’t notice that there isn’t any black in your photos, and if they don’t knit, they probably don’t know how all the little black stitches fuse into one before your very eyes….

    • Yeah, but I just see it as a lack of imagination… I mean if one is having something hand-made for them, it’s going to be unique, and the best they can think of is black? How unique is that. Blaaah.
      I feel very strongly about this ;)))

  5. Crno je doista dosadno, ali ova smeđa (ljubičasta?) kapa gore je meni apsolutno predivna. Odlična je boja. Ja u pravilu preferiram tamne boje, ali super su mi neke stvari koje si stavljala gdje neki dobar uzorak kombinira živahne boje – npr ove rukavice tu: (al ne baš ove sive, treće po redu). A super mi je i ovo pletivo tu: Ovo je isto dosta tamno, ali pretpostavljam da je lakše radit s ovom vunom jer nije sasvim jednobojna. A super je boja.

    • Da, ova smeđa je ispala super na kraju, al svejedno je bila gnjavaža za plest, i ja svejedno stilski preferiram žive boje.
      Ovo zadnje pletivo nije baš tolko tamno, loša je slika, ali ipak iako je tamna boja – živa je…

  6. This is so true Fridica! I think I’m going to do the same, and never evermore accept to knit in Black. It’s too painful and monotonus!

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