From colour to name in another way

Sometimes it’s not the name of the colours that lead to the name of the design, it’s the colours themselves. Delft and Citrus come into this category – there is nothing particularly citrussy about the latter apart from its green, yellow and orange colour scheme, and it is the blues in Delft that give it its name, rather than the fact that it looks like a pottery design. The Bittersweet designs I wrote about recently got their name in this way as well.

Delft Citrus

Some of the designs whose names are inspired by their colours may need a bit more explanation, though. Like Veronica. Not a girl’s name, in this case, but a tiny flower, more commonly known as Speedwell – which would have been a good name too and may well be used in future – and (as you may have guessed) blue. African Star (which hasn’t been stitched yet) is shaped like an 8-pointed star, but the African bit in the name comes from the colours it uses: red, gold and green, sometimes called the Pan-African colours. And Vienna is stitched in chocolate and coffee colours on chocolate brown fabric. With Vienna the home of coffee houses and Sachertorte, what else could I possibly have called it?

Veronica Vienna

Spice Islands uses the colours of all those spices I love to use, like cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and cloves (the cut Hardanger bits in the desig are shaped like cloves). Nutmeg and cloves feature largely in Dutch cuisine, but they can be a bit startling to the British palate, so I tend to halve the amounts in any recipe I cook nowadays. Spice Islands is my tribute to Dutch cooking!
Another tribute to my Dutch heritage (if one can apply the grand name of heritage to something sweet eaten on bread) is Sprinkles, which shows how closely linked colour and shape and name can be. On the design’s info page I explain that the thread colours reminded me of the pink, yellow and orange of those sweet fruit sprinkles I used to eat as a child. This in turn influenced the shape of the design, which started out with four giant sprinkles arranged in the centre. As for the significance of the hearts and butterflies, well, uhm, I got a bit carried away while designing and didn’t have the heart to delete them once they were there …
And finally a case where the colour led to the name, which then led to another design (both still on the Planned page). I wanted to do something with the combination of moss green, brown and cream. The design turned out to be geometric rather than pictorial, so I turned to the colours for a name. Something mossy. Hmmm. Moss Rose? But there were no rosy colours in it at all. Then I remembered some pieces of agate I had had as a child, with bands of all sorts of lovely subdued colours, and I also remembered that one type of agate was called Moss Agate. Bingo. But I liked the colours so much I wanted to do another design using them. The word moss and the brown colour made me think of Reindeer Moss. I liked the name but felt there should be something in the design to reflect it; cue four satin stitch reindeer. This is what is so nice about letting colours inspire you – you never know what you’ll design next!

Moss Agate Reindeer Moss

From colour to name

First things first – Happy Christmas to you all (I know it’s not quite Christmas yet, but I’m unlikely to write anything tomorrow.) May it be a joyful time for you and those you love, and if you give and receive presents at Christmas, may there be lots of stitchy goodies to enjoy.
Back to the subject of names now. There’s actually quite a lot about names in the Christmas story (John the Baptist and Jesus being given meaningful names, and Jesus being "Emmanuel" or "God with us") so perhaps the shift from Christmas to design names isn’t so odd after all!
Sometimes, the colours I use suggest a name – either the colours themselves, or the names that the manufacturers have given to the colours. To begin with the latter, that’s how Heather and Douglas got their names. They are two designs that more or less form a pair, echoing each other’s stitches and shapes, but more to the point here, sharing the same hand-dyed thread – Dinky Dyes perle in a shade called Airlie.

Heather Douglas

Now I know, of course, that Dinky Dyes are an Australian company. But my knowledge of Australian geography, apart from the better known cities and whatever names I picked up from Terry Pratchett’s Last Continent is practically non-existent, so to me, Airlie sounded Scottish. (There is in fact a place called the Airlie Estates in Scotland, near Kirriemuir – another name just waiting for a design – but what DD had in mind when naming their thread was probably Airlie Beach.)
So I had two designs that needed Scottish sounding names. When I was very young and dreamed of owning two Scottish terriers, I came up with Sporran and McTavish, and I did briefly toy with the idea of applying those names to the designs, but fortunately I resisted. Scotland reminds me of heather, and there were some light purple shades in there, so Heather it was. Douglas also sounded like a suitably Scottish name (the Black Douglas and all that), but it took me a while to realise why that name had popped into my head: the central bit of the design reminded me of the three legs in the flag of the Isle of Man, whose capital is Douglas!
Well, I never said my mind worked logically when thinking up names …


How annoying colours can be! Doing a version of Patches on hand-dyed fabric (a beautiful rich variegated yellow by Sparklies) I carefully picked two shades of DMC yellow perle to form the basis of the design, and purely by accident found in my stash a lovely shade of Dinky Dyes stranded silk which went with them perfectly.
I stitched the darker shade of perle and the silk and that looked fine, then added the first patch of lighter yellow and it just looked wrong. It’s the exact shade of the lighter yellow in the fabric, but it simply didn’t gel with the rest. Argh!
So I tried a slightly darker yellow to see if there would still be enough contrast, and that fortunately did work. Phew! So unpicked the light yellow and am now steaming ahead, hoping to finish Patches later this week.