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Color lessons from Laura Bryant are part of the science of knitting

Students wait for class to start, having no idea what the color cards on their table will signify later.
Students wait for class to start, having no idea what the color cards on their table will signify later.
The Fiber Friend 2014

Laura Bryant, the founder and Creative Director of Prism Yarns for the past three decades, vehemently expressed the importance of not taking notes in her class. "If you are taking notes, you are not looking," she told her Sunday morning Introduction to Color class in the Empire Room. The New York Marriott Marquis was beginning its last day hosting Vogue Knitting LIVE for 2014 in New York, and several students opted to take a class that did not involve the physical practice of the craft of knitting.

Bryant's class on color is, as she told her students, her favorite class to teach. The class is all in lecture format, with no knitting practice and no required materials except the eyes. Bryant's objective was to share her passion for color with her students, and to teach her students to literally open their eyes to the discernment and manipulation of how the eye sees color.

The morning started with a science lesson and color-blindness test, as everyone needed to be able to learn with their eyes instead of their ears. All students also received a brightly-colored handout with several bullet points of key information regarding color, but Bryant knew that certain behaviors are just inherent in the mentality of a student. "It's all in your handout," she told the class more than once, and then sympathetically chuckled because the students were absentmindedly reaching for their pens to write down key information, thereby looking away from the visual lesson.

For students who came into the class assuming they would receive a lecture involving a laser pointer aimed at sections of a color wheel, their expectations were far surpassed. Instead, the brains of the student were awakened in the opposite direction. Using Color Aid paper and a simple oversized tablet, Bryant gathered the entire class around a table to show that our generic labels for color are actually not as descriptive as we may think. She held up a neutral-colored card and said, "What would we call this? Brown?" The class would come to a near-concensus, and then when the card was held next to a color that looked similar from a distance, the difference was more striking with every example.

Each visual lesson was more fascinating than the previous one, with Bryant continuing by showing examples where backgrounds can make one color look like two different hues, and how two different colors can look exactly the same. "I'm going to show you colors, and then I am going to ask you to describe them." A card that looked green to half of the room looked blue to the other half, but when placed next to a card with a particular allegiance to one color, the original color looked new to the audience.

Why would a knitting class be so focused on color paper and optical illusions, wondered a student at the break. The question was answered almost immediately upon her return, as the class continued by showing how these lessons apply to yarn, and how knitting with different colors against each other can completely change the look of a knitted item. These lessons could now be used as a basis for combining color not just in knitting, but in decorating a home, putting together an outfit, and even choosing complementary interior and exterior colors for a car purchase.

Laura Bryant's livelihood has been shaped by her passion for color. Because of it, students at Vogue Knitting LIVE were able to see their own lives, and not just their knitting, become more colorful.

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