Color Questions & Floral Fears

Need a moment’s distraction from the making, wrapping, trimming, baking, shipping and ho-ho-ho-ing of the holiday season? It always seems to give others a lift when I reveal my own fears and insecurities, so consider this my holiday gift to you: I’m nervous about some of the colors and patterns I’ve used in holiday gifts.

Bill and I try to alternate on who makes the bulk of our Christmas gifts, and this is my year. What I make will be compared to his PVC marshmallow shooters, so the pressure’s on. Money is tight, so I’m trying not to buy additional materials (my studio is well-stocked, thank you very much). On top of everything else, the kids (not ours, but we love them) are at that in-between age where it would be much easier to buy them ITunes gift cards. But yikes, those come in a choice of colors and patterns, too.

(At this point, I would insert a spoiler alert if I thought there was a remote chance any of the kids would be reading my blog. We rejoice that they have other interests.)

This year, most of the kids are getting quilted door knob-hanger pocket panels. I pray their mothers do not remark, “You won’t lose your charger cords if you keep them in those pockets” or some other exclamation that reveals these as the functional equivalent of gift-wrapped underwear.

In one piece, I made the pockets from patchwork blocks given to me after a friend cleaned out a relative’s estate. I overdyed them in the indigo vat to darken and unify the colors for a young man who has always loved to see how things fit together.

His brother got one of my Spoonflower fabric swatches combined with overdyed, recycled patchwork. This boy has always enjoyed helping in the garden, so it felt natural to pick patchwork that included simple floral fabrics. When his piece was done, I got nervous about the florals and used fabric markers to apply other patterns over them to make them a bit less flowery.

Seriously, what do you think? Are florals taboo for 12-year-old boys if they’re in patchwork? I still have time to make something else.

For the 11-year-old boy, I combined one of my Spoonflower fabrics overdyed to match some camouflage fabric. The camo was left over from when his big sister did her first sewing project — a drawstring “gun case” for the toy wooden shotgun Bill had made for him. I like the olive-overdyed Blue Hands fabric so well I might add that colorway to my Spoonflower collection.

For the youngest, a girl (third grade going on graduate school), I made pockets from one of my Spoonflower fabrics, a commercial batik, and a pigment-dyed muslin, to go on the indigo-dyed sheet quilt panel.

I’m half-way wishing now that I had done another version of my Red Handed fabric in a bright, clear pink/purple colorway in time for this gift. Tell me: At what age to boys start to carry wallets and girls get over pink?

Color is the hardest decision in most of the gifts I make. This year, I simplified by making most gifts from indigo-dyed fabric.

The one I’m most unsure of is for my sister. (It’s probably safe to carry on, as the dial-up connection where she’s visiting is not conducive to blog reading.) I used the colors of a place she loves — the green of the mountains and the blue of the ocean — in a soft silk-and-wool scarf to keep her warm where winter is neither green nor blue but gray and slushy. Now I’m nervous that those landscape colors look good on the fabric (and on the landscape) but won’t go with anything she actually wears in the winter.

With just a week to got before gifts are opened and fears put to rest one way or the other, I still have a few more gifts to finish over the weekend to get in the mail by Monday. I’m sure you have a list of your own to deal with, so I thank you for listening to my color questions and floral fears.

Would anyone care to remind that class that it’s the thought that counts, or share other words of wisdom?

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Donna Kallner

fiber artist, teacher and explorer, inspired by ancient fiber techniques and all the ways contemporary fiber artists give old ideas a new spin

2 thoughts on “Color Questions & Floral Fears”

  1. These are cool kids we’re talking about. Kids that have known you as long as you’ve known them. Kids that understand perfectly well that Auntie Donna is a little bit (ahem) “different” than most other aunties. I imagine they are hoping for a “cool” gift from you and won’t really care what color it is. Kids in my neck of the world seem to care most about color when they have to do the choosing. In other cases, cool trumps color every time, and you’ll score big in the cool department with those bags.

    As for your sister, she’s in a part of the world where each item of clothing is admired for its own, unto itself, beauty. These are the lively capable women running the booths at the farmers market. Nothing they have on “goes with” anything else, but each piece is gloriously wonderful and bright and beautiful. “Matching” is such a 20th century American value. If a scarf keeps me warm and I smile when I see it, and remember who made it . . . I certainly don’t care what color it is! Besides, your sister lives half a world away, you’ll never know what she wears it “with.”

  2. Sigh. I did bow to my uncertainty on the floral fabric and made another one for that gift. The good news, though, is I have an extra one now. Might use it for keeping my own charger cords all in the same place!

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