I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

-John Masefield

I grew up in Plymouth, MA. Land of the pilgrims, steps from the sea. The Atlantic ocean is a daily part of life there; you really can’t go anywhere without catching a glimpse of it here and there through the trees. The north Atlantic is a moody sea, a body of water with its own strong personality. If you live near it long enough, it becomes a part of your life, a character in your story.

When we left New England, I couldn’t imagine not living near an ocean. With the exception of a summer in upstate New York, I had spent most of my life not 5 miles from the coast. You get used to the smell and the sound; the salt air wafting in on a morning mist, people flocking to the shore in the summer. The off season has a different feel – then you see the hard, unyielding, and rocky side of the coast, the cold, biting wind, and the beautiful rolling waves of a winter storm. The passion and the fury of an untamed sea. Calm or angry, the ocean is unchanging, and yet never the same.

Linda and I were emailing a while ago, and she mentioned that she had seen a particular green in the ocean while out on a boating trip but hadn’t been able to capture it with her camera. She didn’t need to; with a bit of description, I knew which color she meant. I thought I might even have some photos of it myself, but we bought our first digital camera after leaving Massachusetts, so I have almost no pictures, except the ones held in my mind. Still, it got me thinking of all the colors and moods of the ocean, and of ways I might try to capture those colors on fiber.

Last weekend, I gave it my first attempt, on BFL and Falkland.

There is the color of the sea at sunset, waves lapping on a sandy shore. In the summer, sunset is the time that the locals head to the public beaches; the sand is less crowded and parking is free. As the sky turns gold, the water takes on a greenish hue.

In the winter, you’ll see those same greens mixed with grey on a cloudy day.

In a storm, the colors deepen and mix with a hint of brown.

The summer sea is a different creature; laughing and throwing waves lightly on the shore. Whitecaps dance across a sapphire blue, and children play in the foam. For this color, I made sure to leave long repeats of pure white so that those whitecaps will show.

I can almost hear the waves.

On calm days, waves rise up to touch a cloudless blue, and the water can almost take on the same color as the sky. The horizon disappears, and all there is is a vast expanse of blue.

Throw in a little grey, and you have the moodier color of a winter ocean. The water just looks icy cold, stretching out forever beneath a pale grey sky.

I’m not sure I found the green that Linda was talking about; the green of a sea churned into foam by the passing motor of a boat. I know which one it is, and I don’t see it here. There are an infinity of colors to be captured, and I think I missed that one. I know it’s in the dyepots somewhere, but I’ll need to sample more to find it.

I won’t mind coming back to these colors again, though. They do make me ache for the ocean, but it’s hard to resist the pull of those blues. I could wrap myself in any one of them.

It was really interesting to see the Falkland next to the BFL. BFL has a shiny, high-luster appearance, like silk. The Falkland is a more matte look, fluffy and soft, almost like a chenille or a velvet by comparison. We couldn’t quite capture the difference in a photo, but this one comes pretty close:

That’s Falkland on top, and BFL on the bottom. The lighting isn’t great, but you can see that there’s more shine from the one on the bottom. Personally, I’m in love with the squoosh of the Falkland at the moment, but that silky look is pretty nice, too.

A couple of people have mentioned the idea of sets of colors for the shop. I like to let customers choose their own mixes, but I usually dye several colorways at once, with the idea that they will kind of go together. I have a core set of dyes that I really like to use, and so those colors show up again and again in different mixtures and on different fibers. I’ve added links to the Etsy posts for colorways that I think will coordinate, and thought I’d show a few photos of these colors next to each other, to give you some ideas of how to mix your own sets if you like.

There’s the Storm Green and Winter Greys:

And the Sea Green and Winter Greys together:

These two are so similar that it’s really hard to tell that there are two, but that’s the Winter Greys on the inside. If you plied the two colors together, you’d definitely get a single colorway. If you spun them separately, you’d get a subtly different pair.

Whitecaps and Sea and Sky are the same basic dyes in different saturations, so they could easily be spun together:

There are so many combinations, and I’d mix colors differently depending on the kind of yarn I wanted in the end. If you’re ever considering two items in the shop and want a photo of the two together like this, let me know.

We also took pictures of my favorite fall colors roving today. It got left out last time for bad behavior because we just could. not. get the colors right…the reds were too intense for the camera. Today, we used a different lighting setup, and Branden managed to capture it.

Those fiery reds pair really, really well with the Fallow Fields roving that I dyed on the same day:

That’s it for my latest dye day. All the fibers shown are over on Etsy.

I received a box the other day containing these,

so there’s bound to be more color coming soon. I’ve even moved up to 8 oz jars for my favorite dyes now…somehow that feels like entering the big time.