Today’s colour is Hare: a silver-grey, fuzzy-haloed light brown shade.
I take it to the shingle, which is covered in ten million silver-grey and light brown pebbles.
None of which are quite this special colour.
How can there be, in a world where so many things are brown and grey and silver, so few matches for this shade? Intriguing!
Walking with Hare in hand, I comb the beach, marvelling at the vast scope of brown and grey and silver; how many shades exist on this silver-grey, light brown spectrum? It is an infinite number. Hare has moved, in my imagination, from a colour I see everywhere to one that feels as rare, special and elusive as its namesake.
One rock is almost right…
…I return to my silver-grey and light brown pebbles. Many shades of Not-Hare exist in the space where I thought I could see Hare.
I think about the animal whose name inspires this yarn. I’ve only seen Hares a couple of times, but it strikes me that their fur – like this yarn – is neither brown or silver but both these colours at once. It is this elusive brown and silver quality – the ability to look like so many natural textures (wood, tree branches, rocks, dried grasses) that gives the Hare its protective camouflage and ability to elude the canny fox and other predators.
I do not have any Hare fur to hand, but certain sheep share the chromatic qualities of its fur. A fleece of silver and brown that shifts in the landscape, hiding its wearer.
My first hand-spun was made from a Romney/Jacob Cross; the colour is both brown and silver. It is warm and complex and furry. When I pull out the ball from deep stash, it is indeed a close match to Hare. A precious skein of hand-spun Wensleydale from a spinner with more skill than myself, and a sheep with similarly complex, multicoloured wool, is also a match for Hare.
I dig out precious samples of Estonian Native sheep wool that are like clouds of muted grey; silvery hairs; and warm light browns. Hare sits in the fibres as though they are its true chromatic home.
Even in the shifting light of daylight/my studio, Hare seems sometimes brown and sometimes silver-grey; the white balance of my camera is confused.
Contemplating this yarn takes me to when I was first learning how to spin; discovering the glorious possibilities of natural sheepy shades; and learning about the processes, animal husbandry and tools that give us theses magical colours.
This apron was printed by Rachael Matthews for a project called Murder at the Wool Hall (I wrote more about it here). It features a print of James Noble’s Wool Combing Machine and highlights the function, ability and power of the wearer. You put it on to become a kind of wool-combing machine. To my eyes the ink used to create this celebratory wool-worker’s garment is a silvery-grey-brown colour that is very close to Hare.
Back on the shoreline, I walk with Hare in hand and camouflage, fur and feathers in mind. Hare is the colour that would disguise a bird in these branches in winter, denuded of their leafy hiding places…
…that would conceal a rabbit in this thicket.
…that would enable small and brown and furry or feathery things to lurk, unseen, beside these decaying grasses and stems.
Hare can be a teasel…
…but the search to find a matching pebble remains intriguingly tricksome.
Weathered, salt-worn wood lies all along the seashore. There is silver and there is grey, but very few bits are truly the colour of Hare. A palette of old pallets yields little Hare from its plethora of Hare-adjacent shades.
But one lovely old boat, once painted brown, speaks – in its pointy, weathered prow – to this shade.
Truly, Hare acts like a Colour Compass, pointing me North to an elusive silvery brown grey place that proves hard to pinpoint on a map.
Following where it points, I am reevaluating my assumptions about the colours of stones, of wood, of old grasses blown brown by the cold. And falling in love with the complex colours of the living world and of the creatures who use colour to hide and survive in its surfaces and textures – be they ruminants, or rodents; birds, or leporids.
On what silvery grey brown travels will you let Hare take you?
These posts coincide with the KDD & Co. Colour Compass advent calendars. Each day, throughout December I’ll be opening my calendar beside you, and exploring the yarn shade that is revealed for that day. Read more about these posts here, and prepare for a few weeks of polychromatic fun as we discover the shades together and revel in their suggestive associations and creative possibilities together! Even if you don’t have a calendar, I hope you’ll love exploring colours with me, and thinking about each shade as it appears, and how it is connected with the everyday colours of your life.