Once upon a time, not that long ago as the ages are reckoned, I was more than a little intimidated by color. Not being trained as an artist, I knew very little of color theory beyond "mix blue and yellow, get green." The concepts of value and hue, tints and shades, meant nothing to me.
At first, this meant that everything I made was "naturally colored" - white or cream or various shades of brown or grey. It's pretty impossible to go wrong with a neutral palette - right? Eventually, this got a little boring.
Then I took a workshop on color blending from Deb Menz at the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat. She introduced me to the Color Star. With this I could mix colors and know what I was going to get without making a time-consuming and expensive yarn mistake. Deb has since published some great books and videos on color and dyeing. I refer to them regularly.
But sometimes you feel like a stripe, sometimes you don't. Sometimes what I made came out all stripey when I didn't want it to. In another SOAR workshop, Stephanie Gaustad explained this. When you have two (or more) colors of different values, you get stripes; same values, you don't. She shared this helpful hint: hold your yarns in the shadow under a table, if they are both the same gray, then they're the same value. Click. Another piece fell into place. (Stephanie is a great teacher - if you have a chance to take a class from her, you should.)
Finally I took a three-day "Dye Any Color" SOAR workshop from Sarah Lamb. This was a life changing experience. Before that, I had been afraid of dyeing because whenever I tried it the results weren't what I was hoping for. I was not comfortable with a "throw it in the dye pot and see what you get" philosophy. Sarah's carefully controlled approach of weighing, measuring and mixing appealed to me. There's a reason that Quantitative Analysis was my favorite chemistry class in college.
Click. The final cylinder fell into place, like Alan Turing's Bombe machine, the enigma of color was unlocked for me. Now I am no longer afraid of dyeing. I weigh. I measure. And perhaps most important, I sample. I get predictable, reproduceable results. Hallelujah!