Color Clues, or Why Four Blue Sweaters Isn’t Enough

“Anoth­er blue sweater? You have four of those. Why not get some­thing dif­fer­ent for a change?”

“No, I have navy, corn­flower, Williams­burg, and baby blue sweaters. This one is roy­al blue. That’s total­ly different!”

Okay guys, I know that you thought women were mak­ing up some of the col­or names we use. Char­treuse? Why not say green? And garnet—that’s red, right? What’s this about plum, amethyst, grape, vio­let, mauve, and fuschia all being dif­fer­ent? They’re all pur­ple, aren’t they?

No, real­ly, they aren’t. We don’t make them up just to vex you. They’re all very, very dif­fer­ent, which is why we would nev­er con­sid­er wear­ing brick red lip­stick with a cher­ry red sweater. Ick!

Now there’s help for you. Free help, even!

The Col­or The­saurus can help you fig­ure out what all these words mean, right there! 1 The site pro­vides the RGB val­ues for each col­or, as well as its oppo­site color.

Color Thesaurus

Sam is still out of luck much of the time, as are the part­ners of many long-time needle­work­ers, as the site does­n’t give equiv­a­lent DMC col­ors 2I sup­pose there aren’t that many peo­ple who rou­tine­ly say things like, “It’s the real­ly yel­low one, like DMC 726. That one is more like 744.” DMC has come to his res­cue, though, with that nifty util­i­ty on the bot­tom of the page for typ­ing in a col­or num­ber and get­ting a sam­ple right away.

DMC Color Tool

If DMC col­or ref­er­ences are com­mon in your house­hold, I’d sug­gest acqui­si­tion of a cur­rent3 Col­or Card. The stitch­er in your life will be tick­led to have one, and you’ll have a handy-dandy col­or clue book!

Please note: While the fash­ion indus­try in gen­er­al gets car­ried away with fan­ci­ful col­or names, the cos­met­ics mar­keters assign “col­or” names that bear no rela­tion to col­ors as used any­where else in the known uni­verse. Don’t even both­er try­ing to fig­ure those out. We don’t know, either. “Spring” could be a pale pink lip­stick, a green eye­shad­ow, or a tri­col­or nail kit. Every make-up wear­er I know looks at the col­ors, not the names. 

1 Well, it’ll show you a lot of col­ors, any­way. Gar­net was­n’t in the data­base, but it only failed me that once.

2 There is at least one admirable stitching/computer geek in the world who did cre­ate a DMC/RGB chart, but nobody seems to have any idea as to where it originated.

3 The com­pa­ny pub­lish­es a new ver­sion every few years as they add new col­ors and types of thread.