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Colour and Mood

Written by Merlene Paynter


Posted on October 01 2019


I absolutely love colour. From the subtle pinks of a rose to the deep blues of the ocean, colour really sparks joy.

When I was a teenager I used colour, or rather, the lack of colour to remain unnoticed at school. I wore black or grey most of the time, a trend that continued into my twenties as a young mom.

I was about thirty when I started realizing that the depression, especially seasonal depression, I was sometimes bogged down under could be lifted, at least a little, by colours.

We've probably all heard about the psychology of colours, how red can make you angry or hungry. How most of the big fast-food changes use bold red, orange and yellow in their logos and marketing. That dark blue is trustworthy. But I had never heard anywhere that colour could impact your mood but I learned for myself that it really can.

I'm prone to seasonal depression which usually hits me in November when the lovely fall colours have been replaced by drab browns and greys. When the days are short and often overcast.

A few years ago, after making the connection between colour and mood in my battle with depression, I decided to do an experiment. Instead of wearing the usual black or charcoal grey winter coat styles I had worn for most of my life I got a white winter coat. I wore it with brightly coloured accessories: scarves in pinks and yellows. Cowls in purples, reds or oranges. 

I realized I felt a little spark of happiness instead of dread when I was getting bundled up to go outside during the winter months. Aha! my theory was proved correct. I've continued this trend for many winters now, and although I do wear a black coat these days because you cannot have 125lb dog and keep a white coat white for long, I realized that as long as I pop some colour on with a shawl or cowl, it brightens up my outlook even when I'm not consciously thinking about the colours I'm wearing that day.

Fiesta ware dishesThese days I've learned that the more colours I surround myself with that give me that spark of joy, the better I feel overall. I've replaced all of my boring white dishes and mugs with bright Fiesta ware dishes in every colour.

I've also started buying art and furniture in colours that make me happy. I'm sure it's not to everyone's taste, but when I look at the colours in this print (Signal Hill by Newfoundland artist Adam Young) I feel that spark of joy that brightens up my mood.

Colourful chair and artWhen I saw this gorgeous grassy green velvet chair I just had to add it to my living space and even subliminally it's sparking that moment of joy when I look at it.

When I learned to dye yarn it's taking those colourful sparks of joy to another level.

Mixing colourful dye powders with water, heat, acid and wool to create unique colourways of yarn is magical to me.

Then to see the colourful twists of colourful yarn go out into the hands of the buyers knowing they'll be made into something that will spark some joy, even subconsciously, for the person doing the knitting and crocheting is astonishing. And then to think that the finished project might be then gifted so yet another person... and that even more people will see those knitted or crocheted magically colourful strands of yarns, and may also feel a brief spark of joy... it just multiplies the joy of that colour, that spark of happiness, and brightens up everything around me.

So what are your favourite colours to knit or wear? Do they change with the seasons or the years? Do you find that colours can elevate your mood?