kinds of blue

I’ve recently been enjoying designing blue things.

This is my new shawl – Traigh – which works so well with Tarbet, one of our new shades of Milarrochy Tweed.

Tarbet is a glorious mid blue with lots of colourful tweed neps, which make it really interesting. This rich, complex, maritime blue is my new obsession. . .

It’s the colour of Balmaha, my current favourite sweater.

. . . and it also features in another new garment design which I can’t show you yet (but will very soon). Whatever it is about Tarbet, many of you clearly feel similarly about it, because no sooner do we receive new stock in the shop than sell out. (If you’ve missed out on our recent restocks worry not: a very large yarn delivery is imminent which should satisfy everyone’s Tarbet needs)

The designs I’ve been working on in recent months will soon be gathered into a small, capsule collection. And as well as featuring in my choice of yarn, blue is definitely a theme in the collection’s photography and styling. I don’t think you can argue with an indigo striped sleeve.


And pale blue chambrays always conjure summertime for me.

(Polkagris Kerchief)

I often find discussions of colour frustratingly generic. When I read that blue is humanity’s favourite colour, or that blue features on 53% of the world’s flags, I just want to shout, but which blue? Blue can be so many things!

Blue can evoke melancholy, or it can signify excess. In German, blue suggests drunkenness; for Brits of a certain generation, an obscene joke will always be a blue one, and for Australians, blue can mean an argument. You can scream blue murder, or you can have the blues.

There’s no getting away from blue’s ubiquity, or to some extent, its conservatism. I think of Thatcher, top to toe in Tory blue, of the royal blues of Diana, of the soft blue Victoriana of 1980s Liberty and Laura Ashley.

Blues for me have always been highly specific. When I was developing Buachaille, I had an obsession with very flat, pale-ish mid-toned blues that looked great in two-tone colourwork. I called the blue that I came up with Between Weathers.

(Stranded Pawkies)

I love the way Between Weathers works with white.

(Goats of Inversnaid)

And I love it on its own.


I find myself continually returning to blues and whites in stranded colourwork . . .

(Funchal Moebius, 2011)

(Caller Herrin snood, 2017)

And a deep solid inky blue – Moonlicht Nicht – features in one of my all-time favourite designs, the Oa hoody, from my Inspired by Islay collection,

Moonlicht Nicht is a wonderful very, very, very, very dark shade of blue that often makes me think of Father Ted:

Dougal: “I read an article about priest’s socks, that priest’s socks are blacker than any other socks.”
Ted: “That’s right, Dougal. Sometimes you see lay people wearing apparently black socks, but if you look closely, they are really very, very, very very dark blue.”

Yet I gravitate towards pale, creamy blues just as much as deep dark ones. Smirr – one of four blues in my Milarrochy Tweed palette – is particularly delicious.

I designed the winter colourway of the Craigallian hat around Smirr, and found myself wearing that sample a lot last year.

The touchstone for the design of my Strathendrick sweater . . .

was Milarrochy’s Lochan shade . . .

And yet, if you asked me objectively to state my favourite shade in the palette, I might well gravitate towards Ardlui – a blue I’ve never yet foregrounded in one of my designs.

Perhaps Ardlui will at some point have its moment. Because Tarbet isn’t vacating the blue space in my design brain anytime soon!

Anyway, I’m interested: do you have a favourite kind of blue? How would you describe it?