Monday, December 8, 2014

Color as a Spoon

"Do not try and bend the spoon, that's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth...there is no spoon. Then you will see it is not the spoon that bends; it is only yourself."
-Spoon Boy from The Matrix

So I'm making this insanely gorgeous mandala as a pillow topper.  It is Sophie's Garden, by Dedri Uys.

Picture from Dedri's Website,

So intricate!  So many choices for color and texture!  I had selected five colors for this: Magenta, Ultraviolet, Turquoise, Forest, and a gradient blue that shaded from Baby Blue to Periwinkle.  Before I began, I planned out each color placement.  I shamelessly stalked other Raveler's project pages and made copious notes about how and where they placed their colors and what effect that had on the overall picture.  I PM'd a few of them to ask about colors, gauges, yarns.  It was a frenzy of planning and project design.

None of which mattered in the end, of course, bc on Row 6, I switched colors when my plan was to stay with the Magenta for another row.  It looked ok, but then this pattern makes everything look fab.  However, now my color sequence was off and I entered the mysterious and dangerous realm of selecting colors on the fly.  (They say there are elves there, and other creatures powerful and magic.)  Oh, my!

(It's at this point that I add Lilac, bc, according to color theory, Lilac "matches" my color palette.)

I have a confession to make.  Unless it's a tonal (analogous) color scheme, I get very nervous around color palettes.  Yes, I know I dye yarn, and that takes a solid grasp of color theory to pull off.  But coming up with new inspirations for color combinations is challenging and a bit scary.  Me and my color wheel spend a lot of time together; I gaze at it like a medium gazing at a crystal ball.  What will the future hold for me if I put this together with that?  I have no less than three color paletting apps on my iPad.  I plug in color A, and the apps pull color candidates B, C, and D, out of thin air.

It's all color theory. And color theory is, if not outright wrong, then at least incomplete.

As I was working on the last few rows of this magnificent color extravaganza that is Sophie's Garden, it struck me that one of the reasons I find color palettes so intimidating is that color theory is analytic in nature.  Color theory can tell you a few things about the visible band of the electromagnetic spectrum.  Color theorists talk about things like "the additive properties of color" or arbitrarily decide that "blue" is "primary", whatever that really means.

I realized what color theory is missing is the social/cultural *effect* of color.  The culture of color, you ask?  I'm talking about the facet of color that is not "real".  It's not electromagnetic.  It's *inside* us.  It is not the spoon that bends, it is us. And therein lies my discomfort.  What do I know about culture?  I don't even watch TV!

EXAMPLE:  In color theory, if you add Peach to Sage you are supposed to get vibrating eyeballs.  But culturally, this combo is "fashion forward".  It makes me "feel" something - comfortable and elegant, with a sense of being daring, like coloring outside the lines.

So remember I'm on the last few rows of the Garden.  I've fallen down the deep hole that is my comfort zone - the analogous color scheme.  Culturally, my Garden is beginning to look like My Little Pony. (This happens to me a lot - color theory suckers me into selecting lilac, purple, and periwinkle and BAM!, there's that damn Pony again!)

It's taken me three days to do the last 6 rows and I really don't want to frog it.  I am on the last row.  Clearly I need to select a color that will change this from gushy 5-year-old to something that "feels" more mature and worldly.

I chose to go back to the green.  Color theory doesn't like green here, bc it's not in the all-important complement or split-complement places.  But it "feels" more like a natural garden:

Here's my finished Garden:


Back (uses Dedri's Cable Cross pattern)

Kudos to Dedri Uys for such an awesome pattern!  It was a joy to follow.  The pattern uses almost every crochet stitch I've ever heard of: chain, single, half-double, double, triple, double-triple, through the back loop, the front loop, both loops, around the front post, around the back post, clusters, popcorns, and picots!  Whew!!!  I'd never have made it without Dedri's detailed notes.  Still, I got this!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Hiatus or, How Giant Rats Ate My Car

So you may be wondering what happened to my shop. There was yarn, now there's not.  Well, there's a story.

To understand the background, I need to take you on a tour of my house turned indie yarn operation.

Kitchen: The dye studio.  The dye studio itself took up all of my kitchen counters, as well as the breakfast room table, two cabinets, and a drawer.

Living Room:  Shipping boxes, boxes of stock, boxes of dyes, samples of yarn in various color combos, even a few beads.

Hall bathroom: The drying room - drying yarn hung on the entire length of the shower curtain rod.  Dry yarn waiting to be photographed filled sacks on the floor.  Fortunately I have another bathroom, bc this one was not usable for moi toilette.

Bedroom: Double vertical swift and electric skein winder took up 8 linear feet of space across the back wall. All photo shoots took place in a light tent placed on the bed (bc the bed is the only horizontal surface in my house not covered by yarny stuff.)  Bc this was the photo studio, there were lights, props, and tripods everywhere.

Spare bedroom: Yarn.  Floor to ceiling.  I squeezed the knitting machine in here (used for making gradient blanks).

Second spare bedroom: Office.  Here was billing, marketing, shipping, customer service, photo post-processing, packaging, and labeling.

That concludes the tour of my house. I was strolling along, dyeing yarn, taking photos, shipping, etc. and TRIPPING OVER EVERYTHING!!!  I couldn't inhale without bumping into yarny stuff.

So I decided to move everything I could into the garage. This was the beginning of The Hiatus.  This must have been around May. I took a few weeks off from dyeing yarn to sort, toss, donate, and reorganize half of the garage.  This was a mammoth undertaking as the garage was stuffed with junk.

I moved the car out of the garage and into the driveway.  A trip to Ikea netted me some sturdy shelves and storage bins.   I started moving yarn, dyes, etc into the garage, filling up the nice bins with the tools of the trade, which I then placed on the nice shelves.  Everything began to look so tidy.  I rediscovered the kitchen countertops.  Dreams of an uncluttered bedroom began to swim in my head.  I even envisioned having enough indoor space to have actual guests over to my house for tea or something.

Then came the VERY. BAD. NEWS.

While my car was parked in the driveway, giant rats came and ate the electrical system.  I know they were giant rats bc a) I've seen one, and b) my neighbor (handyman for hire) was hired by the realty company to clean out a property on my block infested with, you guessed it, giant rats.  Now, these rats aren't *in* my house or garage.  They are out there, and I am in here.  My car was perfectly safe when it was in the garage.  But on the driveway, the rats had a feast.  I never knew electrical wiring could be so tasty.

Anyway, the giant rats did over $6500 in damage.  The entire electrical system had to be replaced.  This is a Prius, a hybrid battery/fuel vehicle, so there's more electrical system than normal.  Furthermore, the parts had to be shipped in from Japan.  My car was in the shop for a month.  There was a nasty drama in my family over who was going to have to help me get around.

At this point, I was kind of traumatized.  I spent that month knitting furiously, still on hiatus.  Knitting is calming, right?  Meanwhile, the car finally came home.  It can't stay out on the driveway.  I can't afford another electrical system.  So it went back in the garage.  Now I can't get to my nice bins on my nice shelves.  So there everything has stayed as I decide what to do.

I still haven't ruled out making the herculean effort to move it all back indoors, but I can tell you I'm not up for it right now.  Now is a good time to take inventory and close out the year-end books, so I've put the etsy site on "vacation" while I do that.  I'm also making some other changes in my space to make it possible to begin again if I decide to do that.  There's still a lot of cosmos to explore, so we'll see.

I want to close by offering up thanks to all of you who supported Alcidina over the last three years.  I am grateful for all of you, with special thanks going to Kim (who designed the graphics and is my secret color consultant), Sharon (whose advice and enthusiasm made all the difference), and Sarah (who helped spread the word).

Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us - there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height.  We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.
The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding.  Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home...In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider.  They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival.   
I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.
- Carl Sagan, Cosmos 

Enjoy the cosmos!

Monday, December 16, 2013

New colorways! Knitalong! Sale!

There is a lot happening in the Alcidina dye studio.  I'm very pleased to announce five new colorways in the Intensity series. 

The rest of the Intensity series has been renamed and restocked.  The renaming allowed me to show off some stunning Spitzer Space Telescope images, as well as highlight some favorites from the Hubble Space Telescope. 

I've got each colorway dyed up on both Intensity 150 (100% merino, 6-ply, 750yd/150g) and Lightyears LF (100% merino, 3-ply, 490yd/100g) in support of the January knitalong at Alcidina on Ravelry.  Featuring colorful patterns for wrist warmers and cowls, the knitalong runs the entire month of January.  A a $25 prize will be awaiting one lucky participant!

And, in support of the knitalong, all Intensity 150 and Lightyears LF skeins are on sale from December 17th, 2013 through January 13th, 2014.  Intensity 150 skeins are marked down $5/skein, and Lightyears LF skeins are marked down $3/skein.  The sale price is already included on the listing, no coupon code needed.

Enjoy the cosmos!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Food For Thought

Every so often I find something on the internet that is cause for pause.  It could be something ridiculous, or amazing, or baffling, right or wrong, flippant or chipper.  Something about the link makes me stop for a moment and either retch or rejoice.  I usually only share these with my pen pal, Kim, but today I've decided to cull through some of the "FFT's" (food for thought) and post them here.    The headings are what I think of when I see the image.

"Orbital Mechanics"
International Space Station Expedition 30 astronaut Don Pettit uses knitting needles and water droplets to demonstrate physics in space

from Rie Hosokai's Feverish Fashion blog

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Two prize packages!

I'm so excited about the yarn give-away happening on Veronika's YarnOnTheHouse blog!  There are two prize packages - one in laceweight and one in sock yarns!  AND!  There are two skeins of Alcidina art yarns in each prize package!

The prize giveaway is running all week.  Check YarnOnTheHouse for details!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tie-dye and blankets

I worked feverishly in February to finish a blanket for my sister for her birthday.  I had made her one about 10 years ago, which now looks like a 10 year-old well-loved blanket.  So I decided this was the year to knit her another one. I used the machine for the main panels, and hand crocheted the edges.

Sampler Blanket

Speaking of my sister, we had a marathon tie-dyeing session last week.  Mostly we dyed t-shirts, but we also made some lovely sheet sets, too.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Want to travel to space?

Virgin Galactic has sold out their initial offering of the first 500 seats on SpaceShipTwo, a sub-orbital craft expected to begin regular service to space in 2016.
“Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson revealed that the company has now accepted deposits for suborbital flights on SpaceShipTwo from 529 future astronauts, a number greater than the total count of people who have been to space throughout human history.”
The price for being one of these pioneers was $200K USD. However, reservations for future sub-orbital flights are expected to be $20K. Orbital flights are also being planned.
I’m borrowing today’s gankimage from the Mars Society’s Facebook Page:
If you missed out on one of Virgin Galactic’s premiere seats, there’s still time to head out to West Texas and hitch a ride on Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew capsule. Founded by Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin keeps a low profile. After three successful launches in recent years, Blue Origin suffered their first real setback in 2011 with an unsuccessful launch. News of Blue’s current itinerary is sketchy, although they announced successful completion of a System Requirements Review (SRR) in May, 2012. According to the press release:
Blue Origin is maturing the design of the Space Vehicle in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under the agency’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. The (SRR) review assessed the Space Vehicle’s ability to meet safety and mission requirements, and evaluated the technical readiness of the design, the concept of operations, the feasibility of project development plans, and planned verification activities. The review also included results from recently completed wind tunnel tests of the biconic shape, validating the vehicle’s aerodynamic design, stability and cross-range.
The New Shepard is a vertical launch assembly, currently using the Atlas V rocket. Think Apollo, Gemini, Galilleo, and the Shuttle. By contrast, it should be noted that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo uses an in-flight launch system - jetting off from a heavy-lift aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, propelled by a stage rocket called LauncherOne. If you saw the June launch of NuSTAR 1 from the carrier aircraft, Stargazer, you’ll have an idea of how WhiteKnightTwo operates.

Apropos of nothing, NuSTAR was launched from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Which incidentally happens to be where I grew up.

Both Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are now hiring.

  1. NuSTAR is the first focusing telescope to image the sky in the high energy X-ray (6 - 79 keV) region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Its initial mission is to take a census of collapsed stars and black holes and map material in young supernovae, among other objectives.