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!

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