Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Is It the Light Or Is It My Eyes?

I wanted thread to match the yarn I'm knitting with right now, so I dug through my sewing stuff and found a spool I hoped might work. It was not quite right, the color was a little too flat and gray, maybe leaned a little more towards red tones than the hinting-green blue of the yarn.

Thinking I'd stuck a sample in my purse, I went to JoAnn's to find a better match. Of course, when I got to the thread display, there was no sample yarn in my purse. Evil language!

I have a pretty good color memory, though, so I looked through all the similar blues in Coats and Clark. Found one that was a maybe, but I wasn't happy with it, so I moved on to the Gutermann rack.

Wham, bam, found it ma'am.

Bought it, took it home, put it next to my yarn, and did the success fist pump and grunt. Got it!

I was so tickled at my long distance color matching that when I come downstairs I brought the yarn and thread with me so I could scan it and admire my own mad skillz.

My jaw dropped when I saw the scan. The colors looked nothing alike.

I ransacked some of the less likely spots I might have stashed a spool of thread and came up with one more candidate, but upstairs, in natural sunlight, it looked too green.

So, nerd that I am, I decided to conduct a scientific experiment. My results are below.

Natural sunlight:

Scanner illumination:

Incandescent light:

Fluorescent light:

The camera doesn't lie. It records the light that falls on its sensor - within its limitations.

It's amazing the way the human eye compensates for differing wavelengths and intensities of light. The yarn and threads looked about the same to me in all instances.

So how should you cope with chameleon color?

Consider where the item will be seen for the most part: in the office under the fluorescents; at home in the evening incandescent; outside on a sunny afternoon - and don't forget the quality of natural light changes depending upon the time of day, season and weather conditions. If I have two items to compare, I will usually carry them to a window if possible just to make sure the store lighting isn't playing tricks on me.

One sure bet, I won't be sitting on a scanner when I'm wearing my colors...


KC said...

That is amazing! What are you making that you need thread?

Kate said...

What an interesting observation! That was cool.

PS: I hope you're working on Bad Dog's sweater :) He looks great in blue. hee- hee.

Wunx~ said...

Somebody still hasn't given me GoodDog's measurements...