Saturday, June 27, 2009

Color Beautiful

I've been admiring my skein of Rook-y Silk Thread 2 that showed up yesterday, and as I look at it I think it may represent everything I love about color.

(Disclaimer: I have no education in color. I'm not an artist. I'm a science geek that likes lots of different things, and sometimes tries to reconcile it with the facts and figures that I may or may not be remembering accurately.)

(Disclaimer #2: I didn't sleep last night because some morons downstairs decided to assemble furniture until 1am, and that of course kept all of us up. I may be rambling just a tiny bit...)

As I've been becoming more and more of a knitter, I've determined that I have to knit what I like, both in pattern and in color. I'd love to have some nice warm mittens for myself, but I just don't really like knitting mittens. I love knit socks, but I don't have the patience for knitting them lately (not to mention that the combination of small needles and tight gauge aggravates my hands). So, I try to only work on patterns that I enjoy, that relax me, which for me does include complicated lace, strangely enough.

The color aspect also figures heavily in my enjoyment of a piece. From a young age, I always loved bright, multicolored things. I was all about the rainbow belts, sparkly t-shirts, and of course make-up well before I should've been wearing it. Make-up artist is my back-up career, and I've loved playing with color. I used to yearn for anything irridescent - fairies with those plastic rainbow wings, costumes with black irridescent beads. I can still spend hours gazing at soap bubbles, watching the swirls of color move back and forth, needing to get close up to see the intensity of the different hues.

I don't claim to know the difference, but I have a few friends that are painters, and I know from my science background that there's a difference between how color is perceived in pigments versus colored light. I have very basic knowledge from highschool and college physics, and I know that pigments reflect/absorb light differently. One thing that always stuck with me, though, was from an advanced histology course I took in university, and I think of it when I look at Rook-y, or at any of the Raven series from BMFA.

It was about the structure of feathers.

(and again, I apologize if I'm oversimplifying, or if I'm wrong; this is what I remember about that series of lectures)

Feathers are composed of a protein, keratin. In their natural state, the color of a feather is a result of reflected light that depends on the protein crystal structure. It's not pigment - the beautiful, intense, irridescence that we see on feathers, particularly the gorgeous greens and blues that shine on black feathers, is light. To me, that was the neatest, coolest effect I'd ever learned about, since I always thought that we can only get intense colors from pigment. I also loved the fact that this gorgeous effect was 'constructed' from light.

So, to me, that makes this yarn even more beautiful, and it makes me appreciate the skills of our hand dyers even more. I think the silk takes dye more intensely, but still has that lovely sheen. It really does look like they took feathers and spun them into silk. How Tina managed to capture light in her dye, I'll never know.

I'm really looking forward to tackling this project once the Shipwreck is done. I won't even wind the yarn until that point, though; it's just too beautiful to resist.

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