Friday, October 27, 2006

Virtual Swatching

A squashy little bundle arrived yesterday:

lichen yarn

My first yarn purchase in months (sob), this is destined for the one really ambitious gift on my list. I have enough hard-won self-knowledge to be (somewhat) realistic about the feasibility of grand Christmas intentions, but there is a certain someone who, more than anyone, will intimately appreciate the work and thought involved. (Equally importantly, this person is also the most likely to unconditionally forgive me if life gets in the way of the exact deadline.)

The yarn is fingering weight Romney lambswool from Red Bird Knits in the Lichen colourway. I love the warmth and subtle shading - the plan is to combine it with Sangria from Fleece Artist (also purchased from RBK some time ago):

red and lichen

I want to create a stranded colourwork scarf, utilising some of the fabulously intricate patterns from Anna Zilboorg's Turkish socks book. I had a little crisis of confidence though, because the Lichen has more green than I thought, and the last thing I want is a screamingly "Christmasy" look. I was hoping the gold and brown would complement the red in a rich and subtle mix.

I dug into the stash and came up with an alternative:

red and organge

Pretty, but rather loud (the yellow-orange is even brighter in real life). Also, I will quite possibly require pharmacological sedation if I have to spend any more time with ORANGE right now.

So I turned to my trusty photoeditor for a bit of virtual swatching (this will also answer Judy's question about my process for extracting palettes from photographs.)

First, I used the simulated watercolour function to pixellate the photo:

red and lichen pixellated

This helps me pick individual colours out of the optical mix.

I created a rough approximation of the Lichen palette:

lichen palette

And superimposed a simplified pattern sampled from the reds:

with red patterning

There's no substitute for actual swatching (or in the case of a scarf - beginning) but the approximation does look close enough to my intended effect to make it worth putting the yarn on the needles.