02 August 2012

Can we talk about colours ?

I have not been a good blogger for a very long time, and I doubt I will be a good blogger again in the next couple of months either. Too much work, and many family commitments, and no sewing worth mentioning.
I have, however, been knitting. And as can be seen from some of my more recent posts, I've delved into the wonderful world of indie-dyers.
And that is, what I want to talk about.
Because, with independent dyers, you get small dye-lots, and you get variations of colour. Lots of variations. Also, most indie-dyers are not professional photographers, and cannot afford to hire in someone who is.
This leads to some problems, though, and I'm writing this post to try and deal with the elephant in the room that is shop-pictures.
When buying off the internet, you base your choices on the pictures found on the shop-page of who-ever you're trading with. If those pictures are not a fairly accurate representation of the colour you (think) you're buying, you're up the creek.

You might remember this post, how the picture on the dyer's shop-page was a very light, mostly blue and pink yarn, and how I got a very dark, mostly purple and green yarn.
Well, that particular dyer is not alone.
Here is a more recent, and equally glaring example :
Shop picture
My picture of what I got.

The Shop-picture (top, I think) is lifted from the producer's shop-page. Looks very yellow and red to me, with accents of green and blue. Bright, summery colours.

The other picture (bottom, I think), though, is of the skein I actually got. Looks very rust and green to me, with hints of some pinks and some golds (and the picture on my screen is a fair representation when compared to the real thing)

Now, I would dearly love to own more of the yarn I actually got. I love that far more and far better, than the picture on the shop-page (and it knits up beautifully), but ... and this is where it gets tricky.
Let's say I order N skeins of the colour, because I love what I got, but when I get the skeins, they look exactly like the shop-picture. They might look just like the yarn I got before, but since the picture on the shop-page is patently untrustworthy, I have no way of knowing.

Bottom-line is, that I dare not order more of this yarn.
This means, that the producer (an indie-dyer) doesn't get my business (and we're talking shopping in excess of 100 $ here), and I get wary about buying from them again, because, obviously, their pictures are not to be trusted, and when they are not to be trusted, I cannot make the right sort-of decisions, and might 'waste' a lot of $$$ on something I don't want after all.

And yes, I know that the dye-process, particularly when using multiple different colours, can be tricky, but, really? That tricky? I have always thought, that one of the most important factors in dyeing is the water, and the setting-agents, and that changing either of these can play havoc with what you thought you knew about your colours, but, as far as I know, we're talking same dye-studio, and same water-supply, and - presumably - same setting-agents. And to be quite frank : To my eyes, the yarn in the two pictures carries next to no resemblance to each other, and I frankly cannot believe, that we're talking normal variations.

And no, it isn't a stand-alone thing. I've seen similar discrepancies, with practically all the indie-dyers I have bought from, and this leads me to believe, that the common source of error is to be found in the pictures. Now :
 I know, that indie-dyers are (usually) not professional photographers.
I know, that indie-dyers cannot (usually) afford to hire professionals.
I do, however, firmly believe, that indie-dyers can (learn to) calibrate both their own screens and their cameras, can learn to compare the picture on the screen to the yarn in hand, and thus reduce, if not completely do away with, that particular error.
I also firmly believe, that indie-dyers should check each dye-lot up against the picture they have on their shop-page, and if there is a visible difference, upload a new picture, so that their customers know what they're getting into.
Finally, I believe that calibrating screen and camera, and uploading new pictures as often as is appropriate, is a sound business practice for said indie-dyers. Customers will know that the dyer's shop-pictures are trust-worthy, and will not be (as) wary about spending their $$$ there, because they know they'll get what they saw on the screen (and that any variations are minor).

And in case you wondered : Because I buy a lot on the internet (both yarn and fabric), my computer-screen is calibrated as accurately as I can do it, and I spend a lot of time, when I get new fabrics (or yarns), so I am constantly fine-tuning the colour-calibration. Also, my screen is less than 3 years old (and is a mac), so ... I doubt that I'm the problem here.

Can I ask ye indie-dyers who read this, to please, pretty please :
Calibrate your screens!
Take pictures of your yarn in natural light, but not in direct sunshine.
Spend an afternoon fooling around with your camera, so that you know the pictures you take with it are, colour-wise, as accurate as they can be.
Before uploading a new picture of a new dye-lot to your web-shop, check that the picture you plan to use is a fair representation of the product you're selling.

I am confident that you will get more return-customers that way, and that the 'one-time-buyers' will be reduced. Perhaps not mightily, but somewhat.

Thank you.

And just so you know, it isn't just one case, here is another one. More like each other, but still, not nearly as clearly latte-/light-brown and yellow as the shop-picture leads one to believe :
My picture, natural light



ummi AR said...

I think it's more of photo editing in the end gave the final image on producer's site. I'd suggest that before you place an order, you request the dyer to gather your choices and snap a shot for you to view. I recently did the same on Etsy so that my buyer knows exactly what she will pay for.

Jeanne said...

Wishing you a very Happy Birthday!