Spoiler alert: Ordinarily I wait to blog a new tsock design until after it has shipped, or even after the first packages have arrived. This one, however, is still a couple of days away from shipping, and I’m blogging it anyway for crass reasons of my own; so if you don’t want to spoil the surprise I suggest you look away immediately after reading the following paragraph. You have been warned.
Crass reasons alert: A couple of weeks ago I did a phone interview with Lara Neel for her Crafty Living podcast at the JournalGazette. That podcast is now live, and it’s… well, I had fun, anyway! Go listen. The tsock will still be here. (Incidentally, if you read her blog post before listening to the podcast, you may want to cut to the chase; the interview starts about 9:35.)
|ow attend and listen, O Best Beloved, for this is a tale of the High and Far-Off Times.|
Some years ago, A Certain Dyer was experimenting with new colorways. She brought fiber samples to a gathering of her friends, in the hope that they would spin them and provide her with feedback. One of these friends - sock designer by day, spinner by night - made grabby-hands at an indeterminate shade that somehow vaguely reminded her of both blackberries and lemonade. This she spun a few days later, with great enjoyment, and she wound off the singles to a storage bobbin. The next morning she looked for this bobbin - sought high and sought low - but it was nowhere to be found. It was quite half an hour before it dawned on her that she had in fact been staring at it all morning and had simply failed to recognize it. No, her memory had not failed her; it was the yarn itself that had changed color. Spun in the evening, under incandescent light, it had been a soft vibrant magenta. Seen in the cold light of morning, it was an unrecognizable deep steel grey. Later, under fluorescent light, it was found to be a murky green.
And this it was that became the first of the Mystical Moose Chameleon colorways.
The original Chameleon Colorway; same fiber, different lights. L-R: Incandescent, Daylight, Fluorescent.
It was the gift that kept on giving, the parlor trick that wouldn’t die. Betty’s been producing freaky-beautiful shade/depth variations on the Mystic colorways ever since, and every time anyone in our crowd sees them, every time we spin or knit with them, every time we show them to someone… we still feel compelled to scurry to a lamp, to a window, to a work light - step indoors! step outdoors! do it again! don’t take your eyes off the fiber! look, look, it’s changing! - and to marvel and laugh like loons. The magic trick just never gets old.
Of course, it was inevitable that such a colorway should eventually trigger a tsock design… a design devoted to things that are not as they seem, to things that are hidden in plain sight.
One thing that was hidden in plain sight, in a way, was the theme itself. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson, last time around, about trying to fool the Muse, right? Hah. Not so much. Not. So. Very. Much.
This time around, I tried to fake myself out of my first idea because it was… oh, you know, just a little far-fetched. I reasoned - the whole point of this is that I’m using a Chameleon yarn, so it should be a tsock about actual Chameleons, yes? So I studied up on Chameleons, which may I say are pretty damned fascinating - went into the subspecies and the varieties and the habits and the characteristics and the behavior and the folklore and generally swam around in Denial (my favorite river in Egypt) for a week or two before I finally faced the fact that… lizards just don’t do it for me. I admire and respect them and all that, and I’m not sorry I boned up on them, not to mention - ooh shiny, pretty colors! But as a tsock theme, or at any rate as THIS tsock theme - not for me. There was just no talking myself into it.
It was with considerable relief that I fell gently back into Plan A, remembering that I had felt the usual jolt of recognition when it first jumped so improbably into my head. You should never never never… well, at any rate, I should never never never never NEVER try to ignore that jolt of recognition.
When it’s right, it’s right. If that means that Right is also A Little Far-Fetched… So be it. After all, it’s not as if we’re not used to that.
You know how they tell you “Do not adjust your monitor”?
Go ahead and adjust your monitor. Tilt it; tilt your head. Shift both side to side.
Remember the eyes of the Mona Lisa? Watch what happens to the shadow animals.
“Where’s Your Breakfast?” uses a Chameleon variant we’re calling “Gaslight” - same Mystic Moose dye technique; same befuddling effect; slightly different shades.
Bit by bit - the Giraffe began it, because his legs were the longest - they went away from the High Veldt. They scuttled for days and days and days till they came to a great forest, ’sclusively full of trees and bushes and stripy, speckly, patchy-blatchy shadows, and there they hid: after another long time, what with standing half in the shade and half out of it, and what with the slippery-slidy shadows of the trees falling on them, the Giraffe grew blotchy, and the Zebra grew stripy; and so, though you could hear them and smell them, you could very seldom see them, and then only when you knew precisely where to look.Rudyard Kipling, Just So Stories;
“How the Leopard Got His Spots”
There are three levels of meta-illusion going on here.
- The patterning is done in Illusion Knitting, so it is only decipherable from certain angles, and otherwise it’s just a series of two-row stripes;
- The Gaslight yarn itself changes colors in different lights, varying the interplay of the illusion striping;
- The second color matches one of the Gaslight shades, so that if you look at the sock under warm incandescent light even the stripes get lost and all you see is a bumpy fabric in one near-solid color.
Two Yarns Under Cold Light
Two Yarns Under Warm Light
Same fabric - L-R: Daylight, Lamplight.
Incidentally, in case you’re wondering whether there’s trick photography at play here? the answer is a resounding YES. You bet. Every single one of these pictures is Photoshopped. The camera - even the super-fancy high-tech digital Nikon I borrowed and could barely heft - just does not see this stuff the way the eye does, and every camera sees it differently, no matter what you do with exposure and light balance. It’s one illusion wrapped in another. So I’ve faked these up to look like what I actually see before me. Your monitor may vary, but so does everything else.
Not so incidentally - that was hard enough with the yarn, but it’s close to impossible with the sock. Illusion knitting. Illusion knitting on a sock. Illusion knitting in weird phototropic colors, on a sock. Illusion knitting in weird phototropic colors, with traveling jogless color changes between stripes (thank you, TechKnitter!), on a sock.
Ah, forget it. I was just gaslighting you anyway. It’s really just a plain purplish sock.
Oh, wait, maybe it’s a plain striped sock.
All that other shadowy stuff, the giraffe, the zebra?
Probably just figments of my fevered imagination. Or… you know… a trick of the light.
“How is it done?”
“Let us up,” said the Zebra, “and we will show you.”
They let the Zebra and the Giraffe get up; and Zebra moved away to some little thorn-bushes where the sunlight fell all stripy, and Giraffe moved off to some tallish trees where the shadows fell all blotchy.
“Now watch” said the Zebra and the Giraffe. “This is the way it’s done. One - two - three! And where’s your breakfast?”
Leopard stared, and Ethiopian stared, but all they could see were stripy shadows and blotched shadows in the forest, but never a sign of Zebra and Giraffe. They had just walked off and hidden themselves in the shadowy forest.