Color, photography, and monitors.

We’ve all had it happen. We order something online.  We excitedly wait with anticipation. It arrives…  and it’s not the color we expected it would be.
Sometimes it’s just a happy accident, and it’s not a big deal. Sometimes it is a disappointment.

When we are disappointed with the color of yarn we ordered online, it usually goes into the stash or gets destashed. Neither of which is anywhere as satisfying as sitting down in a comfy spot and happily starting a project.  “Color not as expected” is the number one reason I have returned yarn purchased online, and I’m sure I am not alone.

There are several different places where color can go wrong:

1. The camera doesn’t capture the color correctly (poor lighting, unsuitable camera, distracting backdrop, etc. Reds and pinks are particularly difficult.)
2. The photoediting software (if any is even used) doesn’t interpret the color information from the camera correctly
3. A color correction process isn’t used while photoediting
4. Attempts at color correction are thwarted by editor’s uncalibrated monitor
5. The viewer’s uncalibrated monitor, display or phone displays the incorrect color
6. The viewer’s eyes just aren’t interpreting the color the same way the seller is interpreting and communicating it (“That’s isn’t green to me, it’s teal.”)

When you are selling yarn, color control is absolutely critical.  Big commercial yarn companies have textile engineers to control color specifications, and graphic designers to control their color communication. Unfortunately, small indie dyers usually do not have either of these kinds of professionals working for them full time.  However, there are many ways that dyers can better control and communicate color. A small number of dyers do enhance their photos to make their products seem more appealing than they actually are (usually more saturated and eye-catching). Much more commonly, dyers just don’t know how, don’t want to spend the time, don’t prioritize this, or don’t have the tools available to do so.

We don’t have control over over how an image displays on a customer’s monitor, or is interpreted by their eyes or brain. However, we do have some control over all the steps that lead up to that point.  We spend a great deal of time ensuring that we do our very best to capture and communicate accurate color on our website. We capture all images with a DSLR camera under good lighting conditions, and use a color calibration chart. We calibrate our RAW images with color control software. We calibrate our monitors before we do color correction. We use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to edit our photos appropriately.  We upload our photos to the website with adequate resolution.

We certainly don’t expect our customers to have calibrated monitors to do their shopping. A lot of people shop on their phones now too.  There is a company named Pantone that produces color reference swatchbooks. They also have great phone apps for iPhone and Android (Very reasonable $7.99). It allows people to each look up the color they are talking about and “see” the same color. So when I say “Pantone 320”, you know it’s a saturated medium turquoise. This is super useful for people who need to specify color. It’s meant for professionals in the printing, textile and graphic design industries, but anyone can use it. We have the big Pantone guide and are happy to provide the numbers for any yarn you have questions about.

We want you to be happy with your yarn. By capturing and communicating color as well as we possibly can, we minimize the chance that you will get a product that doesn’t match your expectations. That being said, if you ever are less than 100% happy with your order, just let us know right away and send it back within 30 days. We’ll either find something that better suits you, or send you a refund in accordance with our refund policy.

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