Color Choice, Design, and all that Jazz

Now that all the pride octopi have been re-listed, I wanted to take some time to talk about some of what goes into the design process for these little guys and why some of them took so much longer than others to complete.

Full disclosure, I won’t be talking about the shape of the octopi here. These are actually made off a pattern by Sarah Hearn of EssHaych. I realized recently that the link I originally posted isn’t valid anymore, and it’s been a while since I’ve talked about this, so here’s an updated (Ravelry) link for the pattern. It’s great, and if you crochet, I highly suggest you check it out. What I’d like to talk about here, though, is color choice.

The basic template for my pride octopi is pretty simple: light gray head, tentacles in the colors of the pride flag they’re meant to represent. For a few of my octopi, that really is the beginning and end of the discussion. However, I also do it so there is exactly one color per tentacle, which means for pride flags that don’t have four or eight colors, I have to get a bit creative to color all eight tentacles in a way that still reads as whatever flag they’re supposed to represent. Most of the time I’ll do this by fudging the number of tentacles which are each color. For some, like my original gay and lesbian octopi, I actually added colors.

My original gay pride octopus is actually a really good example of how I’m sometimes not the best at this, and is one that I’ve wanted to redesign for a really long time. The gay pride flag is a six color rainbow, so I added in black and white to bring it up to eight. Which, on it’s own, is fine, except black and white (I found out later) also happen to be the straight pride colors, and I had positioned them in the front of the octopus, and that was just a really weird vibe. For the redesign, I switched out the white for a nice brown to evoke the racially inclusive pride flag instead and repositioned the tentacles so from the front you can still see the brown stripe, and it showcases more of the rainbow. I’m a lot happier with the new version.

The other major factor that affects my color choice is color availability. At this time (and for the foreseeable future), I do not dye my own yarn. As such, if I need a specific shade of a specific color, then I need to buy yarn in that shade. While most of the pride octopi use very common yarn colors, there are a couple where that doesn’t really work. That’s actually why the omnisexual octopus was one of the last ones I finished; I was trying to find a worsted weight yarn that matched that light blue.

The last specific octopus I want to talk about is the lesbian octopus. This is the one that changed the most in the redesign because I actually switched the flag I was using. My original lesbian octopus was based off the very pink or “lipstick” lesbian flag. When I was first creating the pride octopi, that was the most widely used lesbian pride flag. However, that one is fairly controversial for reasons that I am in no way qualified to get into, so when it came time to do the redesign, I didn’t want to just do a blind color swap. I did a bit of research and found another common lesbian pride flag is the one designed by Emily Gwen, which I’ve also seen referred to as the sunset lesbian flag. I wound up using the five stripe variant, primarily because finding two specific red-ish oranges and two specific purple-ish pinks in the span of a couple weeks was challenging enough. I probably wouldn’t have been able to get this done in January if I’d gone for the full seven. Regardless, five stripes or seven, I think this flag is absolutely gorgeous, and I really love the way the octopus turned out.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading as I rambled about color for several paragraphs. I think it’s really cool how a set of colors can come together and form something really meaningful, and I try to do that justice in my work. I hope that I’ve succeeded and that I can continue to improve in the years to come.

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