A blue by any other name

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I get all sorts of interesting emails from my customers.  This morning, I received an interesting question that sparked off a delightful inquiry.  I hope you’ll enjoy the results as much as I did.

The question: “On the Falk Dalegarn yarn, what blue should I use if I am knitting a hat with the Dutch flag colors?”

The inquiry: As usual, it starts out at Google.com. Searching for “Dutch flag”, I’m promptly led to the Wikipedia page “Flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands”  (thank goodness for redirection) where I find exactly what I was hoping for – the RGB (red/green/blue) numbers used to generate the “official” Dutch blue.  For all you die-hard do-it-yourselfers out there, it’s 33-70-139.  Microsoft has a nifty tool for customizing colors in its Excel spreadsheets and I used Excel with that Wikipedia RGB recipe to generate a swatch of this allegedly  “official” Dutch blue.  Then, I pulled out a ball of each of the Falk yarn blues that looked like close contenders, held them each up to the swatch on my monitor, scratched my head in disbelief, changed the lighting around, tried it again, more scratching, printed out the swatch, held it and the yarns up to the light, shook my head, took everything outside into natural light, came back inside and had a good laugh.

The nominees for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Colorful Role were: Electric Blue, Deep Blue, Navy Blue, Norwegian Blue and Indigo…and the award for a perfect portrayal as the official Dutch Blue goes to…surprise…Norwegian Blue!!

Dutch Blue per Wikipedia

Dale Norwegian Blue #5744 portraying the official Dutch Blue

Of course, now that Dale of Norway’s Norwegian Blue is in the spotlight, aren’t you dying to know the whole scoop on the real Norwegian Blue of the Norwegian flag, too?  Back to Wikipedia, this time for the RGB numbers for the Norwegian flag’s blue:  00-28-68.  And just which Falk yarn color do you suppose matches the Norwegian flag’s blue?  Norwegian Blue?  Oh, come on, you know better than to fall for that!  Okay, here’s a hint:

Norwegian Flag on Wikipedia

Sorry, folks, but it looks like the Falk (or Heilo) color that’s the closest match to the blue of the Norwegian flag is Navy blue #5563.

Naturally, it’s tempting to wonder “Why the heck can’t they get these simple things right?!”  I’ve often thought it would be nice if yarn companies and, really, anybody else who’s selling anything in an array of colors, would provide a standardized way of letting us all know precisely what colors we’re seeing, whether it’s on-line or in the store, before something entirely unexpected shows up in our closets. RGB, CMYK, Pantone, I don’t care – just let me know what I’m looking at!  Then again, it’s those subtle differences from one shade to another that can make one yarn (or fabric, or paint, or just about anything) “just the ticket” and another one just so-so.  Surely, no company wants to give away the secrets behind a successful color range.  Can’t blame ’em!

And, it’s not just the yarn companies that have trouble keeping their colors straight.  Thinking a little further into my customer’s Dutch flag color question, I figured  we needed a much better name for the Dutch blue than “Norwegian blue” (yikes!)  The same Wikipedia article mentions that the Dutch blue, which you will remember is RGB 33-70-139, is “officially” called “Cobalt Blue”.  But if we know anything at all, we know to be skeptical of any of these labels…right?  So, what does the Wiki page on Cobalt Blue give for the RGB number?  I know, it would be sensible to think that it’s the same “official” Cobalt Blue number referred to on the Dutch Flag page, wouldn’t it? But, yep, you guessed it, it’s something a bit different!  Dale of Norway would call this Cobalt Blue “Electric Blue!”

Cobalt blue per Wiki RGB

Cobalt Blue equals Electric Blue

The moral of the story?  Stick with the numbers! And that’s “official”!

😉

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About twostrands

Knitting designer, retailer and instructor specializing in Fair Isle and Nordic design. Website = kidsknits.com Blog = twostrands.com.
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One Response to A blue by any other name

  1. Cheryl says:

    At least they all have “blue” somewhere in the name. What makes me crazy is when yarn companies name a color something totatlly obscure like “whisper” ;-p

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