“The only thing constant in life is change.”

I’ve been thinking about this adage a lot in the last week, particularly in light of the discussion surrounding Lamy’s reintroduction of Dark Lilac.

As a knitter, I’m familiar with colors that aren’t quite replicable. For instance, when buying yarn for a project, crafters are always encouraged to purchase enough (extra) skeins at the front end of a project to ensure that the colors match. This is because yarn is dyed in batches, referred to as dye lots. When yarn tags are printed, particularly for commercial yarns (versus independent smaller sellers) the dye lot is often included along with the colorway. And when using skeins from smaller, independent producers we’re often encouraged to alternate skeins every few rows or rounds to prevent stark differences showing up in the finished piece.

The reasons for these differences are many. First, there can be differences in the dyes that are used to apply color to yarn. Chemicals can change over time, or be removed due to health concerns. Even dyes derived from natural elements, like cochineal, can vary over time due to differences in diet or environment. Most dyes are set on fabric and yarns using water. Did you know that the pH level of the water can change how the colors appear? (One of my favorite color expression tricks is that you can change the color of your hydrangeas but adjusting the pH level of the soil!)

Photo from this Reddit thread!

But let’s talk about an inky example. What color is sepia? Ana has joked for years that anyone who comes up to her at a pen show looking for sepia ink has a slightly different color in mind. Sepia ink is created by cuttlefish and squid, in their ink sacs. (The pigment can also be made from dried ink sacs.) But variations in species, environment and diet can create anything from a warm browns, to violet-tinged black brown. There is no one true sepia ink, even you have your own preferred version.

So back to Lamy Dark Lilac, where I started with this. According to @fountainpenmemes on Instagram, Lamy has noted that the red dye they used in the original Dark Lilac is no longer available, so they had to substitute another. There’s also been discussion that the sheen is slightly different as well. This could be due to refraction from the inks, or it may be that other components have changed as well.

So maybe it’s worth thinking of our favorite inks as products of their time, and in “dye lots.” There may be subtle variations from batch to batch, but each may bring their own lovely attributes to the table.

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5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Did you know Octopus gestate up to five years remaining motionless and eat nothing that whole time on the bottom of the ocean before their eggs hatch and then pass on.

  2. So, inks are like people too?
    Blonde hair, lighter on that one than on this one.
    Pug nose here with a honker over there.
    Tone deaf vs musician.
    etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

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