Jan 4, 2014

D229: Humans can't do random

From what I understand, it's really hard for humans to do random things, even moreso to organise things randomly. We're just inclined to create patterns and repetition, make links and meaning. And it's hard to clear your head and just...blaaah.

With these colours, I want the appearance of random. But I'm pretty sure if I actually tried to do it randomly (i.e. without planning) I'd end up with an imbalance or pattern in there somewhere. So this is me planning random.

Each pattern has been labeled A, B, C or D and I made a sequence that mixed them up fairly evenly.

A B C D  A D C B  D C B A  C D A B  A D B C  A C B D  B C D A  C A D B
My four-patch chevron 'phrase'.

It's a four-patch phrase: The chevron pattern uses four colours make one 'point' as a set. (I'm calling mine upwards points.)

And then I realised something. Colours will reveal patterns much better than letters! So I drew out what I had and realised it was horribly clustered. I redrew it twice more, using the sequence above in various ways. Then twice more using colours.

It was relatively easy to get a balanced pattern for a short 16-piece strip, but with a longer set it was hard. I instinctively want to have 'one of each' in each point to balance the patterns along the strip, and even wanted an equal number of each pattern in the top and bottom rows. (Yeah, I soooo wanted random.)

However there are only so many ways I can mix up with phrase without creating repetition across the points. I even thought of repeating the short phrase, but that's not random enough for me. The best I can do is evenly space the pattern clusters.

The bottom line of all that is I stumbled back at the starting gate*: creating 'randomness' and evenness is pretty much impossible when you've got four things in a four-part phrase. The real solution for me is to have more patterns. But we're beyond that point. Decisions must be made.
So tip of the day, folks: when planning a 'randomly-coloured' geometric quilt pattern, begin with noting the number of units in your pattern (your tile). The number of colours you want to work with should be a different number.

We have a winner!
My solution for this was to make a eight 4-square units. Each colour appears in each position twice. I shuffled them around until I was happy with the balance. And there is, in the end, a pattern. Can you spot it?

I've already sorted out the patterns in their row/colourway order to see if there's any clumping of plain colours, stripes or spots across the As, Bs, Cs and Ds. So hopefully it will balance vertically as well as horizontally.

Hopefully, when it's all sewn up, it will look like a serendipitous, carefree mess of oh-gee-I-just-threw-it-all-together-a-ha-ha.

*Hub and I agree: there must be a language somewhere that has a word for accidental self-sabotage.

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