Wednesday, March 29, 2017

5 Tips for Choosing Yarn Colours

If you are planning on knitting/crocheting a garment or accessory that uses more than one colour of yarn, how do you go about choosing which colours go together? I find it much easier to choose if there are only two colurs in my project. Complicated fair-isle or stranded colourwork patterns can seem very daunting unless you work with the exact colours used in the sample.

Here are some tips to help you choose yarn for your next stranded colourwork project.

1. Use a colour wheel

One way to choose colours is to use a colour wheel. On the wheel you can choose whether you want bright, paste., or a more grey colour palette (shade, tint, tone).
Use a colour wheel

Once you've decided on shade, tint, or tone, choose the colour combination you would like. Often technical words like complementary, split-complementary, analogous, and triadic are used when choosing colours. You can use these methods for color choice (and I think it's good to know what they mean), but there's an easier way to choose.

2. Use your favourite shirt

I really like to use fabrics to choose colours. Someone has already done the hard work for me and I can choose fabrics that appeal to me.

Use fabric to choose yarn colours
Take a look at your clothing. I'm sure you have a favourite patterned shirt or skirt. What colours are in it? Can you seehow they work together?

The next time you are out shopping, be sure to look at the patterns and colours of the clothes you like. Maybe even take a few photos to analyze later when you are stuck on which colours of yarn to combine.

Use photos from pinterest
Alternately, look online (specifically pinterest) for those colour charts where the colours are taken out of a picture and combined for you. Harrisville yarn company does a fantastic job at this.

3. Add some drama

Colours on opposite sides of the wheel are complimentary and often cause drama or tension in you project. Choosing two colours that have one colour separating them (like green and blue) and then adding in their compliment (red-orange) makes for an exciting knitting garment. This is called split-complimentary. 

Add a pop of colour

This fair isle sweater is a good example with green, blue and white as the main colours and peachy/pink which is opposite on the colour wheel from the green and blue. Adds just a bit of pop to the design.

4. Vary the values

Vary the values of the colours you choose. If you use all dark colours they just blend together and the pattern doesn't stand out. By choosing a light, medium, and dark colour you are really able to see the 3 colours of yarn work together to make a pattern. You can also add white and/or black to the colour mix.

Vary the values

5. Take a black and white photo

Finally, to see if you have enough contrast between your yarns, take a photo and convert it to black and white. If all the yarns are a similar shade of grey you know that the yarn choice needs to be altered a bit. Try adding a darker or lighter yarn and retake the photo.

Use a black and white photo

In the photo to the right, the teal and peach yarns are similar in shade (as seen in the black and white photo). They work in this design though because they are opposite in colour. That is, they are complimentary or opposite on the colour wheel.

If you are looking for a small knit project to try out these tips you can check out my Stranded Flower Hat knitting pattern.

Stranded Flower Hat knit pattern

Or a crochet pattern to try could be Falling Leaves Baby Blanket which uses 4 colours of yarn.

Falling Leaves Baby Blanket

Happy Knitting and Crocheting!

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