The Color of My World
designing colorwork socks
I am in the throws of designing a new pattern. (You may have already realized this after reading this post.) The new design involves easy, stranded knitting in two colors. Often times, choosing colors with a good amount of contrast and achieving just the right look can be hard. Since I have the unique advantage of designing my projects and patterns from the yarn up I can offer some good advice on how to choose yarn colors for colorwork knitting to achieve the look you envision.
For me, the first consideration is always contrast. There are two ways to achieve contrast:
1.) Saturation – or light vs. dark.
Let’s look at this palette with light pink vs dark pink. Due to the vastly different saturation levels, these pinks have great contrast, despite the fact that they’re in the same color family (monochromatic).
Another classic example is black and white:
By complementary I mean colors that are exactly opposite each other on the color wheel. Choosing complementary colors increases the contrast between your two hues without affecting the saturation level. Locating complements is easy, grab a color wheel, point to the color you want and find what’s opposite. Choose that for your second color.
This photos is a great example of complements at work. Both the dresses and the flowers are similarly saturated, but there’s absolutely no blurring or blending of the colors since this color combo derives all it’s contrast from the complementary relationship of blue & orange.
I love this color wheel image from GreatestLook.com because it not only shows you the colors, but also includes saturation levels from light (outside of the wheel) to dark (the center of the wheel). The colors on this wheel are a bit shaded (they have grey added) if you prefer a brighter wheel, do a Google image search for color wheel and you’ll find lots of other examples.
Green with Envy:
Both colorways feature several hues of green and tangerine. The least saturated colors present are firmly in the neon category and range all the way into darkly saturated hues. Since both skeins are similarly saturated, we know that our contrast isn’t going to come from different levels of saturation. Our contrast comes from these colors being roughly complementary. (The tangerine is roughly equal parts orange and red/pink. I’ve scooted it into the red bubble for ease.)
Grab the trusty color wheel, find red/orange and trace a line straight across. Is that green present in our second yarn? Yes it is! We can rest assured that we have enough contrast to carry the color design off well. See how distinct this patterning is? My choices are good and color theory works!