Donna's Writings

03/02/2014

Playing with Color

Choosing a Color Scheme – Freeing your Creativity

Everybody has favorite colors and color combinations, but many people don’t know what they like.

Look analytically at your wardrobe and you’ll see colors you obviously like—since you choose to wear them. Some of your clothing—a scarf or tie for instance—likely has patterns incorporating several colors.

Look at how well these colors go together, and you’ll get an idea of how to select your multicolored palette for decorating or designing your own knitting projects. Successful decorating schemes work well when they use a maximum of three colors. One should be the main color; the other one or two colors should be used in smaller amounts as accents. This is a concept you can use to create simple color schemes for your knitting. 

Many patterned fabrics and wall coverings make choosing a color scheme easy because they contain a good combination of colors, which you can see at a glance work well together. Wall covering books are particularly useful because the coordinating patterns are presented side by side.

Here are some of my favorite tips for selecting colors and designing your own pieces:

Don’t be afraid of color! This can be quite inhibiting and seems to be a very common block from my observations. I have a great natural sense of color (I can match thread to fabric without bringing the fabric to the store with me), but I am totally overwhelmed at the idea of trying to design a Kaffe Fassett type of project or even a Fair Isle design with more than three or four colors.

If you have this type of block, try these “shortcuts”:

  • Design single-color projects with texture stitches, lace, cables and so forth.

  • Buy yarns that come with families of coordinating shades.

  • Work with yarns like Noro, hand painted colors from indie dyers, or other multicolored, ombre, or self-striping yarns and let the yarn do the work for you.

This way, you can start designing simple patterns, without worrying about complex charts or choosing colors “from scratch” until you gain confidence.

Don’t try to start on something too big. Try designing a pillow or a bathmat before you work on a large area rug. I designed accessories for a year before I designed my first sweater. These small projects let you learn how colors and textures work together, and they are fast and relatively inexpensive so you don’t have to worry about wasting $100+ worth of yarn on a failed experiment. The key here is start where you are comfortable, don’t try to design a 25-color patchwork or Intarsia masterpiece if you’ve never designed a simple seed-stitch pullover or even a hat.

Don’t think you are not creative! Every person is creative, and that most blocks are from lack of knowledge or some sort of fear. Sometimes we are taught (intentionally or unintentionally) when we are young that we are not creative and that’s hard to shake off. My favorite book for breaking out of blocks is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I first read this book thinking it would help me with my writing, and I was very surprised to find that it actually led me back to knitting (after a 25 year hiatus), and then to spinning, dyeing, designing, and gardening! Julia is a little superstitious for my tastes, but it was worth overlooking that part for the results I got in boosting my creativity by reading her book and following the exercises she suggests. I can’t recommend anything more highly for freeing your creativity. 

Here are two versions of the Color Me Warm mittens (kit) I’ve made so far. Not only did I change colors, I even used a different color for the background in some spots. On the first mitten, on the thumb, and on the second mitten on the cuff, as well as some stripes. Maybe I will call my next mitten kit Color Play and include examples in 4-6 different color arrangements to inspire you to play on your own.

Introductory Kit Price: $20 plus shipping includes Color Me Warm Adult Mitten Pattern and Peace Fleece Worsted Weight Yarn with a MC of black or white, and contrasting colors in the color family of your choice. Buy Now.

Knitting, Old Blogs

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