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Home > Yarns > Decision Tree > Practical Color Theory

 

Here are a few tips for putting some basic color theory to practice....for some fun exercises to learn more about color, check this page out.

 

1) Adding the color gray will tone down a bright color.

shawl grayHere a novelty yarn that had some gray in it was carried along with this really bright, "in-your-face" cantaloupe colored kid mohair shown. The shawl is still colorful, but more subdued.

 

2)Your eye sees value (lightness and darkness) before it sees color so "high" value colors (white, yellow, generally a "light" yarn) tend to predominate in a color scheme and therefore can be used in smaller proportion to 'low" value colors (black, navy, purple, darker shades of green, red, etc) and still have plenty of presence.

 bag hatIn both of these examples, the number of stitches/rows knit in the high value yellow or chartreuse are much fewer than the number of rows/stitches knit in the lower value colors and yet even at these low proportions, these colors stand out. So you can imagine how they would overpower the bag or hat if they were used even more widely! For more tips about the importance of value in picking colors check out this page.

3) Cables and raised stitches are better seen on a lighter, solid color.

cable light stitch dark Raised stitches like cables cast shadows which helps give them definition. The raised stitches don't cast shadows on dark colors, that's why it's better to choose a light color for an aran style stitch pattern. Both the fleck of the tweed and the darkness of the purple sweater obscure the pretty stitch pattern on the second example.

4) variegated yarns, or yarns with too much "tweed" or "texture", can detract from a stitch pattern...the eye won't know what to focus on: the pattern or the color variation so your pattern can get lost

Both shawls shown below actually feature a pretty lace pattern, but you have to look close to see it in the left hand shawl. Not that it's not still a pretty shawl. You certainly can knit a lace pattern in a highly variegated yarn and love the garment, but if it's a difficult or timely stitch to knit you may want to show it off, in which case a solid or mildly kettle dyed yarn is best.

angora shawllace shawl