Often when we starting a new knitting pattern, we can get stuck before we even start. When it comes to picking yarn, choosing colors might leave us flummoxed. You can always go with the colors the designer uses, but if those colors aren't "your" colors, you'll want to find more options.
I spoke with Becca Borelli, a local art teacher and illustrator, to take us back to basics. We may learned about color wheels in elementary school, but unless you continued with art classes later in life, you may not remember the concepts. You can listen to our discussion on episode 42 of the VeryPink Knits podcast.
We might know the colors - primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and secondary colors (orange, violet, green), but what can we do to make those interesting and attractive in our knitting projects? We can choose colors based on their placement on the color wheel.
Complementary colors are directly across the color wheel from each other. Look around and you'll see these often - red and green; violet and yellow; orange and blue. Strangely, these are the colors for a lot of sports teams! My socks in progress are good example of this.
Analogous colors are those right next to each other. Yellow, yellow-green, green and blue-green, for example. This might be my favorite approach. It's hard to go wrong with analogous colors. I'm working on a sweater with analogous purples and pinks in the yoke.
There are more combinations including triadic colors, which work if you place a triangle across the color wheel. Mardi Gras colors green, purple and gold work here. Rectangular and square color themes use similar approaches. Check out this website for some great examples. Pay attention and you'll see these combinations often in housewares and fashion.
When you add a neutral to a color that creates a new tint, shade, or tone. Adding white is technically a tint, adding black is a shade, and adding gray is a tone.
The key learning that helped me when talking with Becca was to look for similar tones, (also works with shades or tints). Sometimes you can find unexpected color combinations that don't really fall in these color wheel combinations, but as long as they have the same tone, it works. This shawl Staci made includes colors like mustard yellow and pink that I never would put together, but it works because they're similar muted tones with a bit of gray mixed in.
I hope this gets you started thinking of some new color combinations or at least more comfortable when it comes time to choose your yarns. If you want to really explore, you can buy a color wheel at a craft or office supply store and play with combinations before you even hit the yarn shop.