Color Theory

A Little Understanding Will Go a Long Way. . .

Mixing colors needn’t feel intimidating if you know a little about color theory. Our tutorial gives you the basics of color theory and some tips for working with color while also explaining the use of color tools such as the Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool and the Color Book and Color Wheel.

The Color Book and Color Wheel

The Color Book and Color Wheel (Item # 80037) are invaluable tools for selecting color combinations according to the universal “rules” of color theory. Nancy Shroyer has taken what painters have understood for centuries and made it easily accessable to fiber artists. It is an excellent reference to have on hand as you plan projects.

There are three basic sets of colors on a color wheel – primary, secondary and tertiary. The wheel is also divided into two halves – cool colors and warm colors. Within such a deceptively simple framework, you will find the structure you need to design colorful garments that turn out just the way you imagined. Choose quiet blends of colors from the same half of the wheel (complimentary) for a consistent look, or spark it up with just a touch of color from the opposite of the color wheel (secondary), or make a bright, dramatic garment using equal amounts of colors forming a triangle within the wheel.

Knowledge of color theory and psychology can help you make your color choices as well. You may want to maintain a scheme consisting of cool colors such as blues and greens with a purple accent color thrown in for a calming effect. Warm colors such as red, yellow and orange work well together creating a vibrant and energizing palette.

While it’s critical to have a plan before you start your project, it’s ok to experiment with offbeat color combinations. Once you know the “rules” of color theory, it’s legal and perfectly normal to “break” them. This is a good time to knit a few test swatches trying out different color combinations. Who knows—your swatches, when pieced together, may form the foundation of a crazy patchwork blanket.

Mix bright, “juicy” colors with “drab” or subtle colors such as khaki, gray and olive green. The combination has the effect of toning down the “juicy” colors while lending new vibrancy to the neutral colors. Another innovative idea is mixing heathers and solids of the same hue. With a plethora of new heathers available, it’s a great time to experiment with this concept.

With the right tools, choosing the colors for your next knitting project needn’t feel overwhelming. In fact, it’s a wonderful opportunity for self-expression, showing your true colors to the world.

To see the current Palette line up to plan your next colorwork project, check out the pdf below. It includes all 150 colors of Palette, including a black & white version, which helps determine the contrast between shades for colorwork projects!

Palette 2012 – 150 colors!