colour challenge

Remember my success with my first attempt at colourwork? Yes, that went rather well, but let’s be honest, it was a rather simple design in an aran weight. The second colourwork project I’ve taken on, however, is more complex, and, eek, in fingering weight. It is, of course, a hat. Why not learn on the thing I like most anyway? But let me tell you, it is slow going. I basically manage to do one round at a time before I lose my patience. And for those of you scoffing at one round right now, a round is 192 stitches in this one. I’m in no rush.

Colourwork has lately been on my mind quite a lot. In the last few weeks, I picked out yarns for three different colourwork projects with which to challenge myself (you’ll hear a lot more about them soon). But while I thought the main challenge would be handling several yarns at once and keeping a steady gauge, I encountered issues much sooner – in choosing the colours.

Oh my! I thought that would be the fun part. I’m pretty good at combining clothes. I have an eye for nice art. Picking three shades of the same yarn that will go well together shouldn’t be a problem, right? Think again. In the end, I think, like everything else, it requires experience. So I’ve made pretty conservative choices for now, hoping I can’t go wrong if I start with basics. I even reduced one pattern which called for 5 contrast colours (five! imagine choosing 5 colours that all go together and then another main one which sets a good background for all of them!) to only 2 contrast colours and one main. And so I continue tackling my colour challenge…

One thing was pretty easy, though. The current project, for which I chose a combination of mustardy yellow and dark blue with slight halos. I’d used this yellow with dark blue buttons on my Veylas before, so I knew it went really well with it, and I have not regretted going for the same effect now. When the knitting goes so slow, it’s nice to at least be confident in your colour combination…

What are your experiences with colourwork? How do you choose your colours? Do you have a rule of thumb to share with the rest of us? Have you had any colour disasters? I’d love to get your inputs!

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About fridica

I started knitting completely by accident, when I was visiting my parents for a holiday in 2008. On a boring Sunday afternoon, I decided to dig through their stash of books to see if there was anything interesting to take back to my apartment. A knitting manual happened to be one of the books I found. I got curious, my mom immediately dug out her old needles and yarn stash (which she hadn’t used in a decade at least), and in a few minutes we were both casting on - she by memory, I by following the instructions from the book… :) Since I normally prefer learning from books, this was ideal.. I took the book home with me, and very very soon - I was an addict.

16 thoughts on “colour challenge

    • Oh nooo! Don’t listen to her/him! Actually, Kate Gagnon Osborn, who designed both Selbu Modern and Opus Spicatum, told me the same thing once (when I commented on one of her projects on Ravelry). She said she had been fighting on colour choices with her art teachers her whole life. So there you go.

  1. Ah, Selbu Modern is also in my queue. I already got the yarn for it, but am quite reluctant to start. Also, colour combination is a bit of a challenge. I normally go with one conservative and one ‘bold’ colour in a 2-colour-combo.

  2. The main problem for me is finding the different colours where I live. Shops usually carry just a few basic colours of any given yarn, with no shades of individual colours. So there’s usually just one green, one blue, one red, etc. Another problem I have is that I tend to go conservative too, while being bold with colour combinations often produces stunning results.

    • I know what you mean. I’ve seen on Ravelry, though, that some people combine different yarns… I’m kind of scared that they would end up behaving differently though and causing the item to change its shape in strange ways, but I guess if you get something with roughly the same composition, it should be ok?

  3. Well, like Heklica – same problem…
    But, sometime, when I put all my yarn on the bed, I like to look it and dream what I would like to do with it….. And then, some yellow and grey are close, and look ! – oh, what a great comination !

  4. i very rarely buy yarn with the intent to do a colorwork project with it. the majority of my colorwork choices come straight out of my stash… but i just scanned back over the majority of my colorwork projects, and my fail safe approach seems to be that one of my colors is always either gray or a neutral off-white. i’m actually a little ashamed of myself. that’s such a cheat.

  5. I actually have very very rarely done colorwork, but hope to do more of it next year! Then again, that was my resolution for this year and… well… that didn’t happen. Oops!

    I love the colors of your hat. Yellow and blue always look good together. :)

    • Yeah, I’m also thinking about ways in which I could branch out my knitting next year. I’d like to do more colourwork, more sweaters, try socks… Um, yeah, everything! So I’m not putting any goals down on paper, let’s see how things work out…

  6. I used to make friendship bracelets in junior high. You know, the ones that have about a dozen colors and pretty intricate designs. Back then I learned that whenever I wasn’t sure about picking colors, the best thing to do was to run to my mom for advice, and that’s been my method of dealing with color choices ever since.
    Sorry for not having any advice that’s actually useful XD

  7. Use the colour wheel: colours that are close together go well together, and colours that are on opposite sides can complement each other.
    The one thing I look out for is that the contrasting colours should not be from different colour palettes, like a green from a warm palette and a cool blue. Or a warm red with a cold pink. It just doesn’t work. Instead those clash very badly.
    I like tonal sequences: light pink, medium pink and aubergine going with various shades of grey for example (like my wave cardie). A lot of warm reds go with lots of browns; purples and pinks go well together; greens and yellows and oranges. I try to stay away from odd combinations like purple and green or apricot and blue. There is just too much going on there.
    Hope that helps.

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