It's my favorite time of year. Time to shop and cast on winter knits! Winter knitting is traditionally filled with colorwork. How do you choose the colors that are right for you? With a little thought, you'll love it every time. (See other colorwork tutorials. Type Colorwork in the search box.)
The traditional color circle, based on red, yellow and blue, was developed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for any color wheel/chart/diagram/ to demonstrate all the colors visible to the human eye with accuracy and in a useful format. Because of this challenge, thousands of different wheels have been developed over the years. In reality, any color chart that presents a logically arranged sequence of colors has merit.
As an example, you may find a chart of “cool” colors. These are usually colors with an undertone of some blue, and also often light and pastel colors. “Warm” colors are usually with a red undertone or hue, and deeply saturated colors. “Earth” tones often have an element of brown in them, making them rich, but at the same time muted. “Desert” tones have an undertone of yellow or gold. “Victorian” colors tend to have an undertone of gray, giving a soft, slightly aged effect. Any of these ideas could be demonstrated in a wheel, but it gets very complex to demonstrate them all in the same wheel.
Pick a Color Story. When blending colors, you want them to have a relationship to each other so that the observer likes the combination. How? A color story. In general, a “color story” is the feeling, mood, attitude, or analogy created by grouping certain colors. If you wanted to generate a color story that evoked a dairy farm, you might consider a barn red, grassy green, black and white for the cows, a sky blue, and a golden hay color. Even if you then use these colors to make a market bag, it will have a country feeling to it. Once you’ve established your own color story, pairing and grouping colors within it will be much easier.
When in doubt, go with multiple shades of the same color. A fern green and a pine green make a lovely piece, as do maroon and rose pink. Not your style? Try your favorite hue and mix it with white, cream, black, or chocolate for a classic look.