It now feels like winter has arrived. The temperature has dropped and there was a touch of frost on the grass this morning. However, the sun was shining, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and I had received the yarn I requested from the lovely people at Rowan. Winter is not always dark and gloomy!
I mentioned in my last blog that my favourite design from the Rowan Knitting and Crochet Magazine Number 68 is Kellie, pictured below, designed by Kristen TenDyke and knitted in Alpaca Classic.
And I have decided to knit it, which is what the bundle of Alpaca Classic from Rowan is for.
Kellie can be found in the Seamless section of the magazine. All the 20 designs in this section are worked from the top down and constructed without seams. I am not a lover of the sewing up part of knitting so I was really excited to cast on Kellie!
The photo of Kellie in Magazine 68 shows it knitted up in the Alpaca Classic shades of Copper Clay, Snowflake White, Dark Burgundy and Dusk. I know the main colour, Copper Clay, will not suit me and I will have to make some shade changes.
So, how do you go about changing four shades, that have been carefully selected by the designer, to suit your particular taste? Sometimes it is hard enough changing one shade, let alone four.
Firstly, you might want to consider the inherent tone of each shade. For instance, if you take a sample of the fair isle pattern for Kellie, (shown below left) and take the colour out just leaving the tone (darks and lights) you will see there is a difference in tone for each of the four colours.
I have removed the colour using photoshop but you can do it with your eyes. Here’s how: While staring at the coloured fair isle picture above, close your eyes until they are barely open but you can still see. Do this until you barely recognise any of the colours but the different tones stand out. You are trying to (almost) make the coloured picture look like the one on the right. You can see that Dark Burgundy is the darkest colour, then Copper Clay a mid-tone. Snowflake White is the lightest with Dusk being just very slightly darker, but minimally…which is why it is hard to see on the photograph.
What you are trying to do is choose four shades that are tonally different form each other. Removing the colour will help you see the tone of each colour more clearly. Why do you need to do this? Because it is fairly important that the new colours you choose will be tonally different from each other, not just different in colour. For example, if you chose four very dark colours you would barely notice the shade nuances in the fair isle pattern…it could possibly all blend together into one dark band.
Before you start you need to get hold of the shade chart for the yarn in question, either online or, if you can and much better and more accurate, an actual shade chart with the real yarn attached, which I have. You need to know what shades are available for you to choose from.
To choose my shades I started with the main colour and changed that to Blue Haze. In reality, it is slightly lighter in tone than Copper Clay, but that doesn’t matter as long as the three other shades work tonally with it. Looking at the other yarn shades for the fair isle pattern I could see that leaving these as they were…Snowflake White, Dark Burgundy and Dusk… would work just fine but I wanted a slightly stronger pink as Dusk did seem to disappear into the white areas. So I changed Dusk to Hyacinth. Even though Blue Haze and Hyacinth are very similar in terms of tone the colour difference seemed to work well. I then changed Dark Burgundy to Purple Rain; they are both very dark purple colours and either one would work here.
Here are my shades all knitted up together…
What do you think? I could easily swop Hyacinth with Blue Haze making the main colour Hyacinth. Any other changes, like swopping Snowflake White for one of the other shades and making it the main colour I would have to swatch first to be sure.
To give you some ideas, I’ve played with the fair isle pattern shades and come up with lots of alternatives…
Maybe I’ve given you some ideas?
Most of the shade groupings shown above are harmonious colours, except maybe the last one on the right with the light green and pink. You could consider more striking combinations and team complementary colours together, such as Peacock and Sun Valley and add Snowflake White and Eclipse for the dark/light contrast. Be careful pairing complimentary colours together (yellow and purple, strong pink and green, blue and orange) as at a distance they tend to blend together optically and appear grey.
When you have decided on the four shades it is best to buy a ball of the yarn in each colour and make a swatch. If you don’t want to do that, at least go to a yarn shop and place four balls of the different coloured yarn you have chosen next to each other.
If you would like to know more about how colours work together there is a colour course that is available to download for free…..click the link below.
How to Choose, Mix and make Colours
You can do the course at your leisure in your own home. It uses paint to explain how colours work together, but you don’t need to be an artist to take the course.
So, what do you think?
- Have you considered changing yarn shades but don’t feel confident in your colour choices?
- Has it prevented you from knitting up a lovely design because it is photographed in a colour that you don’t like?
- Do you have a totally different way of substituting yarn shades?
Please do let me know by scrolling down to “Leave a Reply” below.
Thanks for reading my blog all the way to the end!
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I would like to master color theory. I have a lot of Rowan felted tweed and I wish some day I will be able to choose the colors by myself
I can’t understand how do complimentary color look gray from distance.
Great question! Complementary colours are colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel, ie. Blue and Orange, Yellow and Purple, Red and Green. When highly contrasting colours, such as complementary colours, are placed next to each other they will make each other appear more vibrant (simultaneous contrast), without any change in their hue. However, if small areas of these complementary colours are placed next to each other (such as small groups of stitches in fair isle knitting), they will blend optically to a grey colour. For example, when red is next to green the red will make the green appear a more vibrant green and at the same time the green will make the red appear a more vibrant red. However, thinner strips of adjacent colours will blend optically to appear grey or dulled. The reason for this greying effect is due to optical mixing. All colours, not just complementary colours, are effected by one another optically…what happens when the colours you see are translated by your eye and brain. colour interaction is a complex subject and if you really are interested in learning more you should take the free course, How to Choose, Mix and Make Colours, I mentioned in my blog. I am the author of this course and would like to add that I am an artist and painter and have written this practical colour theory course which I have taught at the University of the Arts, London and in private companies in Germany and the USA. Here’s the link to the free course again: https://whatcoloursmake.com
I hope this helps explain a little bit about colour interaction?
Thanks again for a great question, Esther