Friday, February 14, 2014

Method To My Madness: Picking Colors

In the last post, I showed you the new hat I made for my mother. In preparation for writing the pattern and re-knitting a sample to make sure I don't miss an important step, I went shopping for a yarn that I just had a hunch would work really well with the pattern. I want a lighter weight so that the doubled hem isn't too thick and bulky and overwhelming. I wanted current colors and I wanted a yarn that is easily accessible to many different knitters, but also easily substituted for another yarn.

I turned, as I did for another hat, to +Berroco Yarn Ultra Alpaca Light. I love how soft, but strong, the yarn is. And the colors are great. The alpaca-half also adds a nice halo to the yarn and should mix the stripes together pleasingly.

Picking colors is one of my favorite things to do. I am, by no means, trained in fashion or design or the arts so I have to rely on simple intuition and some tricks I've picked up along the way. Mind you, there are so many better places to learn about color choices and mixing - this is just my method.

I think picking two colors is fairly simple for anyone. But three or more, and it gets a bit trickier. My steps are:
  1. Pick a color I love
  2. Pick a darker color
  3. Pick a lighter color
  4. Review all colors and see if one of those should be a neutral
First, I pick a color I love. Every year, Pantone releases their color of the year. Because I'm a huge nerd for off the wall "of the year" lists and such, I always look forward to learning what it is. For 2014, look for Radiant Orchid. I knew I wanted to highlight Radiant Orchid. Fortunately, Ultra Alpaca Light is offered in a color called - tada! - orchid! Sold!

Now for the other two colors. For these two, I first looked farther into Pantone's website and found their Fall 2014 trend forecast for colors - the one below is for men's fashion but the women's fashion is fairly close to the same colors. (You might also be interested in learning how they pick the colors - click the picture to get to the Pantone website. It's very interesting.)

Probably just because I saw the two colors next to each other, I loved the combo of Cypress with Radiant Orchid. And it fits my second criteria: pick a color that's darker.

And next: pick a color that's lighter. Immediately, your eye can pick out the lighter colors: Aluminum and Sea Fog. For me, Sea Fog is slightly less masculine and picks up quite a lot on the pink and purple tones of Radiant Orchid. Of course, that might be a great thing but not what I'm looking for. Aluminum is also a great color, though I did think it might be a little too green to go with the Cyprus.
From top to bottom:
Peat Mix, Steel Cut Oats,

Check it out:
Darker: CYPRUS
Now, take a trip to your yarn store or to look at colors online. Of course, buying colors online is a little difficult but I don't mind it. Even though I'm particular, I'm no picky. Orchid and Cyprus were easy but Aluminum wasn't such an easy find. I wanted something less gray and more brown. Or more brown than gray. It's a very complicated color. In the end, I ordered three colors from +WEBS: Orchid, Peat Mix and Steel Cut Oats. What do you think of these three colors together?