Crafts-Hobbies Vivian | 05 Jan 2011 06:39 pm

Color It Yours

“Blue and green should never be seen except in the washing machine!” When I first heard this little rhyme, I was standing in the general store on Main Street in a little prairie village ironically called Rosetown. The town belied its name. Unlike a lush and vibrant flower, it was a dry and dusty place. Surface colors on buildings and signs had been bleached by the sun or worn away by the wind. Even still, Rosetown had a charm that only a small prairie town can muster. It was the middle of August and spending a week with family friends, who had a daughter my age, Main Street was our recreation center and the General Store, our mall. Shopping was limited but Ellen had spotted a pair of green shoes sitting on their box in the store window. She loved the style but wanted them in navy blue to match her new school clothes. Alas, the coveted shoes only came in one color – bright green. For me, it was not a problem – one could wear green with blue. My suggestion was promptly rejected with a rhyme.

I always thought that green and blue did perfectly well sitting next to each other. After all, think of trees and sky. Choosing colors for a knitting project that are both pleasing to the eye and in a balanced combination, is usually achieved by artistic instinct or by employing the scientific method of color theory. Most of us react to color emotionally, often attaching certain colors to memories, either pleasant or unpleasant, and respond positively or negatively when faced with a particular color combination.

We also absorb color suggestions that are displayed in nature and in the various visual media that enter our lives. You can’t help but notice the color combinations just outside our windows and doors, whether it be autumn’s subtle gradation of green leaves into shades of orange, gold and russet or spring tulips that pop up in all colors, some even changing color as they mature. These natural combinations can only inspire us to use these colors in a simple stripe or complex Fair Isle pattern. Interesting color combinations are displayed in cultivated landscapes and designed living rooms featured in gardening and home decorating magazines. Keeping a file of clippings and photos that display pleasing color arrangements can be used as a source of inspiration for a new knitting project.

Often color choices available for a chosen knitting yarn are somewhat limited by the shade range that is offered in that particular brand. In this case, a “basket” method can be quite helpful. Place all the colors of yarn that you think might work together for a particular project into a basket. Place the basket where it can be passed many times during a day. On some passes, stop and rearrange the colors, hiding more of one and exposing more of another. At other times, offer just a quick glance, or a long gaze. It may be days, but eventually the color combination becomes either a pleasing option or one to be discarded as unsuitable.

A more scientific approach to choosing a color involves the study of color theory as displayed in the color wheel. It certainly can be a useful aide as a starting point when deciding on a certain color combination. It will also act as a problem solver if a particular “artistic” color decision becomes difficult. The color wheel is made up of twelve colors and illustrates the relationships between colors. It is laid out so that any two primary colors (red, yellow, blue) are separated by the secondary colors (orange, violet, and green). Primary colors are basic and cannot be mixed from other elements. One can mix two primary colors to result in a secondary color. The remaining six colors are called tertiary colors and are the result of mixing one primary and one secondary color. Complementary colors lie opposite each other on the wheel. Pairing a color with its complementary color will make both colors appear vibrant. A color wheel is available at an art supply store along with other tools and publications that can aide in selecting and matching colors.

Whether it is artist’s instinct or science that you use, both can assist you in finding a balance of color that pleases you. There’s the key – it pleases you and will satisfy the picture you have in your “mind’s eye” of that new knitted garment.

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