I’m going to start off colorwork week by talking about two things: what is colorwork, and a little bit of color theory. Look back later in the day for a contest…
So what is colorwork? Basically, it’s a broad term for using more than 1 colorway of yarn in your knitted work. Throughout the week I am mostly going to be focusing on stranded knitting in general, but I’ll talk a bit about a few different methods and regional varieties here.
In colorwork, there are three main ways of using all those beautiful colors together, stripes, intarsia, and stranded knitting.
Stripes are just that, striping two or more yarns. There’s not much I can say about stripes that isn’t obvious – they are stripes! While I am not going to talk about stripes too much, all the stuff further down in this post about color applies to striping too.
Intarsia is a way of applying a motif to an area using a new color of yarn on one specific part of a knitted work. Like adding a cute star in the middle of a child’s sweater – you’d pick up the new yarn when you got to the part where the star started, and then let it go again when it ended – there are none of the characteristic floats that give stranded knitting its name.
Stranded knitting is when you use two or more yarns, carried along your work at the same time to create patterns or motifs in your knitted work.
Within stranded knitting, there are so many variteties, from the notorious XOX patterns of the Fair Isles to my current favorite, Bohus knitting, to Norwegian Selbu roses and Latvian mittens. A common misconception is that people use Fair Isle to describe any stranded knitting. All Fair Isle knitting is stranded knitting, but not all stranded knitting is Fair Isle knitting. Characteristically (and other than actually being from Fair Isle) no more than 2 colors are used per row and there are no floats longer than 5 or so stitches (so that weaving or twisting floats is not necessary – but I’ll talk about weaving another day). Fair Isle motifs are fairly distinct and often have an XOX pattern (that might not always be obvious) in them in order to keep the floats shorter. Everything else is falls under the stranded knitting umbrella, with less famous regional styles such as those mentioned above.
So now that I’ve given you a quick whirlwind of colorwork styles, I am going to talk about the most important thing. COLOR! If you know me, you know I love color. The one thing that I think is the most important thing to remember about color is to trust yourself. I was relating today how someone once told me that they had grown up with the little rhyme “blue and green should never be seen, except for next to the washing machine.” Which seems crazy to me, because I love blue and green together.
The basic colors are red, blue and yellow, and their secondary colors are violet, green, and orange. Between those colors are things like red-violet, yellow-orange, blue-green and so on. So when I am starting a project, I like to look at all colors I might be interested in using together and lay them out in a colorwheel sort of formation. Then I think about the colors and their relations.
For a lot of bang, complementry colors are the way to go. Blue and orange, yellow and purple or red and green. High contrast and lots of energy. You don’t have to use the colors at full value either – think lavender and daffodil or sky and tangerine. If you want something less intense, go one color to either side of the compliment (for Purple, a yellow-green or green-yellow would be fun!)
For something softer think of an analogous color scheme. These are colors next to each other on the color wheel, such as blue, blue-green,and green or classic pink and purple. Analogous color schemes are the kind of color schemes found in nature and are really pleasing to the eye. For an extra punch, pair an analogous scheme with a complementary color accent – in this case, the colors above would look great paired with some orange.
A monochromatic colorscheme can pack a lot of punch when you take one color and different values of it such as navy blue, primary blue and sky blue.
There are so many different ways to interpret a color wheel (triads and tetrads and so on) so what I take from that is that all colors work together, you just need to find the right shade for them to work. Colorlovers is an awesome place to look for some color inspiration for your projects.
Tomorrow – Reading charts