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Choosing Colorways – QueerJoe’s Methodology

How do you look at a web page filled with fantastically beautiful yarns and choose colorways that will work in your knitting? Here’s my method for choosing colorways.

Choosing Colorways That Fit Your Knitting

First of all, I do not have an innate ability to choose colors.  Even as a gay man, despite what some may tell you. My methods for choosing colors has come from decades of trial and error.

For me, there are three ways that colors are brought together:

  1. Blended – stitches are small enough and mixed together closely enough to blend the colors. This applies to both solid colors and variegated yarns.Linen Stitch Scarf Reverse
  2. Intermixed – usually this applies to variegated or handpainted yarns. It’s when the colors pool and stripe, but are kept separate enough to maintain their own distinct colorways.Cross Stitch Scarf Finished
  3. Composite – usually applies to solid colored yarns. FiestaWear Done 2

Colorways for Blending

Mostly, I want to make sure the colors don’t mix in a way that makes brown. Just like mixing paint colors, you want to stay away from colors that will mix in a muddy sort of way. Sticking with “blues” (blue, purple, teal, etc.) works well. Also going with a maximum of two primary colors with approximate equal weights of saturation works as well. But make sure your two colors don’t make brown.  Green and red might not be the best two choices.

Colorways for Intermixing

This is the area where I have had to do the most trial and error. The Knitted Cross Stitch Scarf, the Interlocking Crochet Scarf and even the garter striped scarves all “intermix” colorways.  Here’s my advice about choosing colorways for intermixing:

    • Stick to two colorways
    • Choose one colorway that has vibrant and/or bright colors that you like
    • Choose the other colorway with a more bland muted colorway.

For me, this wasn’t intuitive. I wanted to choose more “harmonious” colorways.  But I found that having a more bland background on an intermixing project made the vivid colors pop even more.  I also found that one specific color included in the bland colorway almost always works.

Composite Colorways

Depending on how many colors are in the composite, there are two basic strategies. Either go monochromatic (all blues, all reds, all greens, etc.) and choose different hues (dark, pastel, bright, etc.). Or go with all the same weight of any color. The patchwork sweater I’m wearing in the photo above is obviously multi-color in the same weight, except for two of the colors. My theory on that sweater was to have a background of deep, saturated colors and have two “kicker” or brighter colors evenly balanced across the sweater. If it’s not obvious the aqua and the peach are the two brighter colors.

Pop Quiz

The Perfect Purl just started offering Uneek Fingering Yarns in all the colorways in the feature photo above. I wanted to choose two colorways to “intermix.” Which two do you think I chose?

Current Knitting

The Zig Zag Striped Scarf is finished!

ZigZag Striped Scarf 05-01-20 04

The scarf ended up being about 62″ long and 10″ wide.  The garter stitch done on the bias makes the yarn almost feel like chenille.

Pop Quiz Number 2

Which of the three methods of putting colors together would you consider this scarf?

2 comments on “Choosing Colorways – QueerJoe’s Methodology

  1. I wouldn’t use many of these yarns together, there’s just too much Interesting stuff going on with each. I would want them to work with two “solids” featured in each skein: one bold, one bland. If I had to mix from these gorgeous yarns, i would choose the second one in the first column and the second in third column. The first is virtually all hot pink tones and the second has enough of those tones that the yellow-greens and blues will really pop as accents.

    I tend to mix colors (and patterns) along the plain, ditzy (micro-pattern), simple, and bold. Also, I believe that enough of any specific hue makes it a neutral.

    Finally, I really believe that a color’s value (how much grey is in the color) has a ton to do with what colors work well together. Take a picture of your colors in a black and white photo. Are they still harmonious?

  2. Hi Joe, I’m writing to you from Australia, yep, the other side of the world.

    I wanted to tell you how much I have enjoy your website. I love your sense of colour as well as design. I have been knitting since I was very young and always loved it as a hobby/pastime.

    I really love your sense of colour and risk-free attitude to colour combination.

    Don’t mean sound “gushing “ but wanted to say how much you have encouraged me.

    Sincerely, Christopher Keane

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