Tips for Choosing Yarn Colours - a tutorial from Imagined Landscapes Designs

Wondering how to pick colours for your +1 Pop projects? Picking colours can be both the best part of a project and the most overwhelming part of a project. Happily there are ways to help you quickly and easily narrow down your possibilities…and get you a finished project you love.

This is also available as a PDF download. Click here.

Before I chose colours, I like to think about how I’m going to use the final result. I ask a series of questions like: Am I looking for something to match my jacket or am I do I want something to stand out as the focus of an outfit? (Download the free Yarn Substitutions Guide for help with this if you’re interested.)

Only once I know what vibe I’m going for, even if I’ve just narrowed it down to ‘graphic contrast colours’ or ‘quirky’ or ‘harmonious colours and feminine’, do I start to look at the actual colours.

There are no right or wrong colour combos, just ones that get you nearer or further from the look you want. Hopefully these two tips will make it easier for you to get the look you’re going for.


Tips for Choosing Yarn Colours - a tutorial from Imagined Landscapes Designs

Tip #1: Black and White 

Colour play really lives and dies by yarn shades. By this I mean the light and dark differences between your colours. Two versions of the same colour will have a lighter shade and a darker shade, and it is this contrast more than the colours themselves that makes colours pop or blend. This rhythm of light and dark can work with our colour choices or against them.

Our eyes and brains work pretty hard to fool us, though. Sometimes our minds just really want to see something as bright and light because of an emotional association we have with a colour, but it’s actually more of a middle shade. (I’m often fooled by greens for instance and think that there is  more contrast than there is.)

Have a look at the picture above. I’ve taken two photos and used a black and white filter on my cellphone camera. Taking colour out of the equation means that you can evaluate the combinations more objectively.

Sometimes a set of colours seems really bold and fantastic, but they’re too close in shade to make for a good design because they’re both calling for the same amount of attention. Having at least some variance between colours can make a difference.

The +1 Pop collection was designed with the idea of making the most of the contrast colour from the mini skein, but the patterns will definitely work with harmonious and subtle pairings. You just need to be aware that you’re headed for a different effect than in the original and you should test it out to be sure you like it. And that leads us to the second trick.

Trick #2: Yarn wrapping before swatching

Give those colours a trial run. Before you even swatch the combinations, you can get a good sense of how balanced things will look. Simply grab a book or a ruler and wrap the different yarns around it.

It’s a fast and easy way to look at the possibilities even before investing the effort of swatching them. This way you can easily eliminate some combinations. I recommend that you take the time to snap a picture of your wrapped yarns. I find it amazing how often I can spot a problem on a photo that I can’t see in the real thing right in front of me.

Tips for Choosing Yarn Colours - a tutorial from Imagined Landscapes Designs

Here is the picture of the wrapped yarns also put through the black and white filter. It’s really interesting to see the difference between the two versions. Which colour combination do you most prefer with the olive green colour I’ve used as a main colour? There’s no right or wrong answer. There are just different versions of an accessory that would make you more or less likely to wear the finished object and feel like a million bucks.

Do you have ways you navigate this world of colours? Leave a comment – I’m always interested in new ways to play with colour!

Tutorial: How to Combine Yarn Colours
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