Colour class!

Just been answering some questions for an upcoming interview for the blog tour and was reminded that not everyone finds it easy to throw colours together.  So here's a question I answered in Ask Jean some time ago, with illustrations from Sweet Shawlettes, that might be helpful to those of you who dread using colour.

Q  Intarsia knitting and working with colour scare many knitters.  Are there ways of making these two things more foolproof and less challenging?
Ruth Sybers, Monticello, WI
A  The colour question is a dual-edged sword; how to choose and how to work.  There are many ways of getting oodles of colour into your knitting without using intarsia:  stripes or stripey patterns such as Penumbra or Bronte, slip stitch and mosaic knitting, fairisles such as Miss Garricks,  and short-rows immediately spring to mind.  
Miss Garricks
People who have an instinctive sense of colour tend to take it for granted and forget that many knitters fear and dread using colour.   However, I firmly believe that everyone has their own unique sense of colour and it’s important for us to be able to express this confidently. 

By applying a few principles of colour theory, you can be sure that your choices will work every time. When a beam is passed through a prism, the white light refracts into red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet – the colours of the rainbow. The colours in this visible spectrum are traditionally joined end to end to make a colour wheel. Here are the basics for you to apply every time you pick up your needles:
1               There are three primary colours: red, yellow and blue at the centre of the wheel.  These are the colours from which all other colours are derived.
2               There are three secondary colours: green, orange and violet, created by mixing together any two primaries. 
3               By mixing a secondary with one of the primary colours from which it’s derived, you’ll produce a tertiary colour.  There are six of these on the colour wheel, found on the outer wheel between their respective secondaries and primaries, eg  turquoise between blue and green  and lime green between green and yellow.      
4               Hot colours (reds, oranges and yellows) advance, whilst cool colours (blues, purples and greens) recede.
5               Harmonising colours sit next to each other on the colourwheel and form the basis of a colourway eg  from yellow through to red.  Complementary colours sit directly opposite each other on the colour wheel eg  red and green, blue and orange or yellow and purple. These have a zinging effect on each other when put together They are perfect accent colours to make a colourway come to life or ‘pop’, so always include one or two.
6               Choose colours of the same tonal value. Limit your choices to pastels with pastels (tints), pure hues with pure hues or shades (darker colours) with shades.

Now...the intarsia question.  Definitely not my favourite type of knitting for a whole sweater, but it has its uses and can create excitement and add impact in small bursts, as in Madame Alfred,  If your design has a background colour, then use separate balls for each of the contrast colours and strand or weave the main colour behnd.  This cuts down on the number of ends and gives the contrast colours a slightly raised effect, which helps define the pattern.  
Madame Alfred
For intarsia with random abutting shapes, use a separate length of yarn for each colour every time it occurs, twisting the two colour around each other to avoid holes whenever a different colour occurs. To eliminate tangles, either wrap each length around a separate piece of card with a small slit along the side edge to secure the yarn and dangle on the back of the work.  If you want to treat yourself you can buy the readymade version in most yarn shops.  Another alternative is to use short lengths of each colour (no longer than 24in/60cm) and untangle at the end of every row.
Tues 3 Jan  Wendy Knits Wendy Johnson  
 Wed 4 Jan  Knitgrrl Shannon Okey
Thurs 5 Jan  Yarnagogo Rachael Herron
 Fri 6 Jan  The Knitter Rosee Woodland
Sat 7 Jan  Rhythm of the Needles  Joanne Conklin
Sun 8 Jan  Knit Purl Gurl  Karrie Steinmetz
                Mon 9 Jan  Craft Sanity  Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
Tues 10 Jan  Planet Purl Beth Moriarty
 Wed 11 Jan  Sunset Cat  Stephannie Tallent
Thurs 12 Jan  A Really Good Yarn  Julie Schilthuis
Fri 13 Jan  knit 1 chicago  Lynn Coe
Sat 14 Jan  Go Knit In Your Hat  Carol Sulcoski
Sun 15 Jan  Redshirt Knitting  Erika Barcott
Mon 16 Jan   In The Loop  Cheryl & Ellen
Tues 17 Jan  WEBS  Kathy Elkins
Wed 18 Jan  Zeneedle  Margene Smith
Thurs 19 Jan   Knitspot  Anne Hanson
Fri 20 Jan   Urban Yarns  Alexa Ludeman
Sat 21 Jan  A Friend to knit with  Leslie Friend
Mon 23 Jan  Tentenknits  Margaux Hufnagel
Tues 24 Jan  Fancy Tiger Crafts  Amber Corcoran
Wed 25 Jan  Chic Knits  Bonne Marie Burns
Thurs 26 Jan  The Panopticon  Franklin Habit


  1. Doing the blog tour would love to win a copy of the sweet Shawlette.


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