Color Theory for Yarnies: Matching the Mismatched

Craft & Design

When faced with a pile of yarn scraps, it can be quite a puzzle getting them to match. How does one take yarn from a baby sweater and get it to look dazzeling with leftovers from a men’s glove set? Or what about that half skein of verigated yarn? What will that go with. Today I’m going to show you some practical applications of color theory! I love Joseph Albers’ teachings on color theory and read them like a favorite novel. Not everyone does though, or may be asking, who is Joseph Albers anyway? Without reading texts on theory, you can still get some great use from color theory basics. I’m going to show you how using stripes + some basic color theory makes color matching a no brainer.

Contrasting Colors: Colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel. Red and Green; Blue and Orange; Yellow and Purple.
{Striped Baby Sock pattern from Knit Spirit en français; in english}
Thumbnail image for cl-babyanalogous.jpg
Analogous Colors: colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. Yellow Green Blue Purple Red Orange Yellow Green Blue…. You get the idea. Pick two to three. You don’t want to just go around the whole color wheel, that would be the next idea.
{Striped Knitted Baby Set from Better Homes and Gardens; photo by sofiecat on Ravelry}
Rainbow. Sometimes you can create unity by just mashing everything together – a stripe of every color. Keep in mind that you can alternate light and dark stripes or pick colors that are all the same tone (description of tone).
Wild Stripes on
Monochromatic: Tinting one color from its full strength all the way to white. So going from red to pink to white will always look dynamic.
{Chromium Star Blanket from A Whole Load of Craft; picture by theKidneyBean on Ravelry}
And taking those three ideas – contrasting, analogous, and rainbows of color – you can pair them with more neutral colors. I like using a neutral color for the main color of a striping pattern and then any other combo for the secondary stripes. Variegated yarns work especially well with this technique.
{Vortex Hat pattern on}
{Treeline Striped Cardigan on Purl Bee}
{Turn a Square Hat; free ravelry download}
Next time you look to your stash, don’t be intimidated by color matching. Just use one or more of these principles I’ve shown you today and get started on your next leftovers project with confidence and ease.

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Hi! I am an artist, author, and owner of a modern apothecary called Little Woods in Ames, Iowa.

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