The Design Process: Working with Color

Fairisle SampleWhen I wrote the three part article series for Britain’s magazine, Knitting (last Winter, sorry I don’t have the dates at hand) I was really thinking about knitters for whom the use of color is not intuitive or they do not feel confident in their choices. Of course, this only applies if you have the desire to dabble in design or changing things, but the best choices for me are ones in which I make them not based out of fear, but out of what I want in my knitting. So if you have no interest in doing your own thing with color, this article may not be for you. You may want a knitting pattern that you don’t have to change the colorway on…but say you like everything but a couple of the colors? What then?

When looking at things like postcards, photographs, or even bits of knitting like the one at left, you will note that there will be colors that dominate in amount as well as intensity, and colors that play a supportive role. (The design at left is one I have worked out with two different colorways. This is the bright one).

If every conversation in the room were equally riveting and equally loud, you would hear noise. You could not participate equally in every conversation and be equally engaged without making your ears tired and your head hurt.

The same is true with our eyes. Our eyes need areas that command attention and areas that do not. Those areas that do not are equally important, as they balance and add to what the “main subject” is. In Fine Art, areas of greatest contrast draw the eye the most. This may be a principle of fine art, but it is also one we use in our knitting. You see it in fairisles and other types of color knitting. You even see it yarns such as handpaints.

Take note of what you are drawn to and how it makes you feel.  How does it make you feel to use it. Who does it say you are, and what does it say about you? Notice what you are drawn to and how many colors that there are in the colorway. Which ones are dominant? Which ones are not? How much contrast is there? Do you like bright colors, or more subdued colors? Do you like rich colors, or those lower in saturation of color?  If you like calm and quiet, you may tone down a colorway by choosing colors with less contrast or less vivid colors. If you like things to be bright, and the colorway leans towards the dull, choose colors of greater intensity and more contrast to replace the main colors. And so on.

There are many resources out there – books, magazines, web sites, color theory tools such as color wheels, even our every day world. Don’t be afraid to use from Fine Art to help you bring yourself into your knitting. Every artist has certain tools which overlap from one medium to the next, and color is a big one.  I have even devoured books on color that are water color books! Just because they are not “about knitting” or full of knitting patterns does not mean it cannot enrich the knitting experience.

 Peace and Knitting, JoLene

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5 Responses to “The Design Process: Working with Color”

  1. LaurieM Says:

    This is excellent advice.

    Even if I don’t always have the time to comment, I do appreciate your thought provoking blog entries. I sense a blog post of my own coming on….. 🙂

  2. jolenetreace Says:

    ROFL! It was such a balance let me tell you. Am I making it too long? Is it too short to be useful? Am I asking myself too many questions? Glad to see you pop in when you can. VBG.

  3. Kyle Ann M. Y. Says:

    This is my first time responding to any blog. Is this a Blog? I love your writings and i am happpy know there is someone on my wave length in the world. I guess there are a lot of knitters, but I do not think they communicate this well necessarily and i think you have described the reason well. The right brain takes over for the time and the left side really relaxes. Thanks for your time and energy.

  4. Kyle Ann M. Y. Says:

    PS. I am in Chula Vista, California where a sweater vest would be sufficient most of the time. I love the look of yours.

  5. JoLene Treace Says:

    Thank you, Kyle Ann, for your kind words. Yes, this is a blog. A blog is a web log, a sort of online Diary. Now that I am back to work I am not as good about writing in it like I was when I was on leave. Hope to get back to doing more and glad you enjoy it.

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