There are so many beautiful colors available to the modern knitter! How does one choose just a few to combine in a sweater, hat, or shawl? Seasonal color theory, used by many wardrobe and makeup consultants, is also a handy decision-making tool for the knitter. Selecting colors within one color “season” is sure to result in a harmonious blend of hues. Use these color tips to select yarns that will blend into a lovely pattern in your multicolor knitting project.
Basics of seasonal color theory
In seasonal color theory, made famous by Carol Jackson in her book, Color Me Beautiful, every person looks best when wearing colors that are compatible in warmth and intensity to that person’s own hair and skin tones. The seasons are:
Autumn: warm, muted colors such as oranges, golden browns, yellowed greens
Winter: cool, bright colors such as true blue, black, true red, shocking pink
Spring: warm, bright colors such as spring greens, bright yellows, orange reds
Summer: cool, muted colors such as baby blue, powder pink, and mauve.
For wearable items, select colors in the wearer’s season. For non-wearables such as afghans, select any one season to ensure a combination of colors that go together.
Suggested color combinations for each season
Autumn color combinations:
Bolder: bittersweet red, pumpkin, chocolate
Softer: moss green, lime green, salmon
Neutral: chocolate, camel, terra cotta
Winter color combinations:
Bolder: royal blue, emerald green, hot pink
Softer: light gray, navy, ice blue
Neutral: white, gray, black
Spring color combinations:
Bolder: medium violet, bright yellow-green, coral pink
Softer: ivory, peach, pastel yellow-green
Neutral: ivory, camel, golden brown
Summer color combinations:
Bolder: watermelon, deep blue-green, medium blue
Softer: lavender, mauve, plum
Neutral: soft white, light blue-gray, charcoal blue-gray
Expanding color combinations
Any of the suggested color combinations can be extended by adding tints and shades of the suggested colors. A tint is a color with white added, while a shade is a color with black added. Metallic gold may be added to the warm season combinations (autumn and spring) and silver may be added to the cool season combinations (summer and winter.)
For a different approach to selecting color combinations, consult Showing Your Colors by Jeanne Allen. This book contains nothing but page after page of colors in combinations. Use as a reference book when you want to know, for example, what colors really look best with bottle green or magenta. Some of the combinations in this book would give a bold, designer look to your multicolor knitting
Allen, J. (1985). Showing your colors. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.
Jackson, C. (1980). Color me beautiful. New York: Acropolis Books, Ltd.