A a knitter, I find inspiration almost anywhere — and sometimes it comes in the most likely of places, through viewing art pieces or photographs. Translating those works of art or the mood of a piece into something beautiful to knit and wear can be a challenge, unless you combine the colors in the image into a harmonious and beautiful colorwork palette.
A good place to start is with your pattern, since many colorwork pieces are already charted, and identify how many colors you’ll need. Here is a pattern that I’d like to try and match to — the free Cliff Hat pattern from Shibui Knits, designed by Shellie Anderson.
This hat is clever because it combines the popular ombre effect while still using principles common in Bohus (blended slip-stitch colorwork) and standard colorwork knitting. This makes it a wonderful candidate for playing with new pairings. As you can see, Shellie even outlines the colors used in the hat at the very beginning of the pattern:
You can see that Shellie has created both contrast (among the lightest and darkest tones in the hat) and tonal harmony (everything that lies in between.) With this as a guide, I know that I’ll need two tones that have extreme contrast, and then three colorways that sit somewhere in the middle ground (one of these is a pop color, in the original Poppy fills that role.) Looking at the grayscale, I can identify these high-contrast tones — the darkest part of the image will be my darkest color, and the lightest part of the image is my lightest color.
I can choose my middle ground colors by first identifying a ‘pop’ color. No grayscale is needed here — simply look at the image and see what stands out to you most! I particularly loved the bright yellow-green in this center top section of the image. It stands out quite well against the dark navy blue and pale ivory green that will be my contrast colors.
Then, I chose two colors that complimented this color — these will be just general ‘gray’ in the grayscale image. For the Peter Shepard Cole painting, I chose a bright, tealy blue and a bluish emerald green.
Now, I have my palette and can find yarns in the correct weight to match! The original pattern calls for a light fingering weight yarn, so I looked at Geilsk Thin Wool, Isager Highland Wool, Shibui Pebble (used in the original pattern,) Isager Tvinni and Isager Tvinni Tweed.
I chose Tvinni #13 and #37, with a pop color of Tvinni Tweed #40s. The second Middle color is Geilsk Thin Wool #28 and the final, darkest color is Geilsk Thin Wool #11. The toothiness of these yarns will also help create a more cohesive fabric.
Have fun color mixing!