Archives For colour inspiration

This very special guest post began its life as a message on the Curious Handmade Ravelry Group, in the Summertide MKAL thread. There have been so many wonderful conversations going on about colour, but this post just jumped off the page. Shelley, also known as MisKnitz on Ravelry, wrote this very inspiring piece about how she decided on colours for Summertide. It’s a captivating example of just how personal these project choices are for us as creative people, and the language she uses is so beautiful and evocative. It really captures so much of the soul I put into the Summertide pattern, and Shelley hasn’t even seen the first clue yet! I thought her process and storytelling deserved a wider audience, so I asked her if I could share it here with the wider Curious Handmade community. I know you’ll love it as much as I did. 


In choosing colors for my project, I really pondered Helen’s description of her inspiration for this MKAL pattern – that glorious feeling of summer and how when this time of year rolls around, we want to hold on to it as long as we can – and asked myself the question, “What does summer mean to me?” The answer was easy …


I live in Minnesota. Land of 10,000 Lakes. (Actually 11,842 named lakes of a certain size and over 15,000 lakes when the smaller, unnamed bodies of water are included.) Land of Sky Blue Water. (“Sky blue water” is the English translation of the Dakota word “Minnesota.”) When one thinks “Minnesota,” one thinks “lakes.”

Growing up and living in Minnesota, my life has always revolved around lakes. I’ve spent countless hours over the years on and in our beautiful lakes. To this day, I spend as many hours as I can enjoying them – almost every weekend from May through September, my family and I are at the lake cabin.

So once I gave it some thought, choosing colors for this project was easy. Lake = Blue. However, not just “blue.” Spend time on a lake, and not only will you see every shade of blue imaginable, you will seen grays, greens, purples, whites, yellows, pinks and oranges. All, however, touched with blue. The light blue, almost clear, shallow water. The navy and purple of deep, deep waters. The gray and black of a reflected stormy sky and the bright crisp blue of a clear sky. The smokey white reflections of passing clouds. The bright, foamy turquoise of a boat’s wake. The greenish water surrounding a field of rushes, cattails and lily pads. The pinks, oranges and yellows of the rising sun on the calm morning lake and the reddish glow of the sun setting on the lake’s western edge, all bathed in the blue of the lake and sky. The purple-black bottomless depths of a lake at night with the reflected stars dancing on the surface. The roiling steel blue-gray and white of whitecaps on a windy day. It’s all there. It’s all blue.

So, I threw out my notion of picking colors just because they looked good together and they happened to be in my stash. I discarded thoughts of using warm fall colors or the deep jewel tones often associated with winter. Yes, I will be wearing the shawl during those seasons, but the point of the shawl is to capture the feeling of summer and wrap myself in it during the cold, gray days of winter. Perhaps this winter I will ice skate or ski on the frozen lake wearing my Summertide shawl and I will compare the colors of an awake summer lake to the sleeping lake of winter – still beautiful but without the depth and variety of color of a lake in summer.

With all of that in mind, with my large TML stash laid out in front of me, my hands instantly reached for these two skeins. The Celadon is breathtaking. I’ve had this skein in my stash for years and have never been able to bring myself to knit with it. I knew the project had to be special. It is predominantly a cool greenish blue, but take a closer look and you’ll see pale, washed out blue; smokey lavender; light, steely-gray; fresh light green; jewel-like turquoise; and a hint of dusky pink. All colors represented in the lake depending on the time of day, the weather, the depth of the water, and the movement of the water. This color represents the ever-changing color of the lake.


But, always, there is the blue. The blue is predominant, and the second, darker skein is that base. That “ever present” nature of the lake. Despite it’s changeable mood, the blue personality of the lake is always there. Ink is a deep, deep blue that looks like a rich, dark purple depending on the light and the colors that surround it. To me it represents the solid base of the lake – the inky darkness of the deepest waters. The lake’s foundation in the earth.


As with most yarns, the colors change depending on the light and which colors they’re surrounded by. The Celadon can look very greenish or very blueish. The pink and lavender tones can be very noticeable or not so much. The Ink can look like a deep navy blue or like a royal purple. The surprise of seeing which colors come through will be part of the charm of this shawl just as they are a part of the lake!

I hope to wear the completed shawl and feel surrounded by the lake and capture that feeling of summer all year long.

Thank you so much to Shelley for allowing me to repost this lovely reflection on the blog. There are still a couple of days left before the Summertide MKAL officially begins, so if you’d like to join Shelley, myself, and over 480 other knitters (so far!), come over to Ravelery! The pattern is on sale now, and the first clue will arrive on September 10th. 

Today we welcome the very talented Anj from Meadow Yarn. She spends her days surrounded by some of the most amazing yarns on the planet, and all that beauty has given her a wonderful eye for colour. As you know, Tosh Merino Light is one of the recommended yarns for the Summertide Shawl MKAL. Meadow Yarns stocks this wonderful stuff, and Anj agreed to give us her favourite ideas of colour combinations for your lovely mystery shawl. Thank you so much Anj!
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I love seeing new colour combinations and choosing for the pure love of the colours rather than choosing to knit something for myself and having to consider boring issues like whether they actually suit me (or match my coat) is incredibly liberating! I’ve tried to find a range of combinations from subtle neutrals through sophisticated tonal variations to downright zingy contrasts…
Vermillion & Courbet’s Green Vermillion is an outrageously saturated cherry/raspberry red that just sings alongside the subtly tonal Courbet’s Green… I think this might be my favourite and it might even match my coat!
Aura & Thyme – Gentle, perfectly complimentary pastel shades of blue & green… what could be more lovely…
Robin Red Breast & Astrid Grey – Astrid Grey is a soft warm grey that works beautifully with Autumnal shades and Robin Redbreast is a great tonal russet red.
Oceana & Chamomile – This is a fabulous combination and one day I might be brave enough to wear it! Oceana is a vivid azure, an idyllic Meditteranean sky and Chamomile is the sunflowers growing beneath it…
Manor & Button Jar Blue – Both tonally complimentary, yet with fabulous contrast. Manor is a complex melange of forest greens and teal tones and Button Jar is the ever-popular bright turquoise that is much loved by Madtosh fans, it’s a winning combination…
Kitten and Paper are a perfectly subtle pairing. Kitten is a complex neutral ranging from steel through greige to the pale parchment highlights that are picked out perfectly by the flat off-white alabaster of Paper.
There, something for every knitter… now I just have to decide which colour combination to use for my own Summertide!
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Another big thanks to Meadow Yarn! Has one of these stolen your heart? We’ll be discussing colour choices and more on the Ravelry thread, so come join us. I’m going to be giving away 10 free copies of the Summertide Shawl Pattern, and everyone who posts in the thread will be automatically entered in the draw!

I’m so happy to be able to share this post with you. Kristen (the yarn genius behind Skein’s hand-dyed loveliness) is visiting the blog today to give us some inspiration in the days leading up to the start of the Summertide MKAL. This lady knows a lot about colour! Her beautiful yarn will be available for pre-order on Friday at Skein, perfectly timed for the beginning of the MKAL! Thanks so much, Kristen


Hello everyone!  It’s Kristen from Skein here to help give you a few tips on selecting colour combinations for the Summertide Shawl MKAL.  As you know, the mystery shawl is going to be knit from two colours.  Here are a couple of points to help you choose a winning colour combination

1. Choose What You Love

Go to your stash, your LYS or online and find ONE skein of yarn in a colour that makes your heart sing.  Don’t think about anything else; just let your eyes wander over the colours until you find ‘the one’.

2. Time to Decide


Now it’s time to choose a second colour, and here’s where you need to stop and ask yourself a few questions:

1. Do you want there to be a lot of contrast, which will turn the shawl into a bold statement?   or

2. Do you want a more subtle effect?

If you want to knit a shawl with high contrast, then you might want to look for a complementary colour (the colour that sits opposite on the colour wheel).  For example, if you have chosen purple, you might want to look for a complementary yellow.  However, if you’re after something more subtle, then choose colours that have a similar hue, known as analogous colours (colours that sit next to each other on the colour wheel).

Another way of brightening or toning down a colour combination is by playing around with tone.  Basically, tone is the lightness or darkness of a colour.  For example, a very pale lilac will have less contrast than a vivid violet.  If you have chosen a pale colour and you want to give your combination a lift, choose a bright second colour. Or, if you want to keep your colour combination subtle, select a colour that has a similar tone.  If in doubt, choose a grey or neutral.  Greys and neutrals paired with any colour is a fail safe choice.

3. Test Your Colour Combo

So, now you have chosen your yarns, let’s see if you will like them together.  There’s a very simple way to do this: take both of your yarns and twist them together – are you happy with how they look?  Twisting the yarns together will give you a good indication as to how these two colours will knit up.

We have pre-orders available for this KAL, so I thought it would be fun to share with you a few selected colour combinations.

1. Boho – This combo will add a little zing to your shawl, a bright pop of variegated colour mixed with a subtle semi-solid.



2. Bright and Bold – These are all very strong colours that will contrast nicely together


3. Chic – The fail safe grey paired with a pop of colour, which is great for those wanting a little contrast but not too much!


4. Chilled Out – Pale shades together are always very soothing; they are perfect for those who are after something subtle.


misty sea


5.  Minimal – Again we see grey mixed with light colours, or you can opt for a monochromatic colour combination using a dark and pale grey.


6. Natural – A nice mix of neutrals, or add a hint of green for a natural look.


7. Romantic – Use shades of pink to create an ultra-feminine combination.


8. Touch of Whimsy – Use a strong semi-solid and pair it with a variegated to get a whimsical feel, OR, pair light and dark colours together for contrast.  And, if you’re undecided, don’t forget neutrals!  They will work well with all colours.


Have a wonderful time selecting your colours. If you need help with a colour combination, I’m always happy to give advice!  Finally, I just want to say a big thank you to Helen for asking me to be a part of the Summertide Shawl MKAL.

Happy knitting!

Thanks again to Kristen and Skein for being such a big part of the Summertide MKAL. If you haven’t joined us on the Ravelry thread yet, come on over! I’ll be giving away 10 free copies of the pattern before it officially goes on sale, so set up your project page and jump in with a post if you’d like to be entered in the draw. It’s a great way to get to know the other knitters and really share the excitement and surprise. 

Did you see the announcement about the postcard bloggers last week? Here is the first postcard thanks to Kate of the A Playful Day blog and podcast. I love how she thought about finding colour even in the most urban of environments.

Next week is Clare Devine of Yarn and Pointy Sticks.

Hi Helen,

I know you’ve been thinking about colour this month and I wanted to share one of my favourite games when exploring my home town- ‘find the colour.’

You see, I’ve been a city girl most of my life and London’s hustle and bustle, grey cityscape and urban vibe has always been my colour palette. I ALWAYS choose grey when I buy new yarn. It can get a little dreary though if I’m honest Helen.


So I find myself actively seeking those surprising peeks of colour that you get in modern cities. That unexpected gorgeousness from the produce of the greengrocers on the corner….

produce at greengrocers

The Banksy you gaze at every time you walk by….


Even the rug in your favourite grungy pub can feel like a welcome reminder that colour is everywhere on a grey day.


There’s always something surprising waiting to be found and I like to think of my stash in the same way- a jumble of colours tucked in amongst all that grey!

grey & colourful yarn

Can’t wait to hear you colour and travel stories too!

Kate x

This Tuesday the Global Nomad Handwarmers went live and they are the perfect complement to the Global Nomad cowl. If you are signed up to the newsletter you’ll have received an exclusive discount code for the whole Dream Big Collection and this quick to knit handwarmer pattern is currently 50% off until the end of today so get them now and get your hands warm!

With this colour combination, a more muted palette seemed a little more seasonally appropriate rather than the bright sunshine yellow of the original cowl. The great thing about both of these projects is they make use of partial skeins in your stash, so this lends itself to endless colourplay. There’s lots of great tools out there for helping you decided which colours would work best from Pinterest to photography apps like Instagram. One trick that might be handy to know is to take a picture of the colours you’ve chosen and then use the black and white filter on your phones camera options. If the colours of each yarn still pop next to each other, you’re going to have a strong contrast.

There’s a website to help you choose colours that is endlessly inspiring. Have you discovered the Colourlovers website yet? Here’s a quick demonstration of the kind of fun you can have. First, let’s look at the inspiration from the Global Nomad cowl.

cowl collage

This is a bright palette and it was easy to pick out 4 contrasting colours that would work well with the help of the colour palette maker on Colourlovers. However, then comes the question of how to pair this accessory with the rest of your wardrobe. This is where the pattern maker comes in really handy because you can play around with the amount of each colour that takes the lead. Here are two examples of the bright palette with different percentages used:



It’s now really easy to see that you don’t have to go with JUST brights to make an impact. The one on the right, ‘All about the grey’ is the perfect way of introducing some of this season’s brights without being too overwhelming.

So if a more muted palette is your thing…



This got quite addictive and I found myself back at Meadow Yarns, looking through their beautiful selection of Madelinetosh DK and thinking about more projects…

M Tosh Collage

So what colours will you be choosing from your stash and adding to your winter wardrobe? Have any plans for some new purchases? Come tell us in the Curious Handmade Ravelry group!


If all this chatter about choosing colours from stash has reminded you that your stash soon needs to be ready for all that Holiday knitting you planned to be super organised with this year, don’t panic! KnitVent 2014 is coming and it’s brimming with tips and tricks to help get you organised for the Holidays, feeling festive and the kind of Christmas knitting patterns that you’ll enjoy knitting as much as gifting. Are you ready to get your #giftingzen on?