Tips for Yarn Color Substitution


Marmalade Skies Afghan, Interweave

Crochet Spring 2010

Have you ever spotted a beautiful colorwork pattern and loved every detail except the colors? Whether they are simply the wrong shades for your coloring or the colors of an afghan or home decor item don't match the intended room, we often find ourselves needing to substitute colors. Let's look at a few quick tricks that will help you find the perfect color choices for your next crochet project.

Swirls Pillow, Crochet in Color

Complementary colors, or colors found 180 degrees apart on the color wheel, create a very striking contrast. The Marmalade Skies Afghan, for instance, uses the complementary colors orange and blue to emphasize the geometric shapes of the motifs. Strong complementary colors are a fabulous choice for home decor items such as two-colored afghans or pillows as well as motif or colorwork-patterned garments that emphasize a specific shape or pattern.

Brambles and Berries

Another great method for creating contrast is to add a neutral such as white, black, gray, or brown. This is a technique used frequently in everything from home decor to sweaters. Just think about the beautiful Norwegian-inspired garments created with red and white. Because neutral colors are unsaturated, your attention will focus on the color used, not the neutral it is paired with. Lily Chin uses this technique when creating striking mosaic crochet afghans, such as the Brambles and Berries. The neutral light gray creates a striking contrast to the deep purple.

Julia's Hat, Accessories 2010

Let's talk a bit more about saturation for a minute. Colors come in many levels of saturation, from a bright electric blue to a soft baby blue, for example, or a striking lipstick red to a soft rose tint. Create a soft contrast by using the same color at different saturations, as with Julia's Hat. A more saturated pink is used to create the body of the hat and a paler, less saturated pink adds a gently contrasting ruffle.

Or you can choose two completely different colors that also vary from each other in saturation. The Clover Hat is created with contrasting colors, but the deep pink variegated yarn is also more highly saturated than the green variegated yarn. This hat is in my crochet queue for this winter. I plan to use a combination of a highly saturated blue and an neutral white to create even sharper contrast to highlight the clover pattern.

Clover Hat, Crochet in Color

Check out Kathy Merrick's book Crochet in Color for fabulous colorwork projects or learn mosaic crochet with Lily Chin's Crochet Me Workshop and start playing with color today.

Best wishes,

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