Choose the best shades for colorwork projects
11/14/2017                       #735
We're a little obsessed with colorwork in the Berroco Design office.

To us, there are few things better than a pair of fun colorwork mittens or a cheerful colorwork hat (and don't get us started on colorwork yoked sweaters because you'll be here all day and we'll all have different suggestions for colors for your sweater). Choosing colors for upcoming projects is one of our favorite things to do, so today I wanted to talk a little bit about how to choose those colors and what to do once you've chosen those colors. 

Last year I wrote a blog post about picking out your colors and making sure that they work together well, but all of that was based on the colors playing nicely before you work with them. The trick is that sometimes you choose the colors and follow the "plan" and they may still not quite work so well together.
For this experiment, I used six different colors of Berroco Tuscan Tweed™ to work up this swatch using the colorwork chart from a free pattern called Fox Grape. The pattern uses Grape and Iris, which are the two colors at the bottom of my swatch. Then, keeping Grape as the background color, I added in Sweet Briar, and then Oak. I switched to Iris for the background color of the top, using Columbine and then Cherries. 
As the blog post discusses, for colorwork that pops, we want color values that balance out (your preferences may lean more toward monochrome colorwork with lower contrast, but you can use these tools as well). I took this photo, ran it through a quick photo editor or the photo options on my phone, and got the monochrome version of it to check the values. Sweet Briar and Iris (the two bottom colors) look virtually the same against the Grapes background, and have really strong contrast, as do Columbine and Cherries (top two colors) against the Iris background. The middle pattern, which used Oak against the Grapes background, has less contrast, but still enough that you can determine which color is lighter and which is darker. If I knit the Fox Grape mittens using Oak and Grapes, each color would still stand out against the other, but the overall affect would be more muted than the sample shown in the photographs.
Swatching for colorwork is really important because colors tend to play tricks on each other when they’re blended together. Take a closer look at the Iris background at the top. I used the same ball of Iris throughout knitting it, but Iris picks up the warmer tones of Cherries, making it appear brighter and warmer at the very top, but cools down when paired with Columbine. So swatching before knitting the whole thing lets you know how the colors are going to affect one another. 

If you, like me, tend to collect scraps of yarn from finished projects but don’t always know what to do with them, they’re great for colorwork practice! Find a simple pattern repeat and work out for yourself what colors you like to see paired together, how you like to hold the yarns, what types of patterns you find appealing, etc. If you prefer to practice with an actual project, take a look at this week's free pattern.
Download This Week's Free Pattern
This week's free pattern is Cloudberry, a pair of fingerless mitts that use a variation of the stitch motif used in the swatches shown above. Three colors of Berroco Ultra® Alpaca are used to create these fun wrist warmers, and you have an endless number of color combinations. 
Find Berroco Ultra Alpaca Near You

Do you have any tips and tricks for working colorwork, or any questions on your mind? Let us know—just reply to this email! 

Happy knitting, 


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