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Exploring Color in Knitting

Beyond Color Theory

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Exploring Color in Knitting

Exploring Color in Knitting by Sarah Hazell and Emma King.

Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

There are several books out there that aim to teach crafters more about color theory so they can more confidently pick colors for their projects (I've actually reviewed a couple: ColorWorks and ColorSense), but Exploring Color in Knitting: Techniques, Swatches, and Projects to Expand Your Knitting Horizons takes a slightly different approach.

Sarah Hazell and Emma King do talk about color theory a bit, but that's not really the focus of the book. Instead, the examples and sample patterns in the book aim to make knitters more confident in choosing colors by getting them to play with and look at yarn and understand the color combinations they like most and why they work.

About the Book

  • Pages: 160
  • Format: paperback
  • Number of patterns: 5
  • Skill level: beginner to advanced beginner
  • Illustrations: full-color photographs
  • Publication date: September 2011

Color Lessons

Exploring Color in Knitting follows a rather natural progression of understanding how color works, and teachers readers a lot without getting too technical. It starts with a quick overview of what color actually is and different responses we have to color, and encourages readers to start paying attention to their own responses to color.

It goes on to cover some of the basic terms you need to know when talking about color such as warm and cool; tint, tone and shade; bright, pastel and neutral; complementary and analogous. But it doesn't get too deep into any of these discussions and offers good examples using yarn that we can all relate to.

The examples, in fact, are the highlight of this book. There are many times when the same pattern will be used in several different swatches so you can see the effect of, say, mixing bright colors with different neutrals or how different a palette looks with three colors instead of two.

For many of the concepts in this section there are also sample patterns you can try that will get you thinking more about concepts like hue, using neutrals together and knitting with contrasting colors in the same project.

The chapter on proportion and stitchwork is fascinating and invaluable to anyone who wants to knit with more color. It looks at finding the right number of colors and ratio of colors to each other in a project, whether using stripes, stranded knitting or intarsia. This section also shows what happens when you use different colors in different positions in the same colorwork pattern.

It goes on to look at how the stitch pattern and fiber content can affect the way color is perceived in the project.

Next up is another great chapter on color and decoration, again full of awesome examples of how colored beads look on different backgrounds and how the same background looks with different colored beads on top. It also looks at other methods of embellishment like adding flowers, surface motifs, buttons, edgings and embroidery and how all that can alter a color scheme.

Finally the book covers intarsia and stranded knitting techniques, showing how different colors work in different designs and offering patterns to try.

The Patterns

Each pattern in Exploring Color in Knitting is meant to teach a lesson about one of the color concepts or to help you build your knitting skills. As such, they're maybe not the most creative projects out there, but they are still interesting and will help you learn more about how to work with color and your feelings about particular colors.

The Hue Family Bag, for example, is a cute bucket bag, mostly worked in a solid color with a band of different colors in the same hue worked in a slip stitch pattern at the top. The Stitchwork Cushion is worked in a solid color, but the different textures of the tumbling blocks cast shadows on the yarn in interesting ways (the yarns aren't named in the text, but they're from Rowan, by the way).

The Fair Isle Mitts are pretty, colorful and certainly don't look like a learning project. They include six different colors, which doesn't really sound like a learning project, either, but only a small portion of the project is even charted, so it's not too difficult.

Bottom Line

Exploring Color in Knitting is an excellent resource for knitters who want to make more confident color choices and to learn a bit more about color without feeling too intimidated by all the artistic terminology that's usually thrown around when color theory comes into the room.

Even if you never knit any of the patterns in the book, just reading through it and looking at all the swatches is sure to inspire you to pick up your needles, a few colorful balls of yarn, maybe even a few beads or buttons, and play with color in your knitting. And that's really what it's all about.

Publisher's website

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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