Choosing Color Palettes

My very favorite aspect of crocheting & knitting is choosing a color palette (followed closely by the keen anticipation of waiting for yarn to arrive at my doorstep). A tasteful color scheme is crucial, as it will make or break a project. There is an endless sea of brilliant color combinations to choose from … you just have to know where to look!

First, I set up a Pinterest board to store my color palette images. Next, I start compiling images with lovely color schemes. There are quite a few sites that make this a breeze. My favorite is Design Seeds, which is updated daily with gorgeous color palettes pulled from photos.

Here’s an example of a yarn color scheme in our wool line Palette that I extracted from a Design Seeds image:

Horse Hues Palette

You can easily create your own color schemes, too! Just find any photo you like (Pinterest is a great place to search for images), pull a few colors from it, and then pick matching yarns. I am in love with this chair image I found on Pinterest, and was able to create two lovely and unexpected color schemes from it:
armchair
Swish color scheme: Swish Color Palette
Palette color scheme: Palette Color Scheme

My favorite color inspiration sites:
Creature Comforts – lovely illustrations and photographs curated for color inspiration
Design Seeds – daily updated with a plethora of gorgeous color palettes
Pinterest – a never-ending mountain of digital inspiration. Search for: color board, color palette, color inspiration, wedding color palette, fabric pattern
TinEye Labs – Upload an image of your choice, and the site pulls a color palette for you!
ColourLovers – a creative community featuring color palettes, patterns and trends
Any fabric site! Fabric patterns are a great source for color combinations. One of my favorites is Spoonflower.

My favorite Pinterest color inspiration boards:
http://pinterest.com/indiemay/color-inspiration/
http://pinterest.com/centsationalgrl/color-inspiration/
http://pinterest.com/perfectpalette/perfect-palettes/
http://pinterest.com/niutatianap/life-in-color/


12 comments

  1. Anonima / August 26, 2013

    Nice post – choosing colors that complement each other is the hardest part of starting a project for me, so thanks for the helpful links!

  2. Dianne / August 26, 2013

    Wonderful sources! Thanks.

  3. Penny Teem / August 27, 2013

    I love Palette yarn. The color selection is great!

  4. Roxanne / August 27, 2013

    Great information! I’m always wondering how to get a great color combination and now you have given me some ideas!!

  5. Kate G / August 28, 2013

    Being a painter, whenever I come across a color combination I like and want to remember for a knitting project, I match my craft paint to record the colors on a page in my spiral-bound index card notebook for safekeeping. I make note of the date, intended project, where I discovered the combination and any other necessary notes. If I have a lot of design ideas about the project, I write them on regular notebook paper and file it in a 3 ring binder of project ideas making note of the “palette” page number in the index card notebook and vice versa, noting the section of the notes for the prospective project of the design notebook on the index card notebook page. The index card notebook is small enough to fit in your purse.

    A problem I always seem to have in choosing a palette for afghans is finding that just right last color–one that ties the whole palette together. If it is not right, it throws the whole project off. I usually find that last right color in another brand or a yarn in a totally different fiber content. For example, I will describe my very first trip to a real yarn shop several years ago. To be fair, I was a beginning knitter and I had no idea the store I picked was going out of business shortly after I visited. My project was a clipping I kept from Woman’s Day called, “Snuggle Up!” It calls for 5 fall-colored yarns. We were able to put together enough of a medium shade of mushroom and forest green, and medium-dark copper and reddish-plum. For the fifth color, any color we liked was short a skein or two. We settled on a medium shade of pumpkin. To me, this last color really clashes with the rest of the colors. I made the afghan anyway. I left it for awhile, not sure if I would find a better color to replace the pieces knitted with this orange. I decided I’d finish piecing it together as is and making a whole new one with properly coordinating colors. I spent two whole days last week inventorying my stash and got enough to do a better version. I still have to use two yarns of a different brand that are of a slightly different composition of wool and acrylic fibers. Since finding KnitPicks, I know where I can start to put a project together. (“Snuggle Up! ” was pre-internet.) I have learned not to buy for a project unless all its pieces and parts are available, I am happier with the results. And, I love the challenge of coordinating a palette to my mind’s eye–it makes it more like a painting. The challenges of knitting is what is interesting to me and having a huge range of colors makes knitting satisfying.

    Do you have specific tips for approaching that fifth (and successive) color choices? Can you speak to how the industry decides on the range of colors for each fiber composition? And, generally, what factors determine a yarn product’s shelf life or duration in production?

    Thank you.
    Kate G

    • Heidi W / August 29, 2013

      Hey, Kate!
      Sounds like you’ve fine-tuned the delicate color selection process! Saving paint palettes for future knitting use is a marvelous idea. Who would have thought one could find creative inspiration outside of Pinterest :)

      That last color does prove difficult to choose. I’ve found it often ends up being that ‘pop’ or finishing touch, so I try and think outside of the box. Try pulling a color from a different color palette/photo than the one you started with. Referencing two different color palettes and mixing the color swatches is a great way to uncover unexpected color combos.

      I can’t speak to the intricacies of yarn production, but those are interesting questions! Best of luck, and happy ‘painting’!

      • Kate G / September 4, 2013

        Thank you. I see KnitPicks Color Booklet & Color Wheel book and watched the corresponding video. The video is a great help in making it easier to choose colors. I think I’ll get the book, too. #80037
        I’m getting there…

  6. Aly@BabycakesCreates / August 30, 2013

    What a great post! I often get so wrapped up in selecting a pattern that I don’t spend enough time considering color choices. I tried out the TinEye Labs link, and loved the results.

  7. LuAnn / September 1, 2013

    Another terrific source is I’ve used is Kleenex brand tissue boxes. Really!

  8. Kayleigh / September 2, 2013

    Another cool site for palettes is http://spacepalettes.tumblr.com – palettes pulled from gorgeous astronomy photos

    • Heidi W / September 4, 2013

      Wow, those are lovely palettes. Thanks for the tip!

  9. Dee / September 5, 2013

    I, too, am an artist. I’m also a lace knitter–and with lace, I find it’s too easy to add too many stitch patterns and/or colors! That said, I’m also fascinated by mosaic knitting, fair isle, and color palettes that satisfy.

    There are many sites to help you find color palettes others have created, for example: http://www.colourlovers.com/fashion/palettes?page=467. At this site you’ll find literally hundreds of PAGES of color palettes to browse through and match to KnitPicks Palette yarns.

    Or, you can choose an online image (Google any word, such as “tiger” or “hummingbird” or “orchid.” add a comma and “image,” and hundreds of photos will come up when you click on “more images.” Download ones you like, then visit: http://www.colr.org. Upload your photos one at a time, and this site will extract all the colors for you to choose a palette from!

    My favorite site, however, is for the truly adventurous knit-artist who wants to find her own cache of colors: http://mudcu.be/sphere/ . (Copy and paste any of these URLs in your address bar.) This site allows you to choose between two to six colors and teaches about triadic schemes, split complimentaries, and the like. It even allows you to view colors according to the various visual disorders, so if your hubby can only interpret colors in a certain way, you can find a palette you enjoy that he can see, too.

    Check out: http://websitetips.com/color/ to get many more tips on the uses of color, along with access to many different sites that can help with finding color palettes.

    Thanks to the internet, nobody should be left in the dark about color usage and combinations anymore.

    I have often spent many hours on the sites I mention here; they’re helpful in choosing seasonal color combinations in apparel, in home decor as well as knitting and crochet–and anything else we see in color! It’s no longer necessary to spend money on books or classes to learn how to enjoy colors.

    Consider that no time is wasted which is spent learning to influence emotional well-being by making eyes happy–and happy hunting!

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