Choosing a Contrast Color

I have a significant, documented obsession with Jared Flood’s Turn a Square hat pattern.  Whenever I’m in the mood for instant gratification and a not-too-hard-but-not-too-simple project, it’s my go-to for a basic watchman’s cap with a nicely shaped crown.

For these hats, I had a lonely skein of self-striping yarn in my stash (I think it’s Merino, it didn’t have a label).  I knit up a quick hat using the Wool of the Andes worsted in Mink Heather as the contrast color, making a small dent in my stash and leaving me with more than 50% of my mystery self-striping yarn.

Not one to waste an almost-insignificant amount of yarn, I thought I’d knit a second hat using the leftovers from the first.  This time I paired the mystery striping yarn with Wool of the Andes in Chocolate.

Both hats were great stash busting projects, but what really made an impression on me was how different the striping yarn looks when paired with two different shades.  The Mink Heather hat causes the lighter yellow and orange colors to fade away a bit and the blue shade really pops.  With the darker Chocolate hat, each of the four major colors in the striping yarn show up with equal prominence, giving the finished project a totally different look.

When planning a project that pairs a solid with a multi, it’s important to think about the effect your contrast color will have on the existing colors in your other yarn.  It’s tempting to take a multi like Stroll Handpaint in Tree Fort and pair it with a dark brown or green, but those colors may make the browns and greens in the multi yarn fade out a little or get lost in the project.  If you try something a little different and pick a color that complements the shades in the multi instead of matching them exactly, you may end up with a more balanced color effect in the final project.  I’m running into this right now while crocheting some stash busting granny square afghans for gifts – it’s tricky to pick just the right shade for the “sashing” between blocks and the outside perimeter of the blanket, but when you get the right color it’s like magic.