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Playing with colour palettes for Pyukkleen

by Ysolda Teague November 10, 2014

Choosing colours for a stranded colourwork project like Pyukkleen is only the beginning. Once you’ve selected a palette you need to decide which colours should be used for the pattern and which for the background and how either or both should be shaded. Above is the palette I used for the cowl. 

This single palette could be divided and shaded in a couple of different ways. Two colours are choosen for the smaller bands and the larger bands have both background and pattern colours shaded. Let’s focus on the larger bands. I think any pair of light and dark could be effective for the smaller bands and would dramatically change the overall effect of the cowl. 

There are three things which can be used to, first, ensure contrast between pattern and background and, secondly, to control how the colours are shaded: 

Warm — cool

Saturated — unsaturated

Dark — light

The palette split into cool and warm colours and shaded so the cool colours go from light to dark and the warmer hues go from dark to light. I’d be worried that the dramatic difference in darkness between the top colours and the rest of their groups would obscure the pattern. If I was going to use this division I’d probably change each of these colours to one with a similar tonal value as the others in their group. This would also increase the contrast between the two groups as one would now be cool and dark and the other would be lighter and warm. Depending on the pattern, however, keeping one of these as it is for a single central row might result in greater liveliness. 

Here is the palette divided as shown in the pattern. Darker colours for the background on the left and lighter colours for the foreground on the right. Both are shaded by saturation or colour intensity so that the bottom, most saturated colours will be at the centre of the band. 

Bex is making a version using brightly coloured leftover Nash Island Wool from her Jenny at the Fair. The varying amounts mean that she’s unable to use some of the colours as C1 and C2 (the colours used for the I-cord edgings and smaller pattern bands). She also only has 5 colours instead of the 6 shown in the pattern so she’ll use 3 for one of the groups and 2 for the other. 

Bex's palette of five colours.
Bex’s palette of five colours.

We also tried to divide these into cool and warm colours, but the pink and burgundy have too much contrast to work very well shaded. 

Although the 2 colours on the right are almost at opposite sides of the colour wheel they have similar tonal values which contrast well with those on the right. In order to maintain contrast between these 2 groups one is shaded from warm to cool and the other from cool to warm — so that each row will have contrast in both hue and tonal value. 

The lower of the two wide bands shows the first grouping and the higher shows the second grouping. You can see that the pattern is much clearer with the second. 
The lower of the two wide bands shows the first grouping and the higher shows the second grouping. You can see that the pattern is much clearer with the second. 

There wasn’t enough of the teal to use it as C1 so that left the burgundy (although you don’t have to stick with the rule that C1 is the first background colour on the wider bands!). Bex tried swatching it with the pink and blue as the background (there wasn’t enough of the pale green either). Although it doesn’t have as much contrast we both liked the pink more — you can see how much just changing this one colour would affect the overall impression of the cowl. One would read as mostly cool with pink elements and the other would be mostly pink and purple. 


Ysolda Teague
Ysolda Teague

Ysolda designs knitting patterns, spent years teaching at events and loves to find new yarns and books to share.



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