Welcome to the Neighborhood Fiber Blog! For this post, I thought I’d share a little bit about our newest website feature: The Palette Builder Tool, a place where you could see any of our colors together in a side-by-side lineup to compare different shades and hues, check for contrast, and build your dream color scheme. Here’s how it works.
Find the Palette Builder on our homepage menu at the top of the page. In the dropdown menu, select which base you want to browse our colors in. We decided to split it up by base because some of our yarns and fibers take dyes differently. One colorway dyed on a worsted-spun, 100% Merino yarn like Organic Studio DK will look pretty different on a fluffy, blended fiber yarn like Suri Loft, for instance. All the different bases available in the Palette Builder only use photos from that base, so you’re getting the most accurate representation of how the color looks.
Before we start, it can be helpful to understand some basic color theory, so let’s take a nostalgia trip to art class and talk about the color wheel. We’re working with colors created from dyes, so our three primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. Our secondary colors - those created from mixing two primaries together - are green, violet, and orange. Tertiary colors are those created from mixing a primary and a secondary color together, and include red-orange, blue-green, yellow-green, etc.
There are also terms for how these colors relate to each other.Complementary colors are very well known - these colors are diametrically opposite on the color wheel, and they offer the most chromatic contrast. For instance, the red is the complementary color to green. You can also create schemes withsplit-complementary colors by selecting a color next to the complement, which still offers a lot of contrast without clashing too much. Red’s split-complements are yellow-green and blue-green.
Triadsare another relationship that can be used to start a color palette. These are groups of three consisting of the primaries (red, yellow, blue), the secondaries (green, violet, and orange), and the tertiaries (blue-green, yellow-orange, and red-violet OR yellow-green, red-orange, and blue-violet). Triads can be used to create very pleasing color combinations because they have contrast, but they’re united by their status of being primary, secondary, or tertiary.
We can also plananalogous schemes, which consist of colors that appear next to each other on the color wheel. Because analogous colors have common pigments, they create harmonious, yet low-contrast combinations that are great for ombres and gradients (which I’ll talk about a little later). Yellow-orange, orange, red-orange, red, and red-violet is one example of an analogous scheme.
But of course, we dye loads of original colorways that feature multiple colors in layers, speckles, and intense variegation. Our colors don’t always fit neatly into one color group or another, but that means there aremany possible ways to apply theory to practice - that’s where the Palette Builder can help. Let’s get started!
Say I’m planning to make a stranded colorwork sweater in our Organic Studio DK - let’s useRattlesnake by Jamie Hoffman. When I open that Palette Builder, it’ll look like this:
I know that I’ll need plenty of contrast to make the cactus and diamond motifs clearly visible in my project. To start putting the palette together, I’ll click on any tile with a color I think I’ll like, and it will appear on the right side of the screen. This Rattlesnake sample in the link uses Rosemont as the main color (MC), Edgewood as contrast color (CC) 1, Ernest Shaw as CC2, and Oaklee as CC3 - here’s what they look like together in the Palette Builder:
It can be very helpful to take inspiration from the colors originally used in the pattern to make sure your own colors will work well. This palette’s most dominant colors are green and orange, from the secondary color triad, which are complemented by a warm neutral whose speckles aren’t too heavy. The speckles in Ernest Shaw also pick up on the dark brown moments in Oaklee.
This is a beautiful palette, but maybe these aren’t your favorite colors. No problem! Let’s try applying all these elements to something a little different, maybe with some purples and green.
Here I’ve used Cedonia for my light shade, Remington for my dark shade, Shami for my neutral, and Canton for bright contrast. Shami has some very bright speckles, but its base is a cool gray that gives the eye a break from the more saturated tonals. It also contains some turquoise, which is also present in teal-green Canton.
But high-contrast isn’t always the goal with building a color scheme. I personally love gradients and fades, which depend on subtle changes from one color to another. Light-to-dark fades use a change in value, likeFading Point by Joji Locatelli. Ourspeckle gradient kits were designed for this kind of pattern, but here’s a dark-to-light gradient I built with colors that appear in our regular lineup: Park Heights, Dupont Circle, Mondawmin, Gwynn Oak, and Butchers Hill.
You can also create an ombre with changes from one hue to another without dramatically changing value or saturation, like Ann Weaver does in Knockout Round. In this pattern, the ombre is broken up with a solid contrast color striped in every few rows. Sometimes I like to challenge myself to find a connection between the most unexpected colors possible, which is what I tried to do here - getting from Del Ray to Remington, using Patterson Park as my contrast color.
Yellow Del Ray is a complement to purple Remington, and when complements are mixed together, they create desaturated, earthy hues. Luckily, we have some gorgeous variegated browns that can bridge the gap between these two polar opposites.
One of the best things about the Palette Builder is that once you’ve locked in the colors, you can click the Add Palette to Cart button so they’re saved in checkout. That way you don’t have to hunt them down again in our Shop menu, and once you’re ready to purchase, you can adjust the number of skeins for each color in the checkout menu.
This tool is so much fun to play with, and I hope you’ll use it to put together new and unexpected color combos for your next project. As you scroll through the thumbnail of each color, take a note of what you’re drawn to and construct a scheme around that - or, for a challenge, select a color you’ve never thought of wearing before and see if you can make it work in a totally new palette for yourself. You might be surprised at what you might discover when you put up to 10 colors next to each other.
What are some of your favorite ways to pair colors together? Do you have your own set of methods, or do you simply vibe? Leave a comment below to offer your own advice to the other readers, or ask any questions! Or you can always reach us by email at email@example.com.
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