With color theory, like most concepts, it's best to start at the very beginning; after all, Julie Andrews tells us it's a very good place to start! Prior to even understanding the color wheel, the concept of homologous colors is not only straightforward to understand, but it's nearly foolproof in color selection for textile projects.
Homologous colors are two or more hues that belong to the same color family. This is a pretty loosey-goosey definition that is easier to understand by example.
If you choose your favorite color family - i.e., Blue, then ALL the blues are homologous to one another. That is sky blue and navy and cobalt blue and royal blue and grey blue and...etc...all are homologous to one another.
Projects made with multiple homologous colors tend to lend a more conservative classic feel to the piece, independent of the color chosen. Some of our most popular gradients are homologous gradients, such as Bramble (a deep black-purple through increasingly lighter shades before ending in a lilac) or Cherries Jubilee (a black cherry through muted rose and ending in cream) among others.
In the case of gradients, all the hues within the homologous color family are preselected for you. How do you select the hues yourself when they are in separate skeins? When the choices seem nearly endless? The most important thing to remember when selecting multiple hues that are homologous is that contrast (or lack of it) will play a critical role in the final piece. In order to make the colors pop, you will need much stronger contrast than you might if the colors were from different color families. On the other hand if you desire a more blended appearance in the knitted fabric, homologous colors with little contrast is the way to go. One way to confirm the contrast is to take a photo with your cell phone of potential skeins (or better yet swatches!) and then convert the photos to black and white. This makes it extremely easy to evaluate to contrast between the two colorways without your eye getting distracted by slight hue differences.
I recently knit the Mautinoa shawl designed by Malia Mae Joseph for WestKnits. It was late winter - early spring when I cast the project on and I wanted something bright and energizing after the endless grey days of winter. I was craving orange like mad and thought a beautiful orange shawl would be the perfect accessory to pair with a charcoal wool coat.
Setting the photo to greyscale shows strong contrast between certain colors, 'Georgia' and 'Courage' for instance, and less contrast between others, such as 'Little Miss Sunshine' and 'Georgia' or 'Health' and 'Courage'.
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