Choosing Colors for a Project

If you’re anything like me, one of your biggest sources of inspiration is COLOR. Whether you love vibrant shades or more muted, soothing tones, the color you choose for a project can really impact the feel of the project, and how you feel when wearing it or using it day to day.

That said, sometimes you can be TOO inspired by color, to the point that all of the options overwhelm you, and maybe even second guess your decision to start the project in the first place. I’ve definitely been in this position before, and it’s not fun! Indecisiveness can be exhausting, and stifle the creative process. To combat the indecision, I’ve created a list of the things that I think about when choosing yarn and materials for a new project. These guiding questions help me narrow down my color options fairly quickly when I’m starting a new knit. The best part? It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for your yarn in a store or in your stash – these questions will apply to either situation.

How large is the piece you’re creating?

Are you making a HUGE triangle shawl to wrap yourself in on chilly fall nights? Or are you making a simple hat for your brother’s newborn? The color you choose will read differently depending on the size of the piece. A neon pink, for example, can add a nice pop of color to an outfit as a hat, but it might overwhelm an outfit as a shawl with a large wingspan. Plus, a larger piece will require more yarn, which could lead to trouble if you’re concerned with dye lots – you don’t want to run out of yarn and have to integrate a new dye lot into your piece that doesn’t quite match! (This is why making a gauge swatch is important, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

Is the piece wearable, or it is meant for decoration (or another use entirely?)

This second question may or may not affect your color choice. I personally like color in both my closet and my home décor, so I’m likely to opt for bright hues in either instance. But that might not be the case for you! Maybe your wardrobe is filled with cozy, creamy neutrals, but your house has lots of jewel tones. If you’re knitting a throw pillow cover, you might go for a complementary jewel tone instead of a rich brown. If you’re knitting a pouf or floor cushion for a child’s room, you’ll likely want a durable yarn that will wear well – so maybe you’ll rule out white or ivory as a color option. Think about the item’s use as you examine your color choices!

If you are crafting a piece for the home, there are many resources online for home décor color choices. Check out this article from HGTV giving designer’s tips on color choice, or this slideshow from Better Homes and Gardens on crafting your own color scheme.

Are there any stitch motifs or intricate textures in the design?

I LOVE speckled and variegated yarns. These yarns can add additional bursts of color to a project without the need for colorwork techniques. Unfortunately, that means that these skeins won’t be ideal for every project. If you make a scarf that has bands of seed stitch against herringbone, for example, those stitches might get lost against a brightly speckled skein, like the one you see above. Save these fun, unique skeins for projects that will let both the stitch and the yarn shine.

Is the project for you, or for someone else?

This point goes without saying – if you’re not knitting or crocheting for yourself, get an idea of the other person’s color preferences before starting your project!

Do you anticipate wearing the piece often, if it is for you?

A frequently-worn piece would make sense in your favorite color! Or, alternatively, you can choose a color that will go well with the rest of your wardrobe. More on that next!

What kinds of outfits would you style it with?

Think about the specific items in your closet that you would wear it with. Are they solids? Neutrals? Prints? Brights?

I mention this point because I’ve run into some trouble with this myself in the past! I love color, so the majority of my wardrobe consists of bright hues and prints. Bright colors are also generally what I gravitate to in yarn. The downside? It’s hard to pair outfits together if all of the colors clash!

So take a quick peek at your own closet. What do you see? If your closet is like mine, and you want more brights, go for it! If you want to knit a staple piece that can be worn with a ton of different looks, then maybe opt for a neutral. Is your closet full of neutrals already? The  maybe spice things up with a brighter tone that will work with your closet and still cater to your love of neutrals – maybe try a blush pink or a teal that almost reads as a navy.

Now think about the colors that you are considering for the project. Which ones do you feel most comfortable using, having answered the above questions?

Sometime, you just have to go with your gut. If you’ve gone over these questions, and a clear winning color popped into your mind, I say run with it! I have a creative writing professor in college who always used to say, “First though, best thought!” The meaning here is that, more often than not, your creative mind will give you a great idea from the onset. Trust your creative instincts!

Like playing with color and color schemes? I really like the Pantone’s Color Finder when looking for particular shade. It’s a great tool if you’re brainstorming and want to look at a variety of colors! Canva has a great compilation of color schemes on their blog as well. And I have a Pinterest board dedicated to fun color schemes and inspiration I find – swing over to my page to take a look!

I hope this list is helpful to you the next time you find yourself stuck when choosing colors for a project!

Have a fun story about a color you chose for a knit? Leave a comment below and tell me about it!