If you haven't seen what Sheila has been up to in the swatch department, go take a look. An excellent example of how to learn from your swatch and how to change your colors until you get something that is just right. And she certainly has--I want to steal this design!
Swatch Rules Continued
Jan suggested an addition to the swatch rules:
8. "If your gut says it's not quite right, don't plod on! Rethink it. Your gut is usually right."
9. If you're not in love with it, leave it. You are going to spend a long time with these colors, baby, and you'd better be convinced that people will gasp in wonder when they see you wearing the finished garment.
Anna mentioned that she ought to get these swatch rules tattooed somewhere! Any other rules to add before she gets started?
The picture I added to the swatch discussion was the swatch I made for my Hydrangea Sweater, which never moved beyond swatch stage although I like some of the colors. I like to hang some of my swatches in my office, just to enjoy them and to think about what to do differently.
And here is a partial picture of the first Brown Sweater swatch, the one that I'm not in love with. I persevered long enough to get a better sense of the full design.
Aha, here's rule 10:
10. You must not judge the swatch until you have completed the color progression. You need to see the full picture!
Learning about Color
At the Dulaan Knit In several people expressed interest in learning about color. In her workshop, Deb Menz emphasized the importance of learning about color by working with it a lot and then analyzing what has worked and what has not been successful. Color theory and color wheels give us a language to explain the effects we see; they are not intended to be used as hard and fast rules. I have found that quilting books are a good resource that is often overlooked by knitters--by and large, quilters do not expect to re-create an existing quilt and are therefore more open to studying color effects.
The first book is Color Play by Joen Wolfrom. Joen works from a 24-color color wheel to the finished project. She offers lots of examples of different color combinations and talks about the emotional response to colors. The other book, Color Harmony for Quilts by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr, works the other way around: the authors take quilts and break them down into palette, proportion of color, color wheel placement, and value scale. They then do something very interesting: they try replacing some colors in the palette or adding some to see what the effect would be. I think this is a very exciting and valuable book if you want to train your eye to understand what you are responding to--do you love it or hate it or feel indifferent?
Closely evaluating published designs is also an excellent way to learn about color in stranded knitting. For example, if you have Alice Starmore's Fair Isle knitting book and a Jamieson & Smith color card or mini-hanks, choose a design, look at the yarn, and figure out where it fits on a color wheel. You will learn how an expert designer consciously or unconsciously uses color theory to produce certain effects. Many people have expressed surprise (and dismay) when they have opened their kits for a Starmore sweater, for example, wondering how on earth the colors could work together. Then they knit the garment, only to be amazed at the artistry involved.
It really comes down to paying attention and learning how to analyze what you are seeing!