Posted on August 17, 2013 at 8:08 am

In and around all the deadline knitting, I’ve managed to finish one more version of Hiro, this time in an autumnal palette of straw, rust, gold, and green.


Ever since my roommate in college told me I “am” an Autumn and should therefore only wear earthy colors, I have defaulted to them almost out of a kind of superstition, as much as I am drawn to brighter hues like purple and fuschia. I did indulge that part of my reptilian brain with the Mad Color version I knit, using colors with names like Black Cherry & Bloody Hell, and I do wear it a lot, almost always with jeans. But my ruddy coloring happens to look nice with the colors you might find on a forest floor.

image borrowed from here

I’m not necessarily drawn to rust, it’s not the first color that sings to me when I look at a booth’s worth of pretty at a fiber festival. But rust has grown on me over the years (that’s true in a few ways), and I have become somewhat of a specialist in the good rusts among my several indie dyer friends (a subject for a later post, perhaps?). I almost always immediately want the purple, or the sea green. But rust — I know — is
always going to look better with my hair. So that’s where I started out with this particular sweater.


Here’s a little color theory to explain why this combination works. Let’s go back to the color wheel:


from tiger color

Remembering that pleasing color combinations are all about solid relationships, let’s break down how the color choices in this sweater relate to each other. On the most basic level, this is an orange, yellow and green sweater, all of which you can see are neighbors on the right side of this color wheel, between 1 and 6 o’clock.

I began with knowing I wanted rust in there somewhere. It’s not hard to see that rust is actually a version of orange. Technically it’s a “shade”,
or a dark orange. My rust is somewhere in the middle here in this representation of orange shades, halfway between the pure orange from the basic wheel above, and black.

borrowed from jwd publishing blog

Yellow and orange are neighbors on the color wheel, also
known as analogous colors, so their related shades are also close kin.

The gold I chose to go with the rust is also a shade, but this time it’s a kind of slightly
dark yellow. My gold is about a third of the way over from pure yellow on the left. I also want to point out here how shades of yellow start to become olive as they get darker. Neat, huh?

also borrowed from jwd

And farther around the color semi-circle just past yellow is green. The particular green here is a yellowish green, somewhere near the middle on this tint scale:

ganked this from somwehere on tumblr

You might also like to know that the main color of the body, that nice straw color — looking kinda flat beige on my computer monitor — in real life looks a lot like the last discernable block on the right of this scale.

What gets a little complicated is the difference between darker versions of a color (shades) and lighter versions of a color (tints), and whether or not there is any grey factor (or tone) in these particular choices, but you can boil all of it down to balance. We have two darker yarns, and two lighter yarns, and they balance each other out in a really pretty way. If some of these terms make you dizzy, there’s a nice little color glossary here, or you could pick up something for your bookshelf like Deb Menz’s Color Works.

In conclusion, this sweater combines values of orange, yellow, and green, which means that we have an analogous trilogy here, always a safe bet in choosing colors.

Now I doubt many people choose colors the geeky way I do, but using a color wheel always helps me make that last decision. I usually get a couple of yarns together and wonder where to go next. By looking at a color wheel at that point, I get nudged in a good direction. I may not follow the strict rules, but I feel comfortable using it as a tool to at least narrow (or understand) my choices.

Other idea on choosing colors for Hiro can be found here, and here.