Color Harmony

I have often heard knitters comment that they find it difficult to combine colors for a project.  This is one reason why so many knitters choose to strictly follow a pattern’s recommendation for yarn choice.  However, selecting colors for a project can be a lot of fun & is an important part of the process in making an item unique. The colors are what give a piece personality & makes an item personal.  So let’s talk about color harmony.

Color harmony is a term used to  describe color groupings that have a pleasing visual effect.  Most knitters have a basic sense of color harmony.  We know what we like & what we don’t like. We know what colors & color combinations we find appealing, but for the most part we match colors according to gut instinct. Today, I want to discuss color harmonies a bit more technically.

complementary wheelComplementary colors are two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel.  There are 3 pairs of complementary colors.  They are Red & Green, Orange & Blue, and  Yellow & Violet.

5985480056_a77d755354_zThese color combinations have a high contrast with each other, that make them tricky to manage. In knitting, I find it best to avoid these color combinations unless one color is used for a slight embellishment.


Analogous colors are those that are found next to each other on the color wheel.  For example, red, orange & yellow are analogous colors.  So are yellow, green & blue.  It is best to choose one color to use as a main color, another color as a contrast color, & a third as an accent color.


Triadic colors colors are evenly spaced around the color wheel such as red, yellow, & blue.  These color combinations are contrasting & create a vibrant color scheme. To keep this color harmony in balance,  choose one color to be the main color, & the other two as accent colors.


There are 4 colors that make up a Tetradic or rectangle color scheme.   These four colors are divided into 2 complementary pairs.  This color schemes leaves room for a number of possible variation, but the number of warm colors should equal the number of cool colors.

Want more information? 

Here are some more examples of the color schemes described above.

Here is a link to even more color theory that I did not go into here.

Did you know that the different colors have different meanings? We’ll talk about these meanings in the final post in the School of Color series.  Look for it next week?



6 thoughts on “Color Harmony”

  1. Really useful post! I’m terrible with colours and am definitely guilty of just sticking with the pattern recommendation.

  2. Really useful post! I’m terrible with colours and am definitely guilty of just sticking with the pattern recommendation.

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