Knitting with Colors You Love

What’s a color you love but can’t wear? We all have at least one.

There are some shades that just don’t seem to work for me, and no matter how much I love them, I had resigned myself to admiring them on others and avoiding them for myself. But it turns out that the old rule of thumb about being naturally assigned to a rigid color palette is a bunch of malarkey. (Raise your hand if someone has ever told you which color “season” you belong to?) The truth is, there are creative ways to work with color in our clothing (and thus, in our knitting), and it’s this kind of creativity that allows us to strategically wear colors that might not normally work for us.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned that have allowed me to expand my horizons. Maybe some of these will work for you?

Keep the color away from your face.

The sweater in the photo example above is called the Tradewind Pullover (you can find it on my website) and it’s a great example of how to sneak a little extra color into your life, without having to worry about it clashing with your skin tone. Use a color that works well for you closer to your face (such as in the top of this sweater) and place the color you love-but-can’t-wear at the bottom. (My Brunswick tee has a similar advantage.)

Layer your colors with cardigans.

I love cardigans, in part because they allow me to get away with a little color creativity that doesn’t always work in a pullover. My Southwell Cardigan has long been one of my favorite sweaters; I think it’s because of the vivid yellow yarn (which I’d have never believed I could get away with wearing). This color by itself might be a disaster for me, but layered over a dark top – it works!

Accessorize with color.

When you feel like you can’t get away with a bold color statement, why not accessorize with a wee pop of color, instead? Think of using a bold shade of your favorite color for just a little hint of contrast in a shawl or edging on a sweater. Or add a thin stripe of color to your button band, bind-off edge, or in tassels on the edge of a shawl.

On the other hand…

I’ve often heard knitters say, “I always buy blue because it’s my favorite color. Maybe I should branch out.” Guess what? If you love a color, don’t let anyone push you into trying new colors that don’t speak to you. I’ve learned the hard way that I absolutely despise knitting with colors that make me unhappy, and it’s taken me this long (more than 30 years of knitting) to finally establish a personal rule that I will not knit with a color I don’t like. Period. And more than that, if I want to knit fifteen grey sweaters, I will; it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. If there’s a color you love and find yourself gravitating to it on the regular, that’s okay. Don’t branch out just because you think you should; trying new things can be a terrific experiment if you want to stretch your creative muscles, but you’re the boss of when and IF you decide you want to do it.

Being color brave doesn’t mean you have to dip yourself in head-to-toe neon. It’s about embracing color that makes you happy and doing it in a way that feels good. If there’s a color you love but think you can’t wear, maybe it’s time to think again.

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