Last week's post ended with many colors of yarn to play with. The above photo shows them in a different light than the photo I used at the end of my last post-- a good reminder that different light conditions can also affect how colors appear in photos and to the eye. The colors in the above photo are a little more saturated than they appear in real life.
I started experimenting with different color combinations, but rather than jumping right into knitting swatches, I first tried them out using Adobe Illustrator.
Illustrator has a library of color swatches, but it also has a spectrum that you can click on, and then you can take the resulting color and adjust the hue, saturation and lightness almost indefinitely, and save the resulting color as a new swatch to the color library. Although color charts or sketches can only approximate what a finished knitted colorwork swatch will look like, I figured that the closer I could get the Illustrator swatch colors to my yarn colors, the better idea I'd have of whether the various color combinations would work. (Hint: If using Illustrator for color charts, place the stitches for design and background in different layers so that you can easily change the color of all stitches in one chart component at once, without affecting other stitches.)
I now had seven custom colors added to my Illustrator color library (clockwise from top left in first photo): Robin's Egg Blue, Celery, Plum, Orchid, Magenta, Teal and Olive. As you can see from the above charts, these colors can be combined in many different ways (although all except two charts include the teal, since I wanted to use that for the body of my design). It is also immediately obvious from the charts that some color combinations provide much better contrast than others, notably the Plum/Celery (#4) and Magenta/Celery (#7). After playing around with these charts, I had a feeling that my favorite combo would be #2; I liked the muted contrast between Olive and Teal in the background, the subtle pop from the Orchid in the center, and finally, the Celery design seemed to stand out well enough against the Olive background. (And remember, the color combination to beat, or at least equal, was #1, which was what I had used for my similar book project.)
The swatches that correspond to the charts are shown below. (I did my best to get the colors to show up accurately, but again they appear a bit more saturated than in real life.) No surprise that #4 and #7 have relatively high contrast, as well as #8 (which is the same as #7 but with Teal instead of Olive). I probably also should have been able to predict from the chart that #6 would have poor contrast within the design, although contrast between design and background is acceptable. What surprised me is that #2, my predicted favorite, looks rather dull and washed out, with less contrast between the Celery and Olive than I expected; I actually prefer #3.
Knitters with sharp eyes may note that in #3, the Olive stitches across the center were added in duplicate stitch; originally these were in Orchid, but I wasn't crazy about how that looked. Duplicate stitch is a good way to change a few stitches on a stranded swatch so the whole thing doesn't have to be re-knitted.
There does come a point in design development where the time and money invested yields diminishing returns, and I would say that I had reached that point. But since this will be a self-published design, I then asked myself: Several of these color combinations will work, but are any of them something that I would love to wear? And I'm afraid the answer was: Meh.