Combining Colors and Neutrals: The Ultimate Guide to Color Theory For Sweater Knitters, Part 3

In our last post we talked about the traditional color schemes that we can put together using the color wheel but what happens when it comes to combining colors and neutrals that aren’t on the color wheel? If you’re just joining us make sure you check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series as well.

I absolutely love to use neutrals in my knitting! In fact, I’ve noticed that in most stores almost all of the sweaters come in neutrals or in some combination with neutrals. I’m guessing that there are a couple reasons for this, you can wear them with anything and they are a more subdued option that appeals to a lot of people. The advantage that we have as knitters is that we get to choose the neutrals in our sweaters and which colors we’d like to pair them with.

Today we’ll look at some techniques for putting together colors and neutrals in a way that is visually pleasing. The following are the most common ways to combine colors and neutrals in fashion and consequently in knitting sweaters. As you’re choosing the colors to pair with neutrals keep in mind the color pairing options we discussed in part 2 of our color series in regards to the color wheel.

Timeless Color Combinations

1 Color + 1 Neutral Pattern: Amiina by Dianna Walla
1 Color + 1 Neutral Pattern: Amiina by Dianna Walla

This color combination is great if you’re looking for something simple. It can be expressed as borders and edgings, stripes, small details like pockets or even something more intricate like traditional color work.

2 Colors + 1 Neutral Pattern: Marius-Genser Rund Sal by Unn Søiland Dale
2 Colors + 1 Neutral Pattern: Marius-Genser Rund Sal by Unn Søiland Dale

Using two colors with a neutral color is a fantastic way to add a surprise pop of a brighter color. Typically one color is used as the main color and the second is added as a smaller accent.

2 Neutrals Pattern: Wetwang by Ann Kingstone
2 Neutrals Pattern: Wetwang by Ann Kingstone

Many traditional sweaters use neutral colors because the undyed wool naturally comes in neutral and warm neutral colors. Norway and Iceland are particularly well known for using black and white together in their color knitting traditions.

2 Neutrals + 1 Color Pattern: Blue Sand by La Maison Rililie
2 Neutrals + 1 ColorPattern: Blue Sand by La Maison Rililie

Using two neutrals and one color is a good way to add interest to your sweater while still being very wearable. If you opt for this method, keep in mind the colors in your wardrobe so that you choose a color that will fit in and accent your other clothing nicely.

2-3 Warm Neutrals Pattern: Sundottir by Dianna Walla
2-3 Warm Neutrals Pattern: Sundottir by Dianna Walla

This combination is great if you tend to wear warmer colors! I find myself leaning more towards warm neutrals in the Autumn and cooler neutrals in the winter.

1 Pattern + 1 Color Pattern: Aunt Fred by Pamela Wynne
1 Pattern + 1 Color Pattern: Aunt Fred by Pamela Wynne

If you’re set on doing a more intricate pattern but still want subtlety and balance try using a two color pattern then use one of the colors in the pattern in a greater quantity to anchor the sweater.

1 Pattern + 1 Neutral + 1 Color Pattern: Moon Pulls by Dianna Walla
1 Pattern + 1 Neutral + 1 Color Pattern: Moon Pulls by Dianna Walla

Finally, a fail proof way to create a great color combination is to use a pattern, a color from the pattern and a neutral. This combination is my favorite to use with fair isle and mosaic sweaters.

So...what's next?

Join us for Part 4 of the Color Theory for Sweater Knitters series as we talk about color analysis and how to find colors that will look great on your skin tone!

Lacie Lynnae

My name is Lacie and I am the in-house knitwear designer at the Yarn Craft Academy and the author of the 30 Day Sweater. When i'm not knitting you can find me doing yoga, paddle boarding or finding great food! I am also a runway model for Vidal Sassoon and am privileged to travel quite a bit so you may see me posting from new and exciting places! Follow me on Instagram: Lacelue

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