Creating a Complimentary Colour Palette

Complimentary colour palette with hand dyed yarns

We’ve been talking about all things colour these last couple of weeks. Saturation, value, hue. Monochromatic and analogous palettes. Seasonal and skin tone considerations. Today, we’re going to look at creating a striking colour palette with complimentary colours!

We’re also kicking off a little make-along today by working an accessory in a manner of colourwork that is outside our comfort zone. I’m going to make the Zumbra hat in two complimentary colours, holding two strands of fingering-weight yarn together. More on that in a minute. First, let’s talk about those complimentary hues.

The Colour Wheel as a Guide

We’ve talked about the colour wheel before, but for a complimentary palette, it’s important to have a solid understanding. Let me expand on it a bit more here.

The colour wheel is divided into primary, secondary, and tertiary colours.

  • Primary colours—red, yellow, and blue—are the building blocks of all other colours.
  • Secondary colours—orange, green, and purple—are created by mixing two primary colours.
  • Tertiary colours are formed by combining a primary colour with a neighboring secondary colour.

Element Collection Colour System with three colour wheels highlighting primary, secondary, and tertiary colours

Understanding Complimentary Colours

Complimentary colours are located opposite each other on the colour wheel. Creating a cohesive look requires experimenting with shades.

Complimentary colours are pairs of hues that, when placed together, create a visually appealing contrast. The primary complimentary colour pairs are red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and purple. You can see how yellow and purple sit across from each other on the colour wheel.

five colour wheels showing different complimentary colour combinations

Creating a Balanced Palette

When assembling a complimentary colour palette, it’s important to maintain balance and harmony.

  • Start by selecting a dominant colour from the complementary pair and use it as the primary colour in your project. This hue will set the overall mood and create a focal point.
  • Next, use the complementary colour as an accent to add contrast and vibrancy. To achieve a harmonious composition, consider different shades, tints, and tones of the chosen colours. These variations will add depth and dimension to your palette.
  • Test your colour choices in different patterns with your swatching or sampling.

Remember to experiment, test, and iterate to find the perfect balance and harmony in your palettes. Think about complimentary colours for your next project.

My Zumbra Hat Project

So, listen. I am TERRIBLE at stranded knitting. TERRIBLE! And I haven’t really made myself sit down and practice. Well, now’s the time with the ‘Round the Wheel Colour-Along.

Biscuit and Mink tough love sock: two complimentary coloursI’ve decided to work my Zumbra hat in two complimentary colours: Mink and Biscuit (ah, I miss Biscuit). Mink is purple and will be my primary colour. Biscuit is a golden yellow shade that is a lighter value than Mink, which will help ensure there’s enough contrast between the two. I took a photo of the two colours together and changed it to black and white to ensure that the value of the yellow is light enough compared to the purple.

black and white photo to show value contrastI think it’ll be a win! Assuming I can get my tension right. Gulp.

We are all casting on and sharing our progress in the #colour-along channel of the SweetGeorgia Discord Server. It’s FREE to join, so don’t be afraid to pop in and join us. In fact, TODAY at 2pm EST, I’m going to be in the Voice Channel via video to work on my project for whoever would like to come knit/crochet/weave/spin with me! (psst: there are prizes. Wink). UPDATE May 16 at 1:10pm: We’re so sorry, but due to illness, this knitalong today will be rescheduled. Stay tuned!

Have fun playing with colour this week, friends.


About Tabetha Hedrick

Tabetha Hedrick is a knitwear designer and writer raising a family just outside the Great Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee. As the Design Director for SweetGeorgia Yarns, her days (and heart) are filled to the brim with knitting, art, writing, editing, planning, and finding ways to put it all together. In the midst of that fibre-filled life, you'll find her living simply in the sweet spot where creativity, discovery, parenthood, and life intertwine.

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