How to Pair Colourways for Gradient Striping!

Posted by Cindy Toner on 2019 Nov 3rd

How to Pair Colourways for Gradient Striping!

The other day on Instagram, I posted a project I made two and a half years ago that involved pairing two gradients for a striped effect.  It was a pattern called the Linus Shawl which is a quick and easy knit that is perfect for some simple striping - and who doesn’t love stripes?!  I used the Iced Lemon Lime and Lobelia colourways of Moca Cotton fingering for this project.  

After posting the first photo, a couple of followers mentioned that they would love to make something striped, with two gradients, but they become overwhelmed when trying to pair colourways.  I do have a lot of colourways (over 500 at last count) and it can be difficult to choose, I know!

So, I thought I would take you through a couple of examples of how I choose colourways that go together for striping.  

I categorize colourways into two general groups - simple and complex.  

On the left are simple colourways - colourways that have one or two colours in them and slowly fade from light to dark  or dark to light.  They often involve one general colour and a neutral like white, grey, or black.  On the right are colourways that are complex - they have multiple colours in them (usually 3 or 4 but it can be even more) and don’t necessarily go from light to dark or vice versa.  People love these complex colourways and, I think, would love to use them in striped projects but are unsure of what to pair with them because they already have so many colours in them.

Let’s take a look at an example.  Snowy Tiger’s Eye is one of my most popular complex colourways and is available as a made-to-order item in the shop.  You might be tempted to pair it with Ember because they have colours in common and look very pretty together.

While I do agree that they look great together, they are too similar and will not have have enough contrast between them when striped.  A better option would be Raindrop because it is so different from Snowy Tiger’s Eye and will provide lots of contrast and visual interest.

Do you see how, suddenly, Snowy Tiger’s Eye just pops when it is next to Raindrop?  That’s what we’re looking for!  It helps in this case that there is blue in one colourway and orange in the other - these are two two colours that are on opposite sides of the colour wheel and will almost always look great together.  

Let’s try one more example.  Saturnine is another very popular colourway and you might be tempted to keep things a bit muted by pairing it with Ashes.

While they do look stunning together, again they will not have the contrast and visual interest you need for striping.  A better pairing option for Saturnine is Seaside.

Again, we have that pop of contrasting colour that makes both colourways sing!  Pairing colourways in this way involves a bit of bravery and a sense of adventure!  Even with these great pairings, you won’t know exactly what they will look like together until you are finished - and I love that!  The ongoing colour surprise will keep you stitching into the wee hours of the morning! 

Now, if you’re me, you might be completely crazy and pair two complex colourways, like Cressida and Euphoria - this is what makes my heart flutter

Still not sure which colourways to pair together?  Check out my Perfect Pairings Yarn of the Month Club (front page of my shop) - let's go on a colour adventure together!

Happy stitching, everyone!