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Choosing colors can be hard — our favorite ways to make it fun!

Choosing colors can be hard — our favorite ways to make it fun!

Loraine holds three colors of yarn for her Shift

(Above, that's Loraine getting brave about the colors for her Shift!)

If you’re a knitter or crocheter, it’s a safe bet that you enjoy playing with colors. For those of us lucky enough to work at The Goat, we get to play with color a lot!

We’re guessing you have your favorites — those colors you keep reaching for and knitting with, the ones you avoid, and you probably also have colors you think you “shouldn’t” wear. 

A favorite color of mine is captured in Seven Sisters’ Xanthoria colorway. It’s the perfect autumn mix of orange/gold with hints of green, like a beautiful squash or pumpkin. However, when I wear it, I look like I’ve been down with a terrible flu. It took me way too many years to figure out how I could have more of this color in my life without looking ill — and my Xanthoria socks are just perfect!

With a pattern like The Shift, for our current Knit Along, choosing colors might feel extra overwhelming (even for Kristin, our fearless leader — check out this video!). However, unlike a sweater where you’re investing considerable time and money, a cowl is much less pressure. It”s the perfect small project to get a little playful and maybe even a bit wild with color!

The Shift lends itself to colors that have contrast with each other, often with one color that adds a bright pop of pizazz. 

Read on for a few ways to approach choosing colors for your Shift.

Love your yarn.

Choose a skein or ball of yarn Fingering or Sport weight that makes you weak in the knees, one that has you saying “Heck yeah!” without any hesitation, a color that makes you feel joyful. You’ll know it when you see it. Once you have that special yarn, build your Shift palette around it. Lucy lives in another state and called the shop because she’d seen Kristin’s unboxing video of the new Mechita. Lucy had some ideas for yarn colorways and wanted to see what they looked like together, so we texted her some photos to make the decision easier.

Tracy’s method.

When Tracy works with customers on choosing multiple colors, she suggests they start with a favorite skein (or two), then grab 4–6 more skeins that are possibilities. Lay them out on our big work table, arrange and rearrange them in a few configurations… and then walk away! Go do something that’s not about color: browse a book about knitting techniques, check out the knitting bags, contemplate buttons. Then just walk past the table, glance at your skeins, and see what pops out as right or wrong.

A - background, B - contrast, C - pop

The Shift calls for 3 colors which you designate as A, B, and C. One way to think about how to arrange them is simply to arrange them in the formation above and see what happens. It can be as easy as that. You don’t have to overthink, you can just go for it, relax, and watch the “show” of your knitting unfold! If you love the yarn, you’ll be off to a great start. (Oh! And feel free to break the rules a little — add a fourth color! — add stash yarn! — veer off the pattern and swap colors as the spirit moves you!)

Fall into the inspiration vortex.

Yes, we mean Ravelry. A blessing and curse, Ravelry offers so much inspiration for color choices that your head will spin. It’s overwhelming to consider that there 11,000 finished Shifts to browse! That’s way too many to look at, but even if you browse a few pages, you’re sure to see some color combinations you like.

Make a slideshow!

Teresa lives in Virginia but comes to the shop when she’s here to visit her family. She shared this method during our Ramona Knit Along, as we discussed choosing yarn colors online. It’s harder when you can’t touch and feel the yarn, so Teresa takes a screenshot of potential colors she’s considering, then adds those images to a digital slide (like a Powerpoint). That way she can easily see the colors next to each other and rearrange or delete them as needed. 

If you don’t love your first one, make a second!

Be warned that The Shift is a bit addictive. It’s mesmerizing to see the play of colors unfold with the stitch pattern, which is lovely and easy once you’re in the rhythm of it. So our last bit of advice is: if you don’t love the way your colors play out in your first one, give it away and make a second one! It’s also possible that you’ll love your first Shift and want a second one anyway. (That’s already happened to a few of us.)

We’re here to help.

We love the fun of helping you select colors and yarns for your projects, whether you’re located near or far. It’s matchmaking with yarn and people and projects — absolutely a blast!

If all this talk about The Shift has you inspired, join us for the knit along and sign up here: 

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