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Feb 15, 2017

Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own

From fashion and decor to all things knitting related, ombres and gradients are a hot trend. Packed with appeal and shading from light to dark or soft to bright, they add style and visual interest, so it's easy to understand their popularity.

The difference between ombres and gradients can be blurry, so recently I shared simple definitions to distinguish one from the other. No matter what they're called, I'm a long-time fan, so they appear in many of my designs and personal projects.

For our purposes today, let's agree an ombre or gradient consists of at least three shades, which can be created using various techniques. With that as our starting point, let's look at five easy ways to build your own combinations. (To see more detailed how-to instructions, click on the bold, numbered titles.)


1. Simple custom gradientColor Check and Lucben Tidepool


 

Strategy: Use three closely related colors. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose three or more colors in the same family.
  • Arrange them from dark to light or light to dark.
  • Work colors in sequence. (Color Check: three in each color family)
  • Or situate them on the diagonal. (Lucben Tidepool: five shades in one color family)

2. Three-stage gradientPlumberry Scarf 



Strategy: Turn to yarn colors into three by working a transitional section of alternating rows. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose two colors.
  • Work the first section with CC1 only.
  • Work the second section with CC1 and CC2.
  • Work the third section with CC2 only.

3. Four-stage gradientTwegen Coffee





Strategy: Create a four-stage blended gradient using five yarn colors. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose five shades in related color families. 
  • Pair them by value: dark with dark, medium with medium, and light with light.
  • Work the first section with CC1 and CC2.
  • Work the second section with CC2 and CC3.
  • Work the third section with CC3 and CC4.
  • Work the fourth section with CC4 and CC5.

4. Five-stage gradient (option 1)Kintra Nearly Neutral and Kintra Greyridge

 

Strategy: Transform three yarn colors into a five-stage gradient or fade. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose three related colors.
  • Arrange them from dark to light or light to dark.
  • Work the first section with CC1 only.
  • Work the second section with CC1 and CC2.
  • Work the third section with CC2 only.
  • Work the fourth section with CC2 and CC3.
  • Work the fifth section with CC3 only.


5. Five-stage gradient (option 2)Colsie Mitts Rose Gradient

Strategy: Transform six yarn colors into a five-stage gradient or ombre. To achieve a similar look:
    • Choose six related colors.
    • Pair them by value: dark with dark, medium with medium, light with light.
    • Work the first section with two dark CCs.
    • Work the second section with one dark and one medium CC.
    • Work the third section with two medium CCs.
    • Work the fourth section with one medium and one light CC.
    • Work the fifth section with two light CCs.

    Building your own ombres, gradients and fades is a superb way to burn through stash, because suddenly leftovers, partials and awkward orphans and singletons can be combined in fresh and interesting ways. The key is to pick a strategy and swatch, swatch, swatch.

    In knitting, there are many fast and easy ways to blend two colors. Try multi-stranding and simply carry one strand of each color. Consider working a basic garter or stockinette stitch, alternating colors every other row. Do the same, but substitute seed or double seed stitch to produce stippled stripes that blend closely related shades. Or choose something like the fluted rib stitch, which systematically weaves colors in and out, or slipped ribs, like those found in the Kintra mitts.

    The possibilities are endless, of course, and hopefully these strategies will inspire you to experiment. As time permits, I'll share additional techniques and examples to illustrate more ways to create your own custom gradients and ombres.

    Just remember no matter which strategy you choose, the closer the colors are in tone and value, the more blended they'll appear in the finished fabric. Speaking of which, I'm off to play with different approaches to see if I can turn these yarns into a blue-green gradient:





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    To see all ombre and gradient posts, click here.

    3 comments:

    1. What a great way to use up leftovers! I like to just start knitting squares, someday I might eventually make an afghan out of them all :-)

      ReplyDelete
    2. Thanks, lots of great ideas and techniques.

      ReplyDelete

    Love hearing from you! I enjoy each and every comment. If you have questions, share those too, and I'll do my best to respond.
    -b

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