Mar 5, 2017

How to Create a Simple Custom Gradient

In the Ombres & Gradients: Create Your Own series, we've been exploring ways to make custom gradients using purpose-bought yarn or skeins from stash. Not only are they attractive, fun to create and easy to do, ombres and gradients are an effective way to put orphan skeins and leftover yarns to good use.

To respond to those who asked for more details, I'll be periodically sharing the how-tos in targeted posts like this one. The examples below were featured in the overview, Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own, but today we want to delve into specifics for creating a simple, custom three-color gradient.

Let's get started.

1. Simple Custom Gradient: Color Check

One of the easiest ways to create a gradient effect is to choose different shades from the same color family. The biggest challenge is to find the same or compatible yarns in the range of light, medium and dark shades you need.

Color Check features multiple simple gradients, so it illustrates the basic strategy quite well:

Yarn. Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)

Stitch. The fast and easy slipped stitch creates an all-over windowpane check. 

Strategy. Each section consists of solid colors worked with black as the unifying main color. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose one main color and three related colors for each strip.
  • Arrange related colors from dark to light.
  • Work each related color in sequence.

In Color Check Berry, colors were worked in conjunction with MC Cavern as follows (left to right):
  • Strip 1: Blue Paradise, Malibu Blue, Nymph 
  • Strip 2: Raging Purple, Prairie Lupine, Lilac
  • Strip 3: Plum, Berry, Pink-a-Boo
  • Strip 4: Barn Red, Cherry Moon, Tea Rose
This version incorporates 12 purpose-bought colors (plus black), and launched my passion for Cotton Fleece yarn. It also played a pivotal role in plumping up the stash, since each color block only used a portion of the skein. To see another example, look at Color Check Meadow worked in shades of blue, teal, green and yellow.

And Simple Custom Gradient: Lucben Tidepool

Stitch. The easy twisted double seed stitch produces a reversible fabric with identical textures on both sides. 

Strategy. Each section consists of solid blocks worked with cream as the unifying main color. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose one main color and five related colors.
  • Arrange related colors on the diagonal from light to dark.
  • Work related colors in the sequence described below.

In Lucben Tidepool, colors are separated by MC Cotton Ball and worked as follows:
  • Strip 1: Light Jade, Rue, Mint 
  • Strip 2: Wild Sage, Light Jade, Rue
  • Strip 3: New Age Teal, Wild Sage, Light Jade
This produces a diagonal gradient, which also appears in shades of berry, rose and pink in Lucben Rose. As an added bonus, both Lucben versions were created primarily from stash, using yarn acquired for Color Check.

Hopefully, these examples and how-to instructions will help you see fresh possibilities in both new and stash yarn, and inspire you to experiment with ways to create simple custom gradients of your own.

If this is helpful, let me know, and if you have questions or need clarification, do the same and I'll do my best to respond.

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  1. It is so pretty! I rarely use more than one color in my knitting, I always get it all messed up! I love the black, it brightens the colors!

    1. You could easily work a simple gradient just one color at a time, so you might want to give it a try. Like you, I love the way black makes colors pop.


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