Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Gradient, Ombre or Variegated?

We still have two weeks left in my hosted Gradient Flower Cowl CAL. I am astounded at all the lurkers watching Jackie and I create our cowls. I hope you're all getting good ideas for your own scrappy cowls. Of course, we'd welcome anyone who wants to join us. You can also vote in a wee poll to let Jackie know what version of this pattern she should make with all of her wonderful Koigu scraps - cowl, stole, scarf or (intake of breath!) throw. 

When Jackie posted one of her process photos, she mentioned her process for color placement:

"My loosely formulated plan is to begin each new motif in a color range that echoes a color from the previous motif. So, sort of a gradient color sweep in a way, but a lot more riotous color scheme. After all this is Koigu!"

I liked Jackie's thinking, but thought it might be nice to go a little more in-depth and discuss the differences between the terms gradient, ombre and variegated. They are tossed around a lot in the fiber business, and the painter in me loves to discuss color and palette.

A small example of
Noro variegated yarn
Initially, let's start with the easiest (or at least most easily recognized) of these terms: variegated. In terms of fiber, variegated yarns are skeins which have been dyed with various amounts of different colors. There are techniques used in the dying process, such as "short color runs" and "long color runs" to produce various effects in the final fabric. The most renowned of variegated yarns is, of course, Noro. However, Koigu and the LB Amazing also fall into this category (and on the more high-contrast Amazing colorways, you can easily see this). If you want to see variegation in action in the natural world, check out my Pinterest Flowers board

A side view of LB Amazing in the Olympic
colorway. This is a radial gradient, meaning the
color goes light to dark radiating out from the
center of a circle.
Next, there's gradient. Gradient, in terms of color, is a progression of different colors that are position-dependent and usually go from light to dark, or vice versa, within a defined surface or area. If you designate a square or circle in your word processing program be filled with color, usually one of many options is to make the color a gradient. It is very pleasing to the eye to see a progression of color. Even if you look closely at any variegated yarn, you'll see small pockets of gradient color in the transition from one color to another. In my original Gradient Flower Cowl sample (which inspiration came directly from my Pinterest flower board), I attempted to herd the colorways, using both ends of the skein, into lighter shades at the top and deeper shades at the bottom. Even though there might be some lighter colored motifs in the final rows of the original sample, taken together, it produces a gradient that generally goes from light at the top of the trapezoid to dark at the bottom of the trapezoid using several different colors. 

My sample Gradient Flower Cowl
for Crochet! Magazine. This photo
captures the lighter (and perhaps
more vibrant) color at the top, and the
darker, more muted colors at the bottom.

Finally, there's ombre. This term generally refers to mixing and blending hues of the same color in a progression of light to dark and (sometimes) back again. The best example, at least for my and this CAL's purposes, is the LB Scarfie. If you look at my photo of the sides of each skein of the prize colorways in the CAL, you'll easily see how, generally speaking (artists and, in this instance, Lion Brand, can certainly take liberties with the notion of one color), using a progression of shades of the same color allows the color to go from light to dark.

Lion Brand Scarfie as seen from the side, with the
denim/navy colorway farthest on the left.
When I'm painting, I can create a vibrant palette, with not one shade out of place or jarring to the eye, by using only one or two different primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and mixing various amounts of either white or black. The best Scarfie example would be the denim/navy colorway - white added to the original blue will yield the denim side of the spectrum, and adding black will yield the navy side of the colorway.

While my first finished cowl in this CAL uses mostly greens and blues, the gradient is subtle. However, on my second cowl (in fingering weight) you can easily see how I'm going from light to dark, even in this early process photo below.

It's quite all right that I have some darker colors right next to light ones, because it's the overall effect across the entire area (the trapezoid shape) of the cowl that my eye will scan. It will see light to dark, and be pleased.

Think about these terms the next time you're viewing the scraps in your stash and come up with combinations to achieve the effect that is most pleasing to your eye. 

Happy coloring!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this article. Its very helpful. I'm just learning about these multi colored yarns.