A warm 'Bright Spring' color palette, fanned open, rests on a table next to the book Color Me Beautiful.

Seasonal Color Analysis for Knitters

Seasonal color analysis system seems to be having a moment over on TikTok. It seems everyone is trying to figure out which color season they are. This color system first came about it the 80s with the book Color Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson. (Full disclosure – I’m old enough to remember it’s original heyday.) I was thinking about this topic myself recently while choosing colors for a gift I was knitting for niece for Christmas – I think she’s a Light Spring.

Since it’s come around again, I thought it would be fun to talk about using color analysis to choose colors for your knitted garments. I want to emphasize that this is all in fun, and not to be taken as hard and fast advice. You should absolutely wear whatever colors you want to. But who knows? Maybe it will help you choose just the right color for your next sweater. I am also not a color analysis expert, and I’ve never had a professional color analysis, so take what I say with that in mind.

What are the Color Seasons?

There are a lot of quizzes and resources online to help you find your color season (see here and here for example). But the easiest place to start with color analysis is to decide with what is most obvious about your appearance. There are three axes related to the seasons: cool vs. warm, dark vs. light, and bright vs. muted (or soft). In the 12 season system, each color palette has a dominant characteristic and a secondary characteristic. Below I’ve listed the seasons by the primary characteristic first and the secondary characteristic following:

  • Light + warm = Light Spring
  • Light + cool = Light Summer
  • Dark + Cool = Dark Winter
  • Dark + Warm = Warm Autumn
  • Clear + Warm = Clear/ Bright Spring
  • Clear + Cool = Clear/ Bright Winter
  • Muted + Cool = Soft Summer
  • Muted + Warm = Soft Autumn
  • Warm + Light = Warm Spring
  • Warm + Dark = Warm Autumn
  • Cool + Light(er) = Cool Summer
  • Cool + Dark(er) = Cool Winter

How to Find Your Color Season

You’ve probably been told to start by deciding whether you’re cool or warm, but if you’re fairly neutral like me, it may not be obvious at first. So choose which is most obvious. My niece, for example, is predominantly light, which means she’s either Light Spring or Light Summer. I am obviously clear/ bright – I look better in bright colors than muted ones, and I have high value contrast between my skin and hair. Knowing I’m clear/ bright narrows it down to Clear Spring or Clear Winter (sometimes called Bright Spring or Bright Winter).

From there I can then compare warm vs. cool colors. You probably learned about cool and warm colors on the color wheel in art class way back when, but in this case we’re talking about undertones – matching the undertones in your skin with the undertones of the colors. A person or color with yellow undertones is warm, and a person or color with blue undertones is cool. So even though red is a ‘cool’ color on the color wheel, red hues with a bit of yellow in them will be warm, and those with a bit of blue will be cool. Those without either are consider neutral.

While I can wear some of the cool colors, my skin has slightly warm undertones, which makes me a Clear Spring. The interesting thing is that since the Clear Spring and Clear Winter Seasons share the dominant characteristic, there will be some overlap in the palettes, and I can ‘borrow’ some of the colors from the Clear Winter Palette; because they are also clear, they will relate to my coloring. Likewise someone who is a Cool Summer will likely be able to wear some of the colors in the Cool Winter palette.

Color Analysis and Knitting

What does all of this have to do with knitting? Well, at least for some it can take the guesswork out of choosing colors. If you want to knit a sweater that you’ll love to wear, your seasonal color palette can help you narrow down your choices. Of course, we all choose colors for a variety of reasons, so this may only be one factor you consider.

You can find various color palettes for all the seasons on the internet; none of them are completely inclusive, so it’s good to look at a few. A big advantage, when knitting items for yourself, is that if you stick to one of the seasonal palettes, all of the items in your knitted wardrobe will color-coordinate. Which makes this perfect for creating a mix-and-match wardrobe. It also can help you choose colors that work well together for colorwork knitting, something I know a lot of knitters struggle with.

Have you tried seasonal color analysis? Or do you think it’s all bunk? Let me know in the comments below!

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