Here's a fun color experiment that my study group tried out. It's from Laura Bryant's A Knitter's Guide to Color.
Basically, you take all of your yarn and arrange it by "color saturation" or "weight." A weightier color is a brighter, stronger color. So for example, a pale yellow would be lighter than a bright yellow or a brilliant green.
Here's my study group arranging our samples of yarn:
The fascinating thing is, if you arrange yarn by weight this way, you can take a sub-section of your rainbow, and those colors will all work together in a weaving or other yarn project, even if you might not see the affinity at first glance. These colors will make a good "color story," a color combination where all the colors enrich each other but sort of blend into each other from afar, and where no one color competes for center stage.
How do you know if you've arranged the colors correctly by weight? Here's the neat part! Take a picture of your yarn "river" and switch the image to black and white. My camera has a black-and-white function, or you can do this on your computer, or in a copy machine. Have you arranged your colors correctly? Take a look at what happens!
|The yarn samples in color|
|The same yarn samples in black & white|
You have a perfect gray scale.
Isn't that cool?!
Edit: When choosing your colors for a new project, Laura Bryant suggests using this "color river" to your advantage. To create a harmonious, blended effect, choose colors that are near each other in the river. If you desire a bolder, contrasting accent color, or stronger emphasis on your pattern, throw in a color from a different section.
Here's a preview of her DVD if you're interested in learning more about color combinations and "color stories." The DVD & digital download are available at interweave.com (this is a great website for all sorts of tutorials).