Carina Envoldsen-Harris, author of Stitched Blooms, will be leading a special Color Workshop here on the Lark blog once a week for the next three weeks. From reviewing basic color theory to showing us how to select colors for our projects, Carina will share her expertise of all things color.

You can stitch the same motif shown in this blog post (plus a bonus motif!) by downloading them here for FREE: Stitched Blooms Motifs. Also, be sure to find out how you can enter for a chance to win a FREE copy of Stitched Blooms at the end of this post.

Update: Congratulations to Beth T., who won a free copy of Stitched Blooms! 


Hi! Welcome to this workshop about color. We’re going to cover a few things in these posts, but obviously, it’s an introduction to all things color. You could spend a lifetime studying these things, and that would be fun, I’m sure. But you wouldn’t have much time to do any embroidery!

The workshop is split into three sections: introduction to the color wheel, introduction to color schemes, and working with/selecting colors. Today we start with an introduction to the color wheel.

You have probably come across the color wheel before? In school, perhaps? If you haven’t, here’s a quick explanation of what the color wheel can do: It is a pie chart of sorts that shows how, with three basic colors (the primaries), you can mix all the other colors. Along with primary colors, you will often hear people talk about secondary and tertiary colors.

The three primary colors are red, yellow and blue, and they can’t be made from other colors. By mixing the primary colors, you will get the three secondary colors. These are orange (red + yellow), green (yellow + blue), and violet (blue + red).

There are six tertiary colors, each of which is mixed from a primary and a secondary color: red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet.

There are of course lots of colors besides these — millions in fact — but they all start with this basic principle of mixing, starting with the primary colors.

When it comes to embroidery, though, “mixing” perhaps isn’t the best term to use, because we can’t physically mix two colors of stranded floss. No matter how tightly you twist them together, red and yellow floss will not turn orange — they will always remain red or yellow. But they may look orange from some distance and that is very important to keep in mind.


Colors are very much influenced by their neighbors. Yellow and red next to each other will make each other look slightly orange. The same thing goes for any color — if there’s another color sitting next to it, each will impact the other, even if it’s just a little bit.

This can create unfortunate, unwanted effects, like a yellow that looks very nice on its own, but when placed next to a green takes on a green tinge. But we can also use it to our advantage, to make it look like we’ve used more colors than we actually have. Much like Impressionist painters who often would mix colors not on the palette but by putting small dots or strokes of paint next to each other on the canvas (called Pointillism), creating the illusion of a third color.

This is called partitive mixing or optical mixing. And this effect is exactly what we’re doing when we put thread colors together in a piece of embroidery. You could even recreate a Pointilist effect in embroidery by using French knots — when seen from a distance, the individual colors will start to disappear and the “in between” colors will appear.

And the number of colors that can be created using the colors on the color wheel can of course be multiplied even more by mixing them with white or black —to make a pink or peach or pale blue, for example.

The color wheel is a great reminder of the relationship between the colors. And the color wheel can do so much more for us! Next week we’ll look at how the color wheel can help us choose color schemes.


Enter for a chance to win a FREE copy of Stitched Blooms and try your own hand at color combinations with the 300+ motifs you can find in the book! Leave a comment on this blog post by 9 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 13. Any comment will do, but why don’t you tell us your favorite color combination? One winner will be selected at random from among all eligible entries and announced on Friday, February 14. Click here for the official rules. This giveaway is now closed.

Don’t forget to check back next week for part 2 of Carina’s Color Workshop and for a chance to win more free stuff! You can see more of Carina’s lovely, colorful motifs and projects on Carina’s Craftblog.




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