Recently I released my San Drea Shawl, a stripey garter stitch and short row shawl that uses 4 different colors.
The sky is truly the limit here, as exemplified by my amazing beta knitters and their creations!
Jamie combined a modern grey background with bright contrast colors and did fewer lace repeats.
Julia used an eye-catching trio of bright colors, including a variegated, which are set off by the white main color.
Barbara broke out tweed yarn for the background, and added some stripe action to the lace border.
Andrea modified the colors sequence of the stripes to her liking, and finished with a simple garter stitch border instead of lace.
I used yarn I had in my stash, which dictated my color combination and fibers (ie, using a single ply yarn for my main color and a plied yarn for the contrasting colors.) I quite like the combination of textures in my shawl, especially since the single ply Manos del Uruguay Fino has great drape, but you can go crazy here!
If you need more inspiration, check out the following color combinations I put together. For these combos, I followed my formula of single ply main color, 2 solid plied contrast colors and 1 variegated plied contrast color.
The best way to find a color combination for this kind of project is to go to your LYS or your stash and just play! Have fun putting color combinations together, no matter how weird they seem. You never know where you'll find magic.