I’ve been thinking a lot about colour over the last few months. I’m not the only one either. When I researched colour in crochet I found a tonne of articles and blog posts about it. Many of the articles have looked specifically into colour theory and taken choosing colours quite seriously (colour theory is the scientific approach in understanding how colours go together, it’s sciencey, you can even get twiddly colour wheels to help and everything). I’m not going to go into that, I’m just going to explain how I cheat at choosing my colours for crochet!
When I first started to crochet I didn’t think much beyond what colours I liked and which colours were available. That was fine but sometimes my favourite colours didn’t translate into yarn very well or I didn’t know which shade would be best with another. Thankfully, there are far more colours and shades available than there used to be (this crochet thing has really taken off).
These days I ask myself what style I’m after or how many colours will acheive a good balance for the picture I have in my head? I also approach a project from a different angle, I take inspiration from different sources rather than turning up at the shop and chucking balls of yarn in my basket. I consider more than just my favourite colours.
For me a good starting point is deciding on the theme I want, this can often be just a one word affair: neutral, bright, pastel, earth, vintage, contemporary, seasonal blah blah. Once I’ve decided this, it’s so much easier. There are lots of colours I can then eliminate.
The secret to choosing a good colour palette is probably a mixture of confidence and experience. Over-thinking can really take the fun out of it. Stop worrying and just begin. You won’t know if something works until you try it out. If it doesn’t work then that’s a lesson learned. If it does work, then awesome! Another secret is this: crochet. A lot. All the time!
Before I go into the “cheats” I use, I’m going to mention a little bit about whether to go Random or Organised; I think it could be helpful. I’m Random. What are you?
I love a bit of random. To go truly random is a risk that can really pay off. It’s also great for stashbusting. Is random really random though? It’s fun blindly grabbing yarn and putting it all together in a crochet blanket, it can lead to some very interesting results, it can also backfire tremendously! Arbitrary colour placement can sometimes get you in dodgy situations, but you might also discover that those weird colours actually look fantastic sat side by side. My only rule about placing colours randomly is not to have the same shades too close to one another. And I think I’ve broken that rule a couple of times too.
When I’m making a blanket that’s going to be random I like to choose a minimum of seven colours. Fewer than that and it’s going to be tricky mixing up the colours effectively. More than fifteen colours and you might lose any colour balance you’re trying to acheive. Blankets where I’ve used over thirty colours have looked like a dog’s dinner. They’ve also looked pretty good too if you’re after something you’d find at Granny’s house.
Don’t want to risk random? Then everything needs to be worked out before you even pick up your hook. I’ve already confessed that I’m Random so to be properly organised you probably shouldn’t listen to me. I’m talking colour wheels, yarn pegs, pre-made crochet squares a la Attic 24 and The Patchwork Heart. It’s really not my area! I’m pretty envious of these super organised people, I don’t know why it doesn’t work for me. Oh yes, it’s because I’m lazy!! Instead of taking the time to organise my yarn stash, you’ll most likely find me sat in a tangle of mismatched balls, whilst umming and ahhing about what I’ve got enough of, to eek out into a small blanket.
If you’d rather be in control of colour choices then Attic 24 and the Patchwork Heart are definitely the crochet folk you need to visit. You’ll learn about matching warm and cool colours so that the balance brings out the best in all shades. You’ll find out about whether you prefer contrasting or complimentary colours too. Maybe once the decision has been made, you could get fancy and choose an ombre style, go for block colours or get your rainbow on! Of course, you’ll then get lost in a sea of crochet and colour, but that’s not such a bad place to be.
Ways to Cheat the Crochet Colour
It’s time to get cheaty. If you’re still struggling with colours then here are a few pointers to help. If you can’t be bothered with a methodical approach and you don’t have the time for a potentially hazardous risk then these tricks might be the ticket.
- This is controversial. Find a blanket someone else has made and copy it! Loads of blogs (including mine) will share the brands of yarn and colour choices so that it’s easy to do. I would add that if you do this then please always credit the creator. If I’ve been inspired by someone I will always say so. Copying is a good starting point if you’re a beginner. Gradually you can move away from this once you’ve got more confidence. Copying will become less literal, the original design will be more of an inspiration. An homage or something! Look at blogs, Ravelry, Pinterest, Instagram etc.
This blanket was inspired by Crochet With Raymond. I loved the colours and grabbed some similar Stylecraft colours . I wrote a blog post about it in more detail.
These are the colours from Attic 24’s Harmony blanket but with a different granny square. Read about it here.
2. Find inspiration from pictures. I love finding pictures in magazines and using them as a starting point. What’s particularly brilliant about this is that current magazines will have on-trend colours (if that’s what you’re after). Even a picture of a person in a room is great. You’ll see the colours of the decor or the clothes the person is wearing. Craft magazines are perfect, they’ll be completely switched on with regard to colour palettes and tonal balance. Also look at books and illustrations.
Here is my Fireplace blanket, inspired by fireplace tiles (a special request from my sister in law and a great idea).
This green curiosity was surprisingly inspired by Meg and Mog. I’m not sure I’m keen. It was an interesting experiment!
3. Go back to nature. Look at a garden you like, where’s your favourite place to be? What mood does that place evoke? Take a picture of a scene that’s good and use it. The seaside seems to be an inspiration for many, as does woodland. Maybe some city lights could conjure up a good bunch of colours. I can’t remember doing this if I’m being honest. I know it’s a thing, I’ve seen it!
4. Let technology help you. Design Seeds is a big one. Lots and lots of ready to use colour palettes. Or you can create your own with Playcrafts. The palette builder on Playcrafts is fabulous (I got lost in there once. Hours of entertainment). Imagine if a big yarn brand had something like this, it would be amazing! They also have the Colour Play generator, which is interesting. You can sort by hue, saturation or value. There are apps aplenty that do palette builders too. I’ve got one called Real Colours. I’ve been testing lots of pictures from my phone gallery! Based on colour theory, which I mentioned earlier, is the Adobe colour wheel. It was fun to tinker with but I’m not sure I’d want to use it all the time. Don’t forget there’s Random.Org if you want to generate a list of colours or something similar. Phew, technology is good innit?!
Anyway, who am I to tell you what to do?! You can do what you like. That’s the beauty of crochet! There are endless possibilities and the freedom to play and have fun. If there are any cheating ways I’ve missed, do let me know. I’d love to hear about more ways in which I can cut corners!
30 thoughts on “Choosing your Crochet Colour Palette (With Cheating Shortcuts).”
Great post, I’m hit and miss with colour. Sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s horrific. 😀
Do you think it’s more ‘hit’ the more you make stuff? I can’t work out if I get more hits these days or whether I’m more accepting of the weird combinations!
This is brilliant Rosina! Thanks for sharing. I’m probably more ‘random’ and have an anything goes (nearly!) approach to colour. But like you say, a lot of my colour inspiration comes from nature around me, especially the coast of course! 🙂 🙂
Thank you! Anything goes: I like that! 🙂
With so many left over balls of yarn, random is definitely the in the future my house ! Thanks for the awesome post:)
And then it’s just deciding on which pattern to go for!
I recently used a Stylecraft CAL pack to make an Attic 24 blanket. It had roughly the right colours and I gave up faffing around looking through loads of yarn brands for their coloura
That definitely takes the faffing out.
It’s great that those packs are available. Especially if you just want to get on and crochet!
I’m a randomer although I have, twice, cheated and bought the Attic24 packs. It was more fun making it up as I went along.
I’ve not bought the packs before but it’s a genuis idea. It kind of does feel like cheating but if the colour combinations are perfect, why be stubborn and veer off that?
Your blankets always make me smile, I love your colour choices.
Thanks Alida! I’m going to have to come up with a few new ones, I’ve started to recycle old pictures!
What a great post! I’ve never really thought too much about choosing colours, I’m a bit of a ‘go with my instincts’ colour chooser, if that’s even a thing?! I’m also a randomer but sometimes I’m organised too.
Thanks. I try to go with my instincts too but am often ruled by what’s left over from old projects. :/
At the moment I’m trying to have a go at the methodical approach. Needless to say it’s loads of work! Not my usual style at all! 🙂
Yes, the leftovers make me feel guilty if I don’t use them!
Random still rules my colour choices too! Some of my favourite combinations have come from which colours are beside each other when I delve into my stash. I loved looking back through your past crochet projects here as well! 😀
Well I never knew about all the techy ways to do colour palettes! Very interesting! I’m sometimes random, but I like seeing combinations in photos/pictures and using the combinations if I can find yarn in those colours. I particularly liked your fireplace tiles blanket- gorgeous colours and idea! There’s a street near me where every door way still has original Victorian tiles in the porch, I might have to have a look at the colour pallettes! Xx
It’s very simple but also really pleasing to play with pictures and sort out their colour palettes.
You’ll have to sneak into everyone’s gardens to take pictures of the tiles. You’ll look like a mad woman! 🙂
What a great post…loads of great tips and information. I always love your colour combos, so you’re obviously good at it! My new year resolution is to attend a crochet course, I’m desperate to learn crochet. I am so jealous of your blankets, I need some in my life, so better learn how to make them. Thank you for linking up with #craftingismytherapy
Ah, thank you! I can’t wait to see what you do with your learning. you won’t know why you waited so long! 🙂
What a fab post, really helpful! I’m quite random when it comes to choosing colours although I do like to select colours from a limited palette so that they work together. I tend to use up bits and pieces of yarn from my stash so that guides my work quite a bit. Thank you for linking up to #CraftingismyTherapy!
Thank you! Yep, I think that’s what I do. A limited palette can be quite a challenge if your stash is low, that’s happened to me a few times and I’ve had some “interesting” combinations. But I guess, that’s because I’m a horder and end up with weird colours, rather than having favourite go-to colours. I love it all to be honest!!
Brilliant post. I did something similar a couple of weeks ago sharing how I find colour inspiration (I like Design Seeds too).
I found Design Seeds through Pinterest, there are so many colour palettes. How on earth do you choose?! There are so many fabulous combinations!
This is such an interesting article. I am very colour challenged! I have tried so hard over the years to put together beautiful colour combinations, and even learned about colour theory. Nothing helped and my husband has seriously wondered if I am colour blind (I’m not). Thanks for your tips, I now have hope again!
Hi Emma, glad you enjoyed it. I think the key is having confidence in your choices. I try not to overly doubt myself as I know that’s when I’ll start messing with the colours too much. Good luck! X