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 alwayscredit 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.
These are the colours from Attic 24’s Harmony blanket but with a different granny square. Read about ithere.
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 myFireplace 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!
Decide to get out a woolly blanket and the cat will appear from nowhere. Trying to take pictures of a woolly blanket is even worse. 70% of the pictures I took of this blanket had cat in them. I eventually gave up.
I’ve put it somewhere safe in case she tries it on again. She has claimed too many of my blankets.
Anyway, I’m pleased to say that I’ve finished the blanket and it looks lovely. I’m quite tempted to keep it as another blanket for the living room but it isn’t really big enough. I stopped making squares for it when I thought it wouldn’t go with the rest of the room. It turns out that, actually it probably would look quite nice. I’m taking it to a Christmas/craft fayre at the end of the month to see if someone buys it…
I really enjoyed making the squares. They are the Petal Patch Motif by Betsy Makes and the colour scheme is basically nicked from Attic 24’s Harmony blanket plus a few balls of Parchment and a smattering of Grape (it’s all Stylecraft Special DK). To give a nod to both of these pilferings I am calling the blanket Petal Patch Harmony. Blankets have names these days.
It’s slightly squashed where the cat abused it. I should probably give it a wash before trying to put it up for sale.
Many of these pictures are very samey but it takes too much time, dithering about which ones to use. May as well use them all.
Once again, I used the Continuous Join As You Go. Next time I’ll move on to a new technique. Not because I don’t like this one (I actually really like it) but because I want to learn something new. I’ve seen a few different ones about that I want to try. Just need to decide which to do first.
It’s a good size for the sofa or maybe a toddler bed. It also works well draped, with nonchalance, over a chair. Perhaps I should aim for one blanket per item of furniture; I can casually arrange blankets everywhere. You’ll never find the cat again.
The border is from Edie Eckman’s Around the Corner, Crochet Borders. Number 27. I cheated and skipped every two stitches, not every other. I did it that way so I wouldn’t have to make as many stitches. I can see that it is a ever so slightly stretched but that’s the punishment I get for being cheaty. I did the same thing on the Fireplace blanket and got a way with it more because I tinkered with the pattern. I get told off a lot for not following the recipe.
Here it is, complete. It looks smaller here than in real life. Real life tells me it measures 95x125cm. 63 squares.
Main colour is parchment and I can’t remember if I used three or four balls. The rest of the colours are most definitely less than a ball each. I used: clematis, lavender, lime, meadow, plum, sage, storm, pale rose, turquoise, violet, cloud, petrol, grape, raspberry, parma and aster. Hope I haven’t missed any out… Right, onto the next project!
I’ve spent years being inspired by other bloggers work. It became something I really wanted to do too. It looked fun and it looked like a good way to keep on track of what I was doing creatively. I was lazy and procrastinatey and used several excellent excuses as to why I hadn’t just done it. I’m still so new to it all, but if I had started when I first I had the notion then I would have been being bloggy for six or seven years by now! In my head, I have been doing it for six years or seven years. I’ve spent much time taking pictures of crafty projects and each time I’ve thought that maybe they would end up as a blog post. So, I’m going to put up some pictures of work that was done in the six months prior to hitting Publish for the first time. (I was going to write a post about yeasterday’s [relevant unwitting typo, that applies] kitchen endeavours but that was such a disaster that I need a few days to recover :/).
I went through a mandala phase. These two are both Made in K Town using Rico Creative Cotton. Cheap cotton, very splitty, lovely colours. This has led me towards doilies, which I still need to make more of. Soon.
I made my eldest boy an Attic 24 Ripple for his bed. It’s Stylecraft Special. Everyone loves a bit of Stylecraft rippling.
The boy chose the colours. So off I went. It was reasonably speedy once the first few rows were out the way. A repeating colour pattern was a weeny bit boring though. Next time, it’s random colours, like it’s supposed to be.
I made teeny niece the mini version for her dolly. I didn’t use the same pattern. This version has more ripples so looks better scaled down. It’s actually adapted from a cushion cover pattern from Cute and Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench. When I say “adapted” I mean “added a few more rows”. The edging, I think is the one that was on the Granny Stripe made by Lucy at Attic 24.
This one was a special request for a baby blanket. My Sister in Law chose the colours. It’s Stylecraft alpaca DK. The blocks were from 200 Crochet Blocks by Jan Eaton. Don’t go thinking that all the blocks end with the same stitch count though. They really don’t. Hmm. I really liked how this one turned out but I only blocked the edge (which is from Edie Eckman’s Crochet Borders book) and not the individual squares. Next time, I will try super hard to block stuff.
One of the quickest little blankets ever. It was so much fun. The squares were done in a few days and it was the first time I used a continuous-join-as you-go. This was for a baby girl born in early spring. I’d make one of these again for sure. It was inspired by a picture I saw on Pinterest and it led me to Katie’s Kitchen.
There are six handmade things in the picture above. Six! I am responsible for five of them but the cream knitted blanket is a Mother in Law job. Three blankets, two cushions and a dolly. Huzzah.
Sewing has been worked on too. I’m better than I was but there is definitely room for improvement too. Having said that, the cherry blossom needlecase is one of my favourite felty sewn things I’ve done.
And a Mermaid’s purse! Well, another needlecase… She was lovely to make. After Christmas I plan on making more of these sorts of things and giving them a go on Etsy. I’m not entirely sure what the demand is for needlecases and such, I guess I’ll find out. I will obviously shout very loudly on here if these sorts of things head towards my Etsy shop.
Phew, I feel a bit better now. I’m off to have yesterdays’ leftovers for lunch, which thankfully, taste better than the experience that I had in the kitchen.
I haven’t been working on these squares since the summer holidays began. I honestly didn’t think the holidays would have much of an impact on my crafty gubbins but it absoloutely has. Progress has slowed right down. However, this is still a good batch of squares. So far, there are fifty two and shockingly, ends have already been sewn in. Some ends have been sewn in. A few. I want over a hundred to make this blanket. I can’t remember the exact number needed. It doesn’t matter at this stage. I’ll have a play and then decide.
I love the pattern for this one. It takes a weeny bit longer to make than a regular Granny but it looks that much more special. It’s called the Petal Patch Motif by Betsy Makes. I’ll give myself an Autumn deadline for this one.
I’ve also been having a good old tinker around with this pattern. It’s the Lily Pad square and it’s very pretty. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing this one complete. I have a feeling it’ll look lovely.
The first square I made is the one on the bottom right. The middle is tighter and kind of went nipply (?!). I added some chains between stitches for the first couple of rounds, which sorted that out. I have also only just twigged that it’s someone called Lily who will become the owner of this blanket! Lily pads for Lily. Hee!
This tile is the inspiration for the colours. I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago and haven’t moved on that much further. Fingers crossed that the colours match in real life. It’s tricky colour matching by photographs.
Will I be getting ripe figs this year? Last year, the tree was laden with fruit but none of the blighters ripened. I always get excited about seeing them ripen but truthfully, I thinks figs are a bit pappy. However, I do like to pass them on to friends. People get excited by homegrown figs and I like to hand out bags and bags of them.
My runner beans are in full swing. I flippin love runner beans. I’m tempted to make chutney this year. I have a good recipe somewhere and I haven’t made any for a few years. Hmm. I could make some courgette chutney too…
The pink Japanese Anemone is looking fabulous at the moment. I wish I could say the same for the white one I got a couple of years ago. The white one is in too much shade and I’m not sure the ground, in which it sits, is that nutrient rich. I might dig it up and move it.
Scroll past these if you like. I’m gonna add another anemone picture next too…
Behind, on the right is Arron’s Rod, I think. A bit weedy but it is adding height. I really need to research some flowering plants that are about 6 foot tall. Any suggestions?
Helloo baby garden spider. I saw loads of these in the spring when they’d hatched, so I knew they would find themselves homes. He flashed his belly at me.
The garden in the summer looks a lot different to how it was in the spring. There are brighter flowers and it looks a lot less organised. I don’t know how to plan planting very well and it shows.
I’m astounded that the Hollyhocks flowered. They have been affected by rust. I sprayed them with Rose Clear, which has antifungal things in it. It seems to have helped them to recover just enough. Not just for roses it seems. Beside it, the Crocosmia is mightily happy. It isn’t bothered by rust.
Several Sunflowers have come up at the bottom of the garden. I didn’t put them there. What I did put there was homemade compost. I deny putting Sunflowers in the compost though. I have no idea how they got there. Lots of self seeding has gone on down at the bottom of the garden. That Borage has barged its way in. And there is what I suspect to be Verbena Bonariensis coming up too. The pink flowers are Lavatera but that was deliberately planted.
So, there are all these colours going on. It’s a bit of a muddle. It looks nice enough but I need lessons in planning. Maybe an overhaul for next year? Do I start now? I’m not sure what to do.
Okay, I think these are the only finished things this week. They’re little crochet brooches. The pattern for the raccoon is from issue 33 of Simply Crochet magazine. I made the fox so that he had a friend. Same pattern just different colours. The raccoon pattern is designed by Becky Garratt. I looked at her blog and I like it very much.
This is new wool for a blanket that has been “commissioned” (my Sister in Law has asked me to make it). The colours have been taken from a tile from a victorian fireplace. I’m assuming that once the blanket is finished, it will drape beautifully somewhere beside the fire on a cold winter’s day (or something like that). It is Drops Karisma and seems ok, I’ve not used it before. I have made a tentative start but the pattern I’ve chosen might need tweaking.
I can’t decided whether to complete this first, or put it aside whilst I concentrate on the fireplace blanket. I know what I should do but I also know what I want to do. Actually, they will both be fun to make so I guess it doesn’t really matter. This Petal Patch blanket will take at least a few weeks more though as I want about 100 squares and so far I think I only have 25. I haven’t been working as fast as usual either. This is because of a hurty wrist and a yarn tangling toddler.
I bought this fabric in May, I think. It isn’t posh quality but it was less than £3 a metre, so I don’t care.
I made a bag out of it first and this week I hope to make a summer skirt. If, once I’ve finished, it looks good I will post some pictures. I should probably take a picture of the bag too. I have found what looks to be a good free pattern for the skirt.
This isn’t my hand, it belongs to my blanket wanting Sister in Law. She is into embroidery and when she visited last Friday, she whipped it out whilst me and some other fab people did our crochet. I wanted to share it simply because I like it!
Moving on from the crafting projects I am reminded that the garden is thirsty. These Anagallis are my new favourite flower. For about five years it was a Salvia, which I think is called Cambridge Blue but my Mum gave me some Anagallis seedlings after I spotted it in her garden last summer. These guys look like they need a drink.
Both the Salvia and the Anagallis are here. I expect the Salvia is feeling a bit miffed now.
Down at the bottom of the garden, the Crocosmia is just beginning to flower. It was here when we moved in. I don’t mind it too much, so it has been allowed to stay. This picture doesn’t show the Lavatera that has come up behind it but it does show the Salvia, which looks so much better in real life.
I went upstairs and took a picture. Everything is looking quite nice from this angle!
Hopefully I will get the sewing machine out tonight. I’d like to make a start on that skirt.