Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Crochet color conclusions


Or: An Experienced Crocheter Still Has Much to Learn

I've been trying for over a year to decide on a blanket design; I want a new afghan for our queen-sized bed, to use with the duvet in cooler weather. I made a giant granny square blanket for our bed several years ago and we like it, but it would be nice to have something new. The "giant" granny square isn't as big as we'd like, in spite of its name. And I'm better at crochet now, so I wanted to try a more complex design. Choosing one has been so hard. I knew I didn't want stripes or ripples for such a large bed blanket. I wanted individual squares. I tried close to a dozen different kinds of squares and hexagons, but nothing felt right.

I think I've finally figured out what was giving me so much trouble, and it's a huge relief. This may sound silly but my problem was color: I was using too many colors and everything was looking very busy. I was having trouble making pleasing combinations with so many colors in the mix. I kept seeing "gaps" in my color palette, and every time I added a new color, I'd have to add one or two more to balance it out. It was getting out of control. Most recently, when I thought I had found the key in Sunburst squares, which I really do love and enjoyed making, I was up to something like 24 shades. I started joining them and they looked terrible. The colors bothered me.

I thought I wanted another blanket like the GB's Ice Cream Flowers, only with gray instead of white. Her blanket is lovely, but...well, it's a little girl's blanket. I'm happy with it, and it works really well in her sunny, colorful bedroom, but it's not right for our room. I want something quieter and calmer, more grown-up. I also want a project I can handle. Some people are good at wrangling huge color assortments into a visually-pleasing creation. Some are really good at limiting themselves to a small color selection and methodically planning where colors should go. Some people can do both, which amazes me. I can make a detailed plan, but it's hard for me to execute. I don't like total randomness either, so I feel stuck sometimes. I think it's why I usually fall back on stripes or ripples. They make more sense from a color-theory standpoint, for me. Some colors look bad together, so you don't make adjacent stripes with them. Simple. Squares with multiple-round motifs confuse me, color-wise.


What I wanted, I slowly began to understand, was a square design that didn't rely on multiple colors. I thought about solid one-color grannies but those seemed very plain. Then I remembered how much I enjoyed making Maybelle Squares in the past. I'd only ever made them as decorations (I made a garland of squares as a blog giveaway prize several years ago, and a garland of the inner flowers without the square rounds for the GB's room). I liked making them, though, and I really enjoyed the blanket projects I'd seen made with the pattern, which is a joint effort between one crochet blogger, from the blog 6ichthusfish (sorry, but I don't know this lady's name), who designed the flower and another, Annette, of the blog My Rose Valley, who designed the squaring part. Annette has made beautiful blankets with the square she designed, and I've always thought I'd like to try making a pillow cover or throw with her squares. Last year, she made a baby blanket with her squares that I really admired. It occurred to me that Maybelle squares fit all my criteria for our new blanket: fairly large squares (about 6 inches across in DK yarn), one color for the flower and one for the squaring rounds, easily joined (I usually prefer joining-as-I-go and may do that here). Most importantly, it's pretty but simple.

I remembered that I'd already been thinking somewhat along these lines last fall, when I came up with a plan for large hexagons made in various color gradients using nine colors of yarn, joined with gray. I lost interest in the hexagons, but I still liked the colors very much. I knew I would do better with fewer colors, which is why I wanted to do the hexes in just such a way, and it occurred to me that I could use those colors for Maybelles instead! Annette's baby blanket uses five colors squared with cream and joined with beige. I love the look but I wanted to stick with gray for our blanket. I think the gray offsets the femininity of the flower motif. My nine colors of Stylecraft Special DK are in the basket above. Clockwise from top: Denim, Grape, Raspberry, Duck Egg, Petrol, Pale Rose, Sage, Storm, with Gray and Parma Violet in the center.



I worked out the numbers for my blanket and started crocheting. Most of the colors will require 19 squares and a couple of them (Raspberry and Petrol) will require 18. I finished all the Raspberry ones already. I looped a piece of yarn through the centers to keep the pile together. Then I started the Sage ones. I think Sage is my favorite color of Stylecraft Special DK right now. I just love its retro look; I think it has sort of a 50's feel. In fact, I think the whole color palette does. I like the slightly washed-out look of these colors with the gray. I know I keep saying I feel good about various blanket projects, but I really do think this one is right. I honestly love making these squares. They make me feel like I did when I first started crocheting seriously five years ago. It's that kind of design, I guess. I find it exciting and calming at the same time. The pattern is easy to memorize and they make up quickly. I can work on them while I do other things. I think this is going to check all my blanket boxes. Finally, a blanket!

19 comments:

  1. I loved reading your thought process on this blanket Jennifer. I honestly felt as if we were sitting there discussing the whole design process together. And I can also say that I love, love, love your choices! That is going to be one beautiful blanket. I'm looking forward to following your progress on it. Have a lovely day my friend.
    Blessings, Betsy

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  2. Hi Jennifer, I love your crochet flower squares, having a limited pallet is very effective. I've never designed anything to make as such, though there have been times when I had some yarn etc and went from there. Don't think that really counts though. I've often wondered what men must think of overly feminine decor, my husband M always says whatever you want, what makes you happy. It's probably the same for everyone I guess. Anyway I love that your squares pleases both of you. Look forward to seeing it put together x

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  3. I love how much time and effort you've put into getting the design just right - and it has been well worth it. With a big project it's important to make it something you love. The colours you've chosen are gorgeous, especially the raspberry. I know you'll enjoy making it, and I shall look forward to following along. Something I try for when I have very busy fabrics is to put a plain one next to the more vibrant ones, or even one plain, one colourful the whole way through. I can get away with quite a lot like that! Hope you're having a good week. I will be thinking of you and the Bear on Friday, hugs, CJ xx

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  4. What an interesting post, Jennifer. I know exactly what you're saying about having too much colour going on. Can't wait to see how your blanket turns out. I think it's going to be fabulous!

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  5. They're such a pretty design and the colours work so well with the grey, I do really love grey xx

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  6. I've always loved this pattern. It will be so pretty with your gray background. Are you picturing these on the wrong side on purpose? At least it looks like the back to me. I don't know because I've ever made it. So fun to settle on a pattern and really get going on it. I burned myself out on blankets around this time last year when I made five! Not sure when I'll be ready for another one, but it probably won't be long. I have a couple of patterns in mind when I do. Have fun! ♥

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  7. I like the way you worked at figuring out what works for you. I can't handle a lot of colors, 4 seems to be about it for me. Looking forward to your finished afghan.

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  8. I can identify with so much of this process! I think you've nailed it J, the grey will showcase the colours beautifully and be just enough to hold your interest whilst making it. Finishing one colour will spur you on with the next. It'll be ideal for a portable project too. Looking forward to seeing it in progress in future posts! J x

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  9. nice!!! they are lovely!!! I would get overwhelmed by too many colours too, I can see how easy it would be to not realize that this was the issue keeping things at the planning stages!! do show us the progress or FO !!! :) when it's done!!

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  10. I totally understand your thoughts on this. I love your color choices and I think it's going to be just perfect with the gray to join it. Can't wait to see more!

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  11. That's it. I think you have got it! I like total randomness, the jeopardy of it, the craziness of it but I appreciate it is not for everyone and mistakes do happen like when you put something together and find two of the same colour next to each other. Jo xxx

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  12. You have found the perfect solution, and it will look beautiful. I love those colours too and as you say, they are a grown up look. Happy Easter Jennifer to you and your lovely family.

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  13. I like your thought process Jennifer. I am glad you got to the bottom of what you really want for your blanket, it is going to be beautiful.
    I am like Jo above, love total randomness and a riot of colour for my creative endeavours. Sometimes I'd like to work with a more restricted palette because I do admire well chosen colour combinations. I am just not good at it! I am learning from you :-) Happy blanket making times ahead. xx

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  14. Your crochet work is always so beautiful! I am working on a blanket inspired by your work. Thanks for sharing Jennifer! Happy Easter!

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  15. It is interesting following your thought processes as I often struggle with getting colour combinations right and can really relate to that colour overload feeling. I love the colours you have chosen and the grey provides a subtle and sophisticated effect. It will be lovely to see the blanket develop. Happy Easter and have a good weekend.

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  16. How perfect, Jennifer! I love it!
    The colors are unique and cozy! I can't wait until you finish it (no pressure - lol!)

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  17. The planning and decision making process of making a blanket and choosing the colour combinations can be a nightmare I've been there so many times but once you have made a decision and are happy with it it's like the sun has come out. I love the square you have chosen and the colours, your blanket will be beautiful. Have a great Easter weekend. :) xx

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  18. I totally get where you are coming from with this! The colour planning in Angus's blanket drove me crazy, and more and more I am wanting to crochet things in reduced colour palates. I think my next blanket will be only two colours, perhaps one. I'm really glad you've hit on a combination of pattern and colour that works for you. It sounds like you're flying with this one. x

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  19. When I first happened upon Lucy's blog I became enamored with her various rainbow projects and bought one of her first Stylecraft collections, but have yet to settle on a pattern! It is good to read through your planning process, and it gives me hope I will one day settle on a pattern and actually make it. I especially like your choice of gray and it is a color I am growing to appreciate more and more. Thanks for posting, Jennifer! xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

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