Some crocheters enjoy working with a limited color palette and have no interest in exploring different colors while others have an almost paralyzing fear of experimenting with color. If you fall into the latter category, you already know that color has a major impact on the style and mood of your crochet project, but maybe you need some support in venturing into new color territories.
Whether color is your crochet word of the year, too, or you just want to switch things up a bit, check out these five tips to get you started along a more (or differently) colorful crochet (or knitting) journey.
1) Follow a Designer or Blogger Known for Color Play
One way to step outside your personal color comfort zone is by using tried and true combinations of yarns recommended by designers and bloggers known for their color sense.
Colour Lovers, a community that shares color inspirations and palettes;
Design Seeds, a website that offers color inspiration posts and also provides the ability for readers to search through palettes by color value and theme; and
Pantone, which shares seasonal color reports that predict fashion and home décor trends.
Pick and choose colors from any of these palettes to get a stylish and coordinated feel.
3) Use a Color Palette Generator
If you have a photograph that you find inspiring or have seen an image online with colors that appeal to you, a web-based palette generator can help you separate the individual colors so you can match them to solid color yarns. Color Hunter is one such website. I took a photograph of these colorful hydrangeas a few years ago…
…and Color Hunter generated this palette.
I can use this to choose solid yarns to create the same look and feel of those hydrangea bushes.
4) Let the Yarn Guide You
Choose a solid color yarn that speaks to you, and generate a palette of colors to combine with it. Paletton – The Color Scheme Designer allows you to select any color in the rainbow and then generates a color scheme with options for mono, complement, triad, tetrad, analogic or accented analogic colors.
5) Choose a Multi-Colored Yarn
You can also put yourself completely in the hands of the yarn company, and pick a multi-colored yarn for your next crochet or knitting project. Many large yarn companies and independent dyers, like Crystal Palace, Lorna’s Laces, madelinetosh, Malabrigo, Mrs. Crosby, and Noro, are known for their beautiful color combinations.
Knitty City Lights, an exclusive madelinetosh colorway available at my local yarn shop, Knitty City.
This option has the added benefit of minimizing yarn changes, and thus reducing the number of yarn tails you have to weave in at the end of your project. (You can find more tips for working with multi-colored yarns in this post.)
Bonus Tip: Consider a Temperature Project
If you’d rather just have (most) of the color decisions taken out of your hands, consider a temperature project. You can learn more about these conceptual projects, where you crochet (or knit) an infographic of a year in your life, in this post.
With these easy tips, you should be ready to embrace new colors in your next crochet project.
If you’re participating in the Mystery Lapghan Crochet-a-long (with 36 crochet patterns by 30 designers), or if you’re just a granny square lover like me, you’ve probably spent lots of time thinking about how to piece together a blanket using squares by different designers.
One option is to make a folky, scrappy blanket. These “stash buster” blankets are often pieced together at random, or squares are joined to the larger project as they are finished.
But what if you want to use many different squares to create a blanket that looks more cohesive and planned? I’m sharing 5 tips for designing a blanket that has the look that you want while combining granny square patterns from different sources.
1) Start by selecting colors
For a scrappy look, follow the quilters’ adage and use 7 or more colors. Surprisingly, with this many colors, you don’t have to worry much about whether they all “match” as long as colors placed side by side look harmonious.
I used this approach with my Temperature Scarf. I started with seven yarns (and added an additional color later when I ran out of one). You can find the free crochet pattern here.
For a planned blanket, choose a more limited color palette of 3-4 colors for the squares and 1 additional color for borders and joins. If you feel anxious about choosing colors, stick with one brand and one line of yarn since these colors usually work well together. Or, read this great post on color theory for crocheters on FreshStitches.
2) Pick patterns that connect easily
Your blanket will have a more uniform look if each row is the same size. The simplest way to do this is to select square patterns of the same size. 4”, 6”, 8”, 12”, and 20” square patterns are common options.
Another option is to choose sizes that can easily be combined. For example, the diagram below shows how you can connect nine 4″ squares (at right) to one 12″ square (at center) and four 6″ squares (at left).
Of course, when you are working with patterns from multiple designers, you will may find that designs that are supposed to result in squares of the same sizes don’t always end up the same size due to differences in your tension, yarn choice, hook, and so on. You might choose to “square up” the smaller squares by working a border of stitches around the square (including 3 stitches in each of the four corners to keep the corners from puckering).
3) Lay out the final blanket before joining
A blanket will look most cohesive if you lay it out and choose your favorite arrangement before joining squares together. You can lay out motifs on a large flat surface (like your bed), or you take a picture of each square and sample your virtual layout using PicMonkey collages. Moogly has a great tutorial on using PicMonkey to plan a blanket here.
4) Choose a join to create the right look
There are three major ways to join granny squares.
An invisible join on the wrong (back) side of the blanket is best if you don’t want the seams to be part of the blanket’s design. I have several tutorials for invisible seams available:
On the other hand, a more visible join, like using single crochet join on the right (front) side to create a dimensional sashing, or using a lacy join to create a more delicate look, might be the right fit for your project. You can find my tutorial for a single crochet join here.
A third option is to “join-as-you-go.” Unless you plan your layout before starting your squares (or if you are going for a scrappy look), this technique is more difficult to use when working with squares from multiple designers. You can find my tutorial for the join-as-you-go method here.
5) Unify the blanket with a border
Finally, pull all of the squares and colors of the project together with a border. Choose a solid color for a classic look, find a variegated yarn that includes colors like those in the blanket, or use multiple colors. My favorite book of crochet border patterns is Around the Corner Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman.
I hope you found these tips helpful. What are your favorite ways to combine granny squares from different designers into one project?
Today is the last in a series of weekly (Inter)National Crochet Month posts where I feature an artisanal crochet hook maker, share a review of the hooks, and offer up a giveaway where you can win your very own hand crafted crochet hook necklace!
Craftwich likes to add a touch of mystery to the packaging.
Left: My custom Craftwich hook. Right: The giveaway prize!
All images in the interview are copyright Craftwich Creations and used with permission.
Underground Crafter (UC) How did you first get started working with wood?
Monica: I tried making my first hook a few years ago, and boy did it SUCK. HA! I used an oak dowel, which was so hard to hand carve with an Xacto blade. But I really got the hang of it after taking a class on hook carving with Jimbo (of Jimbo’s Front Porch) at Crochet@Cama four years ago. Once I started, I couldn’t seem to stop, and soon my husband was asking me WHAT was I going to do with all those hooks? Worked out how I liked to make my hooks, what worked best for me, and a business was born.
Craftwich Creations Studio.
UC: What initially inspired you to make handmade crochet hooks?
Monica: In my crafting, I always have enjoyed the process more than the finished piece. It’s always a bit disappointing when it’s finished, no mater how cool it is. SO, when I moved to the Pacific Northwest, and was able to stay home with the kids, it was a natural progression to first wanting to know how to make my own yarn, and then my own tools. I want to know my craft from the beginning to end.
Craftwich Creations shawl pins, crochet hook necklaces, and other and accessories
UC: Do you crochet yourself? If not, who tests out your new hook designs?
Monica: I crochet every night, on the couch, with my Ott light and my pillow, LOL! I’m a more advant-garde hooker, so I like unusual designs, and since I tend to have crafting Short Attention Span, I like to make shawls (asymmetrical are my faves) and other patterns with a variety of stitches. I do like to have anyone I see in person test my hooks – one can never have enough feedback.
Craftwich Creations knitting needles.
UC: Many crocheters have never owned a handmade hook before, and you prefer to make custom hooks. Talk us through the process of working with a customer to create a great hook.
Monica: Well, my goal with my business is to make a piece of art for everyone, that is a useful tool also. If I don’t make something with someone in mind, then I want to make something that the wood tells me it wants to be. If someone is interested in my hooks, but doesn’t see one that leaps out at them (don’t laugh, it has literally happened at a craft show!) then they can request a custom order, which is SO much fun.
First, I need to ask what kind of grip they have, small or larger hands, and whether they use a thumb, forefinger, etc. Any quirks they might have in their hook hold. For example, I have a knife hold in my left hand, and I use my fingers to throw off the yarn. (it was dubbed the “spider crawl” by Julia M. Chambers, who wrote an excellent series of articles in Interweave Crochet on hook holds). Since crochet hooks are held differently by literally each person, some of my natural hooks will NOT work for some people, and others will be PERFECT. I want to match people up with THEIR hook. Nothing makes me more pleased than hearing someone tell me, “it fits like it was made for my hand,” or “it caught my eye right away and I love it.” That means more to me than the money (although getting paid to make people happy is nice too).
I send pictures of the hook in progress as needed. It’s a small step to take, to make sure someone loves what they get.
Craftwich Creations kits and more.
UC: Do you have any crochet/crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?
Craftwich Creations crochet hooks and knitting needles.
UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?
Monica: I am actually going to keep doing what I am doing! I have sold most of last year’s hooks, so March will be a big carving month for me – more gorgeous crochet tools for all my fellow hookers!
UC: What’s coming up for Craftwich Creations?
Monica: I will be at a few craft shows this year around the Pacific Northwest, so watch my Facebook page for details.
I always like to explore fun new fiber crafting ideas that I can make for people…at the end of last year, I really got into the large Tunisian hooks, so I’m gong to be making more and trying to get more people to try it! What a blast.
Most exciting of all for me, I’m partnering up with Laurinda Reddig of Reversible Color Crochet book fame, to create an exciting new tri-monthly crochet kit. We’ll have top notch hand painted yarn, an exciting pattern, an accessory that goes with them that I make (AND an option to get a custom hook to go with!), and best of all – a story that ties everything together and adds excitement to the kit. We’re putting together the details now, and I can’t wait to introduce the kits to everyone! Watch for details on the Ficstitches Yarn website!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Monica, and sharing your love of creativity with us!
Craftwich Creations CrochetHook Review
My custom crochet hook from Craftwich Creations.
I had a great conversation with Monica via Etsy convo and email. The process was just as she describes in the interview above, where I shared my preferences (for a tapered hook), my grip (knife hold), my eccentricities (using my forefinger heavily), and my favorite hook sizes (I through K). After back and forth discussion, I even sent her a video of me crocheting, and ultimately, she created a custom US K-10.5 (6.5 mm) crochet hook for me to review. You can see the hook in action and hear my full review in the video below.
What I like about this hook:
It’s visually appealing.
It’s very smooth.
It’s extremely lightweight.
It has a long handle to avoid the abrasion against the side of your hand that sometimes happens when you use the knife grip to hold your hook.
The hook has a tapered throat, which I prefer to an inline hook.
It has a wider circumference on the handle, allowing for a more relaxed grip while crocheting.
It’s custom made and it actually feels custom made. It’s like Monica jumped into my mind and knew exactly what I wanted! What an awesome conversation starter.
What might take some getting used to about this hook:
Crocheters who prefer hooks with inline throats to tapered hooks may find it harder to pull the yarn through their loops with this hook – but I’m sure Monica could make another one that suits inline hook lovers.
Neither the company name nor the hook size are indicated on the hook, so you may not remember where to order from again. Similarly, you will need a Susan Bates Knit-Chek (or something similar) to check the hook size if you have multiple Craftwich hooks.
The hooks has a non-standard shape, so it may not fit into your existing hook holders.
Craftwich Creations crochet hooks currently sell for $18 – $26, depending on the size, style, and wood used. You can find more of Monica’s hooks and her other products, including wood buttons and knitting needles, in the Etsy shop here.
Full disclosure: A free review sample was provided by Craftwich Creations. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.
Monica from Craftwich Creation is offering up a portable crochet hook necklace for one lucky U.S. reader!
This could be yours! Perfect for crocheting on the go, or to pick up dropped stitches in knitting!
So stop by Craftwich Creations and let us know your favorite hook from the shop in the comments! Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for your chance to win by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Only entries logged through the widget will be eligible to win. Good luck!