For all the posts in this series, you can go HERE!
Before you start your project I urge you to swatch, especially to find the right needle or hook size. For crochet, holding one strand of sock weight yarn, a 3.5/E hook is generally good (if you are a tight crocheter, if you are loose go down). For knitting, holding 2 strands of sock weight yarn together, 4.5mm/US7 or 5mm/US8 needles should be good. Everyone’s tension is different, so play around to find the size that you are comfortable with.
I always keep track of my choices in my Ravelry Projects, it’s a great place to keep your notes because they never get lost and you can look info up from your smartphone.
Now, everyone emphasises how important swatching is for the success of your final project, and I can’t *make* you swatch, but I think I can motivate you to swatch. I made a small swatch and am glad I did, as I found out several VERY useful things …
I made a smallish swatch (see picture above), about the size of a blanket for a doll, and am glad I did, as I found out several VERY useful things … knowledge is power!
I preferred a 3.25mm crochet hook since my crochet tension is on the loose side. I also found out that I have two D hooks made by the same company (in different styles) that are actually different sizes: one is 3mm and the other is 3.25mm.
I wasn’t loving my yarn worked up in a log cabin style, it didn’t suit the predominantly smooth texture and mostly variegated colour ways. I am changing to a granny stripe blanket .
I found the granny stripe blanket quite easy and simple. I thought I might find it a bit boring, but I think it’s actually kind of zen, and frees up my mind to play with colour.
I now have a more concrete tension measurement. The pattern is a multiple of 3 plus 2, so I swatched with a chain of 41 stitches, which measured approximately 8.5″ (I laid it flat on a table and measured with a ruler. I did not get around to blocking, but for a true gauge measurement you really should, as textiles can loosen up). Your tension will not be the same as mine, you need to check yours for an accurate measurement.
I have a lot of yarn, but I’d like to finish this project this summer, so I’ll make it a lap blanket size, approximately 6 feet or 1.8m (182cm) wide should be sufficient. A chain of about 348 should be right. The pattern is a multiple of 3 plus 2, so 347 would be the right number.
I followed the pattern and did not enjoy the long chain that you start with (the prospect of 347 wobbly chains doesn’t appeal), or how you have to enter the stitches in the first row. I’m not a novice, so I’m going to try starting with a “foundation since crochet” (FSC) chain. I like the idea of starting with an FSC because it gives me a good idea of how wide my work will actually be (unlike a regular chain, which really isn’t helpful in that department), and it will be easier to work the first granny Row into. I’ll swatch this first to make sure I like the look and the technique works for me (no point in making 340 stitches and finishing out I don’t like it). Before I start the real project I’ll also have to decide if this is the colour I want the first border to be. And of course, I have to practise the FSC, it’s been a while since I’ve done it and I need to consult a tutorial for a refresher (The best instructions I’ve ever come across is in Jennifer Hansen’s Broomstick Lace Craftsy Class, but Purl Soho has a decent tutorial on their blog).
NOTE: after a practice go I also found that the FSC was tight on a small hook and should be worked on a slightly larger hook, I’ll try a 3.25mm or 3.5mm next time. Oh, and if you go with the FSC, most tutorials will tell you to put a pin in at a specific point -DO THIS, especially if you put your work down in the middle (otherwise you’ll never find where you are supposed to pick-up).
I’ve been sorting out my approach to colour and experimenting as I swatch ….
1. The first aesthetic choice was to evict all of the muted colours. They weren’t making me happy blended in with the more saturated colours, so they are outie and can emerge at a later date in another project. The second colour issue I found was that I am very uncomfortable with the random look.
2. I found that I am very uncomfortable with the random look.
3. The granny stripe pattern works with two rows per colour, but I like one row, it looks scrappier.
4. I like the occasional row of semi-solid colour, I have a lot of yarn with complex colouration and the solids seem to break up the business of the variegated colours.
5. I like alternating between a dark/muted colour and a light/bright colour.
6. I think I will cycle through a row of each type of colour: red, orange/peach, yellow/gold, warm green, cool green, turquoise/aqua/teal, blue, cool purple warm purple, light pink/dark pink.
I’m enjoying the multi-ply yarns more than the single ply yarns. I don’t think I want this particular project to be a melange of different textures and just kind of stick to playing with colour.
Choosing a Colour Palette
If you are NOT artsy
If you are bad with colour and not very artsy, the most expedient choice would be to work with an ombre or a gradation. This means working through your colours in the order of the rainbow or something similar (see the colour wheel below for an idea) and within each colour group from light to dark. I like the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Sister! Another approach is to browse through other people’s projects on Ravelry.com, Pinterest, or instagram and find something that you enjoy – there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel, right?
If you are KIND OF artsy
You have a choice to make: do you prefer chaos or control? Do you want your colours to complement each other and be harmonious and designy, or do you want them to clash and look random and scrappy?
If you want it harmonious consider placing cool colours (green, blue, purple) next to each other and warm colours (red, orange, yellow, pink) next to each other. Hold colours next to each other and squint your eyes (or remove your glasses) to get a better idea of whether they blend or clash.
Above is a colour wheel, which is kind of mysterious to people who have not been to art school or taken art classes. The colours opposite each other in the circle are a VERY high contrast and make each other ‘pop’ (it’s a bit of a harsh combination to my taste, I don’t really like them together). Colours next to each other in the circle are blendy. The colour next to the one at the opposite end of the circle often look nice
If you like it clashy, combine colours that are opposites. Put bright or light colours next to dark or muddy colours. Place warm colours (red, orange, yellow) next to cool colours (green, blue, purple). Use a random number generator app (available free in your phone or tablet app store) to help choose the next colour group.
Personally, I like a controlled chaos. I’ll use a random number generator, but if I don’t like the choice I’ll run it again (and again, and again) until I come upon a colour combination I like.
If you ARE Artsy
You don’t need my help, you’ve already got it goin’ on.