Having fun with colour when crocheting granny stripes

Yarn bombing with granny stripes

I’m about to start teaching some crochet classes and workshops at Squirrel in Loughborough. They sell contemporary and vintage homeware and gifts. Lovely things, a few of which have returned home with me! They also sell vintage fabric, yarn, buttons, patterns and other textile treasures. It’s going to be a treat to have workshops there.

Barbara and Sue have created a great window display with some of their textile goodies and I’ve been working on some crochet to yarn bomb their sign. I’m crocheting Granny stripes, a simple pattern. Just two rows in a colour and lots of colours. I started trying not to choose colours – to add colours randomly, but I couldn’t resist some combinations.

Before I reveal the nearly finished crochet, I thought I write down some thoughts on choosing colour.

Choosing colours is not easy!

Many years ago I took an art class. We started with black and white media such as pencils and charcoal before moving on to colour. What a relief to work in colour; I really struggled with black and white. Whilst I love working with colour, I know many people struggle to choose colours. Indeed, I’ve heard from several people working for yarn companies that about 80% of knitters and crocheters will make a garment in the same colours as in the pattern, even when the garment is in a single colour!

One way to choose colours

Yarn balls

Clearly, visualising which colours will look good together is difficult. Designers use various methods. I’m going to show you one here, but it only works if you have lots of colours in a particular yarn to begin with, and I know some of you do!

Anyone who has done one of my crochet workshops where I supply the yarn will recognise these mini-balls. I love seeing the colour choices people make at workshops. The yarn is Golf and Quattro from Lang Yarns. I like them because they come in a wonderful range of colour, are very shiny (mercerised) and the price is reasonable.
So let’s play with colour! Just take a few mini-balls and place them together on a white background.

Random is quite difficult!

Granny stripes in bright colours

It’s actually difficult to choose random colours. You are always influenced by what you have chosen already. Here’s some Granny stripes where I chose colours one at a time, as I crocheted. You might think that I’d deliberately chosen this combination – and that’s the problem, maybe subconsciously I did choose them.

If you really want to have a completely random sequence, then put your yarn balls in a bag – one you can’t see through. Then put your hand in and take one yarn ball out – this is the lucky dip version of randomness. When a colour has been used put the remaining yarn in a second bag, and take another ball from the first bag. Keep on doing this until the first bag is empty, then start taking balls from the now full second bag.

I decided that I was going to play with a few rows in deliberate combinations, then a couple of rows where I tried colours without too much thought, then back to a deliberate combination.

Here I’ve chosen jewel colours … or are they berries? I don’t know, but I wanted to try them together.

Yarn balls jewel colours
Bright blue, violet, turquoise and fuchsia

… and here they are worked in Granny stripes.

Granny stripes in jewel colours

Colours that complement

You can use colour theory to help choose colour combinations. Here I have selected greens and pinks. They work well together because they are opposite each other on a colour wheel (pink being a pale red).

Yarn balls pinks and greens
Teal, rose, kingfisher, fuchsia and mint
Granny stripes in pinks and greens

And here are Granny Stripes worked in these colours.

Here I have chosen oranges and blues. Again they are complementary colours.

Yarn balls Aztec colours
Cayenne, turquoise, amber, bright blue and kumquat
Granny stripes in Aztec colours

I love them in Granny stripes!

Seasonal colours

You can also try replacing a couple of yarn balls with different ones. Here I’ve replaced the blues with a yellow and a deep orange-red. These are analogous colours – they sit next to each other on a colour wheel. They look quite autumnal.

Yarn balls autumn colours
Canary, kumquat, amber, cayenne and chianti

Carrying on with the seasonal theme, I’ve chosen colours which make me think of spring.  I love this joyful combination!

Yarn balls spring colours
White, fuchsia, lime, canary and nasturtium

Colours of a landscape

Or you might think of a particular landscape – this is my coastal combination. Much calmer than the previous combinations.

Yarn balls coastal colours
Linen, white, pale blue, bright blue and denim

Colours from other cultures

And this is a combination I’ve used before – spicy and rich.

Yarn balls Indian colours
Violet, amber, chianti and cayenne

Here they are used for a Granny square project. A very different look to the Granny stripes!

Granny squares

Granny stripes so far

Granny stripes

I wasn’t really thinking that much when I started the granny stripe crochet – I wanted it to be eye-catching in a good way. And as no one will be wearing it, I could be a bit braver with colours. Here we are; this is the crochet so far!

This has been a fun project with which to experiment! Kaffe Fasset says when in doubt add more colours, and that has definitely worked here.

Crocheting granny stripes

Here is a quick row by row summary of how I crocheted the granny stripes. Note, I’m using British terminology: ch = chain, dc = double crochet, tr = treble crochet.

Firstly, make a chain, a multiple of 3 stitches plus 2 (mine was 47 ch).

Row 1: 1 dc into second ch from hook, 1 dc into each chain to end. [3 dc plus 1 (I had 46 dc)].

Row 2: 3 ch (turning ch); 1 tr into first dc; *miss 2 dc, 3 tr into next dc; rep from * to last 3 dc, miss 2 dc, 2 tr into last dc. Turn.

Row 3: 3 ch (turning ch); *3 tr into next space between tr groups; rep from * to last end; 1 tr into top st of turning ch at start of the previous row. Fasten off, turn.

Row 4: Insert hook into 1st sp of the previous row, draw new yarn through to the front, 3 ch, 1 tr in same space; *3 tr into next space between tr groups; rep from * to last space, 2 tr into the last sp. Turn.

Carry on repeating Rows 3 and 4, finishing with a Row 3.

Now, it’s your turn to have fun with colour!

You can see the finished granny stripes in situ in my next blog post.

How to Crochet short courses

How to Crochet short courses for beginners and improvers– for each course choose a class on three of the following dates.

  • 12 & 26 October; 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30 November 2021
  • September to November 2022 – dates to be confirmed