I feel like I'm always saying thank you lately...
But you see, you're always giving me lots of reasons to thank you. This time it's because of the absolutely fantastic response to the Cherry Heart Blanket Along (#CHBAL) that I started in the last post. I mean, wow!
You've blown me away yet again with the number of you wanting to join in and with all your wonderful blanket plans and makes in progress. It's turning into a real motivator for some of you to 'work on that wip' and make progress on those long forgotten projects and I'm so happy we're working towards finishing all these half started beauties.
So, as my mind is full of blankets, blankets, blankets at the moment I thought it would be a good time to answer some questions I sometimes get asked about my blanket makes.
The first blanket to talk about is that one in the picture above, the Giant Granny Patches Blanket, do you remember it?
I was asked, after my Stylecraft comparisons from the Painted Roses blanket and the Weekender Blanket, was if I could do the same for the Giant Granny Patches Blanket. I thought that a few of you might find that information useful, so here it is...
: : HANDY DANDY COLOUR COMPARISON : :
Original colour details:
You can find them all listed at the bottom of my Giant Granny Patches Blanket post here
I used a total of 17 colours in that blanket and 13 of them were from the trusty Stylecraft Special DK range. But as usual I struggled to get all the shades I wanted from just one range of yarn. For me it seems that the colour is key, more important than matching the exact fiber content and even exact weight of yarn (DK can vary I find!), so I switch brands to get the shades I want.
But, as that's not a choice that everyone wants to make, so let's see if we can fill the missing Stylecraft Special gaps for you...
Here's the four other colours I used. The crocheted square is the original colour that I used in the blanket and the ball of yarn above is the closest Stylecraft equivalent.
Original colour: Hayfield/Sirdar Bonus DK, Teal (890)
Stylecraft Special DK: Denim (1302)
The original colour is now discontinued and I can't think of any shades at the moment that really match it. The Stylcraft denim is a lot more blue than the colour I used which had a nice dark duck egg-ish quality to it, but denim isn't bad as a second choice.
Original colour: Rowan Wool Cotton, Goldilocks (971)
Stylecraft Special DK: Saffron (1081)
I was expecting the new gold shade to be the closest to this beautiful golden yellow but actually the saffron, although slightly paler, matches really pretty closely.
Original colour: King Cole Big Value DK, Lawn Green (011)
Stylecraft Special DK: Meadow (1065)
This shade isn't easy to match. The closest you can get is the meadow, which is much more dull and dowdy in comparison. If I was making this blanket again now and was confined to Stylecraft I might consider the lime instead. The shade isn't such a close match but it does have the boldness of the original colour.
Original colour: Stylecraft Life DK, Mint (2342)
Stylecraft Special DK: Aspen (1422)
Again, this is a shade that the Special can't really match at all. I'd really recommend going for the Mint personally. (It's available from both Wool Warehouse and Deramores, so you could combine it with a Special DK order and not lose out on postage.) But if you really do want to stick to just one range of yarn the closest in the Special DK is the Aspen, but the colour is a lot bolder and a lot brighter than the original shade so you'd have to decide if that would work for you.
---- STOP PRESS! ---
It's looking like one of the new shades, 'Sage' available from April might be a good match for this colour. We'll have to wait and see I guess...
Here's a little close up of the blanket, just so you can see the overall effect of the originals.
Next up, a question I often get asked, especially in regard to this blanket and that's 'how do I decide how to arrange my colours'. It's a good question, as it's not always easy to get the organised/random look that's for sure. I think it gets a bit easier with practise but mostly I think it gets a bit easier if you can learn to let go and worry about it less. Easier said than done of course.
A lot depends on the pattern or motifs you are working. A simple stripe will mean a colour only touches 2 others, but working squares mean you are touching 4 others (8 if you include diagonals) and hexagons each touch 6 others. That means there can be more to think about. Here's what I did...
: : MY GIANT GRANNY PATCHES COLOUR PLACEMENT GUIDE : :
This is the way I actually sat and added the squares to the blanket.
I used Join as You Go to attach the squares, you can find a tutorial here.
First of all I started with a small block, 4 by 4 squares big. To make that I just laid out balls of yarn on the floor in an order that I thought looked ok. (That's section 1 in the photo) Then I added a strip of 4 more squares to the side (section 2) and another and another (section 3 and 4), and I just kept adding strips of 4 squares until a had the width of blanket that I wanted. Each time, just arranging balls of wool next to the squares I had made to decide which 4 colours to work next.
Next, I went back to the original 4 by 4 section and added another strip of 4 squares below it. (I forgot to number it, but you can see the blocks of 4 going downwards in the pic). I added 3 more strips of 4 squares until I had another 4 by 4 block of squares to work off, and then I started adding strips to the side again until I had worked across the whole width of the blanket.
I just kept going in the same way until I had a great big huge blanket in the size I wanted!
So that's how I added the squares, but how did I decide on colour? Well that's where my little 'rules' come in.
Bear in mind that these 'rules' are really guidelines, if they are even that. They are little ideas that I come up with as I'm working through a blanket that occur to me as ways to stop colours coming together in a way that catches my eye. They are self-imposed rules and are entirely breakable. In fact, not only do I pretty much always end up having to break them at some point, I can't help thinking you probably should break them sometimes, just to keep things interesting!
Guideline 1 - Spacing
The first block of 16 squares was fairly easy as I had 17 colours to choose from and after that the first idea I formed was that, when adding the next 4 squares (section 1) I shouldn't be using any of the colours from the 2 strips before (section 2). A way to make sure I spaced the colours out a bit.
As you can see, I definitely broke this rule in my blanket. I've added a strip of 4 squares below the original block, as you can see in the photo above and low and behold, that purple was already used in the 2 strips above it! Ahh well, the rules were made to be broken weren't they?
Guideline 2 - Diagonal Lines
The other rule that I formed quite quickly was that I needed to have more than 1 square of colour between the same colours diagonally. So, for the squares highlighted in yellow, I wouldn't have wanted them in the same colour if I could help it. It's just something that would always catch my eye. So I would try to keep at least 2 squares between the same colours on the diagonal.
Did I break this rule? Yep! I don't think you can see it in this picture but I did and I often didn't notice until later but there was no way I was going back to change it.
Guideline 3 - Straight Lines
The other thing I liked to think about is how often the same colour could appear again in the same row or column. I tried to make sure that there were a good few squares before I used the colour in the same line again. So for the pink square (highlighted in yellow) that's the squares that I've faded out slightly. I'd generally try and keep a good 5 or 6 squares between same colours that would be in a line with each other.
: : DON'T PANIC! : :
Don't worry if this all sounds way too much to think about. It's much easier than you think.
It seems massively complicated when I write it all down like this, I know. It even overwhelms me to be honest. Did I really keep all that in mind and manage to arrange the colours according to these rules??
Well, no, we know I didn't because I already told you I broke the rules!
And the truth is, you already do most of this stuff without really thinking about it.
If you start with a small amount of squares like I did, and then you put the next group colours next to it, you'll generally find that the colour order that looks best is the one to go for. If you put a blue only a couple of squares away from the same blue, you'll probably just naturally shuffle your colours around because it didn't look right. That's all I did too.
Just sometimes when things weren't looking quite right, I'd think about my little guidelines and see if they helped me. Sometimes I'd swap a colour for a different one that hadn't been used so recently. Or sometimes I'd just shuffle the colours I'd picked into a different order to get them to look ok.
It gets easier as you get going and then you'll become more confident. Then you learn to worry less and then it gets easier still.
I hope that will help any of you who are wondering what the secret is. Unfortunately it turns out there isn't really a secret at all. I just guess like you do. But I hope it helps all the same!
If you have any more blanket related questions, feel free to ask in the comments below, it might be something I can answer for you in a future post.
A few useful links for the Giant Granny Patches Blanket...
Classic Granny Square Tutorial
Join as You Go Tutorial
Giant Granny Patches Original Post (For colour and blanket details)
Giant Granny Patches Border Tutorial