Hello and welcome to Patchwork House . . . . .
my little corner of the world in England, where you will find me addicted to colour and playing with yarn!

30 April 2016

Moroccan Spice ~ an example of how I plan crochet colours

One of the most frequent questions I get asked. is how I work my crochet production line ! Many people seem to be challenged by the use of colour and how to make each square unique. So with that in mind I have planned this blog post to help you see how I do it.

The Patchwork Heart

If you enjoy this blog post and find it helpful
 please consider the time it has taken for me to make this blanket,
 photograph all the stages and offer this help for FREE.
If you would like to support my crochet journey
 you can make a donation via Paypal
 using the button on the sidebar.
Thank you.

This beautiful blanket made of 48 squares
 has recently achieved great popularity on Facebook and Instagram
 and has been named Moroccan Spice.
 I used 8 colours for the squares with a 9th for the joining and border.

The pattern is called
 Circle of Friends by Priscilla Hewitt
 which is available in US crochet terms

Please note
 this is NOT a tutorial on how to make
 the square or a blanket 
but advice on how I plan my colours!

Circle of Friends pattern by Priscilla Hewitt

You can use as many shades as you wish.
I have chosen 8 for the squares, 
4 warm colours and 4 cool colours,
 and a darker shade for the joining and border.

My yarn is Stylecraft Special DK in
copper tomato gold mustard
 petrol storm blue duck egg silver 
for the squares
 and graphite for the border.

You can buy this yarn

I allowed 1 x 100g of each of the 8 colours and 3 x 100g of the border colour.
My finished blanket is approximately 100x130cm and weighs nearly 900g.

Stylecraft Special DK

When planning a blanket I always begin with a test square.
 This is then measured
 and used to help calculate how many squares I will need.
 I have used a 3.5mm hook
 and with my tension the square worked out at 15cm
 after the 7th colour (9th round of pattern).
Please note 
 use whatever size hook is best for your tension,
 we are all different!

measure and calculate

So where to begin . . .
My calculations are based on making 48 squares for a blanket 6x8.
I began with making 6 of round 1 in each of the 8 colours.

I always work as a production line
 making all round 1 first then all round 2 etc. 
This way is much quicker and more efficient,
 as your brain and fingers learn the stitch you are doing, 
saving constant rereading of the pattern!

planning round 2

To plan round 2 ~
I like to keep an even balance of all the shades in the blanket
 so that when it is finished it has an equal share of each colour
 and no colour screams out louder than any other!
So this means I will make 6 round 2 of each colour.
I began with the 6 round 1 in mustard
 and notice how I have put 1 by each of 6 balls of yarn. 
This way I will not get 2 the same. 
Do the same with all of the next colour and so on.
Pick a 2nd colour middle and share them out.
 Eventually all 48 middles are shared out 
and you can see there are not 2 the same in any pile.

round 2

I like to keep my work organised.
 It helps me to see where I'm going
 and to check I have an equal balance of colours.
 Here in the picture above I can see easily that I have
 6 of each shade of round 2 and each is different.
(Please note the silver and duck egg look very similar here)

round 3 and 4

Rounds 3 and 4 use the same colour
 and it was planned in the same way.

4th colour (pattern row 5)

I like to store my work in baskets or trays to keep it organised.

check the colour balance

Arranging my work in colour order
 helps me to see I have 6 of each colour and they are all different

4th colour (pattern row 5)

Now for the 5th colour (pattern rows 6 and 7)
again I start with my balls of yarn in a row.
 I find it helpful to have the cool colours together
 and the warm colours together.

Now as we have already used 4 colours in each circle
 my method of selection changes.
This time for the silver
 I first pick out all the circles that do not yet have silver in.
 Then I choose 6 of them
 trying to have different 4th colours as far as possible.
Repeat this for each colour as far as possible
 but don't worry if you have 2 with the same edge it'll never be noticed!

planning the 5th colour (pattern row 6 and 7)

So after the planning
 I will work with 1 colour of yarn
 and make all the next rounds in that colour at the same time. 

work with 1 colour and make the 6 squares

You will notice ends . . . oh yes if you want colours you will have ends !
 For this square in some rounds you can
 crochet over the ends and hide them well,
 in others I prefer to use a needle and sew them in to hide them.

5th colour

The same process happens again for each round.
 Here below you can see I have chosen 6 squares
 which do not have storm blue in
 and they all have a different 5th colour.

6th colour

As you all know, my crochet is always accompanied by a cuppa
 ~ sometimes tea sometimes coffee, depending on the time of day. 
But it is always in a mug which matches my crochet!
 It's the perfectionist in me, the OCD, and it seems you all love it too!

 Imagine my pleasure
 when I discovered these yummy Caramac buttons
 which also coordinated with my work !

crochet treats!

As the colour planning continues
 of course it gets harder to select 6 for the next round
 that have a different edge.
 But don't worry if you have 2 the same
 their middles are different and it wont show!


Once all the rounds are completed
 and all the ends have been sewn in
 the next job is planning the layout.

 I like to achieve a random effect
 and take care to ensure there are not 2 of the same edge, in any row.
 I think of it as Crochet Sudoku
 and it appeals greatly to my mathematical brain!

flat braid join

For this blanket I have used a flat braid join
 and worked it in the continuous join as you go fashion.
 This is super speedy and means there will only be 2 ends
 as all the squares are joined without cutting the yarn!
You can read a tutorial by Priscilla Hewitt
but I have adapted it for continuous join as you go.

If you are new to this idea
 helps explain the direction to work in.

crochet mug match

And there we go!
 Squares are complete and joined into one piece
 so the blanket needs testing before it goes off to its new home!

blanket in 1 piece

Every masterpiece needs a frame
 and in the same way every blanket needs a border.
I like a deep border
 but didn't want anything too lacey for this colour scheme.

I chose border 27 from the book
This is a fabulous book which I highly recommend.
 It is written in US crochet terms
 but also has good clear charts
 which make it fine to use if you are used to UK terms.

every blanket needs a border

Finally the blanket is ready for the washing machine.
"What" I hear you cry!

Yes I'm always asked if I block my work and the answer is no! 
With my tension I am lucky to find that my squares are flat.
 However there is a certain magic that happens in the wash. 
As the yarn is wet and dried it reforms into the shape of the stitches
 you have made with the effect of blocking. 
The resulting blanket always sits nicely and flat and is amazingly soft. 
I suggest you follow the washing instructions on the ball band of your yarn.
washes well at 30 or 40c and can be tumble dried on LOW.


This beauty is now enjoying being loved in a home in Scotland.
Think its time I made one for myself!

If you enjoy this blog post and found it helpful
 please consider the time it has taken
 for me to make this blanket,
 photograph the stages and offer this help for FREE.

If you would like to support my crochet journey
 you can make a donation via Paypal
 using the button on the sidebar.
Thank you.

blanket complete!
Wishing you all a happy hooky weekend.


26 April 2016

When life gives you lemons . . .

Well what a year I've had !
 To try to explain my absence is rather complicated
 but I've missed blogging
 and it's good to be back !

Life is very unpredictable and I am learning to take 1 day at a time as I come to terms with living with a chronic illness. Having been diagnosed with Lupus and other connective tissue disorders life has changed drastically. The daily routine of work that I used to grumble about now seems so desirable, as instead I cope with the roller coaster ride of pain, exhaustion and medication. No longer able to work as a teacher, I now find myself on the brink of beginning a new journey here full time at The Patchwork Heart.

It has always been a dream of mine to work full time in my colourful yarny world, but I didn't expect it would happen this way! Having just moved house and tried a return to work my body has screamed NO! So once again I am coping with a flare of pain and exhaustion, just like I experienced last June. I have no other choice but to listen to my body and rest rest rest!

In between the frequent blood tests, visits to the Dr and hospital appointments I am beginning to enjoy crocheting again and sharing photos daily on Instagram and Facebook is my joy.

 Thank you to those of you who have supported and encouraged me this past year. Your friendship and prayers have meant a lot to me.

I am very sad to leave teaching,
 a job that is exhausting but rewarding
 and a job that I was good at and enjoyed. 
So I am taking this opportunity of having to leave work
 and seeing it as the beginning of a new direction in my life.
 My days are full of long periods of sitting and resting at present,
 so crochet is a perfect occupation!

God has given each of you special abilities,
 use them to help each other ..... 1 Peter 4:10

Crochet is my happy place, 
it provides hours of quiet meditation
 and transports me to a colourful world,
 bringing me into contact with many lovely people around the world,
 many on a similar journey to myself.

Do keep watching my blog as I now plan to update it
 and aim to post each week, sharing exciting new makes
  and colour recipes to inspire you.

Wishing you all a happy hooky day
 x x x

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