November 2007: Thoughts on colour
This is turning out to be a long, cold, grey and rainy autumn here in France. Or is it just because I’m yearning so much for colour that it seems this way? (I must admit, today is sunny and nice, and I’ve even stolen half an hour from my work schedule to do some autumn gardening.) In any case, I wanted to take pictures for this newsletter all last week, and even in the middle of the day, it was too dark to take a decent photo.
Things have cleared up, though!
So, colour’s on my mind. I’m working on a small set of toys for a French publisher, and have been given balls and balls of bright cotton.
One of my projects is a set of cubes – like the wooden cubes that parents stack in neat towers so babies can tear them down with unlimited joy. Well, one day very soon, they will be cubes – but right now they are a fairly large number of brightly coloured crocheted squares.
I know, I’m supposed to be working hard in a very serious manner, but who could resist playing around with these? Not I.
I started out with the obvious choice, the primary colours.
I went on to some of my personal favourites, like a soft orange and a bright green with yellow in it.
And then I started to mix them together a bit.
Some combinations work wonderfully well, some are not so great, at least not in my eye.
All of them are fun discoveries.
So simple – just five colours!
Lately, in my quest for colour, I have purchased a couple of colour-infused knitting books: Folk Style by Mags Kandis, published by Interweave Press, and Kristin Knits by Kristin Nicholas, published by Storey Publishing.
These books work very well to give my colour-addicted brain a « fix », but I think colourwork in knitting and in crochet needs to be approached in different ways.
Stripes, of course, work well in both media. Many, many times, I have read articles or interviews in which people raved about the versatility of stripes. I must admit that it’s only recently that I have started to realize just how fun stripes can be. I used them in my Multistripes cardigan design, and my next swatching project will definitely focus on the combination of surface structure and stripes.
But in my personal opinion (yours may differ), the traditional types of colourwork used in knitting don’t play out well if transferred directly to the medium of crochet. Trying to duplicate an abstract or, especially, a figurative pattern by changing the colours of certain stitches in a plainly stitched area, be it sc or dc, doesn’t yield very satisfying results. However carefully you change colours (remember always to do the last « yarn over and pull through » in the new colour), the edges are blurry and, especially when you work back and forth, the result looks a bit confusing. It can work well with an abstract pattern, but you need to choose your pattern and your colours carefully.
One way of making this work (and work very well) is the technique of tapestry crochet, so well explored by Carol Ventura. Follow the link to her website for more information on this technique.
The type of colourwork in crochet that interests me the most is to incorporate colour into the stitch pattern itself. When using a more complex stitch pattern than plain sc or dc, try to work it in colour and see how it turns out.
Since crochet rows can vary so much in height and structure while being part of the same stitch pattern, this can yield very interesting results. The examples below are made by simply working different rows in different colours – another take on the eternal stripe idea, if you like, although the result can look quite different from what we usually call stripes.
As in this old favourite of mine – granite stitch, worked in three colours. (Yes, it’s the Come and Play cardigan from Interweave Crochet Fall 2007. The two front pieces, actually, before finishing.)
Or this little jacket, one of my very first garments (for my daughter):
To be completely honest, this is not only stripes. The colours change between every « oval » motif. There is no « blur », though, because the colour change is covered by a stitch in the row above.
Go take a look in your favourite stitch dictionary, and work up a few monochrome stitch patterns using more than one colour. You will be surprised – and your autumn will be a little more colourful.
See you soon!