Using Color and Texture for Diversity
One of the joys of Crochet is the ability to utilize color for the main focus of a finished piece, instead of intricate stitch patterns. However, you can combine both color and involved stitching to create a visually stimulating afghan, once you understand how color and contrast play tricks with your eyes.
Up front, I want to explain that not all Crocheters are Art students. So, for those of you who are artists, I’m using the word Shade in place of hue, because we crocheters look for ‘Shades of Yarn’ not their hues.
Light on Dark
In painting, artists will put dark colors on the canvas first, then add lighter colors on top. This creates contrast, which helps each color to be seen more clearly, but by putting the lighter colors on top, the artist achieves a three dimensional aspect to the painting.
In crochet, alternating between light and dark colors helps each color to become more than it could be on its own.
If you want a Bold Striking afghan, use the full range of shades from almost white to almost black. The more contrast between colors or shades of one color, the more vivid the combination will be. These are the types of afghans that some folks would label as Loud.
Movement in Color
In Art, the term Movement refers to the way your eyes ‘move’ around a piece, when something catches your attention. The faster your eye moves around, the more Movement the piece is said to have.
To create a ‘busy’ afghan, one that is full of Movement, you must use the Light on Dark concept.
Alternating the rounds of your work between light and dark colors will achieve the same result as a painter putting Light Colors on top of Dark ones. This is also true for light and dark shades of the same color.
You can also achieve this effect with solid color Grannies by alternating rows of dark and light colored Grannies. Or course the same is true for rows of solid color Grannies in dark and light shades of the same color.
The color combination, plus the balance of light and dark will force your eyes to wander all over the afghan because the color patterns demand attention. This type of afghan will grab your attention as soon as you enter the room.
Not all rooms need a Busy Afghan full of Movement. Sometimes, a more ‘quiet’ tone is preferred in the crocheted piece.
A Quiet or Subdued afghan is one that does not force your eyes to wander all over the piece due to the color combinations. Instead, these afghans use the Texture of the Stitches to create Movement. The play of light and shadow on stitch texture can also create Movement in an afghan.
Since Texture is the focus of these afghans, color and contrast should be greatly reduced. There are several tricks you can use to reduce the ‘importance’ of color in your afghan without abandoning color all together.
First, reduce the number of colors you use, and the actual intensity or vibrancy of the colors.
Next, you should reduce the contrast between the colors and restrict the range of shades.
Finally, a Quiet Subdued Afghan eliminates the Light on Dark concept to reduce the Movement from color and contrast.
For the first step: it is best to limit the number of colors in a Quiet afghan to no more than three. One or two colors is best. Also, those colors should be muted colors and not the ‘true’ intensity of the color. Using only one color will not bring out the Texture of the stitches if that color is Fire Engine Red or Bright Royal Blue. Instead I suggest using burgundies and mauves, in the Red shades: Navies and Steel Blues for the Blue shades, and for Greens, try Hunters and Moss.
While looking at colors, be sure to remember the Contrast factor and how to reduce it. Stay with shades that are close to one another, thus removing the ‘Light on Dark’ concept.
Although I love the dark colors, your stitches need the Shadows created by Light to make that Texture more visible. Consequentially, you should choose midrange to lighter shades of color to allow the Shadows of your stitches to be seen. This will increase the Texture Effect of the afghan.