Apr 12, 2015

Afghans | Color Counts

My modular afghan journey began by accident. It continues today for one simple reason: I love making them. 

They’re the ideal way to turn quantities of yarn into something attractive, practical and useful. They also came to the rescue when I finally stiffened my spine and began to deal with my stash and its prodigious proportions.

Most of my afghans are multicolored, because this approach allows me to make the most of the yarn on hand. The stash harbors healthy quantities of singletons and small skein clusters that didn’t quite work for the intended project, along with others acquired simply because it was impossible to resist a particularly beautiful color.

In fact, color is so integral to my knitting and design processes, a significant portion of the stash is organized first by color then by fiber, weight or type. I almost always start the planning process by rummaging through the collection, selecting colors I like and combining them in a way that’s pleasing to my eye.

Experimenting with different combinations is an effective way to quickly produce sufficient yarn to make a modular afghan and use up quite a few skeins in the process. 

The next time you’re raiding your stash, try thinking about color from a fresh perspective. Opt for a:
  • Monochromatic approach to eat up a quantity of matching skeins. Just use the same color for all the components (strips, seams and trim).
  • Two-toned strategy to use up healthy but smaller quantities. Simply choose two contrasting, complementary or closely aligned colors.
  • Tonal approach created with closely related colors. Breidan Lake is a good example, it features a range of blues and blue-greens and used up an entire cluster of singletons.
  • Gradient approach to use varied shades of the same color. Assemble strips (or blocks) in sequence from dark to light or light to dark. Twegen Coffee illustrates this principle and used up a group of neutral skeins that had lurked in the stash for years.
  • Color wheel or rainbow approach to use yarn from different color families. Color Check (aka the Swafghan) began as just such an experiment, and Breidan Baby turned out to be the ideal way to use up a handful of singletons in muted rainbow shades.

With modular afghans, seams and trim offer yet another opportunity to leverage hue. A neutral like white makes other colors appear fresh and true (Drumlin Brights), black tends to intensify (Drumlin Gems) and gray operates somewhere in between (Drumlin Neutral).

Color makes it possible to work a favorite pattern multiple times and achieve very different effects. The photos above, for instance, show three color strategies for one pattern (Breidan).

Color affects how we perceive a stitch when work is in progress and when it's completed. It attracts our attention, lifts or calms our mood, blends into or stands out from its immediate surroundings, and reveals hidden facets of our personalities. Color determines whether we view a project as being inherently suited to a man, woman, child ... or ourselves.

Color counts. It speaks to us in so many ways and on so many levels, it's easy to forget this fundamental truth: Color is one of the most powerful tools in our knitting toolkit.

For more color talk, try:

To see tips, tricks and all color-related posts, click here.


  1. Great reminder. Now I'm off to revisit the stash with fresh eyes and see what new possibilities emerge ; )

  2. I have quite a mismatched stash that needs working through, though I'm not sure any of it can really be combined into anything of a substantial size. Hm...

  3. Your combinations are gorgeous.

  4. I love your patterns. I really have to start experimenting with my stash yarns too. Thanks for the color combo suggestions.


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