Abstract expressionism and crochet…. I bet a lot of people will find my statement total blasphemy.
I don’t mind, if that is the case, and I apologise in the very unlikely eventuality that an art critic has stumbled upon my blog. The purpose of the entry is to tell the story how this blanket came about, and how I have used saturated colours.
It all started with a pile of yarn , and the notion to try something out of my comfort zone for a change. I wanted to use a pattern with a strong visual impact so I opted for bull’s eye which is a circle inside a square. If you google bull’s eye crochet square, the search engine will come up with several versions same basic design but slight differences due mainly to the thickness of the yarn ,which will determine the size of the square, the number of stitches and the numbers of rounds .
I made a few samples ,with one strand of DK but it turned out too flimsy and far too many rounds , so I opted for 2 strands together and fewer rounds. That created a more distinctive texture and visual impact. that made the blanket not only bold in colours but also bold in texture and weight!. ( in the photo above the one strand sample)
lets go back to the colours…
I wanted to use bold strong saturated colours and most of all what are often considered ‘difficult ‘colours such as midnight blue , emperor, burgundy for example.
Colours that very seldom I choose to add to my selection. I toiled with different combinations without much success I have to say, Then ,while in London last September , I went to see an exhibition with my oldest daughter Francesca at the Royal Academy of Arts called ‘Abstract Expressionism’ a selection of works by Hofmann, Pollok, Gottlieb,Willem de Kooning, Rothko,Kline,Still and many others.
I am not an expert or an art critic but just looking at those paintings as an ordinary person what I found astonishing was how colour do exist as an independent element, and how colours project a mood and also , how simplified forms and geometric shapes plus the use of saturated hues create such a strong and bold statement.
I know that it might be a bit ridiculous to compare crochet to works of art , but it is all about what catches your eye and what do you see and inspire you, it doesn’t have to be a painting at all , it can be someone else amazing blanket, can be nature, can be a pininterest board or a scrap of fabric or your favourite jumper.
That afternoon three paintings made quite an impression on me: one is called ‘in sober ecstasy’ painted by Hans Hofmann ,then ‘penumbra’ by Adolph Gottlieb, and Williem de Kooning ‘untitled’.
I couldn’t take pictures obviously so I bought one of the catalogues of the exhibition and went home .
Now I wish the pictures could give justice to the original but it can still give you an idea where I am coming from. what I saw in Hofmann was the amazing combination of colours and how those brown/reddish rectangles just made the painting sing, so it occurred to me that a ‘dull’ imposing block of colour with a very strong geometric form can make the other colours sing beautifully. hence dull colours handled correctly can make a fantastic impact.
I loved Kooning’s painting for the colours choice and the impact of circles and squares together and last in Gottlieb’s painting the red ring around the the black dot. can you see where I am coming from?
Bottom line of all of this is:
Just look around you and just pick what you like, and I mean it, pick ANYTHING that inspire you, because that will make any of your work personal and your item will tell a lovely story which is not my story but it is YOURS.
Now few details because I have been asked to write down a pattern for it and the colours selection.
The blanket measures: 200cmx150, there are 35 squares of 25cm each one.
I used Stylecraft special dk 2 strands together and a 5,00 hook.
the colours are: camel,midnight,tomato,gold,claret,emperor,fuchsia purple,storm blue,lime and pale rose. each square is made by a round centre squared up , I think a shape you are probably quite familiar it is also called bull’s eye.
my version is made of 9 rows:
row1 to row6 for the central circle and the last 3 rows squares it up.
make a magic circle, inside 12 trebles,
2 trebles together in each of the trebles of the previous round close with an ss on the ch3 of the beginning (24 trebles in total)
ch3repeat this sequence: *1 treble, 2 trebles together* all around ( 36 trebles in total)
repeat this sequence: *2 trebles,2trebles together* all around (48 trebles in total)
repeat this sequence: *3 trebles, 2 trebles together* (60trebles in total)
repeat this sequence: * 4 trebles,2 trebles together* all around ( 72 trebles in total)
those 6 rows make the internal circle. be aware that the sequence remain the same for all the blocks but in each individual block some of the rows are in simple crochet and NOT in trebles! so please refer to the details of the the individual block to know which of the rows are in simple crochet.
ROUND 7/8/9 they will square the circle as follow:
start this row with *1dtr, 3tr,2htr,5 sc,2htr,3tr ,1dtr* then we do the corner as follow: in the same treble we crochet: **2dtr,ch1,2dtr** repeat 3 more times the all sequence that will make 4 corners (2dtr,ch1,2dtr) and 4 side of the square (1dtr,3tr,2htr,5sc,2htr,3tr,1dtr)
start this row at the corner . in the ch1 space make *2dtr,ch1,2dtr* this make the corners, then the side is 20 trebles to reach the other corner and repeat the sequence all around.
start this row at the corner in the space ch1 of the previous round and make the corner as follow: *1tr,1dtr,2ch,1dtr,1tr* 23 trebles for the side and the corner again.
note: I say at the beginning 1 treble but the first treble is substituted ,as always happen at the beginning of each round, by 3 ch and if it is a rounds of sc will be 2 ch. also I close every round with an ss on the first group of chains.
normally I would say choose the colours as you please but in this case it makes a different if you use them in a specific order so I am going to list the different blocks as follow:
there are 10 different blocks in the blanket : this is the list:
then combine your 35 blocks as follow in the picture, and join them together with 1 strand of yarn only and a simple sc in the back , now I m a bit of a perfectionist so I didn’t want the seam of the joining to be detected so when you join the block together please make sure that the colour of the yarn you are using matches one of the colours of the last round of the block. which means if you have 2 blocks to join together which the last row is one lime and the other emperor use emperor to join. I know you will have more ends to sew but it does make a difference trust me.
the border is 9 rounds using 2 strands of yarn together.
first 8 rounds are sc and the last round is crab stitch .
colour sequence border:
ROUND1 : camel
ROUND4/5/6/7/8 : claret
QUANTITIES of yarn…I am afraid that is going to be a bit empiric but I tried to make a block to see the quantities, you will have to add it all up ….
round 1 and 2 together : 4 grams
round 3: 3 grams
round5: 5 grams
round6: 6 grams
round 7/8/9 together: 26 grams
the border I have no idea but I recon is at least 100 grams of claret.
sorry for the quantities, it wasn’t my plan to make a pattern out of it, it was just an experiment blanket, so if you want to make one please make a sample of the block , that will help you to decide how much you need.
all the best