A couple of weeks ago, I was at a B&B in Edenton, N.C., chatting with a quilter I'd just met. She was thumbing through the Fall issue of Interweave Crochet (yes, I just happened to have a copy at breakfast ...) She was saying she really couldn't take up another craft, she already had so much fabric, how could she start up on a yarn hobby. She hmmmed appreciatively as she turned the pages. Then she turned a page and flat-out gaped. “Oh, that's beautiful!” she exclaimed. She pulled the magazine toward her face, then pulled away again. “Such beautiful colors,” she said, with a quilter's awe.
If you've looked through the Fall issue of Interweave Crochet, you too may have stopped flat-out at the Moorish Mosaic Afghan.
Lisa Naskrent's design is a fabulous example of how color can transform a single motif into a marvelous tapestry. I thought you might be interested in the thread of the afghan's development.
Way back in February, Lisa sent me this picture of a work in progress.
“The original afghan was a child's afghan,” Lisa said, “using 3 main colors and a 'color-changing' yarn (not a variegated yarn). My idea was to have a few constants, with one variable. My constants were the pink, the yellow, the white, and the variable being the self-striping/color-changing yarn.
"The possibilities with four colors, with the fourth being variable were boundless. Then you of course, snatched up the pattern, knowing all the possibilities, including the adult version of it.”
True, enough. I really liked the motif, and envisioned it as a “grown-up” blanket with grown-up colors. We chose Mission Falls 136 Superwash Merino, which is both soft and washable. And it comes in a terrific earthy palette.
Our initial thought was to select hues that looked like stones in the water—and maybe you can see that in the colorway. But with Lisa's color magic, the motifs laid side by side transformed those earthy colors into a mosaic of tiles.
The true brilliance of the design is Lisa's decision to use a different series of color for every motif, seemingly transforming the structure of the motif, although, in fact, every octagon is worked the same way.
Here's Lisa to talk about her design magic:
There are 3 types of motifs (octagons, squares and triangles), and the motifs within a type differ only by color. I wanted a simple pattern, but one that would be a surprise when you finish it. First you choose the colors, then it slowly comes alive as each piece is made—and that was my favorite part, not knowing what would happen, and seeing the results afterwards.
There was no slated plan to deciding what colors to use. I started a motif, and when it felt right, I changed to the next color that felt right to me. It was amazing, with the octagon motif, that each one was so different from the next.
I designed the octagon, which actually starts out in the first round as a hexagon, so that if colors were placed in different rounds of the octagon, the octagons would look at first glance like they each contained their own tailored stitch instructions. Some rounds are plain single crochet, some have a circle of flower-like stitches, then the outer edges square off into an octagon.
By working all the square and circular rounds one color, or all of the circular rounds and the flower round in one color, a circular shape would trump and look like a 45 rpm record. By changing the color of the flower round, a round of flower appears! My favorite ending up looking like a sunflower burst in at the center.
The afghan's twist in design places it a little outside the boundaries of what one would expect to see with a motif afghan. For example, with the granny afghan, you can see each individual square's outline. With this afghan, for some motifs, only the first few rounds are worked in contrasting colors, then the entire last half of rounds are worked in main color; the outer rounds then mesh with the main color in the squares and triangles, giving the illusion of a separate, smaller motif. The boundaries between the actual octagon motifs are blurred. It's like flipping through a picture book.
The placement of the motifs was a lot of fun. I am quite particular when it comes to composition, whether it is a photo, an abstract drawing, etc. With the motifs, I randomly put them all on the floor like puzzle pieces, and one by one began swapping positions of octagons. I did not put them down in a row one by one in a concise, purposeful way. Completely opposite—I arranged them while they were still scattered until it looked good in their present haphazard way.
This gave a little sense of balance, but kept the subtle element of randomness, resulting in a mosaic piece of beauty.
Thanks to Lisa for insight into her design process!
We look forward to seeing your own mosaics, in your own colors! Please share images on CrochetMe.com.
P.S. If you're computing yardage for the yarn, please note that Mission Falls 136 Merino Superwash comes in balls of 136 yards. The magazine's materials list has an incorrect number of yards per ball, but the number of balls given is correct; the online materials list is correct. Note that Lisa moved up two hook sizes from the size recommended on the label; the densely worked motif calls for the yarn to be worked at a larger gauge to prevent buckling.