African Flower Blanket: initial choices

It is going to take a few weeks, I suspect, to finish the wide border around the African Flower Blanket, so in the meantime I am going to share some of the steps along the way.

This week’s post is about the different choices that had to be made about design and colours.

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I have shared parts of this before but I wanted to put it all together, if only for my record.

Having offered to make a blanket for my granddaughter that she could take to university with her, I put together a montage of different blanket styles, both my designs and other peoples.

I think under ‘Fair Use’ I can show you a small version of what I sent her.

blanket montage

She said that the two she liked best were the one in the top left which is a multi-colour African Flower design and the one in the middle of the next row down which has large white snowflakes on a variegated blue background.

Here you can get a better view with a section.

section of montage

Top left and bottom right are the favourites.

The African Flower design reminded me of blankets that I had seen which used several shades of different colours where adjacent colours on the colour wheel were next to each other. I had earlier made a cushion colour that imitated that and I liked the idea of now using the idea for a blanket.


I also realised that in using the African Flower hexagon design of the one blanket, if I made the centre from six clusters in white, I could also incorporate the snowflake centres idea from the other blanket.

I then worked on turning the African Flower pattern into one which had a number of shades of the same or adjacent colours equally balanced in terms of width and came up with this. sample hexagons

So then, as I worked on the idea for the blanket, even before I shared it with my granddaughter, the question was: if I want to have hexagons with three different shades (as well as the white- snowflake- centres) of each colour how many colours will I need.

My model was the earlier hexagon blanket I had made, as the hexagons were about the same size. That had 220 hexagons to create a single bed sized blanket.

hexagon blanket

I knew I wanted a ‘rainbow’/’colour circle’ style choice of colours but in the end I decided to go for five, rather than seven rainbow or six colour circle colours because five divides into 220 and six and seven don’t. I am also less keen on yellow and orange in blankets so that led me to choose the following five colour sets.

Red – Yellow/Orange – Green – Blue – Violet/Purple.

So the next question was how many shades of each colour?

220 in total meant 44 in each set.

Now my ideal was to have some hexagons which used all the possible combinations of that colour set where no shade was repeated. Leaving the other hexagons to be a combination of two adjacent colours.

I worked out that if I had three shades there would be three possibilities for the inner round, leaving two for the next round, then only one choice for the last two rounds depending on the previous choices.

So 3 x 2 x 1 = 6 Definitely not enough

Four shades would give 4 x 3 x 2 = 24 that was better

Five shades would give 5 x 4 x 3 = 60 which was far too many when you have a maximum of 44 to make.

So four it was.

chosen colours on sticks
Colours my Granddaughter chose

That left 20 mixed colours for each adjacent pair. A good balance I thought.

In this case there would be a possible eight choices for the inner round, thus seven for the next and six for the last.

8 x 7 x 6 = 336 but this would include 48 choices that were all the same colour family, so 288 different mixed colour hexagons.

Rather more than the 20 I needed.

How could I decided what combinations to choose?

Now I am sure that a lot of people would have taken an ad hoc approach but I was afraid that might lead to an unbalanced choice, especially as some of the colours my Granddaughter eventually chose were not ones I would have chosen and some were my favourites.

I started with the shades of blue hexagons and then moved on to the green ones, all the while puzzling in my mind how I could possibly make a rational and ordered choice for the mixed ones.

I knew that the outer rounds of these mixed colour hexagons would have to be split equally between blues and greens.

So ten of each. But how do you share four shades among ten. If it had been twelve!

At one point I even thought of making twelve and deciding which ten to use later but that seemed wasteful.

But then I found the perfect solution.

For each round: I would choose three of the lightest and darkest shades and two of the intermediate ones.

So in terms of the four shades of each colours that would be 3-2-2-3 and thought of as dark, medium, light that would be 3,4,3.

To give a contrast, I would always chose a different colour from the outer round for the intermediate round of the three and then the inner round would be split equally between the two colours so half of the blue outer round hexagons would have one green round and half would have two green rounds.

As well as never having two rounds the same I wanted to create contrast and variety so thinking in terms of Dark, Medium dark, Medium Light and Light. I made my choices and then proceeded to create the hexagons looking at the results as I went. I did make one swop from my original plan before the final choice and I am not sure if I got them all right for the blue/green set, as when I wrote it all out I got in a muddle between the mediums, as I originally called them M1 and M2.

The green/blue ones are not a good choice to see the results anyway as one of the ‘blues’ my granddaughter chose looked almost ‘green’ to me and blue and green are very similar colours but here is a look at the Red – Violet/Purple set laid out before the final rounds

red/purple colour choices


Here they are arranged


red/purple hexagons in order

After each round I would pin the sets I had made from the same colour together.

red/purple hexagons sets pinned

Here is an arrangement to show the sort of pattern I was looking for.

red/purple hexagon arrangement

So now I knew what I was going to make but how should all the colours be arranged in the final blanket?

See the next post in the series

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