African Flower Blanket: planning the layout.

Last week I talked about the decisions needed in choosing the design and colours for the African Flower Blanket but this week I am going to take the process to the next stage, by describing the evolution of the final arrangement of motifs.

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After doing the maths but before the blanket design was agreed in principle and the colours chosen, I had been working on a possible design to show to my granddaughter.

Having tried: I realised that it was not possible to create a visually realistic version on the computer with so many colours and so decided to create a version using just two colours for each hexagon.

My original rough brush stroke version was created with my drawing software and finished in a hurry when I realised I would be able to show it to my granddaughter sooner than I had imagined, hence the ill-fitting hexagons.

original plan

My granddaughter loved it when I showed it to her and explained what I had in mind, so all I had to do now was turn it into an actual blanket.

This was going to mean a lot of pre-planning to get the design just right.

I realised that if I wasn’t trying to match the exact shades I had a Mandal app on my tablet that allowed colouring of shapes with just a tap that I could use.

(Find it HERE)

So I created one colour and two colour templates of the blanket on my computer and transferred them to the tablet.

two templates


Then I started planning how I might arrange the hexagons.

app on tablet

The first attempt at envisioning a possible arrangement, saw me trying to represent the multiple shades of each colour.

first design

However it was so hard to count to check there were the right number of each.

So later I decided it was easier to just use one shade and concentrate on the underlying balance.

I actually pinned out the blue and green and mixed blue and green hexagons based on the first design.

But by the time I had got as far as adding the green and yellow/orange and all yellow/orange hexagons, I decided that the red ones would end up as too narrow a strip up the middle and needed to try a new idea.

first layout

Now in the beginning I laid an old sheet out on my bed and pinned the hexagons onto it but it was very difficult to avoid pinning them to the bedcover beneath as well, so I when I added the green and yellow/orange ones I tried putting some cardboard trays I had made for doing jigsaws under the sheet but the more hexagons that were added and the nearer the centre one got the harder it was, so at last I realised that the best idea was to spread the sheet on the carpet and crawl around on my hands and knees.layout on floorA quick move of furniture in the siting room because it had the best ceiling light and daylight was in short supply.

Now for a second design

I had photographed the arrangement to help with perfecting itsecond layout

but began to think, especially when I also looked at the plan I was following, that the arrangement had two much left/right symmetry.

second planSo I moved on to plan three. Which involved unpinning and re-pinning most of the hexagons!

third plan

[And yes I did make a mistake and coloured in bits that should have stayed white and I did change the colours a little when I added the double colour version due to miscounting between red and orange.]

Of course! even plan three had it’s faults and this time I decided that although it was less obvious there was still too much symmetry: this time a top/bottom one.

So plan four was born. This time I skipped the one colour version and just modified plan three on my tablet.

Here I show all four plans in sequence from left to right.

all four plans


I could see that plan four was much closer to the idea I had shown my granddaughter and had more of a swirl.

original and fourth planHere are the four stages shown as photographs of the layouts as I went along.all four layouts

At this point just two more sets to make ‘Violet/Purple and Red’ and ‘All Red’.

And so, when I had added the the final hexagons, I had this.

motifs joined

Next week for anyone who is interested I will share an annotated version of my pattern for the African Flower

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