Note that this pattern is written in UK terms
Before I started working with the African Flower pattern, I looked for charts to show me how to work it.
What I found was that there was not one definitive African Flower pattern but many similar patterns with slight variations, some even with a different number of repeats.
I wanted a hexagon but I also wanted one with a white middle and then three bands of different colours that had an equal balance in the design. Balance probably based on thickness of the rounds.
Now most versions of the African Flower make the second and third rounds the same colour. This is understandable as it creates the ‘flower’. In my case the ‘flower’ element was not important. I had chosen it because I could use it to create a more interesting hexagon.
I experimented with various versions, mainly concentrating on what to do after the third round.
as creating the balance that I wanted.
I also experimented with the best way to join the hexagons, as I think is obvious in the above photgraph.
Although I am a great fan of the join-as-you-go method I didn’t like the way it looked (see above), found it tricky to do and it seemed easier to complete and arrange all the hexagons before joining to give maximum flexibility.
[Which I needed as you can see from the post on planning.]
I hate ends and I always feel that each sewn in end is a weak point in the blanket. Also, whereas squares can be joined at front or back with long rows of stitches, each hexagon would need to be joined individually. So I came up with the idea of leaving a very long tail (about 60cm / 24 ins) on each hexagon that I would use later for the joining. This would be a bit wasteful in some cases, as although joining three sides would be the norm, some joins would involve less sides. Having chosen this method, in practice, I found that with differences in yarn, quite often 24 inches was barely enough and meant the last few stitches were a bit of a fiddle, so if I made this blanket another time I would leave at least 26 inches of yarn,
The idea was to have some motifs that only used different shades of the same colour and others that mixed adjoining colours (as thought of in relation to rainbow/colour circle – see earlier post.)
Here you can see a few. There is an blue motif at the top and all yellow/orange (as one colour way) one below on the left.
To the right there is one from the green and yellow/orange interface, and below the blue and green interface.
Now each of my five colour families contained four different shades.As you can see the green and red choices give the best way to see the transition from light to dark. (My granddaughter chose the colours she liked best and not all of the Stylecraft colours work in natural sequences. In fact the purple shade called ‘Antwerpen’ is Scheepjes Colour Crafter and I offered it to her as a possible because I was not impressed by Stylecraft’s darker purple shades.)
But first I needed to make the white centres. These were in my mind snowflakes and so, instead of the pairs of trebles (US – dcs) that you see in many patterns, I decided to use clusters.
Using white DK yarn
Start: Magic Loop
I like the Magic Loop (or Magic Ring or Magic Circle) method as this means you can eliminate the hole in the centre.
Round 1: Starting 2tr cluster. (method given at end), 2ch followed by (2tr cluster, 2ch) five times.
Join invisibly (Pull out loop on hook from last stitch for suitable length and cut. Insert hook from back to front through loop of second stitch, pull tail through, insert hook in back of last stitch from below and pull yarn through, ensure faux stitch you have thus made is the same size as the others.) Pull starting tail very tight. Sew in ends.
I needed to make twenty four hexagons from the four balls of each colour family to give all the possible combinations.
[When mixing adjoining colours I only needed twenty in total for the number of motifs I wanted.]
This meant six centres for each different shade choice for round two.
But I found I wasn’t enjoying making the centres because it all seemed so fiddly, so by the end, I had a production line approach and made twenty-four centres, crocheting only, then stopped and pulled the yarn through for the invisible join on each in turn, then finally sewed in the ends.
You really need to sew in the ends with the invisible join method to create a firm basis for the next round. It does at least mean you aren’t left with an impossible number at the end!
Now I could move on to the next round.
Using new colour
Round 2: (Standing tr, (As found in Tutorial section in Menu), tr, ch, 2tr) into any 2ch space followed by (2tr, ch, 2tr into next space) five times.
Join invisibly and sew in ends.
I made six using each of the balls in turn.
For the next round, picking up one of the balls, all you have to do is to work on the three motifs that are not the same shade.
(For mixed colours I had a chart that I worked from)
Using new colour
Round 3: (Standing tr, 6tr) into any ch space followed by (7tr into next space) five times.
Join invisibly and sew in ends.
Now you have one white round and two coloured ones.
Here I show you a couple from when I was mixing the colours.
Deciding which ones go with each for the final two rounds that are both worked with the same yarn is more tricky.
Again it is a matter of matching the motifs that lack a shade to that particular ball.
I found it was helpful to pin these ones to each ball and then work on one in turn.
[This also helped to weed out any mistakes caused by inattention.]
Here you can see this set out ready for the last two rounds of the all red motifs.
I also did this when mixing colours which was even more tricky (see post on Initial choices)
It is maybe worth noting that as a precaution, when sewing in the ends, I didn’t cut them off until I had completed the following round. The idea being that if I discovered a mistake I could then undo the stitching and redo the round.
[This didn’t happen very often and was mostly successful! I had checked carefully after each round but a couple of mistakes slipped through.]
Using new colour
Round 4: Standing dc into any 4th tr of group. Tr into next 3 sts. Then (Long tr between pairs of trs of round 2, dc into next 7sts) five times. Long tr between pairs of trs of round 2, dc into next 3sts. Join with slip stitch into first stitch.
Just a note about Round 5.
When I looked at charts for African Flowers, I noticed that when people used double crochets in the fifth round they didn’t crochet into the long treble but when they used trebles they did. (This made sense.) I was using half-trebles, so I tried both and found that when I crocheted into the long treble the edge rippled, so I decided to leave it out as you will see in the pattern.
When the blanket was finished, I noticed the motifs had a tendency to bubble up, though they could also be smoothed flat.
As you can see in this picture.
What I am not sure about is whether this would have happened anyway or if I made the wrong decision.
Round 5: 3ch, htr into same stitch as slip stitch. [Htr into next 3sts, miss st, htr into next 3sts. (Htr, ch htr) into next st.] five times. Htr into next 3 sts , miss st, htr into next 3sts.
Join invisibly. Then leave a long length (at least 24in. In fact, unless you want to have just a tiny bit left to sew in, 26 -30in is probably a better length) to use to slip stitch hexagons together. This length allows you to slip stitch three sides of a hexagon to other ones which is all you need to do if you join in rows.
(It may be best to make a few trial hexagons and see how much yarn it takes you to slip stitch three sides together if you chose this method.)
Of course you can also sew the end in, in the normal way, and use other yarn for joining later but this way you have two less ends to sew in.
I also sewed in the starting tail of these last rounds at this point.
I folded the tail up and tied a loose knot to keep it out of the way.
My Standing Tr: Yarn over hook from back to front, then pull forward tail back behind yarn to the left and then stretch along hook to the right. Hold in place on hook with finger. Yarn round hook then insert in stitch and work tr as normal. [or find in tutorial – HERE)
When finishing invisibly the first loop is skipped (as it is the first stitch), for a slip stitch join it can be loosened.
Starting 2tr cluster: 2ch, yarn round hook, pull loop through magic loop, pull yarn through two loops, (three loops on hook.) Pull yarn through all three loops.
2tr cluster: Yarn round hook, pull loop through magic loop, pull yarn through two loops, (two loops on hook.) Yarn round hook, pull loop through magic loop, pull yarn through two loops, (three loops on hook.) Pull yarn through all three loops.