Choosing Colors and Making Your Own Sampler or My OCD Ring.

Each card contains the brand, color and weight of yarn. The yarn is just wrapped around and knotted on the back side. No tape or glue was used.

When I go to a yarn store, any yarn store, I make my decisions on color above all else. For some it’s the fibers, weight, sheen, ply, fuzziness, softness, etc, etc.. (Softness is my second favorite attribute of yarn). But overall, it’s color that will control my choice. And honestly, I think it was the rainbow in a yarn aisle that convinced me as a little girl, I needed to learn to crochet like Mom and Auntie.

Over the years of buying yarn and being given yarn, I’ve collected quite a bit of variety, in every attribute, but when it comes to making a project, I stand in front of my own stash and say “What colors shall I combine today?”. As many of you know, my favorite yarn is Caron Simply Soft and I just did a personal inventory… I’ve got 37 colors (out of the 56 in the line) and though some are partial skeins, I will just replenish when I run out. As you know, the stores never carry a full line of any one yarn, so we consumers never really know what we are missing out on. My advice? Get online and look around, you’d be surprised at how expansive some of these yarn brands really are.

This in store limitation has driven me to do crazy things. The last time I wanted to bulk up my stash so that I really had a “rainbow” option, I compromised. I bought great colors, but from a variety of yarns (some not very soft) just to fill in the gaps of color. I made lots of small projects and flowers with these yarns but never really hit a stride, and many of them just don’t work together. They say they are all “4” weight, but some are considerably thicker than others which makes them difficult to use in a pattern together. Darn!

What’s a girl to do? Make a scrap blanket, choose a pattern and stitch that will not highlight the weight differences and move on. That is precisely how the Mad Rainbows and Fiction blanket was born… But since I made it, I’ve had tons of requests for a list of the yarns and colors used and I’m sorry to say, I cannot provide that since this truly was a scrap blanket, partial skeins only and from a variety of different manufacturers. So here’s my solution… I’m going to make it again, using nothing but Caron Simply Soft (or compatible) yarns. I’m figuring out which would be the best substitute colors (many of the colors were Caron SS in the first place, so I’m only replacing about 1/2 of them). And I’m working on a pattern with photos about the Bavarian/Wool Eater stitch. It should be glorious when it’s done, but with so much yarn to weed through, I got lost in my own stash. I decided to make a color sampler of Caron SS so that I could plan this project and all future projects to a perfect tee. No more guessing what matches what or standing in the store trying to remember just the shade of yellow I used last time. Kiss those days goodbye!

Here’s the new helper I created, it’s a yarn sampler with all the colors I have of Caron SS. And as I get more, I’ll add more cards until I really know what they have to offer. I used a set of prepunched “memory” flash cards from the school supply section of a department store. They came prepunched and on a small ring. I’m going to make another ring that holds samples from other favorites. This will make planning projects and designing patterns a joy! (and I’ll save a lot of time so I’ll have more to waste doing something else…).

Above is an updated photo, I’ve added quite a bit of yarn to it and I’m still adding. The cards on the small ring, are my final choices on colors to recreate the Rainbow and Fiction Blanket entirely with compatible yarns.  8-22-2012


23 comment on “Choosing Colors and Making Your Own Sampler or My OCD Ring.”

  1. Cin,

    You have solved my problem. I have been trying to determine how to make a color wheel for each brand of yarn. PROBLEM SOLVED!
    oh mighty mad Queen……..Thanks.

    1. Comment author madme,

      This is an older post and the yarn companies have seasonal yarns and also discontinue some to create room for new colors. The best time of year to find these colors in when the Fall items are being stocked in the craft shops.

  2. Kari Estimable,

    Beautiful! Simply Soft is my favorite as well! I am very excited for you to finish this project. I can’t wait to see how it turns out, and to make one of my own. =)

    1. Comment author madme,

      About one yard per card. I’m sure I could use less, but I wanted a good sampling of what if felt like as well as what it looked like.

  3. lisa,

    soooo nice! but i have a ???? don’t the manufacturer’s colors change often enough that you wouldn’t be able to replace the color? i kind of figured it would be like makers of lipstick—each season they have new colors and drop the colors from last season or even last year…..any thoughts…?? just curious.

    1. Comment author madme,

      Good question!! Many manufacturers have seasonal colors, but most of the Big Boys have a steady line of colors. They may discontinue one now and then, or expand the line but there will remain a standard set of colors for folks to come back to year after year. Crafters get pretty testy when you take away their favorite colors, and customer feedback says that most of us want a dependable and steady brand to buy from. Many of the Caron SS colors I use, I’ve used for over 10 years! That’s a nice long run or dependability.

  4. heidi,

    you are so smart; isn’t it amazing how necessity is the Mother of invention?! If you weren’t as busy as you are,perhaps you would have been content to rely upon memory,but now put in this position,you are finding more and more practical solutions to things and forcing yourself to create structure,in a “Mad Mad world.”

    I had my own business for years-I created an Enrichment program for children 2 1/2-5 yrs old,which involved studying different cultures and countries around the world. I chose one country a month,and created food,costume,and song along with an art project and vocabulary list of each new language and games for that country…I started with 9 children,and 10 yrs later,had over 80 in my program,with a waitlist every year for more. If I hadn’t become ill(B. cancer) I would be there to this day; but talk about the need to get organized,OMG,different food allergies alone(with a lunch program I forgot to mention) were enough to give anyone a panic disorder,if they didn’t already have,which,of course I already had as well…

    But,I did it,and,did it well I must admit,although It’s kind of ok to not have to do it anymore. I am now enjoying the fruits of labor,of which there are many,and learning how to do whatever it is I wish to learn at this moment. And,I really can appreciate when someone else makes the effort to make things a bit easier for me out in my world,and you are doing just that,so thank you for your patterns,color choices,and sources,and GENEROUSITY for us,your faithful followers,you “Rock.”

  5. Aprile M.,

    What a great idea! I would love to do something like this with my yarn but I haven’t found a particular brand that I like yet. I am in love with Alpaca at the moment so I am buying handpainted yarns and such. This is a great idea though and I hope to do it with my yarn sometime in the future.

    1. Comment author madme,

      I just moved into an area with a Hobby Lobby. I’ve never lived near one, so I had not idea how incredible the Wee Bee Yarns were and now I know I’ll be making up another ring just for them! It’s harder when you use specialty yarns though, you may never be able to buy the same yarn again. I’m off to visit your blog now…

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