How do you choose colours?

How do you choose colours for a new project? Do you like to go to a yarn shop and hold the balls to each other? Do you have colour samples of your favorite yarns?

I love shopping in yarn shops but unfortunately the DK yarns I like to use for my blankets are not available in my local shop. So I mostly order my yarn online. But ordering online means that you never know how close the colours you see on the screen come to reality. Especially when ordering yarn for a specific project it is more than annoying when the colours are not as you imagined them. I often went wrong!

After several failures I got myself shade cards of my favorite yarns. They helped me a lot! I can now see the colours in reality! And above all I can now better assess how close – or far – the representations on the various websites are to reality.
The disadvantage of shade cards is that they quickly can become outdated as new colours are added (and others discontinued).

And unfortunately you cannot place the colours on a shade card next to each other like you would in a yarn shop. My imagination often doesn’t go so far that I can put several colours together in my head and say whether they look good together or not. With 2 or 3 colours it works quite well, but with 5 or more it is usually difficult.

Virtual yarn balls

With the help of my shade cards I found out that for example the display of colours of Stylecraft yarns is very good on their website (at least on my devices). This has opened up new possibilities for me. I downloaded the Special DK color swatches from there and am now combining them in an app which I also use for collages.

It is great to play around with. You can easily try out colour combinations, move the patterns around, add or change colours. I love it.

This sample was inspired by a mood board of Pipin Poppycock. I used this combination of Stylecraft Special DK for a – still top secret – project and am very happy of how it turned out.

Stylecraft Yarns has kindly allowed me to publish these swatches, mentioning the brand.


Unfortunately, it is not to be underestimated how some colours change in certain combinations.
Silver, for example. In my Winter Wonderland blanket, in combination with white and other greys, it really looks silver. In the combination shown above, with different shades of apricot and rose, it looks more bluish. At least for me, these effects are difficult to perceive on the screen. I have a better idea of them when I actually have the colours in front of me, in reality … My lack of imagination again …

Therefore I looked around for other options.

Actually I am keen on those beautiful yarn pegs you see all over the internet. But all the ones I have found so far are quite expensive, not for the pegs but for shipping costs to my country. So I had the idea of making some swatches of my own – starting with the colours from my stash.

First I got myself little plastic cards. They are about 3 x 4 cm . I like them, especially as they came in a small box where they can be safely stored. Unfortunately they only offer little space for labelling. It is difficult to put all the necessary information such as brand, colour number and name on it. I therefore had to use abbreviations for the yarn brand. As my list of shortcuts grew longer and longer I decided to use them only for my thinner cotton yarn.

One day I saw a post by a lady who creates beautiful scrapbooks for her projects. I have unfortunately forgotten her name, otherwise I would credit her here. She had made little crochet squares that she could pin back and forth as she wished. This gave me the idea to do the same to put my colours together.
They are also just great to play around with, take pictures of colour choices and so on. Without having a scrapbook the only problem is the allocation of details such as brand and colour code. At first I thought of putting a little label on each square so that I could write down all the important details. But somehow it was too uncomfortable for me.

So I switched to wooden sticks. I label them with shade number and name and wrap the thread around them. This is done in no time and on the backside of the stick is enough space to note the brand.
To some people this will seem “duplicated”, but for me it works perfectly so far.

My pile is growing but I still have a long way to go. I was not aware that I have already so many colours in my stash. And every time I order yarn I take an extra ball of one or two colours that I don‘t own so far but might use in one of my future projects. I am on a good way to create my own collection!

Good to know – Yarn amounts

How much yarn will I need if …?

Lately I’ve often had to answer the question how much yarn you need if you want to replace yarn A used in the instructions of a pattern with yarn B. I would therefore like to tell you what problems I had with it at the beginning and how I now calculate my individual yarn needs.

Usually, the yarn used and the amount required are included in the pattern. So far so good. The problem often starts when you want to use a different brand or – even worse – a different weight of yarn for your project.

Different Yarn weights – my nightmare

All the different yarn types, weights and yardages can be very confusing. I still remember well when I started to crochet again about 10 years ago I was helpless when it came to choosing the right yarn. Foreign patterns mostly call for foreign yarns. Brands like Stylecraft, Scheepjes and Caron, to name only a few, are not available in our retail stores. So I had to replace them with other brands. There is also no system in Germany that classifies the different yarn weights. Only in the last few years the American system has been adopted by some companies. So I really was lost since I had no idea what was meant by terms like DK, Aran, Sport weight, fingering and so on.

At the beginning I thought that the needle size indicated on the banderole was decisive. Believe me, it isn’t.
Choosing a yarn after that often meant that I had too much or too little yarn and that my crochet piece was not the desired size as my yarn was too thick or too thin.

After I went wrong several times, I started ordering my yarn in foreign online shops to get exactly the yarn that was required in the pattern. That’s when I discovered that there is a system abroad that divides yarns into different groups.
It was only after I had dealt a bit with the different yarn weights that I realized that the thickness of the yarn also influences the length of the thread. Actually logical, a thinner thread has to be longer to bring the same weight on the scale, a thicker one will be shorter.

As an example:

A DK yarn has a yardage somewhere between 240 and 300 m per 100 g ball, and Aran only 120 – 240 m for the same weight.

Knowing this I changed my personal system to choose a suitable yarn. When I shop in Germany and the yarn banderole does not indicate what thickness it is, the yardage helps me. A 50 g ball with 145 m per 50 g for instance is a DK weight as it will have 290 m per 100 g.

But I learned more. The yardage is also helpful if I want to use another weight than specified in the pattern. Here an example:

Changing yarn weights

Let us say your pattern calls for 3 balls of Stylecraft Special DK but you would like to use Aran because you like your piece to be a little thicker. 3 balls Special DK are 300 g but if you buy 300 g Aran you will definitely have too little yarn. How much will you need then? I calculate it with the help of the yardage.
Just look at the amount of yarn that is required in the pattern and calculate how many meters or yards it will be. To do this, multiply the number of balls by the length of one ball. This gives you the total yardage you need.

Now look at the yarn you want to use. What is the yardage of one ball? Divide the total yardage you worked out before by the yardage of a ball of your desired yarn and you will know how many balls you will have to buy.

If more than one colour are required just repeat this for each colour.

I never went wrong this way!

In a pattern the information on the length of the thread should be given together with the information about the yarn used. If this information is missing, just search for your yarn in the internet or look at your yarn banderole (if you have them at hand).

But please keep in mind that changing the yarn weight will affect the size of your project. I would advise not to do it for garments like sweater and so on as long as you don’t know how to adjust the pattern.

I hope this was helpful to you 💕