Projects & Possibilities: Farmer Maggot's Mushroom Basket

So there's been some excitement over the little felted bag with the big, funny name. I thought I'd take a moment to talk a little about how I combine yarn colors and show you some alternates for the Farmer Maggot's Mushroom Basket.

First of all, our favorite wool for felting in solids and heathers is Cascade 220 Worsted. I combined two of these with our newest variegated line, Wisdom Yarn's Poems, to make the original bag. At the bottom of the post I've put a couple of slideshows featuring different combinations of these two yarns.

5 Ways to make bold color work for you

It can get a little hairy combining variegateds or different brands of yarn but this project has three things going for it--one, that we're combining solids with a single variegated, two, that the variegated is the odd-brand-out, and three, it's going to be felted, so some of the differences in apparent in the unfelted yarns will become much more difficult to detect. This leads us to...

1. Match fibers first

Farmer Maggot's Mushroom Basket and other felted projects have the benefit of ironing out issues that can arise when combining yarns that have differences of spin and shine. There's no reason you can't mix and match in regular projects, but it requires a bit of a deliberate approach. For example, I like to pair a rich, shiny, single-ply with a muted multi-ply for colorwork in a variety of weights. 

2. Start with the one you love

I always start a color combination outfit-style with one element that I absolutely love. Then I poke around and find a color that it either accents, or that provides an accent. If I add a third color, I decide how strongly it should interact with either the main or accent color and look for colors in that strength.

3. Choose color figuratively

I prefer non-literal (figurative, even) coordination over perfect matching, although you'll see some matchy-ness in the slides below. I'm also a bit of a sucker for color trends, so I have to watch myself to make sure that not everything is oatmeal and aqua or seafoam and blue or somesuch.

When I say non-literal coordination I mean that instead of finding the exact same purple shade as I see in a colorway, I might go for a dusty purple that makes the original seem more vibrant. Or if there's a hint of peachy pink, I might grab a strong coral and let those two play on each other. Color wheels are a great help with this--you can ratchet up or down the intensity of your combination and still remain in the same set of relationships by keeping in mind your colors' position on the wheel while dealing with saturation and shade rather than hue.

4. You don't have to like it to understand it

Not a fan of actually using variegateds? You can still learn a lot about what you like and why it goes together by examining variegated yarn colorways and the individual colors that appear in them. Quantity, duration, proximity and shade are all useful to note.

5. You don't have to like it forever

Sometimes the most agonizing part of choosing great colors is committing to those colors. Remind yourself that you'll make other stuff! Take pictures of color combinations you love that you don't end up using! Let yourself enjoy what you pick--it should be a fun part of making a project, rather than the worst part.


Ultimately, choosing color is super personal. No one can say that this or that color is always wrong, or even that it's always (or ever) wrong for you. If you want to embrace a few restrictions to ease the process of decision-making ("I'm a summer") then go for it, as long as what you're using and wearing makes you feel happy.

Solid/Solid/Variegated Slideshow:


Solid/Solid/Solid Slideshow: