Do you have favorite color combinations that you gravitate towards because it fits with your decor? Maybe your colors are dictated by your hooked piece because it is seasonally themed, using warm browns and golden tones for fall, or reds for a Christmas rug.
Perhaps you have found the perfect colored wools and are all set in your mind, that the background will be these colors no matter what, and you are willing to have the motifs be modified with the tones you use, because that color for the background is the driving force of the rug.
When I color plan a rug, it is both exciting and anxiety producing. Can I get the colors and values that are in my mind's eye to work in this piece?
Will the red wool scarf that I found in the thrift store work as well for apples as I'm envisioning?
Can I get the soft blue values of my dye formula, Pearly Everlasting, to work as a background and still have my kitten motif show up well even though it is light in value?
When I begin a new rug, I almost ALWAYS hook the background and motifs simultaneously. This is a big deal for me. I like to experiment with how all the colors, values, and tones blend together. My work area will look like a big mess because I'm often juggling one wool that reads too dark or too light and changing it out for a color that works better. This approach can make the beginning stages of the rug challenging and maybe even a little frustrating, but the trade off is worth it to me. I often consult my color wheel to help me figure out the possibilities. By working on background and motifs at the same time, I'm not left at the end trying to figure out what my background will be, nor do I need to change out my motif's values because they don't work with the newly chosen background.
I do not begin to believe that my way of approaching color planning is the only way. I have found a system that works for me. I tend to be a bit lazy, and prefer not to reverse hook more than I need to, so hooking motifs, backgrounds and borders all at once helps me see the big picture early on in my creative practice.
I hope you have a system for color planning that works for you. If not, maybe you can begin to explore an approach which makes you happy with your process and finished piece.
Please visit my ETSY shop to view my rugs and other hooking related items.