I think I have decided that I love making baby blankets! I make a lot. It’s probably because you can make something that really packs a punch, but it’s not so big that it becomes overwhelming or takes too long to make. Recently, a friend of mine announced that she was going to be a grandmother! I’ve had a bit to do with her daughter over a number of years and decided to make her a blanket. I had also seen this particular design (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/stripe-blanket) and had had it simmering away in the back of my mind waiting until I found the perfect person to make it for. My opportunity had come. I sussed out the colours of the nursery (grey and white), added in a lemon yellow as the pattern required a third colour and got the yarn ordered. I made it using Stylecraft Special dk (yes, I know, I’m an addict. I just love this yarn, soft but washable and practical!).
It took a little while to get the hang of the pattern, but once that was firmly embedded in my brain, the blanket made up surprisingly quickly. As I had plenty of time to make it, I used it as my “take along” project, so it took longer than I was expecting to make, but at the same time, I only worked on it in small dribs and drabs. I had to adjust the pattern a little by adding a few extra repeats as the yarn called for in the pattern was a larger ply than the Stylecraft Special dk. I was also surprised by how “yarn efficient” this pattern was. I had to guess as to how much yarn I would need due to the ply difference and I was concerned it might be a yarn eater due to the solidness of it but I had so much yarn left over at the end that I could easily make another one!
I am thrilled with the finished piece. It looks so effective for something so simple and it was soothing to work on because of the repetitiveness of the pattern (it made a nice change from the more challenging projects I usually attempt!). I am definitely going to make another one of these, I’m just deciding on the colourway and who it might be for! I would recommend this pattern to you if you need to make up a baby blanket.
I’m excited to share with you the first of my Christmas presents! My sister is a fan of Belle from Beauty and the Beast (this made things easier as I was a Little Mermaid fan, so there was no fighting!). I came across these Princess Dress Blankets (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/princess-dress-blanket-yellow) and I wanted to make one for her for Christmas. As the yarn used is #4 weight, which is virtually impossible to get here, it took awhile to gather my supplies, but, finally, with the help of one of my American friends, I was able to get a contrasting gold that actually looked nice with the lemon and I was ready to begin. It still took a little while before I could bring myself to start it – it seemed like a fairly big project, thus time-consuming and I just didn’t have the heart for it. It eventually got to the point that if I didn’t get it started, I wasn’t going to get it finished for Christmas, so it was begun. I started it numerous times, trying to get the sizing right and the colour placement. I decided that I wanted to switch the colours up a bit from the original pattern so it was a more accurate match to the film. Once I had all that figured out, the bodice worked up really quickly and I was encouraged that this project may not be as time-consuming as I had feared. Then, I started the bodice. Although the pattern repeats to a certain degree, it was not one that was a smooth repeat that got stuck in my head and I could power on with. It was a fairly slow and laborious design that required a lot of concentration (a lot of frogging was involved!). There is a mistake in there somewhere. I can see it and, although it bothers me, I didn’t have the heart to frog back to it and fix it. My sister is not a crocheter, so I know it isn’t going to bother her! I read once in a book that mistakes make a piece unique – slightly different from all the others that people have made. I’m going with that, and mine is unique! Anyway, I finally finished it (the weather was warming up and I was glad to have it finished so I could concentrate on smaller things that were cooler to work on!) and I’m quite happy with the end result. My sister was pleased with her present – she’s just going to have to wait awhile before she can use it (the weather here has been in the high 30 – 40 degrees Celsius for the last week and there’s not much relief in sight!). P.S. the lady in the photo is not my sister! She is a friend who was gracious enough to be a model for me!
Have you ever thought about entering any of your work into a show? It can be a scary thing, allowing others to look at and judge your work that you have put countless hours into, frogging and redoing until it is perfect. Up until a few years ago, I hadn’t ever entered anything into a show. I had thought about it but had never been brave enough to investigate how to go about it. And then I made my Sophie’s Universe and I felt that that was a piece that just had to be seen. Not because of my work but because the design is just so beautiful. So, I found out how to enter the Royal Adelaide Show (our big state fair) and entered her. She didn’t win, but I got some ribbons for some other pieces and my addiction to entering shows began. I love it! I love thinking about what to enter and looking for new, amazing designs to crochet. I love delivering my pieces before the show has begun and seeing everything getting ready. I love going to the show and looking at my work on display. And, I love the expectation of waiting to see what the results are and if I earned a ribbon!
Last year, I entered both the Royal Adelaide Show and the Gawler Show (a smaller, country show). The experience is very different with both shows. The entry fees are higher for the Adelaide show, and so far, I haven’t won a first prize, which is the only real way of recovering your costs. The Gawler show is smaller, but the entry fees are lower and so far, I have covered my costs of entering with my winnings, which makes it feel a bit more successful!
This year, due to me not paying close enough attention to the Adelaide show book, I only entered pieces in the Gawler show. The staff at the show were absolutely fabulous as I realised I was going to be in Melbourne when I needed to drop things off and they were great about me dropping them off early. As we literally swung past the show to collect my pieces on our way home from Melbourne, I had to wait until then to find out my results (one of my friends sent me pics of a couple of my results while we were away, but not all!). It was exciting to collect them and find out that I had done really well this year! Out of the six pieces entered, I earned 4 firsts, one second and a best exhibit for crochet (that I was totally not expecting!). The prize from the best exhibit has allowed me to order some blocking wires that I have been eyeing off for awhile! (Another review will be coming soon!). I even won a trophy this year, as my Persian Tiles blanket came tied for first with another Persian Tiles blanket that the judges just couldn’t choose between!
If you have ever thought about it, but not had the confidence, I would suggest just going for it! The worst that can happen is that you won’t win anything, and, although it is disappointing (I put hours into the baby pram cover and it didn’t place at all 😦 ), it is still a growing and learning experience, challenging you to find more unique and detailled pieces for next years’ show and to improve the quality and finish of your work. I’d love to hear about your experiences entering shows!
A good friend of mine has recently had a baby! Such exciting times! I decided I would love to make a blanket for her new little princess. Around the time she was due, a new CAL came along called the Neave Collection blanket (https://www.facebook.com/groups/621056114767998/). It looked to be a beautiful blanket and the timing was perfect, so I set about starting it. I used Stylecraft Special DK (my favourite acrylic yarn!) in the suggested coloursof white, silver, fondant and sherbert. I love the colours together – it is so pretty! It did, however, take me a lot longer than anticipated to finish it (luckily she was a Summer baby and blankets are only just becoming a necessity now with the weather cooling).
It was a lot fiddlier than expected but it was well worth it. I love the different textures and patterns and the way the colours play together throughout. I also liked that some of it was made in small squares, which takes some of the tedium out of just going around and around the large square.
I gifted it to my friend today and she loves it just as much as I do! I hope that she gets a lot of use out of it and enjoys it as a special item for many years to come!
My first piece of the Fridas’ Flowers CAL (http://www.stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/Frida%27s+Flowers/0_CAFA122_CAFA135_CAFA139.htm) is complete! The tension still isn’t perfect but I’m going to forge ahead and see how it goes. I love the colours in this square. The background is Stylecraft Special dk – plum. The photo doesn’t do the rich colour justice. However, unblocked and all, I’m quite happy with how it turned out. Now, onto block number two…….!
Well, week 2 of the Mandala Madness cal is done! This has already been a fun yet challenging project! As I said in my last post, I love cal’s for the sense of community they bring but I also love them for challenging my skills and teaching me new stitches (we grow by trying new things!). This has done both so far. This second part looks deceptively simple but there was much frogging involved to get it right! I wonder what challenges the next installment might bring…….
Over the last couple of years, I have discovered that there’s not much I love more than a good crochet-a-long (CAL)! I’ve participated in the granny square cal by Knot Your Nana’s Crochet, the 2014 afghan by Look At What I Made and Sophie’s Universe – also by Look At What I Made (and one of the most amazing things I’ve made to this day!). So, late last year when I heard that the Mandala Madness cal was going to start, I couldn’t resist! I have had the wonderful rainbow of yarn sitting in my work station for awhile now and have eagerly been anticipating it beginning! It finally started last week, and part one is complete! I’m loving it already and am looking forward to Friday and adding to this colourful gem! If you’d like to join the madness, all the info you need can be found here http://www.crystalsandcrochet.com/introducing-mandala-madness-cal/. There’s just something so nice about making something beautiful knowing that hundreds of other people around the world are making it at the same time!
Aaahhh….Janie Crowe’s Persian Tiles Blanket http://janiecrow.co.uk/presta/patterns/201-persian-tile-kit-.html. I have been seeing these beautiful blankets for awhile now, and longed to make one, but couldn’t find a reason to do it. I have finally found one! So, I was so excited to order this beautiful pattern and wait for it to wing its way across the seas to me! And, I am enjoying making it every bit as much as I thought I would. The pattern is beautifully presented and very well written – my only issue with it is that it is written in uk terms and I am more familiar with us terms. I am slowly going through and crocheting each round on all of the motifs to make it a little faster as I end up memorising what I am doing instead of having to check the pattern each round, and I long to see how beautiful it is once it is all complete. I am also going to change one colour – I was guessing as to the best matches and got one wrong, so, in my perfectionist ways, I’ll order those last two balls so I can be completely thrilled with the end result!
This year, I have been working on a temperature blanket. I have chosen a number of colours to represent brackets of temperature (eg, 21-25 degrees, 26-30 degrees), and each day, I am crocheting a yo yo (see previous post for information about yo yos!) that represents the temperature high of the day. It began it’s life as a scarf, done in single crochet. However, it was quite thick and stiff, and after a few weeks of working on it, I felt it wouldn’t really work, so decided to switch to my new favourite thing – yo yos! I am also adding in a grey yo yo on days when it rains. I have slowly begun joining them together and will have the beginnings of a blanket soon. It is quite interesting to look at the weather in the form of colour. I tried to mimic the colours normally associated with cold and hot with corresponding temperatures and I look forward to seeing how it changes as the year goes on and the weather changes. Being Summer in Australia, it is mostly orange, red and yellow at the moment but we have had some sudden drops and then back up to the warmer temperatures that have made it more interesting to look at!