Saturday, 23 November 2013

Crochet Blankets

I find people are pretty evenly divided about crocheted blankets - they either love them or hate them. I love them. I love the weight and the textures and I especially love the way they lend themselves to geometric patterns. They are a little like fabric quilts in that respect. I have made two crocheted blankets this year and have a couple more in progress. Here they are all together:
The first was the blue and cream squared blanket. This one is for the bedroom. It comes out when it's too hot for a duvet but not warm enough for just a sheet. I expect I'll also use it to supplement the duvet sometimes.
It's made from a value range of 100% acrylic from Hobbycraft.. not the most exciting yarn, but it's warm, nice to work with and very washable. The only complaint I have is it has become rather stretchy due to the weight of such a large blanket. The pattern for the squares came from 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws and Afghans: Crochet Squares to Mix-and-Match by Jan Eaton which I have used many times - it has a wonderfully varied selection of blocks and some great ideas for how to put them together. Most of the squares have been crocheted on the train, so it feels like it has taken no time, since that time is otherwise lost. I have a pile of 20-30 more to add and then it will be done, all bar the edging. I think this blanket's simple design shows off some of the things I love about crochet - there are at least 2 patterns there: one from the arrangement of the coloured blocks, and another from the eyelets in the blocks themselves.

This next blanket is a happy accident. I took a couple of projects on holiday with me this year, but when it came to it I just didn't want to work on either of them. So I went yarn hunting. All I could find right then was a small hardware shop that stocked a small range of acrylics. Armed with a few balls of speckly blue and cream DK and a 4.00mm hook I went searching on Pinterest for inspiration. I found a baby afghan that appealed to me, so I took the basic granny chevron pattern and came up with this. It grew very quickly and was very satisfying. It's really a lapghan - big enough to cover either your lap or wrap around your shoulders. It's surprisingly light and comfortable. Again, the acrylic yarn is an advantage because it has had tea spilt on it at least twice and it has washed up very well. I love the pattern - I want to use it again.

The third blanket came about because I loved the blue and cream chevron so much I wanted to start on another right away. I found a whole load of aran-weight yarn, but then found that the extra weight and the granny chevron just didn't work together. I tried a few things and eventually the yarn told me what it wanted to be. It's crocheted using Lucy from Attic 24's wonderful Neat Ripple Pattern. This one grew so quickly I think it was done in 2 weeks of an-hour-an-evening while I was watching tv. It's a full single-bed size so it has been used for snoozing under on the sofa. It lives in the lounge and gets a lot of use.

Finally, I have been working on this granny-square blanket for my plaid-loving daughter. It's about half-done and was my commuting project until I decided to start on some Christmas knitting. Granny squares have been overused, I think (just remember those tanktops in the 70s) but they lend themselves very well to playing with colour. It's a real mixture of yarns for this one - mostly wool, but the colour was the biggest consideration. I spent a long time in the store laying them out and taking them outside into the daylight. Inspiration for this one came from Pinterest again. The original is called Lakeshore Plaid Blanket by Ana from Lanas Hilos. I can lose many, many hours on Pinterest - but that's a story for another day.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Something Old

I found a beautiful pot in my local antiques barn.  Ok, it's a bit bright, but I like that.  The first glance made me think of Winnie the Pooh.  I can imagine this being the jar that he keeps the very, very special honey in.  It must have once had a lid or cover because it has a rim.  I bought it for a few pounds only and thought it would make a nice pot plant holder.

Well, once I got it home I found that, since it is narrower at the top and your average plant pot is wider at the top, only small plants will fit and then the proportions are all wrong.  So.... I did this with it....
OK so it is a little untidy, but I can see all my needles and It encourages me to put them away as soon as I'm done with them.  Also, buried in there are some needles I inherited from my Nan and aunt. So at once I have a pretty display, a reminder of the past and a useful object.  

If you believe the marks on the base, this jar of mine comes from Los Angeles.  I love that I have something so jolly from so far away.  I will have to do some research and see if I can discover something about the potter.

As to those needles, below are some of the oldest. They don't get all that much use any more, but they have clearly seen a lot of service.  It is lovely to think that some of my infant clothes might have been made by these. I made a point of knitting something for each of my children with them. I have made a lot of use of the number 9s with the inch markings. 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Getting Post

I have a childish delight in receiving things in the post.  From the moment I see the postman at the door or that little red card on the mat I have a little tingle of anticipation: is it that yarn I ordered or a complete surprise?  Way back I would send off for free holiday brochures, just so I would have some post arrive with my name on. I hit gold when I ordered some information about holidays in Yugoslavia, as it was then: I received maps and all sorts of beautifully photographed booklets about the different regions. Bliss!

This last week I have had that pleasure almost every day. Some of the things I have ordered have been for Christmas presents, some have been for me. It doesn't matter - the reward is the parcel itself.  Nevertheless, some of the things that have arrived this week have been delicious.
I blame my podcasting habit for some of this. Top left is a project bag from Daisy Bun Boo - a beautifully made large, round bag, with a small pocket and a drawstring. I heard about these from Knit.Spin.Cake - I think they are made by Aimee's mum. Thoroughly recommended.

Next clockwise is a wool winder - I needed this to deal with the next item around: yarn from Soft Like Kittens all the way from New Zealand. Boy, this stuff is so glorious. I have been dithering about whether to order some for a couple of months. I love the colours Annette gets into her dying (Annette makes the Gentle Ribbing podcast) but thought that having it shipped halfway around the world was just too extravagant. I am just so delighted with it I can see me doing it all over again. I have two skeins of sock yarn and two of DK. I've already started turning the tealy-blue mix into a shawlette.

Finally I have a little kit from Manfield Craft - a mother and baby sheep kit. Basically you get two wooden sheep - one mum and one baby - and enough wool to make them each a jumper. I'm looking forward to making those, but they will have to wait until the shawl is done and maybe until I've used some more of the yarn.

I am now making a concerted effort to be content and not order any more goodies.