Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Stripey Blanket (finally)

I warn you, this post may be long and rambling…a bit like a conversation with me really!!

I've been meaning to talk about this blanket properly ever since I started my little blog but have never quite got there apart from a quick look (HERE- way back in February!) but not a proper show and tell about how it came about.

I made it around the time I was first getting back into crochet nearly 3 years ago. Originally I had taught myself to crochet from library books back in the early nineties and really enjoyed making lace doilies from spools of cotton threads but never made anything from wool. Back then I thought granny squares were hideous and old fashioned and couldn't even contemplate making a blanket from them! But things changed.

I had just come out of a 2 year spell of compulsive tea cosie designing and knitting.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed them at the time and constantly had one or more on the go (I think I made at least 55 altogether), in the end I was sick of them and they became a massive chore. So I stopped.
But I still had masses of wool and wanted to make things. My hands wanted to be busy. You know?...
So a new journey began…

Around about the same time I had come across a magazine article about a lady called Sue, who crocheted lap blankets for the elderly in care homes and had a blog where she shared not only what she had made but also the blankets made by others for her. She’s still going strong and has distributed around 1,100 blankets so far! Take a look at her blog SIBOL to see what she’s up to and join in.

Occasionally, to liven things up, she would make blankets on a theme and asked people to send in squares which she then joined to make the blanket.

I decided to join in with 2 or 3 of them and designed and sent in a square with a picture of the cathedral on it for one of them. A lot of poetic licence was used in the designing of it - there’s only so much detail you can get into a 6 square!! The background square was crocheted and the cathedral was knitted and stitched on. I crocheted some plain squares too and sent them off. (I've since used the photo on my profile page.) My little square was duly included in her blanket ( see it HERE )and having gotten into the swing of crochet, I started making allsorts of little things to sell. But I wanted to make something bigger…

It’s so long ago I don’t remember exactly how it came about but I ended up making a child’s poncho for the daughter of a lady at work.
I didn't have a pattern and decided to make it up as I went along. I was very pleased with how it turned out and so was the recipient - she didn't want to take it off and even wore it over her coat! There was a fair amount of wool left over, so I decided to make another for my friend’s little girl for Christmas. She was still only 3 at the time and was besotted with pink. Still is.

Again, I made it up as I went with alternating rows of different shades of pink from pale pink through to shocking fuchsia, with white. Without white it looked awful – just too pink somehow but white really lifted it. I thought it looked really nice and put it to one side for Christmas for her and wondered what to make next. I settled on a blanket for her 4th birthday which was coming up in early February. It was already Late November. I’d never made a blanket before and didn't realise just how much work was involved…

I started searching online for crochet blankets and kept seeing pictures of Julie of Little Woollie’s Stripey CAL blanket. I decided to try and follow hers and bought a selection of pastel shades along with ivory/cream. It was mid-December by the time I had settled on a design and bought the wool. I only had six weeks to make a whole blanket! Although I began by using Julie’s instructions, I quickly resorted to making it up myself as I needed to crack on!

Then Christmas arrived and the poncho was given.

And she hated it! Absolutely HATED it and refused point blank to wear it!!!! Her Mum managed to get her to try it on but she then ripped it off and threw it across the room! Apparently, the problem was that I had used white, not just pink. She kept saying “I don’t like white”…

I can’t tell you how glad I was that I had chosen ivory/cream to use in the blanket, not white!!! I had already worked about 10 inches by the time I knew about her aversion to white and it would have meant a lot of ripping out. I was still very nervous about my other colour choices though, as there wasn't much pink! I had gone for a rainbow of pastel shades for the blanket. I decided to keep going and just say to her Mum that if she didn't like the blanket, could I have it back please?...

It was quite an enjoyable project to work on, although I did have to be very disciplined and work on it every day! Around this same time, my Mum’s Alzheimer’s was becoming more apparent and she ended up in hospital in early January for what we thought would be a brief stay. It wasn't. The blanket went along with me on visits and the nurses and patients were very complimentary as it quickly grew.

However, eighteen inches in – yes, eighteen inches – I realised I had made a mistake on a much earlier row of shells and had managed to increase quite a few extra stitches across the row. There was no way to put it right other than to rip out a good 6 inches of work and put the mistake right. VERY frustrating!! My only consolation was that I hadn't at that point stitched in all the ends, so it was easier to unpick. Could have done without that though. Stitch count lesson learned.

The blanket grew very quickly thank goodness and before I knew it, it was time to decide on a border. After I had stitched in all the ends. There were a lot of ends… Oh, how I came to loath love stitching in ends. I now stitch them in as I go…

I settled on a very simple border to neaten the edges, followed by a row of shells. I was slightly restricted in my colour choice as I didn't want to have to go and buy more wool, especially as I knew the shop where I bought most of it had already changed their range. But I was happy with my choice and the border looked just right.

I just had time to get it washed and dried in time to wrap it for her birthday and joy of joys she LOVED it. Thank goodness!!! It went straight onto the bed that night I think and is still there 2 ½ years later.

I didn't take photos of it as I went along, just the finished blanket photos. And I never even considered trying to write up the pattern as it truly was a make-it-up-as-you-go-along-affair. Why would anyone else want to copy mine exactly? Surely you’d want yours to be a one-off too??

Would you like a proper look at it now??

Tina's Allsorts, Stripey Blanket

Tina's Allsorts, Stripey Blanket

Tina's Allsorts, Stripey Blanket

I even used one of the photos in my blog header!

And here's the link to my Ravelry Project page

I learned a lot about crochet along the way, and a variety of stitches and stitch combinations. And it did my working tension a world of good. I’d swear the width of the blanket changed along the way partly due to my getting the hang of the tension thing! But the biggest lesson had to be stitch your ends in as you go…

Thanks to the popularity of Julie's blanket, my version has had a lot of views on Ravelry. I've just had a look and it's reached 9448 views! But it could also be because another lady, Hannah of not your average crochet, has also made a stripey blanket and said she had been inspired not only by Julie but also by me!

I had also made my own crochet hook handle from Fimo clay – something I saw on Pinterest and it was so much more comfortable to work with than a regular hook. But that’s another story.

I have made a couple more blankets since then. Well, one and 2/3 if I'm completely honest!! I made a hexagon blanket, which is finished and on the bed. That one was also taken with me to work on once Mum was in a home and the staff would often stop by to see how it was coming along. I think one of them would have quite liked to buy it but how do you put a price on something that’s taken countless hours to make??

The WIP (work in progress - a technical term...) is a take on the ripple pattern but that’s also another story for another day.

I have Ravelry project pages for all of them if you want to take a look, just click on the pictures below. (I've found out how to turn pictures into links that open in a new window!!)

Do I still crochet you might ask?? Well, I still love to look online at what everyone else is making - especially the really colourful stuff - and eventually I will finish my WIP but at the moment, no.

Right now, I'm still in the clutches of sewing...

PS Having just re-read this "the morning after", I rambled a lot didn't I? Sorry...

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