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blanket business

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A messy, inside shot of the rainbow blanket, so not the brightest outcome

And now, are you ready for the details? Here we go.

For the rainbow blanket:

The sunburst granny pattern worked on a 5mm hook, to make the puff stitches puffier and so I could wiggle my hook through them, using the following colours of Lincraft 8-ply cotton. In rainbow order – you  might recall, I cycled through a four-round ROYGBIV for each square and a white joining round in a five by seven layout:

Colour in rainbow Yarn colour and amount used
Red Red, 50g, dye lot 37706
Orange Orange, 50g, dye lot 37004
Yellow Yellow, 50g, dye lot 37705
Green Bottle green, 50g, dye lot 48612
Blue Aqua, 50g, dye lot 43807
Indigo Denim, 50g, dye lot 48610
Violet Lavender, 50g, dye lot 37708
White light (all colours combined) White, 150g, dye lots 46603 and 48403

 

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My actual matrix. Unscientific, but effective 😀

It’s true that I broached a second ball of yarn for most of the colours, but that was generally around considerations of potentially running out mid-round. Only one or two colours really required that second ball. Most of them were factually a little under the full 50g. As you know, I did run out of white but Dr B saved the day.

For the neutral palette blanket:

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Eight petal colours cycled six down then two at the top of the next row, and so on, so that no rows or columns were identical.

African Flower or paperweight pattern, and I used the first one I found on YouTube. I later checked several other tutorials, but preferred Parineko’s “octagon to square” method.

Another benefit of multiplication being commutative, and 24 being a multiple of three, four, six and eight, is that there are more layout options. Happily, I was able to keep tonally similar squares near each other. I checked that with Dr B, mind you, before I committed to the final layout, because his colour vision is a great deal more reliable than mine.

Worked on a 3.5mm hook to ensure a firm fabric. I used a variety of yarns, all 100% cotton. The colours I wanted weren’t available when I first looked and I hadn’t decided on a pattern. I wanted to make a start on the blanket because I was less able to join rainbow squares once the cooler weather hit. So, like anyone with an aged, well-curated stash, I tried to make do with what I had.

Lockdown then further dictated either what I was able to buy when I needed another outlining colour for the petals and/or where I was able to buy it. I’d originally thought about grey for the joining colour but was unable to purchase a sufficient quantity for that task. OK, then, not grey. I discarded the idea of cream/parchment because I thought it might make for a tonally flat result. But, as you know, I found a different joining colour: a mustard shade whose actual descriptor is coriander, which makes more sense if you think dried seeds.

  • Round 1 all squares (centre): butter (Lincraft)
  • Rounds 2 and 3 all squares: cream (Lincraft) or parchment (Bendigo Woollen Mills (BWM)) when the cream ran out and I was unable to source more
  • Round 4: three squares of each of these eight different colours
    • French rose (BWM yarn)
    • natural (Lincraft) – which I considered for joining
    • bright mustard/gold (Abbey Road kung fu cotton yarn, made in Italy for Spotlight; Lot 10)
    • dark olive green (Abbey Road kung fu cotton yarn, made in Italy for Spotlight; Lot 09)
    • hedge green (Lincraft)
    • Nile blue (Lincraft) – which I thought was dark jade, but was probably blue
    • periwinkle (Lincraft) – which I thought was a soft lilac, but was probably blue
    • clearwater (Lincraft) – which I thought was light jade, but was probably blue
  • Round 5 all squares: silver – which I read as grey and had originally intended to use for joining but didn’t have enough and couldn’t source more
  • Round 6 all squares: cream (Lincraft) or parchment (BWM), and another alternative for joining but I wanted greater contrast
  • Round 7 all squares, joining round: coriander (ficio Organic cotton yarn, made in India, purchased at Lincraft; Lot SC36-1 – which I read as a dark mustard and hadn’t considered for joining until it was all I could find in sufficient quantity and, as a matter of fact, fell in love with)
  • Border
    • Round 1: parchment (BWM)
    • Rounds 2 and 3: dark olive green (Abbey Road kung fu cotton yarn, made in Italy, purchased at Spotlight; Lot 09)
    • Round 4: bright mustard/gold (Abbey Road kung fu cotton yarn, made in Italy, purchased at Spotlight; Lot 10)

For the joining round on both blankets, I used Hooked by Robin‘s Solid TIGHT Continuous Join As You Go (CJAYG) PLT Method. I probably made more than a few errors but it worked and I liked the way it turned out. It may now be my preferred JAYG method.

Finally, I note that both blankets were made with much love for two new little cousins, and able to be discussed and displayed openly now that they’ve been presented to their intended recipients and their mums.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2020 in Crochet

 

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the big reveal

I’d intended to do a proper photo shoot of the little blankets. You know the sort of thing: clean, uncluttered background, good lighting, no funny angles. Yeah, of course you know.

Having said all that, when the opportunity for early in-person (via an intermediary) delivery unexpectedly presented itself, I was more than happy to shelve all those fancy plans and simply take relatively clear, relatively uncluttered photos with the best lighting I could manage so that the Little Girls could have their footy-match picnic blankets as soon as possible.

I pointed out to Middle Aunt when she collected them that there’ll be no other blanket within cooee that’s anything like either of these, so they should be easy to keep track of. The truth, of course, is that there’s not going to be another blanket anywhere in the world like either of these. Each is truly unique. In the highly unlikely event that someone else hits upon the same patterns and colour schemes, I’m sure the, uh, individual design features are entirely my own 😉

Without further ado, here are the photos.

Starburst granny rainbow blanket for Baby One, who turned out to be Baby Two:

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African flower neutrals blanket for Baby Two, who turned out to be Baby One:

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Posted by on July 8, 2020 in Crochet

 

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alone and unarmed

What I ended up buying. Whichever way you look at it, it’s not cream. Image from Lincraft’s webpage.

I recently visited our LYS myself, seeking cream-coloured yarn. When I eventually found the store – that part was probably harder for me than it had been for Dr B – I was overcome by remorse: I’d sent Dr B into that store all alone and (relatively) unarmed, and with neither executive power nor sufficient information to make on-the-fly decisions about substituting other yarns should the one I’d asked for be unavailable. Poor man 😀

He said there were no signs, which I’d doubted, and can now confirm is not true. However, I agree that they might not have been meaningful to him. Even I had to think a bit about where the particular yarn I wanted might be lurking, given that that’s not the bricks-and-mortar location I usually frequent. But the yarn stands were right near the door and not easily missed. Finding particular yarns was trickier.

As it turned out that the particular yarn I wanted had all sold, or not been restocked, I then had to decide what I could substitute. But, of course, I had a lot more information at my fingertips to assist with that decision: I could feel the yarn to test thickness. I could look at the colour. I could assess whether coriander – that sort of mustard-yellow in the photo – would work with what I had already done AND what I planned to do. Dr B could have felt and looked at the yarn, but minus the critical info as to my plans – and, you know, plans are plans but if you have to change them, they’re more like “I might do this” ideas – his hands were tied.

That he did come home with the white yarn was miraculous enough, I think!

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2020 in Crochet

 

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colours and corners

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One row to tidy the bumpy bits

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A second row to add a bit of weight

Multiplication is commutative. Therefore, it is a fact that the long side of a row of five, four-inch squares will be 20 inches AND the long side of a row of four, five-inch squares will also be 20 inches. That’s the top of the baby rugs. With me so far?

Now factor in the joining round. Those five, four-inch squares have become five, five-inch squares. The long side of that row is now 25 inches. Let’s say those four, five-inch squares are now six-inch squares. The long side of that row is now – yes. Quite. The answer is NOT 25 inches.

The long side of a row of seven, four-inch squares that make the rainbow blanket is 28 inches; and 35 inches with the joining rounds calculated in. The long side of a row of six, five-inch squares that make the flower blanket is 30 inches; and 36 inches with the joining rounds included in the calculation.

I note that I usually think and work in metric measurements, but my pegboard is old and, understandably, Imperial; hence the sudden return to the old system. Whichever numbers I used, my calculations indicated that the overall area was similar, although one would be longer and thinner than the other.

In practice, the rainbow blanket was worked more loosely to accommodate the puffiness of the pattern, so it has more give and turned out a shade larger than calculated. The African flower pattern is flatter, so the blanket worked to a firmer, denser fabric and was a shade smaller than calculated at completion of joining.

I had planned a three-round, tricoloured border for the rainbow blanket, but as soon as I worked that first round of red (UK) dc, I knew it didn’t need more colour than that. It also didn’t need a wide border, because there’s so much going on in the body of the blanket. I worked a round of red htr and finished off the ends.

With its body being less busy despite containing a greater number of colours, the African flower blanket could carry a wider border, and a mix of colours would not be out of place. I worked the tidying round in parchment dc, and one of olive green dc in the same direction. To help reduce fluttery edges, I then worked a round of olive green htr in the opposite direction. The final round of light-mustard htr clusters worked into alternate stitches in the original direction pulled the edges back nicely and provided a firm finish.

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Four rounds using three colours from the main palette

So that’s what I’ve been up to, giving myself headaches and having a good time.

How about you? 😀

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2020 in Crochet

 

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dowel pins, dowelling or chopsticks

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I made it work when I was able to spread out under the pergola. But it’s too cold for that now.

When I needed to block my granny squares, I went hunting in the shed. I’m a great believer in using what you have and I knew that Dr B had a stash of pegboard. He was happy to give me a sheet, so I cleaned it up then scratched my head in an effort to make it work! I wasn’t able to find any dowelling and ended up buying a pack of small dowel pins, for which we will undoubtedly find other uses.

As you can see, I padded the holes and made the dowel pins fit. Their height, or lack of it, was the truly limiting factor. The rainbow squares were – indeed, still are – puffy rather than flat. At that time of the year, I was able to spread out under the pergola. That I could only fit three squares per set wasn’t too much of a drama. I simply added another square to the board and away we went.

I admit I tried chopsticks, but couldn’t convince myself that they fitted well enough. Also, given that I could spread out, it wasn’t necessary to go higher. Times change, by which I mean that it’s now winter and cold and I’ve decided that I can pad the pegboard even more than I did for the dowels so that chopsticks DO fit!

I have now built myself a single-block tower using the straightest chopsticks from our collection – accumulated over many years – to give me height. They’re not wooden, so there’s no likelihood that the yarn will snag.

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It’s not perfect but it does the job, and I can use it to block all the squares for one blanket 😀

I’d seen someone else doing a neat trick with pegs, in that case providing some tension on the squares. I hunted in my peg bag (joint contributions, don’t you know) and found those pegs. They’re hopeless at the job for which they were intended, but they work well here in providing tension not on the squares, but on keeping the tower square.

Ah, improvisation. Don’t you love it?

 

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the idea of blue

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It’s amazing how little you can have to show at the end of a day without even one long meeting 😀

Restrictions on our movements are relaxing, and we are slowly returning to our offices. I am not relaxing at all with regard to my crochet. Having completed the rainbow blanket, I am now re-energised in terms of the neutrals. It really is mostly neutrals, and they are lovely. I thought that a round of colour in each square would help to define each petal without overwhelming the generally soft palette. Initially, I aimed for things not associated with current gender norms, but my dodgy colour vision has probably let me down.

You can imagine how it goes: what I think is lilac will probably turn out to be someone else’s idea of blue. What I think is pale jade will probably turn out to be someone else’s idea of blue. What I think is dark jade is probably going to be someone else’s idea of blue. So, in case all of that is true, I’m adding in a couple of colours that are unquestionably whatever they are. One is a yarn whose name is French rose, so when I say it’s pink, I’m not relying solely on my judgment of its appearance. It works beautifully with the cream and grey that are the dominant colours in each square. I’m trying to source some mustard yellow – which Dr B was unable to find – and wondering if I could possibly wind off another 50g of sage green and some berry, to make sure that at least some of the outline colours won’t be anyone’s idea of blue.

Does that sound ideal?

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2020 in Crochet

 

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man on a mission

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Auditing joining-round colour options for the next blanket 😉

When I ran out of yarn, I sent Dr B on a mercy mission to purchase more! He was looking for an excuse to take his motorbike for a run, so I asked if he could drop in to the LYS and pick up some more white for me. He was delighted to oblige. When he returned triumphant, he said he’d felt quite overwhelmed by the experience. I’d given him ball bands and clear instructions, but the present staffing levels arising from COVID-19 restrictions don’t allow personal assistance and he’d had No Idea what he was looking for (or where to look for it) in what is one of the larger stores. It’s a bit how I feel when they send me off on lunchtime errands to auto shops or bike shops (not something that happens often nowadays, but certainly did in the past), so I was generous with my thanks and praise.

I’ve crocheted through another couple of – shorter – work meetings to great effect, using the new yarn. The end is almost in sight, because what’s left now is the border. If push came to shove, I would call it finished as is: the squares are all joined together and, as they’re edged with white, there’s necessarily a white edge around the whole thing. I think it needs at least one more bordering round to tidy the corners that don’t meet as well as they could; but more likely three, to set it off nicely and reintroduce some colour, perhaps in a simple but decorative manner. So, when I’ve an hour or two to spare – and without doing all the joins, straight crochet around the edges of a baby blanket is a lovely, simple thing! – I can probably sort that out.

Meanwhile, when I can summon the concentration for trickier work, I’m doing quite nicely with the African flower squares. They’re very different and equally as lovely but work to a slightly larger finished size. This is somewhat headache-inducing in terms of calculating how large a blanket they will make in comparative terms, so that there’s a reasonably equitable outcome. I will soon need to make a decision about not only the number of them I require but also which joining method I intend to use. A variant of the one I used for the rainbow blanket is likely to come out the winner. I reckon I understand that method now, and it’s a good way to tidy up any dodgy edges. I found more of those than I’d expected in the rainbow squares. I knew about one in the first square I’d made but  – as you might expect in something made over such a long period of time – I discovered a couple of others that had escaped my attention. Ahem.

I also need to consider what joining colour to use, because – experience being a great teacher – I’ve realised that I absolutely don’t have enough of anything to do the joining round 😀

 

 
 

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now to neutral

 

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Layout established, all squares now blocking on my pegboard.

The rainbow hues are bright, and the fully completed squares are now blocking while I wait for some uninterrupted time to join them into their final format. The joining round will be white, and I intend to put some colour into the bordering rounds. I haven’t yet decided which colour or colours that will be.

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Another lovely pattern, but not quite so easy to remember

The neutrals are also lovely, but the pattern requires more concentration. Dr B will not leave me alone to work on them, so getting them made and joined is going to be a long job. It’s the same as ever: if I’m around, I’m fair game. And, as much as I enjoy discussing pivot notes and the harmonic ramifications of modulations to distant keys, they, too, need a fair amount of concentration. I can’t do both simultaneously without both suffering. When I’m being asked to make sensible comments about harmony, I can’t crochet something that requires strenuous counting.

But to keep it real, I’ve decided I’ll do two slightly different colour combinations that won’t tax my brain too much when it comes to settling on a layout.

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Second colour scheme. Edging round will be cream.

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Always the way, you only notice an error after you’ve made it! A better idea of how they’ll play together.

May all your mathematical and musical problems be less taxing than mine 😀

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2020 in Crochet

 

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virtually

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YoungB’s toes were once irresistibly tiny, too. Hard to believe how many years ago that was 🙂

About to celebrate YoungB’s birthday, and arranging to have an on-screen call with the rest of the family… these are trying times worldwide. Both YoungB and I are still at work, but unsure as to how much longer that will be the case. Other businesses and government departments have already implemented shutdown and work from home, where feasible. Retailers are reducing their trading hours and shopping centres are no longer crowded and bustling. But we are still out and about, whether or not we should be, and public transport is still being used by too many people.

To brighten the world, there’s another new baby cousin in the family. We’re not going to be able to visit to check out her toes, although I’m sure they’re every bit as tiny and irresistible as her cousin’s. In fact, as irresistible as any baby’s tiny toes, as the above photo illustrates. Yes, it’s blurry. The focal point was not on the toes; they’re a happy inclusion. If you could see those feet now!

I’m still working on the crocheted blankets. As I’ve said, they’re extras – likely to be christening gifts – but I am continuing to work on them. If we do go into shutdown, I might have more time to dedicate to the final rounds of both.

Wherever you are, I hope all is well with you and yours.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2020 in Family history

 

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three-fifths and a bit

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More squares to play with, and more than half-way done.

The rainbow blanket is now over halfway completed, in the sense that I have now completed three full stripes of seven, and a couple of squares from the next stripe. Yeah, nah, to the above layout; but I have many options to audit before I start on my white joining round. My present plan is to use white, because the colours of the rainbow combine to form white light. Logical, but perhaps not. I might decide that cream is a better choice, because it is warmer than white and will provide a softer contrast.

If I were to do this again, I would stick to doing multiples of the first square and leave it at that. Some of these colour combos I plain dislike! However, they’re sometimes the combos that others love, so there’s something for everyone, no matter what I think. I will be making another baby blanket for another baby, but not in rainbow colours, because the mum-to-be asked for neutrals. I’m likely to use a slightly different pattern because, although they have to be similar, they can’t be identical. This would also be a nice option.

The African flower square will exercise my brain initially, but it is essentially an easily-memorised pattern and beautifully clear in the video, making the whole endeavour less fraught when we talk commuting. The squares have to be something I can manage to hold during my daily commutes, or small enough for me to be able to pull out of my craft bag at lunchtime and do a round or two without major drama. That might mean the spiral granny is not such a good commute project, because it has far greater tangle potential.

Anyway, I need to finish the rainbow number first. Sunshine, showers and rainbows ensure that flowers grow. Yeah?

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2020 in Crochet

 

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