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baby blanket business

Which-way filet, in (mostly) 8-ply cotton yarn.

I helped friends celebrate their wedding, back when it was possible to do those things with a degree of carefree abandon that we might not see again for a long while. They now have a baby daughter, and I have made her a pram rug using the which-way filet pattern. What with one thing and another – loss of enthusiasm, making mistakes and having to unpick, and all the usual business of life – it has taken me a little while to finish it and I am still not sure when I’ll be able to deliver it.

I used a 4.00 mm crochet hook and a mix of yarns: mostly BWM 8-ply cotton yarn in shade 807 Peach, and some white Lincraft cotton yarn left over from the rainbow blanket. That was also 8-ply. Because I didn’t have enough of anything to keep one colour scheme I worked the last rounds of the border with white BWM 10-ply cotton yarn. I can’t tell the difference, even when I look closely, so I’m sure the baby in question won’t be upset about the mix-and-match nature of the article in question.

Simple border, to provide a tidy finish

The border was a very simple one, whose detail now escapes my memory! Inspection suggests it was a row of UK DC into every stitch of the final pattern round, so that I would have a tidy edge from which to do a narrow finishing round. That finishing round was a two-stitch half-treble cluster all the way around. I kept the corners plain, so that I didn’t get too tangled up. Finished size is about 72 cm / 28 ins square.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2021 in Crochet

 

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day of decision

Bright colour to cheer the grey days

Most of the world awaits the 3 November election outcome of a foreign power with bated breath. At least, that’s how it seems.

Here? My return to the office has been officially confirmed for 2 November. The fallout from that is of far more immediate concern in this little corner of the globe. By way of practising with noise and crowds and stress, we do the occasional jaunt into the CBD for small gatherings. I acknowledge that we are extremely fortunate to be able to have those. If push came to shove, I’d rather stroll in my garden and pull out a few weeds!

As with many things in life, options are limited in spite of generalisations that might be made about there always being a choice. Over-simplification is rarely a helpful thing. Life is complex. I suppose if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that simple things hold greater value than we often allocate to them but that they are underpinned by complex systems. As a public servant, I’m part of a large underpinning system that helps a lot of people.

However, I am making a concerted effort to get back to things other than paid work. I’m crocheting a rug for a friend’s granddaughter, who arrived a little earlier than scheduled. In spite of our relaxing restrictions, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to deliver that. So you might not be surprised to hear that, although I’m using the wondrously rapid which-way filet pattern, I’ve come to a grinding halt. The 8-ply cotton yarn is from my favourite supplier, in a soft peach tone. I’m using a 4mm hook. It looks lovely.

By way of immediate needs, YoungB has needed a few rescue jobs: hole-patching on his long-sleeved cycling jersey and short bib-knicks after a recent fall (already done by hand and the clobber back in action); adjusting shoulder straps on another pair of bib-knicks so that they don’t sag quite so much (in the waiting pile); and taking up hems on his suit pants, which are now too long because he’s slimmed down. Fine. I can do that (they’re in progress but well on the way to completion).

I can also make a little scarf for him to wear with the suit for a Very Important forthcoming function, and I will. On Saturday, he and I shopped for fabric so he could choose the colour. It’s not going to be a particularly fancy scarf, but as he’ll be one of the MCs for the evening, he wants to make an extra effort. I’m happy to oblige. Somewhat surprisingly, Dr B approved of both our fabric and colour choices.

The test now will be whether I can pull off the actual sewing. I’ve found some suitable thread. It’s all straight seams, and the difficulty level of the fabrics involved isn’t high. But it’s a while since I did any sewing. We’ll see.

Whatever you’re doing with your time, may it include the satisfaction of small accomplishments to counterbalance global upheaval 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2020 in Crochet, Cycling, Health, Musing, Sewing

 

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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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happy haiku

Yesterday I met up with some friends whom I last saw in January. I’m sure you’ll believe me when I say that we had much to discuss. Another of the group is a serious writer, better able to dedicate herself to writing, now that she’s retired. At one point, we were chatting about the challenges presented by various literary forms. We agreed that haikus are hard work, even in English.

I wrote this off the cuff for a Lockdown Creative Writing Group to which I contribute somewhat sporadically. There’s no seasonal reference as in a traditional haiku, but the syllable count is correct. Perhaps that’s enough of an achievement.

As I’ve demonstrated at length on this blog, my creativity has lately been channelled elsewhere. I explained that to the group rather than simply launch into a haiku that I knew didn’t meet the writing brief. I also shared photos of the two new blankets, so that both my “creating in another medium” and my poem might make more sense to other group members:

I chose their colours with care
Without knowing then
How well they would suit them both.
 

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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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