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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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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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it only takes a couple extra efforts

Definitely going to need another ball of yarn. The big one at the back doesn’t match.

Yesterday’s “short, sharp and shiny” meetings – we’re usually very good at ensuring that they are – were long, blunt and quite dull. There was a lot of important information, but because of my not having any workplace equipment at home, I could zone out during that part. I did; to the extent that I managed to finish attaching another row of my blanket.

I did more of it last night, very dedicatedly shutting myself away from the boys and the TV to keep up with the joining.

Today it was computer outages that allowed me a bit of extra hooking time. And, you’re right, if I’d thought about it soon enough, I could have used my slightly-too-thick white yarn to do the lot, and nobody would have noticed. I didn’t think about that as a solution until much, much too late. So, you know, bother, and a trip to the LYS has become a necessity. But I am very pleased with how the blanket is looking and the speed with which it is now progressing.

Details at some later date, but in the meantime… I’m off to be a hooker 🙂

 

 
 

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stuck here for a bit

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I have completed a bit more since joining my new yarn

As you can see, the blanket-making is showing good progress, but Life pressing in with its usual urgency means I’m now going to struggle to find large chunks of time that aren’t circumscribed by employment necessities.

YoungB will be back at his office from tomorrow, hence today is a little less casual and cosy than it could be as we get the last bits and pieces sorted out. He took his equipment back yesterday and plans to ride his pushbike tomorrow so that he doesn’t lose the benefit of any lockdown fitness gains, or squander money on a bus fare when he could choose a cheaper option. Really, Adelaide’s bus fares are not as exorbitant as he thinks, but they are a consideration when you’re trying to be careful of both your money and the planet. Later on, he’ll do a cook-up.

My office starts a staged return the following Monday, whatever that means in real terms. I have no departmental equipment so I might be one of the first to return because I can simply go to my desk, stoke up and start working. Or, because I don’t have any departmental equipment, I might be one of the last so that I can continue to be productive at home while everyone else gets IT issues sorted out amid considerable noise and disruption. It won’t be seamless, but our local corporate team is excellent, so it will certainly be as smooth as possible. As I’ve said before, I’ll simply do as I’m told.

Given that our “new normal” probably means future WFH is likely to be approved for folk not sick enough to stop working but potentially carrying a contagion – if, for example, you have a cough that is probably harmless but might not be; and nobody would want to risk the latter – I will buy another ergonomic mouse this week, so that I have one at home and one at work. Just in case. Also, flu season is on its way.

I’ve already done a reasonable amount of joining work on the blanket: by now seven squares are fully enclosed. However, there are 35 squares in total. As you can see, some are already partially enclosed but I don’t think I could claim I’m truly at the halfway mark and I’ve had to start my second ball of white cotton yarn. Considering all of that, I might also make a mercy dash to my LYS to purchase another one. I can’t imagine how cranky I’d be if I ran out half a square from the end! As it’s white, it would always be useful for something.

I pause to note that my stash contains a 200g ball of white cotton yarn that would have given me ample wiggle room; but it’s the wrong thickness and noticeably different.

May all your existing yarn be precisely adequate for your needs 😀

 

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bewilderingly different

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How amazing! It looks just like the picture. Oh, wait. It should. Right? I’ve now finished that dangling row and the fourth is almost at that stage.

Via one of those circuitous routes for which www is (in)famous, I’ve spent a few hours listening to some wondrous renditions of folk music. It wasn’t traditional in the sense of being hundreds of years old with more versions than you’ve had hot dinners, but it dated from the 1970s, so that’s probably traditional enough for most of us, and with enough versions to invite good comparative analysis (which, you’ll be relieved to hear, I won’t be entering into).

I started out with the latest post from one of my favourite knitting blogs, among whose comments was a mention of some lyrics from When Yellow’s on the Broom. That caught my attention because it wasn’t a song I knew. Off I scurried to look it up on YouTube. As you do. Right? I clicked the first I found, and I was hooked. It intrigued me enough that I chose to listen to several other versions and seek the lyrics (which you can find here or here – that one is an odd location but has chords if you’re at all tempted – or in a slightly more readable and informative version here).

Because I was otherwise occupied, I let autoplay take over. Via the Fields of Athenry – again, there are many recorded versions – and a few other unexpected delights, I ended up listening to a version of Eric Bogle‘s And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda. There are many recordings of Eric singing it, too, but I like this one where Eric is older and has unapologetically changed – without oversimplifying – the melodic line to accommodate his older voice.

The version that autoplay happened upon was totally bewildering. I think it’s fair to say we’d all have our own favourite singers and styles. Many would argue that anyone can sing, and anyone can sing anything they want to, if they can. Yeah, I know. I spent many years as a community musician, so I genuinely appreciate the value of encouraging everyone to join in.

To hear what is essentially a folksong sung by an operatic baritone was… unsettling. It wasn’t bad or unintelligent, and he does have a lovely, smooth voice. He has a couple of lazy habits that made me want to smack him – oh, all right, maybe just pull him up sharply in rehearsals and tell him to be more careful. I discussed it with Dr B, because I was struggling with the level of my own discomfiture. The singer’s mix of operatic technique and careful pronunciation with occasional deliberately careless pronunciation or mispronunciation and a few spots where he couldn’t quite make up his mind how many syllables he was going to use (but wasn’t consistent about that), plus the oversimplification of the melodic line (which might have been the arranger’s doing; I’m not necessarily blaming him for that)… the doc and I agreed it didn’t work. Sorry, Nathan. I think it would be a treat to listen to your operatic offerings but, yeah, nah. Leave the folksongs alone, mate.

Someone is going to point out, I dare say, that he’s probably ahead of his time: the day will come when that folksong is only ever heard in quasi-sacred settings in concert halls, and accompanied by an orchestra. After all, someone will say, Gaudeamus igitur began life as a student drinking song. It’s now a fairly serious anthem that gets dragged out for graduations and demands respect. Uuh, yeah. Yeah, I know. I do. I know.

Although I didn’t intend my comment about being hooked as a pun, it’s appropriate because I was, in fact, hooking all the while. I’m now almost halfway through joining the rainbow squares, after weeks of being unable to do much at all (for various reasons, not all Covid-related). I found a method of JAYG that I liked better than the one I originally looked at, which would be quick but leave gaps I’d prefer to avoid. It took me a while to find something else that I thought I would be able to do. I looked at this one, and liked it but decided that I would struggle to make it work with my squares. Someone more experienced could doubtless work it out; but there are days I sadly remind myself I’m first and foremost a knitter!

I dismissed this for similar reasons, and because I didn’t like the end result quite as much. I finally decided that I could make this method work, despite it being also intended for solid squares. Coming from underneath was the trick that sold me on it: you get a nice finish on both top and bottom. Oh, yes, you’re quite right, I could have simply used a (UK) double crochet seam, but that would have given me a ridge. I’m not in the camp that likes ridges. I prefer the join to be a smooth as possible.

My concern now, however, is whether I actually have enough white yarn to finish the job! Bewilderingly, I appear to be running out 😀

 

 

 
 

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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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