Wednesday, 7 March 2012

In the best Blue Peter tradition...

Hello there - thank you for stopping by! It's been a busy start to the month here with lots going on, but today I want to share with you one of the projects I was working on at the weekend.
As some of you know our first grandchild is due in May, which had seemed a long time away until the other day when I actually counted the weeks. Ten weeks 'til our daughter-in-law's due date. 10 weeks?? Oh help! There are a number of things I had planned to make before the baby's arrival & so far I have only started on one of them!
Back in January I had started making squares for a baby blanket. I had looked at a number of different blanket patterns but in the end decided to design my own using 4" squares. After making a few squares & looking at some more patterns I realised my first problem - 4" squares are fine for patchwork but an awful lot of the crochet patterns seem to use 6" squares, using 4" ones I would need 80 of them. Oh well there was plenty of time till May... Every so often I would do another couple & slowly the pile grew.
Well last week I realised I had better get a move on, so by Sunday I ended up with 52 of them done. I decided to have a play with the overall layout & have a "proper think" about how I might join them up. Except that before joining them there is apparently another step the patterns all refer to - blocking. This is the technique used to get all the pieces the correct size by wetting them or steaming them, pinning them to the size & shape you need, & letting them dry.  It doesn't sound too complicated once you have worked out which method to use. Uh oh problem number 2, the necessary information for deciding this should be on the yarn label apparently & a lot of the yarn in this project has come to me without labels. So it was back to the internet & more reading online to help me pick a method, now the only other thing I would need would be a blocking board to pin the squares on to. There are various instructions for making these online using plywood & quilters batting & other items I don't have so I "had a think". This is one of the things I really enjoy about crochet, you can have some quite productive "thinks" while your fingers are busy working away, especially when working up a simple 4" square! By Sunday afternoon it was time to put some ideas into action so I went up to the loft to root out my chosen materials.
Now I have a very hard time throwing anything away. I believe you can find another purpose for anything given enough time, & that there is an unwritten law stating that within a week of disposing of something I will find myself in a situation where that exact thing would have been perfect! Perhaps this is the legacy of too much Blue Peter, Tony Hart & other such TV programmes as a child?!Well the end result can be seen in our loft (!) but it has yielded up some great materials for various projects over the years. On Sunday I found a large sheet of polystirene & some checked fabric & headed back down the ladder to my craft area. On top of a self healing mat I cut the polystirene into a rectangle 24"x18" and then laid it on top of the fabric like this:
 I cut the fabric 32"x 26" so it was 4" bigger on each side than the polystirene. I used my omnigrid ruler & a craft knife to cut the polystirene & the omnigrid with a rotary cutter for cutting the fabric.
Originally bought as a quilting tool, the omnigrid ruler quickly became my number one crafting tool for just about any cutting job - the best £20 I ever spent - seriously! The grid means you can easily measure & cut parallel or at 90 degrees to an edge with either a rotary cutter or a knife, with a little bit of brainpower the other markings on it enable you to cut at just about any angle. Yes I really love my omnigrid :)
Well back to the project at hand. The fabric I looked out has 1" squares of green & white so starting with one of the shorter edges I lined the fabric up so that one of the squares in the fabric was right at the corner of the front of board. Keeping the squares straight along the edge I pushed in drawing pins:
I pulled the fabric taut & did the same on the other short edge & then the same on the two longer edges like so: 

Lying the board face down I ran a line of double sided tape down the short edge on the right hand side:
I folded the edge of the fabric over onto the back of the board, pulled it taut, & stuck it down on the tape. I repeated this on the remaining sides folding the corners in like so: 
 To secure the extra fabric at the corners I used a little bit of masking tape:
I repeated this for the other corners so that the back looked like this:
Turning it over the front looks like this:
 And there we go - one blocking board with an inch square grid for pinning out my squares! If you don't have old fabric handily checked in 1" squares you could use plain fabric & draw the grid on, of course you could make one in metric if that is your chosen measurement system.
All that was left to do was to start blocking, so I pinned out twelve squares, lining them up with the grid so they sat 4 inches square like this:
I held the board over the sink & sprayed the squares with cold water, patted them down & put them back on my desk to dry. Twelve down only another 68 to go! Oh well I'd better go get crocheting!


  1. I had a loft like that but had to empty it last summer when we sold the house. We had a garden sale and got rid of a whole lot of stuff. As the hous esale was in France and we're currently living in Slovakia, I let a lot of stuff go INCLUDING my cutting mats, omnigrids( I had 2 different sizes) and my cutting wheels with different blades. How I regret those items :( They weren't voluminous and in the end we would have had room for them in the car :( Now I have to find an internet source that will ship to the Slovak Republic!

    1. It's a nightmare to "tame" a loft like that, packing to move last time was awful so I sympathise! Well hindsight is 20/20 right? Then again I would end up with a "that can fit in the car" pile about twice the size of the available space! Good luck finding a website, I couldn't believe the price of omnigrids in the UK, maybe you can find a US based company that will ship to you?

  2. Helen you did a fantastic job explaining and with the pictures that is something that usually puts me off a craft is not having enough info for me to process, and you have done it perfectly!! Great job girl...and the squares are really neat!!

    1. Aww thanks Cathy ;) I'm a visual learner myself & find a lot of crafters are, we find it so much easier to follow instructions with pictures so that's what I'm aiming for... the squares are slowly multiplying lol!

  3. I suffer (?) from the same 'cannot throw anything away' affliction! Blue peter and Tony Hart have a lot to answer for! lol
    Happy crocheting!

    1. LOL! Glad I don't "suffer" alone ;) hope you have a great week!

  4. What a great way to do your blocking! Those squares look fab. Laura x

  5. Ooo get you, all creative! That's a great idea though, yes Tony Hart was my favourite, not much of a Blue Peter fan though. Well done on getting so many blocks finished you're almost there :-)

    Lori xxx

    1. LOL! Thank you, yes I really feel I'm winning now :) Have a great week!
      Helen xxx


Thank you for your message - I love hearing your comments & ideas!