Thursday, 9 May 2013

Crochet journey

Hello there!
Today I have been busy out in the garden, finally some lovely weather after a Bank Holiday weekend where it felt like we'd stepped back to February - grey, pouring rain, windy, cold, & thoroughly miserable out there! There is so much to do outside after this prolonged winter, boy this one did not want to give up & my brave little crocuses & daffodils really took a battering! It is nice to feel some warmth in the sunshine & see your shadow as you work, the cats thoroughly approve too! I know the start of hours spent outside will see a decrease in productivity on the crafting front, but maybe it will give me a chance to get you all caught up with what I've been up to over the past few months!
A long time ago, way back here in fact, I showed you some crochet hexagons I had started making with some lovely cotton yarn. I planned to make them into a bath mat but had realized part way in that I didn't have anything like enough yarn to complete this (which as I had bought the yarn on our last trip Stateside was a bit of a problem...). Internet to the rescue! I discovered Rico's Creative Cotton (aran) which is available in a lovely array of shades from a variety of uk sellers (for example here). I ordered some & couldn't wait to give it a try when it arrived. The colors where just as vibrant as I had hoped but I must admit I was rather disappointed once I began working with it. It was just so splitty, it seemed to reach out & grab my hook as I worked each stitch - uggghhh! it was hard going!!! I was having a lot more fun with some of the other projects I was into at the time & so this one got kinda sidelined.
It sat untouched in it's plastic carrier bag for months. Then after I finished the baby blanket & the crochet bag I decided I really should be good & finish the hexagons off before I started on my next big blanket. I discovered I had actually made more hexagons than I had thought so in the end it didn't take that many evenings to finish them off & work a simple edging round them...
YAY! Finally!!! One completed bathmat!!!
So once this was ticked off the list I could make a start on my new blanket *big contented sigh* :-)
Do you remember back here when I showed you a box of yarn I had gathered for a new blanket? Have you been wondering what ever happened to that? Well I started a granny stripe with it :-) Another project from Attic 24 that I have been longing to start for a while (you can find the pattern here). I decided to try a different method to pick the colors for this than I have used for previous blankets. I wanted about seventeen colors altogether and I wanted a balance of light, medium, and darker shades so this would give me roughly six colors in those three groups. I also wanted a balance between red/purple (warm) colors & blue/green (cool) colors so I chose these eight colors from the first group...
...and these nine colors from the second...
I really wasn't totally convinced about using the cream, but when I put all the colors together it seemed to need to be in there with the rest of them. I thought I would try it and see how it looked, I could always pull it out if I didn't like it. So here are the seventeen colors I ended up with...
 
Most of these colors I pulled from my stash and most are Sirdar Hayfield Bonus DK as I can get that easily locally, four of them are Woolcraft New Fashion DK, and three of them are Stylecraft Special DK which I bought from here. I have heard a lot about the Stylecraft yarn but have never come across it in an actual shop so I was looking forward to finally seeing/feeling it in the flesh! In the same parcel I had also ordered a new crochet hook.
When I started crocheting I bought a secondhand set of basic aluminium hooks from a lady on ebay (now when I say a set, there was one in each common UK size but they were far from a matching set!) Most of them were perfectly fine but the 4mm one was different from the rest & I found it pretty uncomfortable to use. I read this article about different types of hooks (which explained why I didn't get on well with the one bamboo hook I bought for taking on the airplane the other summer) but with a very limited choice available locally to see I still wasn't too sure which one to go for. After much deliberation I decided to go for this... 
... a KnitPro Soft Grip hook. I was not disappointed when my parcel arrived - this must be about the best £1.99 I have spent on a craft tool in ages!!!!! I love this hook!!!! It is very light, beautifully balanced, & a true joy to work with :-) Now I know crochet hooks are a very personal choice (as the article says we are all different & that is why there are so many different ones out there!) but if you like the non-inline style hooks (like Boye) & are looking for a new hook then I think you will get on very nicely with this.
Well now I had my new hook & all my chosen colors I could begin on my new blanket. A granny stripe is one of those blankets that begins with a long foundation chain that you have to work all the way back down crocheting into every chain. This is not my favorite job. I try and make my chain not too tight but I also want to keep it even & not too loose so as to have a nice edge for working the blanket border into later on. Just before Christmas I discovered a new way to start a project like this using a stitch called the Foundation Single Crochet or FSC (sometimes called the No-Chain Foundation Single Crochet). If you haven't come across it before there is a great video tutorial for it here. Basically when you work this stitch you are making the foundation chain and that annoying single (double in English terms) crochet into it in one move. The little bit of time it takes to get this stitch under your belt is more than worth it! No more crocheting into that wiggly chain, no more ripping out a row because of one too many or one too few chains, and the resulting edge is more even too! Oh, and if you fall in love with this stitch there is also a Foundation Double Crochet (treble in English terms) for those projects that start with a dc (tr) into that initial chain (tutorial video here, don't say I'm not good to you!). 
So I used the FSC to start my granny stripe blanket...

Now this new creature of mine is a big blanket. At 82" wide it will be my companion for many months as I slowly work my way down each stripe & back up again. But that is just fine. It's not a race, there is no deadline.
 Bit by bit it is growing... 
...it will be finished when it's finished...

... this one is all about the journey.
With the weather continuing to be unseasonably cold I have really been enjoying getting comfy under this of an evening and adding a few more stripes! Right now I am eleven stripes past where I reckon the middle will be...
That really doesn't look possible that that is over half the blanket, but each stripe is one inch tall so I figure 36 stripes (3ft) must be around half way up? I guess it's just because it is so wide, well when I hit that 72nd stripe I will see how it looks (it will be getting a border added too). This kind of "mindless" crochet is a great accompaniment to TV programs you need to actually watch a bit more ( a lot of times I follow programs by listening more than watching) or for picking up on an evening when I am too tired to have to concentrate much on something. I guess the fact that I'm this far along this blanket in just over two months points to how many of those nights there have been! 
Thank you for stopping by today, I hope that you have been enjoying some sunshine where ever you are at and that the rest of your week will be a happy & productive one :-) 



6 comments:

  1. All that yarn snuggled up together looks great! Lovely colour choices and the blanket looks great. Thanks for the links for the crochet techniques....I'm off to check them out!

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    1. Thanks Rhona! Hope you find them helpful, how is your blanket going? Have a great weekend,
      Helen

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  2. Great blanket, the colours choice is great!

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    1. Thank you! Hope you have a lovely weekend,
      Helen

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  3. Very nice! I love the granny stripes and the bath mat looks very nice indeed.
    xox

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    1. Thanks Steph! It's hard to go wrong with a granny ;-) xox

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