I am bringing all of my superlatives with me to this blog post about the biggest, best and most original blanket I have ever made. It’s the brightest and the most colourful and I am the mostest proudest of it out of anything I’ve ever made.
When I set about making a blanket, my first question is “Stripes or squares?” and then “join as you go/join later for squares”, or “ripple/corner to corner/straight” for stripes. This time I couldn’t decide between the two. Luckily my children both give me the gift of a lot of time to be awake and think about things during the night and it hit me: BOTH. Squares made out of stripes! Yes! It may have been the 3am talking but YES, I wanted this! Squares made out of stripes and then set at a 90 degree angle to each other. And it needs to be BIG to show this off, otherwise it will look rubbish. Naturally as many colours as I can, but this time I wanted deep, bright, rich, warm and almost opulent.
The starts of blankets are often fairly uninspiring and this is usually the point where I start to doubt the finished picture I’m holding in my head. I always find that
random blankets with unplanned colour order and placement look a bit iffy to start with but as I push on with it and get a broader range of squares then it looks better and less clunky.
All my work in progress photos are crap, just to let you know. Iphone photos in tungsten light (can I call it tungsten light with these new lightbulbs? I dunno. But you know what I mean.) in the winter months always look rubbish but LOOK you can see the general idea of how the squares go together. Good stuff.
The size of each square is what I like to think of as a Manageable Square. This means I can, on an average-good day, complete one square, if I plan the colours right and get the washing up done pretty quickly. It helps to do the foundation chain and the first row the night before, then the seven remaining stripes throughout the day, sew in the ends in the evening and then repeat the process.
I was given a nice little project bag for Christmas (thank you Secret Santa) and it was useful to plan my colours for one square and then carry them about in that bag. It’s amazing how much you can get done if you just do a bit here and there throughout the day: on a play date when TTG was occupied, while I sit and supervise bathtime, standing in the kitchen keeping an eye on cooking dinner. Then the rest stripes while we watched “Mad Men” in the evening. (Side note: Oh my goodness I loved Mad Men so much! I realise I am several years late to this particular party but it was just brilliant and we binge watched the whole 7 series – this is one of the contributing factors to my lack of blogging output because instead of blogging I was making this blanket and watching Mad Men. If you haven’t seen it, WATCH IT, and if you have, well done, you clearly have excellent taste.)
Where was I? Oh yes, squares made out of stripes. The more I made, the better they looked at the more I loved them.
(This is weird because I’m wearing that same dress and those same socks right now as I type this.)
Towards the end of January we went to stay with my mum (during this time, which feels like a million years ago now) and I had most of a day just sitting and crocheting on the sofa while the children played with my family. Bliss. Productive bliss and I got ahead of my “make one square a day” plan. Ah yes, I had this all planned out and it would be perfectly timed and scheduled and all would be well.
I sewed in ends on the train on the way to the Women’s March on Shipley, which is a rather satisfying memory to have woven into the blanket – did you see what I did there? (Another contributing factor in my lack of blogging is from being jaw-droppingly horrified at the state of the whole flipping world lately. Oh look, I brought my hyperbole along with my superlatives. But seriously.)
The squares began to stack up nicely and I was so pleased with them! They looked just how I wanted them to and I was on track to finish.
Then life got in the way a bit, or rather, the end of life. My Grandma passed away at the start of February, which was rather inconvenient as it threw my blanket making schedule right off. Yeah. I don’t really know how to tell you all about my Grandma, so I’m just going to leave that there with an inappropriately glib comment to distract myself from how much I miss her and how sad I am. I am pleased that she saw this blanket in progress though, I took the squares over to show her on our January visit.
Let’s move on; this is not the right time for being sad.
It’s time to talk about the joining. Actually the joining makes me feel a little sad!
I made all the squares without really thinking about how to join them, other than “How hard can it be to attach things together with slip stitches? Exactly.” and I maybe should’ve done some practice squares and worked out the best way of joining them before I just let myself loose on these ones. I remember it well; it was three days after Grandma had died, we were still at my mum’s house and I had spread them out on the floor. The children had been sleeping awfully and Jamie Oliver and some bloke called Jimmy were prancing about on the telly making something pointless like a smoker from barrels or something. I was determined that I was going to join the damned things and get something done so I just went for it, and crocheted two of them together in a functional but not terribly satisfying way.
I did as many as I could and it wasn’t great fun and I got fed up of it and left it alone for a week or two, maybe three actually now I think about it properly, until I felt like it again. I found a better way of doing it, by holding the striped side towards me instead of the horizontal stripe towards me, and it worked much better.
The back of the blanket has slight ridges where it’s joined, but it looks great from the front and the back isn’t really unattractive or anything, it’s just … joined. I used the colour of the horizontal stripe and slip stitched along, making sure to stretch both squares out to the same length as I was working, and frequently check to make sure that none of the vertical stripes had bunched up or spread out too much, and to make sure that I had enough space to get to the end evenly. My rows were 60 stitches long, but I had 8 stripes of 4 rows and it didn’t divide up equally to make it easy, but it was “kind of about 6ish” stitches for each stripe. And a bit of easing it into place.
And then finally, one glorious day, IT WAS ALL JOINED UP! Oh just look at that. I love this photo. It’s so big that I had to tidy the whole of my lounge and stand on the bathroom stool to get it all in my camera, and you can see that parts of it are a bit in the shade because the light from the window didn’t reach all of it perfectly.
Ok I tidied nearly all of the lounge, but not that bit by the door as I didn’t think it would get in the shot.
Keep looking at it, because it’s amazing isn’t it. I find it hard to stop looking at these photos! That’s not humble or modest but I don’t care because I think it’s brilliant and I can’t believe that it came out of my head and was made by my fingers and one hook. MAGIC.
But it wasn’t finished. It needed a border to contain all of that riotous colour.
Fancy borders aren’t my strong point. I don’t like frilly, I don’t like twee, I don’t like counting and I don’t like changing colours. I DO like a border to say “This blanket may now be regarded as complete”. I had decided early on that I wanted the border to be very wide, so that it would frame the blanket without being dominated by it, and I think I have achieved that here with a blanket and border that are equal to each other in terms of strength.
I did one round of HTR stitches, worked into every second stitch along the long stripes, and then in little clusters of two into the end of each row on the other stripes. There’s a bit of winging it and hoping for the best when moving from one square to the next, but let’s just call it “homemade” rather than an exact science and I’m sure everyone will be ok with it. Then I did either seven or eight (can’t remember) rounds of TR (all UK terms). I was going to do ten but I lost interest – I wish I’d had a box set as good as Mad Men to watch while I made the border! It’s so big that it was taking me more than one evening to do just one round.
Totally worth it though:
Here we go. All finished. I’m so pleased with it, and so proud of it, and it is just how it looked like in my head but even better.
And don’t laugh at my but I finally worked out how to get the aperture right so that it’s sharp even when it’s viewed full size. Well done me. (Not pictured: pesky children who can’t resist getting in the way of blankets and cameras and mummy standing precariously.)
Do you love it? I really do.
Back in my earlier days of blogging and crocheting, I shared photos of my works in progress and my thoughts on how I’d chosen colours and patterns and things like that. But now, all of my friends know about my blog and my instagram and when I’m making things for friends I have to keep things a bit more secret in case I spoil the surprise.
Sometimes people can’t quite believe that I make things to give away, instead of keeping them. It is a lot of work to put into something, after all. But really, making a blanket as a gift for a friend brings me optimum crocheting happiness. Yes, it’s a lot of work to put into something, but it is worth it, and I get to spend every time I crochet on it thinking happy thoughts about the person I’m making for. I am very, very lucky to have such brilliant friends and I am a far better person for their presence and influence in my life. I can’t think of a better use of my crocheting time than to make blankets for my friends. I’d love to make one for each of my friends even if it takes me forever! When I gave Jenna and Beth their blanket last year, it made me feel so happy.
So, Happy Late Birthday Nina, maybe one year I’ll get your birthday present to you on time!
Vague Instructions on “How to make your own Epic Blanket of Magnificence and Amazingness”:
1. Make a foundation chain of 62, and then make a TR stitch in the 3rd stitch from the hook, and in all the rest as well. IMPORTANT NOTE: work in ONE LOOP ONLY to make it easier to join. (Just for the foundation chains. Work in both loops everywhere else.)
2. Turn your work and then chain 3, and work 1TR in the top of each stitch. Except the first one of course, as your ch3 is sitting above that one and it counts as a TR.
3. Keep going back and forth. Each stripe is 4 rows thick. Tie off that colour and join your next colour. I’m sure you know how to crochet in straight rows and this feels a little patronising to tell you how to do that.
4. Basically my squares are 60 stitches wide and 8 stripes tall – each stripe is 4 rows. BUT I did mine to these measurements because that’s how much it took to get it looking square and your tension will/may vary so I suggest just having a go and seeing how many stitches and rows you need to make yours square. Give it a go – the worst that’ll happen is that you need to try again, right?
5. Make 25 squares and arrange them how you like, and then crochet them together haphazardly with slip stitches – not too tight or it will pucker.
6. Sew in all those effing ends.
7. Add a border.
Ok so I suppose that’s a bit of a cop-out, but I don’t think it warrants a tutorial as it’s just straight rows of crochet set at an angle and then sewn together and I’m sure you can do that.
- Cloud Blue
- Storm Blue
- Fuchsia Purple
- Duck Egg
This was a stash busting blanket for me. It’s just not practical or financially viable to start every blanket from a brand new set of balls of yarn. It’s wasteful and I’ve accrued quite a lot of half used balls of yarn that needed to be used up. I am sorry if this makes it hard to know how much to buy, but I have a sort of solution to that which was weighing the stripes:
I weighed the first stripe, so that included the foundation chain yarn, and it weighed 8g so in theory you should be able to get 12 stripes out of one ball of yarn. I started with one full ball of Magenta, and managed to get 13 stripes (a combination of stripes that included the foundation chain, and those that did not) out of it.
There are 25 squares of 8 stripes in the blanket, which is 200 stripes, or 1600g, so you could use 16 balls of yarn and make the body of the blanket. I think I used 3 balls of yarn for the border, but then again it could’ve been 4 as I did zone out a fair bit while I was making that. I have no balls of Fuchsia Purple left as far as I can see so maybe it was 4. Maybe just buy 4 to be on the safe side and if you don’t need the 4th one, then use it to start your next blanket! If you buy via my affiliate link I will get commission, which is nice for me but if you object to me getting commission from the yarn you buy, then definitely don’t follow any links, like this one, in this post.
There we go. The bestest, most amazing thing that I have ever made. Full of all sorts of memories, and a whole TV series about John Hamm as well.