Oh how long I’ve waited to be able to this..
Welcome to the Big Blanket Reveal, where I can finally show you all some of the biggest projects of the year. Be prepared for lots of badly taken photos…
So going along with my money saving handmade Christmas theme, I decided it would be a good idea (not to mention a nice thing to do) to make some baby blankets for not one, but two expectant mothers. I had a bit of financial panic when I realised they were both due just before Christmas. They’re quiet close to us too so I knew we wouldn’t be able to get away with just any meagre gift. I started planning. In August. Safe to say they’ve been going on a while. Himself did tentatively ask whether I was taking on too much, knowing that I was planning to make lots of Christmas presents. It’ll be fine, says I. Plenty of time. 3 and bit months on and we finally saw our second Mamma to be last night to hand it over. They’ve come everywhere with me (the blankets not the mothers). Back and forth to work on the train 6 times a week for 3 months, to Hastings, to visit my Nan while she was in hospital for a couple of weeks and practically every car journey. As you can imagine there was a strange dissonance handing them over. Was I devastated that I’d spent so long making something to give it away? Or was I joyous that I was finally rid of them? Both of them I think.
I decided to go for a simple granny square. You can’t go wrong with a granny square can you? These are my first blankets designed for babies so had to try really hard not to do my usual thing of making it bigger. I tried to keep it small but it ended up being bigger than expected once I’d blocked it. I decided on a 6 x 6 square with 8 rounds. I did a mock up and a square came to 6’’.
When I was initially planning them, we weren’t sure whether they were having boys or girls so neutrals all the way. I love a baby in green. I also loved the stone and the yellow together. There was also the customary trip to our local yarn/wine/food shop to put some balls together to see what worked. I originally wanted to use a lighter and darker green and the same for the yellow, but the stone just worked so well with everything and the darker colours seemed a bit too dramatic for a baby blanket. Look at those yarn packs.. As any sensible yarn shopper knows, it’s better to make your order up to the £25 free postage amount than to actually pay the postage. The hardships..
I’m not sure how much yarn I used in the end as I just kept buying what I needed, when I needed it, always needing more cream and stone. I hate giving things that are unmaintainable, so I purposely used a yarn that was hard wearing and would wash well. Luckily our old friends at Stylecraft can oblige. My rounds consisted of: 1 row stone, 2 rows cream, 2 rows spring green/lemon, 2 cream again and a stone to finish. I also needed extra for the join in stone and a bit in each colour for the border. More on that later. As always, I used excel to check my dimensions to make sure that everything would be evenly spaced.
With all my supplies and my trusty 4mm at the ready, I began. I tend to want to regiment, organise and generally make things into an assembly line, so having 72 rounds of 8 to do worked well for this. Again being big on efficiency, I started to take the easiest to carry with me on the train meaning less yarn to take etc.
As normal, I had lots of trials. Chain 2 or 3 for the corners? Chain 1 or nothing for the join? It all needed to be decided, especially as I couldn’t get them to sit flat! In the end I decided on a 1 ch in the middle with 2 for the corners – little did I know but this worked well for the join.
It was ever so satisfying making all these little middle rounds. I think it was at this point where I really got addicted. Lovely to have them work up so quick. Obviously I had to start a game where I tried to beat my record for how many I could do on a journey. I’m sure at one point I even started hoping for the train to break down.
They quickly started growing..
And growing some more.
At this point I realised that I might need to start planning the Christmas and birthday presents like this blackwork piece. Nevertheless I still kept ploughing on, crocheting on journeys, weaving the dreaded ends at home. Oh how I hate ends.
Next I needed to think about blocking. I’d never blocked anything before and it scared me. I researched the best ways for blocking acrylic and while everyone said different things, I eventually went for steam blocking. Boards and pins were hastily acquired. Again production line style, so while I was waiting for some to dry I was frantically weaving in ends and sometimes having to finish them first so they could be blocked at the next appropriate time. Only have 2 boards and 1 set of pins I could only manage 3 at a time. Hugely delighted though when I realised that I could use the same pins to make them go further and fit the 3 on the boards. How lovely they were when they were all flat and floppy. They really started to look somewhat professional and not just like id been playing around with no real sense of what I was doing. Maybe it’s just my low self-esteem, but I never really feel like anything I’ve created is that professional, so it was nice to have them transformed before my eyes.
Now for the join. I deliberated long and hard over the join. I wanted it to be completely flat with no ‘ridge’ at the back. I don’t know why, it just didn’t seem appealing to me. Imperfect almost. I also looked at the join-as-you-go methods. Again something wasn’t quite right with them. Searching for flat joins, I came across the flat slip stitch join. Marvellous I thought. Job done. Until I came to sit down to do it. Table cleared, squares in place, Himself asleep on the sofa so no distractions, relaxing music playing to inspire me. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t work it out. My first go ended up not quite straight. Of course my OCD couldn’t handle that. Start again. But every time I tried to redo it it came out more wonky.
After much frustration I consulted the oracle that is Mrs Acrosstheroad. I knew she’d sort me out. And bless her she did. As always, my saviour. I ventured back across the road and sat down with renewed enthusiasm. I’m so glad I persevered. While the first join took much longer, I eventually got down to an hour a side. And it was so enjoyable. Once I knew what I was doing obviously. And most importantly it produced a lovely flat join.
This is the join from the back. Looks like a knit stitch. But again wonderful that it was now a multi sided blanket and not just good on the front.
Here are some pictures of the progression of the green blanket. Please ignore all the crap on the table, and apologies for the impertinent cat who seems to have to be in every picture I take…
Now to the border. I specifically saved these for the trip to Hastings as I knew I’d have lots of car time, but didn’t want anything fiddly or that I had to count, or concentrate on really. As they had come out slightly bigger than expected I decided to keep it to a minimum. One round of each colour and a scallop to finish. I’m calling this a relaxed scallop as there’s only 4 trs instead of 5. Again I tried 5 but just couldn’t leave it alone. The 4 seemed to sit better and look softer.
And so finally they were all finished. I ideally wanted to photograph them together, but a phone call from the mother-in-law with news of an emergency baby shower sent me into overdrive trying to finish the yellow. So unfortunately I only have a few pictures of them together.
I decided to be cautious and hand wash them at first go. Knowing my luck colours would run, or it would all shrink. Better safe than sorry. Of course this all takes a lot longer and I may or may not have managed to soak myself on one occasion.. We wont talk about that. But all done, packed and ready to go. I love looking at these pictures and seeing lots of lovely straight lines and thinking about how wonderful it is to create something out of nothing. I hope they’ll be enjoyed by the new babans as much as I enjoyed making them.
And now you’ll have to indulge me by looking at copious amount of finished pictures..
While I cant show you anything that I’ve been making – it wont be long I promise – I can give you an update and whip you up into a frenzy. No? Just me then..
A1 – Complete!
A2 – Complete!
B1 – Also complete! Waiting to reveal to the giftee then I can reveal to you.
B2 – Started this morning. Also a funny story. Well not really. Remind me to tell you.
C1 – Maybe 80% done? It’s taking shape, but I’ve gave myself the deadline of Sunday, so I’m late.
C2 – No progress 😦
C3 – No progress 😦
C4 – No progress 😦
D1 – No progress 😦 but I just haven’t been able to face it. And its not like I haven’t been busy..
D2 – No progress 😦
D3 – No progress 😦
D4 – Liaising with The Master. Slowly getting there. More practice needed.
D5 – No progress 😦
I really find this helpful to do. Quite often it doesn’t feel like I get much done, or once I do finish something it’s straight on to the next with no breath in-between. At least I can see progress.
Stay tuned you lovely people for the B1 reveal and a money milestone.
Much love x