Crochet

My granny first taught me to crochet, when I was 7 or 8 I suppose.  I can’t honestly recall *making* anything with crochet as a child.  But I knew how to do granny squares, appropriately enough.

I can’t now think what drew me back to the hooky goodness.  I suspect a visit to a yarn store, or the enthusiastic chattering of knitty friends.  I was determined *not* to knit: that’s what old women do.  But crocheting seemed possible.  So in 2010 I bought a hook, and found some videos on YouTube, and eventually got my hands on the Happy Hooker book.  And that was that. 

 I’ve only done four or five projects – mostly blankets.  A house can never have too many blankets, I find.  I started with a blanket for my second nephew, in 2010.

This blanket, made from a variety of baby cashmerinos, baby bamboo, cashmere and silk (not a practical baby blanket, you understand!) was crocheted in granny squares formed on a foundation chain.  They were stitched together after I made them, and a navy blue edging stitched all the way round to tie them together, followed by four rows of white alpaca, from a local farm.
 

It’s pram blanket sized, was quick to put together, and is single handedly responsible for my love of the granny square blanket.

My next project, also in 2010, was also a baby blanket.  This time, I used more practical yarns – a combination of baby bamboo and a cotton/silk blend.  This one was for a very lovely friend whose baby was born at the end of a difficult summer.  I wanted something a little more controlled and designed than my nephew’s blanket.  This was the first thing I did using a ‘magic circle’ to start me off.  This technique works well for me, but I do find it’s prone to unravelling with frequent, heavy use…

Having made and given away two blankets, I wanted one for myself.  By this stage, I had discovered the delights of ravelry (although I can never remember my login details and hardly ever use the site).  And on ravelry, I discovered the gorgeousness that is the babette blanket.  I came, I saw, I *wanted*.  Which is odd, because I haven’t worked to a pattern, or someone else’s design, for a very *very* long time.  Still, I was determined.  I happened to visit Oxford, to visit my friend Penny, who took me to a very evil, enabling type of a yarn store, where I discovered the deep and satisfying beauty that is mirasol yarn.  From memory (never a good way for me to work), I bought a combination of silk and alpaca blends, with a bit of merino sometimes thrown in for good measure, for my babette blanket.
The pattern called for the squares to be made individually and sewn together when all made, but I knew I would lose interest in that game, long before the blanket was complete.  But it’s constructed on a log cabin principle, and I worked out a way of joining the squares as I put them together, so the blanket grew organically, as a single piece.

My memory isn’t great, and I hadn’t bought *quite* enough yarn, so my blanket isn’t quite as big as the pattern calls for.  Also my squares are formed round a magic circle rather than a foundation chain – which means the holes in the centre are invisibly drawn shut – but also means that, because the high content of silk makes the yarn very slippery, they do unravel on a regular basis.  This is a high maintenance blanket – I have yet to devise a way of keeping it all permanently fixed.  But we all use it a lot – it is heavy, warm, and well loved.

 At this time, I was reading the famous Attic 24 blog quite regularly, and using some of her ideas and hints to inform my own learning.  I got a new job in 2010, which provided me with a big office, all to myself.  I wanted to create an informal atmosphere, and provide an unthreateningly bossly image.  So I adapted some of Lucy’s techniques and developed myself away from granny squares and into…. granny hexes!! OK, not a huge development, but long journeys, small steps and all that…

I made a granny hexy cushion, in lovely muted 50s pastelly colours, mostly cotton, nothing very special – I suspect they are Debby Bliss or similar, and from Hobbycraft.  The back is rows of triple crochet, which I just made into an envelop backing, finished with some buttons from Hobbycraft.  Really nothing very  special, but it’s admired whenever anyone comes into my office.


I also made my first foray into zig zag crochet, using Lucy’s technique.  It wasn’t hugely successful.  I couldn’t quite work out how to keep the right number of stitches in a row, and the final cushion cover was a *very* uneven square.  But again, it sits on an easy chair in my office.  It was made with yarn left over from the hexy cusion, but looks very different because of the colour blocking effect of the zigzag.

Lucy’s blog was gaining a reputation, and yarn stores began to sell kits of wool in her favourite colours.  I bought an Attic 24 kit from Masons Needlecraft.  I was slightly (a bit more than slightly, perhaps!) disappointed to discover that the yarn was acrylic.  I’d only worked in natural fibres up until now.  But I wanted to get the zigzag right, and I wanted to make a blanket.  Over Christmas 2010, Penny came to visit, and revealed to me the secret of not increasing at the end of each row.  And so my zigzag blanket was born…

This was the object of much envy from my family, while I was making it – my father made a rather desperate plea for one for himself – and he may yet strike lucky.  But this one lives in my guest bedroom…

This blanket took about 6 months to make, on and off.  The acrylic was kind of painful to work with, if you weren’t in the mood, and the rows were long and boring, so I went through fits and starts of working it and being tired of it.  But I wasn’t working to a pattern, and if I got into a series of colour repeats that really appealed to me, I got my mojo on and kept at it for a few days at a time.  It has a pleasing bargello effect, which I have some form with, and I love it.

During the making of the zigzag blanket, I discovered knitting which, I guess, makes me officially an old lady!  And so for a while, I did no crochet apart from the occasional amigurumi experiment.  These little creatures are crocheted in a spiral, and take no more than an hour or two to knock up. 

I do keep thinking I’ll make a batch up and sell them at a craft fair, but the honest truth is that I can’t actually bring myself to part with them…

However, after my little knitting break (during which I also finished the red quilt), I was hankering for my hook again.  I needed a project for my train commute.  I had, by now, got the Jane Brocket Gentle Art of Knitting book in which she shows a blanket (knitted) made out of scarves which have been stitched together.  I liked this idea.

I also like yarn with a provenance.  And another friend had reminded me of the existence of Texere Yarns.  From where I found an aran weight yarn in natural colours, spun from Blue Faced Leicester – a rare breed sheep – in Yorkshire.  Perfect.  So I got some yarn, and triple crocheted myself a stripy blanket….

Each of these stripes is a single ball of yarn, 11 stitches wide.  It’s gloriously soft and thick, and already a firm favourite with living room sofa dwellers (mostly me!) 

The yarn came in 50g balls, and if I had this to make again, I’d have bought twice the amount and made each stripe two balls long, as it is *slightly* short to fulfil my idea of a snuggle blanket – you can see on the right that it stretches from ankle to hip, but I really prefer a blanket to go from toe to armpit, at least!  I’m toying with the idea of putting a white chunky border around it, but that might detract from its existing simplicity. 

This is the first thing I’ve made in neutral tones, and I have to admit I like it… there may be more!