Completed: Crafty Resolution 2012

On 4th January 2012 I said:

So here it is – my little crafty resolution for 2012 is to make a blanket!

And at around 11pm last night I darned the final tail of yarn to complete my blanket. Hooray!

blanket!So how did I do in relation to my initial goals and ideas, and what did I learn (other than crochet)?

I was thinking about knitting or crocheting a square a day (too much pressure) or making a square a week (not enough for a big blanket) so after some maths I have decided to make 10 squares a month (for a 10×12 blanket) or 2.5 squares a week. Hopefully this will be enough of a challenge, but also manageable.

My blanket is 10×12 squares and making 10 squares a month was a bit of a challenge. Some months were easy, but in others my time was filled with other crafts. If I had more self-discipline I suppose I could have pushed other projects to the side in order to keep on track with my crochet, but the lure of finishing the hems on a jacket or knitting another sleeve were too tempting for me. The lesson learned here is to have just one big travel/tv watching project on the go at a time!blanket! 083

I am planning to make some traditional crocheted granny squares, knit some different textures and patterns, learn some new stitches and techniques, and maybe sew or patchwork some pieces too.

This project ended up being pure crochet. I enjoyed having crochet to do when my fingers were tired of knitting my Miette, and it was good to use yarn instead of fabric again. I definitely learned lots of new stitches, (special mention to the loopy sheep and popcorn/bobbles) how to read crochet charts and I even designed a couple of blocks myself. blanket! 088

As much as possible all the yarn will come from my growing stash and be a reminder of other knitting I have done, starting with left overs from Christmas, and will probably feature a few buttons from my collection.

Haha! I don’t think I quite realised how much yarn it takes to make a full sized blanket. I used 240g just on the five rows for the border! Lots of stash yarn was used up but lots more was bought and most of the yarns are natural/wool (in the autumn I gave in and started buying wool blends to lower my spending, but they are still mostly wool not acrylic). The blanket weights 2.1kg so if on average each ball of yarn was £3.50 for 50g that means which is pretty heavy (I could feel the extra weight when I went to sleep last night and woke up feeling a bit too warm!).blanket! 089

 I hope that there is a bit of a story behind each square, and I shall document their stories and my progress (when I can work out how to make a special button on here!)

Some of the blocks have obvious stories (can you find the ones made during the Jubilee, the Olympics and Vixie’s Christmas birthday?), others are less obvious (the blocks I made when bed-ridden with tonsilitis or when sitting on “the beach”) and some are just pretty. No buttons were added as that would make it less snuggly, but the little scottie dog has a nice ribbon round his neck.My year in crochet

Now if you’ll excuse me, my toes are getting chilly so I am going to curl up on the sofa under my blanket and resume knitting my red cardigan.

Review – The Granny Square Book

With so much sewing for my Peacock Dress, I must confess that I have fallen behind with my Crafty Crochet Resolution 😦 So during the school holidays I dusted off my hooks, unwound my yarn and started to catch up on my crochet. To help me along I may have done just a little bit of craft shopping, and since one of my parcels arrived I have been carrying a particular crochet book around everywhere I go.

The Granny Square Book: Timeless Techniques and Fresh Ideas for Crocheting Square by Square by Margaret Hubert, Creative Publishing International, US; Spiral bound edition (1 Nov 2011) ISBN: 978-1589236387 (find it on amazon here)

The Granny Square Book is divided into three sections – Crochet Basics, Granny Square Patterns, and Designing with Granny Squares.

The first section is a great introduction to crochet that would be perfect for a beginner. It starts by introducing the equipment a crocheter will need and how to start with chains and single crochet. All these instructions are really clearly illustrated with detailed photos. As someone who has been crocheting for a few years, the pictures were very useful and taught me how to do more complex stitches such as front post double crochet, popcorn and bullion stitches.

This section gives instructions for starting and finishing granny squares, and a range of techniques for joining the finished squares. The most useful part of this section for me was the list of abbreviations and conversions between US and UK terms (I never know exactly what I am doing) and a key of diagram symbols. Since reading this book I have actually been able to follow the diagrams – who knew that the dashes on the pattern correspond to how many times to wrap the yarn round the hook?!

Once you have mastered the basic stitches, section two has 75 different patterns (plus a couple of half-square patterns thrown in for luck). Unlike some books I have seen, all the patterns are different (not just different colour combinations of the same square) and there is a good variety between the solid and lacy designs. All the patterns are rated – easy, beginner, intermediate or experienced – and there appears to be a good mix of difficulties so there should be enough to challenge beginners and more experienced crocheters.

One of the best features about this book is that each design is neatly laid out on one page, with photos, text and diagrams all together, so there is no need to keep turning the page to check you are following the instructions correctly. On the rare occasion that the instructions go onto two pages, they are sensible placed on double-paged spreads. The book is spirally bound so it stays open on your lap for easy reference.

The final section of the book gives lots of ideas and instructions for what you can do with your finished granny squares, including bags, cardigans, accessories and a few traditional throws. Not all of these designs are to my taste (too obviously made from multicoloured granny squares for me to wear) but there are some lovely one-colour lace scarves and shawls that look easier and less stressful than knitting lace.

The book has diagrams and instructions to help you design your own blankets and garments, and this is where those half-square designs look really useful. There is a lovely shawl with arm holes so it can be worn as a scarf or a wrap/waterfall-waistcoat, made up in a lovely shade of raspberry. I would never have thought of making a scarf from lots of granny squares, but it would make the process more portable and less stressful – there is nothing as bad as doing a long piece of knitting and dropping some stitches!

One of the projects Margaret mentions in her introduction is a blanket that grew as she did – starting off as a small blanket, she added more rows and more squares until it eventually fitted her king-sized bed. This would be a great project to make for a little baby, as I can imagine adding more rows as the child grows up, until you finish it when they turn 21 perhaps.

Overall I really liked this book and have already recommended it to lots of people – it would be a great introduction for a beginner, but there are enough challenges to keep a more expert crocheter busy (I can’t wait to make the swirling spiral pictured above), and the layout and instructions are really clear. The one thing that I don’t like about this book is the weight – It is hardback and weighs 752g according to my kitchen scales. I like to have a project in my bag for a bit of lunch hour de-stressing or in the event of tube delays, but after carrying this around for a few days I had sorer shoulders than usual. I wish I could take a couple of pages out to carry around with me – I would love to have each of these patterns on a separate card, so if anyone knows of something similar, please let do me know.

p.s. Thank you so much to all the people who have commented and subscribed to my posts. I hope you are enjoying them as much as I enjoy getting the emails from wordpress telling me somebody “likes” something! 🙂