For the Love of Crochet.. Part 1…

Hello, I am back! It is shocking to see it has been over a year *blush* – but you will be relieved to know that I have not spent a year off crocheting :-D. I could come up with lots of excuses – we moved twice in a period of 8 months and we have had some health issues in the family, but really, I don’t know why I haven’t written because when I write about crochet I combine two of the great loves God has given me – crochet and writing.

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I think some of my reluctance has been feeling that I was ‘behind’ and needed to ‘catch-up’ on writing up my various projects. Therefore, I have decided just to start on a clean sheet and begin with my current WIPs (Works In Progress). I am also going to include some pictures of projects I have completed for your delectation and if there are any you find particularly inspiring or have a question about, post in the comments below and I will either put an answer in there or write a blog post, when I have time (I promise to try and not take over a year…).

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Summer Love Blanket

I super love this project! I am making this for my eldest daughter Miss Em, and she has had quite a lot of input into what kind of pattern she would like and I have tried to choose colours I knew that she would like, as well as working well together in the colour scheme. Miss Em’s favourite blanket I have made so far is the Camelia Blanket (see picture below) and you will see that it features in more ways than one in this blanket. I have used the left over Stylecraft Baby Lilac Aran yarn (now discontinued) from the Camelia Blanket, as well as including more Stylecraft Special Aran in the colours of Lavender, Pistachio, Plum, Magenta and Denim, with a 5mm hook.

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I have literally copied the design from a Japanese blog here (just from the pictures, I am not a secret Japanese linguist), including the layout of the squares and the type of starburst and flower squares, although I have added in the Camelia Flower Square . The Camelia flower Square comes from Cute and Easy Crochet by Nicky Trench and the other Flower square is from the Buggy Blanket in Cute and Easy Crochet with Flowers by Nicky Trench. I am using join-as-you-go, slip-stitch join, as I go along and of course sewing in all the ends, as all good girls do! (There would be a very bitter end to this blanket if I left it all to the end, as there are a lot of ends…) I made the starburst pattern up myself, using the photos from the original blanket as a guide to the stitches.  There are loads of starburst patterns out there, but I just could not find any that I liked, hence making my own up, based on the photos.

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If you look closely at the mega sized Granny Squares you will see that they have a slight variation in the corners from round 6 onwards. A curious thing happens with Granny Squares if you just keep getting bigger and bigger, they actually start to twist. Therefore, if you are supersizing, you may need to make some adjustments to the corners in order to keep a proper square shape (I am a little obsessive about my crochet lying flat, as previous readers of my blog will know). I used the formula suggested by Edie Eckman in Connect the Shapes.

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I am really enjoying this blanket. There is great variety in doing the different squares, which keeps it really interesting and exciting. By using the join-as-you-go method, I can also see the fabric growing before my eyes and choose and balance the colours as I go. It is a lot of fun and I am really pleased with how it is turning out.

 

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In my next blog post I am going to be talking “Freeform Crochet”, another really fun way to crochet and a current Craftsy class I am taking. For now, I am going to bedazzle you with lots of pictures of completed projects. Do post questions or comments below if you want to know more about any of them. And have fun crocheting 🙂

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Crochet Sssssnake, which mini Mr T loves 😀

 

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Gypsy Rose Cushion – From Pattern by Nicky Trench in Cute and Easy Crochet with Flowers

 

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Octie Throw pattern by Jessie Rayot (I used her colour scheme and yarn choice too)

 

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I designed my own little filler shape for the corner to make the edges straight.

 

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This is The Waterfall of Love Blanket, using Ripples of Happiness by Sucrette

 

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I love pompoms! Easy to make with Clover pompom makers.

 

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Baby Blanket in Painted Roses design by Sandra Paul

The Art of Finishing and The Play Blanket Ta Dah!

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I do love writing and crochet and writing about crochet in particular. I keep turning ideas over in my mind of a crochet novel… but anyway, I haven’t been doing much writing recently, but I have been doing a lot of crochet, alongside relearning how to knit. (If anyone is interested, I have been following Lucy Neatby’s beginner Knitting DVDs. I bought mine from the US via E-bay. You can buy them as downloads on Lucy’s website, but only if you are in the US and Canada). And, I have been doing some sewing and alongside that the usual of making sure Mr T feels loved and nurturing the bodies, souls and spirits of our lovely brood.

I know that I wrote on this topic of having too much on the go at one time early last year, but I found myself in October feeling slightly overwhelmed again, as I had rather a lot of projects in my already busy life. Here was my list…

Crochet: The Play Blanket, Ruby Red Shawl, Crochet basket and toys, Wilma Scarf for Christmas Present for Mum in Law, Gypsy Queen Cushion Cover, Octagon throw, Man Blanket Mark 2. Knitting: Scarf, Mittens, toys. Sewing: Maggie Rabbit number 2, Xmas bunting (plus various other bits and pieces in various stages of planning and execution, which mostly I didn’t remember existed until packing them recently!)

Not to mention the fact that Mr T was slightly tetchy about the bags of yarn everywhere round the house and there was also the unfortunate incident where the coat stand toppled over onto a small child under the weight of the various WIPs hung at the top (don’t worry, child was unhurt, as yarn is thankfully very soft). So I prayed for wisdom of what to do and I made a decision not to start any new projects until I had gotten most of my list of WIPs done. It was not complicated – I wrote the list down and I took one at a time and worked on them until they were done. It did take a lot of will power not to start new projects and I admit, I may have cheated a little (for instance making a crochet hobby horse for Miss E but she was crying because all the others had a hobby horse except for her…) but by and large, I stuck to it. Even though some of the time I had to force myself to start on something, once I got going I really enjoyed feeling virtuous knowing I was growing perseverance and of course that I love the crafting process too.

Last week I finished the Octie throw, which meant most of the list was done, bar the mittens and the Xmas bunting that frankly can wait for next year (Mr T mercifully forgot that I had specially bought the magazine that had the bunting on the front to make for Christmas, because I just ‘had’ to have it… phew).

Anyway, I wrote this preamble about all the projects, as I plan to post the Ta dahs as separate blog posts so they are easy to find, but I thought you fellow yarn and craft addicts might enjoy the story of how I came to complete so much in one go. So here follows the little ditty of the Play Blanket

The Play Blanket for Mini Mr T

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I had finished ALL of the crocheting of this blanket back in March last year and I only needed to sew the appliques on! However, this thing happened that I had totally fallen out of love with it, and every time I started to pick it up to work on it, I found it incredibly stressful – there were loads of ends on the appliques I hadn’t sewn in and trying to do it with children around was just not working (think running off with the ends attached to the appliques, moving them whilst trying to sew them on etc,) and also I had lost my vision for what I wanted in the first place. So this lovely blanket got abandoned unceremoniously at the top of the coat stand (to later fall on some poor unsuspecting child…)

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However, time moves on and there comes an age for the baby in our house – usually around 12 months, when Mr T very heroically takes on sleep training and specifically teaching them to go to sleep on ‘their own’. He is so patient and spends ages sitting and lying in their bedroom by the cot, whilst they learn to go to sleep without being held or nursing. It is a big coming of age in our house and very exciting for everyone (excepting some protests from the baby), . What this means for me, is that after stories, snuggles and prayers with the older children, I have a free evening, woo hoo! And, depending on the success rate of Mr T, sooner or later we actually get whole evenings of child free time together – awesome.

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But what these evenings of child free time meant for the Play Blanket was that I had no-one pulling on ends or running off with appliques and this reduced the stress levels considerably. Also, I have to be honest to say that I lowered the bar for myself.  I decided I would be happy for a rustic look and I stopped worrying about whether it looked perfect. I actually quite liked it where they looked a bit puffy and wonky, because it gave an added element of dimension and play and the finished result is actually very pleasing.

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Rainbow –  free pattern – http://www.enfys.me.uk

Soon it was finished.There is room for more and maybe at some point I will do some more appliques, but for now I am really pleased it is done and I have fallen back in love with it. So I am going to blitz you with photos and  I have listed all the pattern details. Many of the appliques are from How to Make 100 Crochet Appliques by Deborah Burger. The Blanket is the Neat Ripple Pattern by Lucy at Attic 24. It measures roughly 150cm by 120 cm and the starting chain was 11 X 14 plus 3. The colours are a mix of stylecraft special DK and New Fashion DK.

 

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Dumper truck and Bull dozer are paid for patterns from Knot Your Nana’s crochet on Ravelry

Airplane is a free pattern from www.missdolkapots.wordpress.com

Welsh patches from – Welsh Gifts

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Submarine – paid for pattern – www.oneandtwocompany.com/

 

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Octopus/ squid from the 100 Crochet Appliques book.

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Seahorse from the 100 Crochet appliques book

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Digger – free pattern – www.knotyournanascrochet.com

 

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Cars – free pattern – amurushka.blogspot.co.uk

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Daffodil – free pattern – attic 24

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The Tree and sheep are from the Crochet Applique book

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The Sun is from the 100 Appliques book

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The Letters are from Melody Griffiths Book (see link below in photograph) I love these patterns, as they also contain the charts.

 

Man Blanket 2 and Little Boy Blue Blanket Ta dahs – AKA V-Stitch love

I have to confess, in the past, the standard V-stitch had left me a bit uninspired, however, a little while ago, I spotted that the lovely Anita from My Craft Life had made a V-stitch blanket that looked truly beautiful, and not like the others I had seen. When I realised Anita had also made a handy, detailed photo tutorial on her version of the V-Stitch blanket and even how to do the border, I couldn’t wait to get started.

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The Little Boy Blue Blanket was just a quick little make. I had noticed some of Mini Mr T’s baby blankets were getting a bit small and I had a large number of blue scraps left over the Sea Blanket, that were just ripe for using up on a small project and actually this V-stitch blanket is awesome for using up scraps. I used Stylecraft special DK with a 4 mm hook, in petrol, turquoise, sherbet, white, silver, denim, storm, cloud and new fashion DK in astor, royal and wedgewood , with the addition of stylecraft lipstick red to add a bit of zing. I randomised the colours, but I did keep the red at regular intervals. When I got to the end, I only did a round of double crochet in petrol (US single crochet) and then a second round of double crochet into the back loop only, which creates a slight ridge and a simple, but effective border. I had a starting chain of 180 (as I wanted the stripes coming lengthways) and the finished blanket was 100cm by 115cm.

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Mr T watched the progress of the Little Boy Blue blanket with interest and part way through declared that he was in need of a TV blanket and that the pattern would be pretty awesome for a second man blanket. So, this time I went back to Stylecraft chunky (ordered from Anita) and chose lipstick, white, silver, graphite, cloud blue, denim, aster and royal. I again randomised the colour choices and kept the red at regular intervals. It was again, a quick make. I had a starting chain of 132, used a 6mm hook and the finished size of the blanket was about 120cm by 160cm. I used the same simple border, in aster and ta da it was done and ready to wrap up for an extra Christmas present.

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One of the awesome things about the V-stitch pattern is that it is very soothing and repetitive and lends itself to listening to something at the same time. I love listening to Podcasts while I work in the Kitchen and also whilst I crochet. Via Marly Bird’s Yarn Thing podcast (a whole podcast dedicated to yarn love!) I found out about CraftLit, which is totally awesome. Heather Ordover basically provides a little craft talk and then book talk and then chapters from a great book. I have listened to the whole of Sense and Sensibility, but there are lots to choose from in the archives and also the option to purchase premium content and even more books. I loved it because I really enjoy Jane Austen’s books and Sense and Sensibility is a favourite, but the book notes really brought it to life. I got a lot more of the jokes and I was able to understand more of the layers in the story.

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P.S. Another 2 podcasts I listen to are the Busy Mom podcast and Sally Clarkson’s Podcast – At Home with Sally, which are both for encouraging women at home. I’d love to hear if there are any podcasts you recommend.

P.P.S. I have stuck to sewing in the ends as I go along, and I can say that I thoroughly recommend it. See my post on the Sea blanket and bitter sweet ends.

 

 

 

New Blog…

Hi Guys

Sorry I’ve been quiet for so long, I have been busy crocheting, learning to knit properly,busy with life and also setting up a new blog!

I am planning to continue to post on here all of my crochet makes and crochet related items, but the new blog will also give me an opportunity to blog about other stuff, which is non-crochet related [I know, who’d have thought there was anything in life as interesting as crochet?! ;-)]

Here is the link to my new blog if any of you might be interested in checking it out…

Grace at MJ’s Place

Hope you are having a great weekend. 🙂

The Camellia Blanket …

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The Story behind the Camellia blanket actually began back at the end of last year, when I purchased the yarn, although it really didn’t take that long to make. I was planning my projects for the year and I was getting inspiration from Nicki Trench’s Cute and Easy Crochet. My daughter Miss H saw the Camellia blanket and immediately fell in love with it – and no surprise, as it is gorgeous. If you don’t have the book, click on the picture below and you can see the original blanket courtesy of the look inside function on Amazon.

I found the yarn we wanted at Wool Warehouse, and because there was only just enough of the main colour in stock, I ordered all the yarn at the same time as another project I was working on. My idea was to make the Camellia squares through the year, interspersed with other projects and finish the blanket in October time, ready for the cooler weather. I loved the colours Miss H and I chose together, which we based on the colour scheme of the original, along with Miss H’s favourites – in Stylecraft Special Aran in Plum, Magenta, Fondant, Pomegranate and meadow, with Stylecraft Special Baby Aran in lilac as the main colour. I used 1 X 100g ball of all the colours, with a bit extra of plum I had left over from another project, and 5 X 200g balls of main colour lilac. I used a 5 mm hook and the blanket ended up approximately 130 cm by 150 cm.

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I did make a few squares here and there, but it didn’t quite work out as I had planned. By the end of the summer, I hadn’t accomplished much and although I loved the pattern, I knew that I was going to get bored making huge numbers of the same colour granny square in a month. I was a bit flummoxed, as Miss H wanted her blanket pretty much straight away, once her elder sisters’ were completed [The Sea Blanket and The Dancing Zig Zags blanket). However – what was I to do with only a ball of each of the flower colours, and so much main colour? Strangely enough, Aldi saved the day [you gotta love Aldi]. I picked up a discounted crochet book in the end of summer sale and found the Gramma and Granbabies Blanket and an idea began to creep into my mind.

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I used the concept of the one large granny square, with the smaller squares added to opposite ends of the square, to make the blanket rectangle shape. When I had finished my colour repeats, I still wanted a little more length than width, so if you look closely, you will see I simply added some rows of granny stripes at either end in the main colour. I joined the middle squares with join-as-you-go continuous join and the end smaller squares with join-as-you-go, both times using the flat join technique I learnt in the Edie Eckman class on Craftsy – Joining Crochet Motifs.

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The edging was just a simple foundation row of double (US single) crochet in the main colour lilac, then one row of double crochet (US single crochet) in the contrast colour of Plum and then a final round of crab stitch (reverse double/ US single crochet) which I learnt in Edie Eckman ‘s Craftsy Fantastic finishes, edgings and borders class. Up until I saw Edie’s tutorial, I had just not been able to get the hang of the crab stitch. I really highly recommend all of Edie’s crochet classes on Craftsy, they have really helped me to improve my crochet to a new level.

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And that was the beautiful Camelia blanket finished. I love it! I think it is the most beautiful blanket I have made so far and Miss H loves it, which of course is what matters. 🙂

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The Dancing Zigzags blanket…

In my last blog post I told you the story of the Sea Blanket, made from the lovely Lazy Waves pattern by Dedri Uys. And this week we move to the story of another ‘waves’ blanket pattern but this time by Kristel Salgarollo called the Multicolored Waves from Kristel’s lovely book Colorful Crochet Afghans and Pillows: 19 Projects to Brighten Your Home, or as I have dubbed this project – the Dancing Zigzags Blanket!

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This blanket was designed for Miss N, who is a beautiful dancer. I knew from the start that I wanted a design that had movement and also reflected Miss N’s lovely personality – bright and vibrant and filled with energy, but also someone who is a thinker and dreamer and artist.

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I decided on the Kristel Salgarollo pattern, as it beautifully met my requirements, while also being a robust enough pattern to withstand being used for making camps and capes, as well as snuggling. I had loads of fun experimenting on what pattern to use. I know some people see doing the swatches as a chore, but I really did have a great time trying out lots of different ideas.

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Miss N helped me choose the colours, and I experimented with the golden third rule (which I found out about in Edie Eckman’s book – Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs: Creative Techniques for Joining Motifs of All Shapes.) Basically, the idea is that you use 2/3 in one colour or colour group and 1/3 in a contrast/ different colour or colour group. So, we chose Stylecraft Special DK with 2/3 of the colours being cooler colours – Violet, Wisteria, Bluebell, Lavender, Sage, Storm and with 1/3 warmer colours, Pomegranate, Clematis, Magenta. I ended up using just over a 100g ball of each colour, with about 150g used of Violet which is also the border colour.

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I had worked out from my swatch that with my 9 colours, 4 repeats would give me a width of just over 120cm. Because this was only actually 36 stripes, for the first time ever, I planned the entire colour order for the blanket before I had even begun the crochet! It was fun to play around with the little snips of yarn and with only one alteration mid-blanket, I followed it completely. It was great, as I could ‘see’ how the blanket was going to look.

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The pattern in the book does give a starter chain length, but the yarn was finer than the one I used, and a smaller hook size, so I knew that I didn’t need that large a chain. However, I won’t tell you what my starter chain was, other than 13 pattern repeats (to give 150cm length), as sadly my maths went terribly wrong. The book only has charts, which is ok, but therefore you have to work out the pattern repeat and alternative starting chain yourself, which I did wrong, lol! But I can tell you, when you have too many chains, on your foundation chain, then it is possible to unpick them and secure the end. Crochet is so forgiving and it’s easy to fudge mistakes, just be confident that you will find a solution and it will come.

This blanket was sooo quick to make. I think I finished it in a couple of weeks, with limited crochet time. Another factor that helped was this… I SEWED IN EVERY END AS I WENT ALONG! It was so lovely to get to the end of the blanket and be… at the end. I followed the pattern for the border, but I found that I was getting a ruffled edge on the straight ends, so I alternated treble clusters down the side, 2 trebles, then 3 trebles (US terms double crochet clusters) and that lay nice and flat. I also changed the zigzag edging slightly on the foundation chain edge as I had also managed to do a too tight foundation chain (oops! I didn’t notice until too late, as I thought it was just the pattern causing it to curl. I was pretty tired when I started the blanket and forgot to use a hook size up for the foundation chain). And how about those Pom-poms?! I love them and they were quick to make with my handy Clover pom-pom maker, size 65mm.

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I am so pleased with this blanket – it is lovely and it has that movement and dancing that I hoped for. I loved the pattern – it’s very simple. Above all, Miss N loves this blanket too and it does really reflect her personality. Now to finish the Camelia blanket for Miss H and continue the process of covering all my family with crochet love!

P.S. Apologies for the quality of some of the photos. As you can see, my family are crazy mad to get their hands on my crochet once it’s finished. It was a very quick photo shoot!

The Sea Blanket and bitter sweet ends…

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I hope that you have all had an awesome summer. It seems I’ve had a summer holiday from my blog too, although not really intended. Our summers seem to be a time of paradox, because although we do slow down and we are definitely even more chillaxed than normal, at the same time we seem to do a lot more ‘doing’ too – trips out to see friends, visiting the park, holidays etc and generally making the most of the summer. I also seem to have a lot less time to crochet and/ or blog! Although, somehow I have managed to finish the Sea Blanket, which is mainly due to having spent a lot of time in the car (with Mr T being chauffeur of course). I am so grateful to God for being able to crochet in the car, even though I cannot read, because it really has made me look forward to long car journeys (even with 5 children in the car with me too, lol).

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One of those journeys over the summer was to the Norfolk coast, which was perfect inspiration for crocheting the Sea Blanket. As you already I know, I am completely in love with the Lazy Waves crochet pattern by Dedri Uys and it remains my very favourite crochet pattern. The Sea Blanket was made for Miss G, who loves the sea and blue is her absolute favourite colour and we had such fun choosing the colours for this blanket. Some we bought new (which we chose on holiday, which was a lovely reminder in the blanket), but most of them were from my yarn stash, as the Lazy Waves pattern is awesome for using up scraps.

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So here is the low down on the colours I used: in Stylecraft Speical DK– Denim, Silver, Petrol, Khaki, Meadow, Storm, Bluebell, Cloud, Turquoise, Sherbet, New Fashion DK – Wedgewood, Saxe, Royal, Astor, Glacier, Emerald, Imperial, Teal, I used a 4mm hook with a starting chain of 172 (21 X 8 + 4). I used a single strand of yarn for the pattern. I took a different approach with the colour choices this time. The first repeat of colours I ‘planned’ using pegs as I would normally, but I wasn’t happy as it felt too stripy to me. The rest of the blanket, I approached the same way I would paint, and picked the colours as they seemed to fit with each row and the blanket as a whole. It took a little more time, but I was much more pleased with the effect and it made for a very satisfying artistic process.

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After I finished the blanket there was a week before I started the border, due to what I call, bitter ends fatigue. As I have said previously, I hate sewing in the ends. I am generally rather naughty and leave them all to the end of the blanket to do, which doesn’t really help with motivation levels. This time round, even though there weren’t actually that many ends to sew in, I just kept getting fatigue with them and ended up only doing a few here and there, before I couldn’t bear it any longer. I was also a bit sad to be at the end of my project and feeling negative about it, rather than happy. At the same time, I was really interested to read Lucy from Attic24’s blog on her beautiful new Harmony Blanket. In the blog, Lucy came up with a really nifty trick for persuading yourself to do the ends as you go. Using an idea from Cherry Heart (another beautiful crafting and crochet blog) Lucy had crocheted a needle holder to attach to her scissors. I was so fed up with those ends I’d left, that I decided to do the same, for my next projects. I chose a lime, and I sewed it with felt and filled it with lavender. The lime is significant because I love limes, but they are rather bitter on their own, and need to be mixed in with other drinks and foods, to be really enjoyed. So that is the reminder for me with my ends – they are much more fun mixed in amongst the rest of the crochet, here and there, rather than leaving myself a bitter end!

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The border was a simple border again, with a double crochet (US single crochet) foundation row just down each side and then border #25 From Edie Eckman’s border book Around the Corner Crochet Borders, in Petrol, worked directly into the ends and into the double crochet rows at the side.

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The finished blanket is about 130 cm by 160 cm, which is a generous single bed size, or the perfect sofa snuggle size.

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I loved crocheting this blanket and of course, more importantly, Miss G loves it too! I just love to see my big girl wrapped up in all my love and prayers. 🙂

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