Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Introducing the Glastonbury Blanket

Feeling inspired since the bright willow experiment, I thought I would properly introduce the Glastonbury Blanket (WiP)…

This blanket is to be for my Auntie. She is allergic to wool, so I’m making it from Stylecraft Special DK, a Stylecraft Twist, a couple of James C Brett acrylics and a few randoms that I’ve picked up as I’ve seen them. 

I have to say, you certainly can tell the difference between the Stylecraft and the randoms, both in terms of how they feel running through your fingers as you hook away and also in the finished stitched up bits. The randoms definitely don’t feel as good – either sort of flat and lacking substance in the case of the Cygnet, or just icky and plasticky in the case of the Woolcraft and FX DK. The Stylecraft in comparison feels really soft and smooth - I have obviously used it before, but without something to compare it to I hadn't realised how much better it is than lots of others out there. (I can't comment on the James C Brett yet as it's new to the mix so I haven't hooked it up much yet. Feels good in the yarn-balls though!)

As for colour, this is a very funky purpley blanket. This was always going to be the case as my Aunt just LOVES purple, and always has done. 

We did a little bit of chatting via email about how this blanket was going to be, I sent her a link to my personal crochet inspiration board on Pinterest and she chose the 'squaring the giant circle’ design. (actually she chose a similar design, but I couldn’t find a pattern for that so I steered her to this one which both had a pattern and appealed to me…)

With a colours brief of “purples, pinks, mauves and reds” I ordered all the Stylecraft Special yarns I could find on Deramores to fit the bill, plus a couple of wildcard ones (Meadow and Turquoise) to ‘pop’ or ‘lift’ the blanket colours – a little something I had picked up from reading Lucy at Attic 24 talk about colour (thank you Lucy!) 

After the yarn arrived I immediately eliminated Shrimp as it really didn’t work with the rest (although it was put to good use in the Safi Baby Blanket instead) and when I next had a chance I made a trip to visit my Auntie in Somerset, where we went through all the colours having a good play with how they looked.

Row 1: Lavender, Magenta, Bright Pink, Violet
Row 2: Plum, Pomegranate, Wisteria
Row 3: Meadow, Aspen, Fondant, Wisteria
(the colours have not come out as a brilliant likeness on this photo, and my tinkering with colour temperature etc I not making it better, so I’ve just left it alone…)

They went down a treat (yay!!) and although in the end she wasn’t keen on the reds, she did like both of the ‘wildcard’ options and went for Meadow in the mix for the circles, and turquoise for the background. I was making the Safi blanket at the time and she also liked the effect of crocheting together the squares, so we decided to do the blanket that way. Although this is a bit more work, I do think it will look much better this way, and also with my poor abilities at colour-planning I think it will be much better if I can have the squares loose so I can juggle them about and see how they look best together.

The pattern for the squares is from Signed with an Owl, and is extremely easy and effective. The circle itself just uses trebles and chain stitches, while the border includes everything from singles to double trebles (UK terminology here). These are really simple stitches – if you can do a treble you can learn these – so I think it’s a great pattern to use as a progression from regular Granny Squares if you want to add these extra stitch types to your repertoire. The only down-side is that all those colour changes result in lots of ends to sew in, so you either need a lot of patience or you need to do the whole circle in the same colour…

I’ve added to the stash of purples for this blanket as I’ve spotted anything new, or anything more towards the classic purple shade, which wasn't available at the time I made my initial order of Stylecraft online. 

(Not keen on the feel of the Woolcraft one)

I did later find a Stylecraft colour called Emperor though, and this was bought in abundance as it seemed perfectly purple, and the ideal shade for creating a striking final border as well! 


I also spotted some fancier yarns, and got the Stylecraft Twist in Violet and the James C Brett Twinkle in TK9 to add to the mix, as well as this random with coloured nepps (although they don’t show up as well as I had hoped once hooked up). I also have my eye on another Stylecraft one, Viola; hopefully I can get hold of it and add it to this list!

So far I have been choosing the colours fairly randomly, and this has given me a few different looks:

Looking back at my squares so far I realise that I’m now at a stage where I have worked out a few loose rules for the circles:

Strong colours are needed for the final round (I had to frog and re-hook a couple of last rounds as the weaker colours just didn’t look good next to the border colour).

(The bottom right circle has its final round in Fondant, which looks much stronger and better in real life than in this pic)

I’m not keen on the pale bluey Lavender so near to the bluey Turquoise edge either, as I feel it ends up looking too bluey and a little washed-out:

It looks fine a little further away though, so it should just stay out of the last 2 rounds.

Plus the rule I had made from the start; a maximum of one use of fancy yarn per circle!

I love the Twist and the Twinkle!

So here’s the progress so far, it’s not coming along too quickly just yet as it has to play second fiddle to the Mumbles Ripple, which has a looming deadline to meet, but I’m pretty chuffed with it so far and am looking forward to watching it grow  :)

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