Wednesday, 16 April 2014

What Do Circles Want to Be When They Grow Up?

I had a great day at my voluntary work today. It was hard, physical work; clearing hawthorn, bramble and rose from near a fence line, ready for the fencing to be replaced. Being hawthorn, bramble and rose, I now feel very much like a pin cushion!

The reward for this hard work was sunshine and good company, a sound track provided by sky larks and other song birds, and an outdoors lunch - picnic style - while we enjoyed all the above :)

But enough about that...    

You're here for the circles....

These little circles that I showed you last time, and said I would come back to introduce properly…

The eagle-eyed will have noticed that there are actually 2 sets of circles going on here, one multi-coloured set:

And one just blue set:

Although almost identical in pattern (they could be identical, it would still work, I just gave a miniscule tweak to the second row of multi-coloured ones) they are destined to be quite different once finished. 

I’ll talk about the multi-coloured ones another time (they're my favourites!! :D ), for now I will just talk about the blue ones.

With the Mumbles almost finished (those pesky ends!) I felt I could take on another project. I am still working on the Glastonbury blanket for my aunt and her husband, but I have another uncle too, my aunt’s and my mum’s younger brother.

When I realised I was reaching near the end for the Mumbles, I wrote to my uncle and his new wife to ask if they would also like a crochet-something before I go to Australia. I don’t know if it’s really daft or not, but I feel like if I make something for people before I leave, then it will be like part of me is still with them… I don’t mean that they couldn’t bear to be without me and need a memento, but more that I need to feel that part of me is still here with the people most important to me…

My uncle’s wife wrote back to me to say thank you, that would be lovely. She said that her mother used to crochet a lot, and had made little blankets for her sons when they were small. She said that a crochet blanket would be lovely, and she didn’t mind what pattern but could they have blues, as their bedroom has a blue theme? Blues I can do! All those Mumbles leftovers which I don’t want to waste! Fantastic :) 
Mumbles leftovers

At first I had a mental block about what pattern to choose, but then I kept coming back to the idea of joining squares. The only problem was that I didn’t want to make a standard granny square, as my uncle’s wife had owned this sort of blanket before - I wanted mine to be different for them.

I therefore looked online for patterns, and I very quickly found my inspiration in this image on Pinterest. I think the colours they have used are beautiful too, but my request was for blues and so I stuck to that. This image doesn’t link to a pattern - at least not that I could find - but my crocheting has reached the stage now where I can work out certain things for myself, and this being quite simple was pretty easy to work out. I don’t know about writing it out as a pattern because of copyright, but you can see from the picture that it starts with 12 individual stitches, then has a row of clusters of 2 followed by a row of clusters of 3 stitches.

So then, with a pattern plan in mind, I played around with my blue yarn to see what I liked. I already knew I wanted to use the Stylecraft Life DK in Cascade – a lovely bright light blue, but I needed more!!

I tried several combinations, but not all of them worked for me – some were too dark, some too grey, some just didn’t look right for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on… In the end, I decided that a simple scheme of just a few blues with a fairly regular colour-pattern would work best.

I chose a nice mid-blue in the form of Wendy Mode Double Knitting 50% Merino in shade 237. I also picked 2 slightly greyer blues: Stylecraft Life DK in Denim Nepp, and the Stylecraft Alpaca DK in Mistral. For the border/background colour, I picked Stylecraft Life DK in Cream, which I had recently bought.

L-R: Stylecraft Life DK in Cascade, Stylecraft Alpaca DK in Mistral, Stylecraft Life DK in Denim Nepp,Wendy Mode Double Knitting 50% Merino in shade 237. 

I do like these Life DK yarns from Stylecraft. They are fantastic value at around-about the £3 mark for a 100g ball, and while they aren’t silky-soft like some of the Merinos I’ve felt, they do have a lovely wool feel to them, and there’s just something really cuddly about them! With the extra ‘spring’ that the real wool content gives them, I also decided to use a 4.5mm hook (I use a 4mm hook for the Special DK). You don’t need to use a 4.5mm hook - a 4mm is totally fine - but to be honest after the mammoth task of crocheting the whole Mumbles blanket with a 4mm hook, I just wanted my stitches to go a little further…

Getting started

Hooking up circles with a small colour range to choose from, mixing them up randomly wasn’t really possible. I experimented with mixing all the blues up for a regular repeating pattern, but I found that I didn’t really like the darker blue outside of the first round… I had always wanted the Cascade to be the main blue colour, so I quickly realised that this was going to be a blanket with minimal colour mixing. I do love many-coloured randomly mixed-up blankets, but I also love the more planned blankets with tighter colour schemes when they’re done nicely, so I crossed my fingers that I could do nicely!!   

I decided to keep the darker blue for the centres, then use a grey-blue (either the Alpaca Mistral or the Life Denim Nepp) in the second round, followed by the Cascade in the third round. I then got a little bored of making them all the same, and made a few with the last 2 colours switched around. I know - such a rebel! I decided I would alternate these two colourways when I joined the squares later. 

Putting all these little circles together, they looked a bit grey and flat – but add the cream border and I suddenly felt they were coming alive!

I had decided I would join these on the go, and seeing them come together was great. I love the crisp, fresh look of the blues on cream – like Delft. I think the colours look so nice together.

So here is the little strip of squares I have so far:

It is currently 11 squares long, but with ambitions to become double-bed sized when it grows up ;)

Keep an eye out for progress reports!

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