Sunday, 8 March 2015

A Hexagonal Update

With job hunting over and hubby away with work for a few weeks, I’ve had lots of spare time to to fill.

It’s still waaaaaaay too hot for me to go out and do much, although I have been going to the gym in the evenings for the past 5 weeks – it’s great having a friend who’s doing a Personal Trainer Course, as you get to be a mock client so they can practice on you! Hooray for free personal training! Of course, all good things must come to an end, and this has too, so it’s bye bye air-conditioned gym, and back to working out when to exercise in the heat…

Pretty much the only way to escape the heat – the worst of it, at least - is to go out really early in the morning. So a few times I have headed out at 6am to go up the hill in town – Castle Hill. This hill has lots of tracks and is really popular with walkers and super-fit runners alike. I am currently in the former category – I have a long way to go before I could run up it! You do have to keep an eye out for snakes though, I saw a little brown one the last time we went up, and it is well worth keeping away from brown snakes!! Both the Taipan and Eastern Brown Snake (the name kind of gives it away for this one!) are smooth brown snakes, and both are highly venomous, so no way was I going to get close enough to annoy this snake! 

All this spare time must be spent doing something, and recently that something has been crochet. I would most like to work on my cotton hexagons, but I haven’t yet been able to order more yarn – I need to earn money before I can spend it! – so I have to ration my work on the final part-ball of cotton yarn I have left, and instead I’ve been working on the Cuddly Hexagons. These are not very appealing in this climate I can tell you! But, we will move to the sub-tropics at some point, and then a blanket might be useful for the cooler nights. I’m thinking of having a cotton sheet and crochet blankets instead of duvets – I can’t imagine it getting cold enough here for duvets!!

So, my plan is to order more cotton as soon as I can afford it, and get my cotton blanket ready for the tropical winter here (June-August, I think will be cool enough for blanket use), then have the Cuddly Hexagons ready for when we move further south.

And there is still a long way to go with these Cuddly Hexagons! 

They are quite small, just 10cm across (side to side) or 11cm across (point to point) (approximately). The last time I showed you my progress it looked like this:

I have now managed to get this scrap to the correct width for being a double bed blanket, wide enough to drape a little down each side. It now consists of 8 rows of hexagons, alternately 16 and 17 hexagons long. 

I’ve also had a go at filling in the gaps with half hexes:

I don’t like how wibbly my edge is, but I’m hoping that either I will get better so it will be straighter, or that the border will sort it out when I get to that stage…

If I’ve done my calculations right, then that’s 132 little hexagons, plus 6 half hexagons so far. Times by 4 colours with 2 ends each, that’s a whopping 1104 ends all sewn in!!!!!!!!! Wow, am I glad I’ve been doing these as I go along! I don’t think I would EVER finish a blanket if there were that many ends to sew in!! And I’m not even halfway yet!

I’m impressed with how the yarn is holding out too. I’m trying to use each colour fairly equally, but that’s not really happening. Yet still, I’ve only just finished a ball of one colour (Oatmeal), and am close to the end of another (Cream – although I was using that ball for other stuff too at the start). So the yarn is certainly lasting very well! 

The yarn I’m using for this project is Stylecraft Life DK, I gave the details back here when I started out on this project.  I had a bit of a crisis of confidence in this yarn the other day though… one of the crafty blogs I love to read is Coco Rose Diaries, by Vanessa. I love the colours she uses, and her sense of style. I ooze envy at so many of her beautiful things, and I have been inspired by her work – such as the beautiful border she used which inspired my attempt on the Walled Garden Blanket.

Anyway, I recently read Vanessa’s account of working with Stylecraft’s Life yarn, in Super Chunky for her project, and she really did not like it for her project at all! She had knitted a lovely garment with it, but was not at all happy with feel or appearance of the yarn. Too acrylic, and not soft enough. The colour wasn’t quite what she was looking for either, which is always frustrating when you have worked hard on a project only to have it not quite right in a way beyond your control.

At first, rather irrationally, I felt a bit hurt by this. I have used Stylecraft Life for a few things now, and have been pleased with my results. But of course I was being very silly to feel in any way hurt: she was not criticising my makes! She was not criticising my choices! The fact of the matter was that I was feeling dissatisfied because while I like Life enough to buy it and use it, I do like other yarns better... Because of course she is right too – Life is nowhere near as soft and smooth and creamily delicious as a gorgeous extra-fine merino for example, and the colours do have a different quality to many other all-natural yarns I have seen in people’s work, and drooled over for their beauty!

Because Vanessa does have a good point about the yarn, reading her post made me feel a little bit glum about working with it. So to feel better, I went and dug out my tiny stash of extra fine merino yarn – of which I don’t have enough to make anything really, bought as it was so long ago, when I had no idea how much yarn a crochet project would take. But it does feel so beautifully soft and smooth! It really is a delight to touch. My first ever crochet project was made in James C Brett Extra Fine Merino, most of which my mother-in-law gave to me. (This yarn feels so wonderful, the only issue with it is that I found it had a lot of knots in it throughout a ball.) 

I realise though that I could not have afforded all that yarn by myself, and that’s really the point. I'm not working right now (and haven't been for almost a year and a half - eek!!), and I simply can’t afford the wonderful, beautiful, natural yarns that I admire so much. And so for now I have to compromise between natural softness and quality; and price. And that is where I think Life wins – because while it isn't the loveliest yarn you can buy, when you factor in price it really is excellent value. If you still want to compromise, but want less acrylic than Life, then the Luxury Wool Rich DK (50% wool) is a softer option - although it is a bit splitty for crochet, and doesn’t have many colours to choose from. Of course, there are lots of non-Stylecraft yarns too!

Feeling glum about my yarn didn’t last too long either, as I then read this post on Vanessa's blog, featuring a rather gorgeous shell stitch scarf. What a pretty stitch! and how beautiful and soft that yarn looks! The very best bit about that yarn is that she said she has used in total less than 300g, so I think I have enough James C Brett extra fine merino to make something similar! Of course, I’ll need to go somewhere colder if I ever want to wear such a scarf, but how lovely to be able to work with a beautiful yarn again :)  I am cheered up again!!

And in the meantime, I am still happy with my Life hexagons, and with a new job on the horizon I can save up for nice yarn for the other various projects that are begging me to start them! Such a lot to look forward to!!

NB: I have Edited the end part of this post a little bit as I felt as though it sounded a bit too negative. I'm still not convinced that I have expressed myself in a way that accurately reflects what I mean though!! But to summarise, I basically had a little emotional journey about my yarn choices, which dipped into slight dissatisfaction and yarn envy, then recovered into pragmatic acceptance, before rising again back happiness plus excitement about future possibilities!


  1. Hexies are looking lovely. Congratulations on the job and with the fitness training xx

    1. Thank you!! So much going on, but at least it's all good :) I hope things are all good for you too - I need to catch up on my blog reading and see what you have been making lately!

  2. Oh keep going with your blanket Debbie! It's looking lovely. It's always such a long job making blankets like these as the motifs are smallish in size and the amount of colours means there are a terrific number of ends to sew in. But they are truly worth it, as they make for the prettiest blankets. I have suddenly decided I want to make another patchwork blanket. At first I was thinking hexagons, then, browsing pinterest for ideas I thought I could go one step further. Grrrrrr, I don't make things easy for myself. I shall have a play with a hook, then I shall surf to find yarn for it. I should stash bust for it, but I'm wanting pale, barely there colours, and, typical, I don't have many. I'm sure these thoughts will keep me busy for a while!

    Oh my word, don't change anything in your post! This is YOUR blog for YOUR opinions! I'm glad you managed to find a project for your Merino yarn. I have been loving wearing my scarf, although the weather is just starting to warm up here. I hope it gets cool enough for you to wear yours! Well done on your fitness training too. I winced when I stood on the scales and saw the fruits of all my bread eating. Eeeeek, I need to work hard now.

    Have a super rest of a week!

    Vanessa x

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment! This blanket has just reached the stage where it's hard to see your progress now, as a little extra growth has become such a small proportion of the whole thing. Frustrating, but I know that I'll get there in the end. I'm so glad that I have been doing the ends as I go along though - I don't know if I'd ever finish sewing those in if I had left them to the end!!
      Oh I can't wait to see your next blanket, I'm very intrigued about what pattern you are thinking of, and I'd love to see your colour choices (I'd like to make the Star Blanket from Atty*s at some point )

      Thanks for the exercise support too - I still managed to put on a kilo over 5 weeks, which isn't good! Doing my best to get rid of it though, it just takes so much longer to slim down than it does to eat nice things!

      I hope the rest of your week is great too!

      D xx