Neutral baby blanket

Today I finished a baby blanket, for a little “probably a girl but they’re not totally sure so we’re not officially announcing it” who is arriving in early January — but, more to the point on my end, whose shower is this Saturday. I started a bit later than I had intended, and so needed to put in some very dedicated crocheting time in the evenings to finish before the deadline. But finish I did, and here it is:

This was an attempted reprise of the honeycomb blanket I made a year or so ago. I used the same pattern, and the same yarn — but I hadn’t noted the yardage of the skeins. Apparently this yarn (Lion Brand Scarfie) is now sold in a different size! Last time it took almost four skeins to make the blanket; I stopped this one after using about 2 & 2/3rds of a skein, and it’s much bigger than the first. I’ve got plenty left for my stash, at least.

The colourway I used this time is “silver / cream” and I adore it. Grey is a very underrated colour, and I would totally wear a cardigan or winter accessories made with this yarn. Scarfie is a washable wool-acrylic blend, and it was worked up with a K (10.5 mm) hook.

Rest warmly, little one.

Faith CAL, part 4

Previously: part 3, part 2, part 1

Finishing part 4 of this crochet-along marks the halfway point, at least as far as the individual sections are concerned. Time-wise it’s hard to say, as the rows get progressively longer as it grows. But I can really see the size building now, and over the course of part four the blanket went from this:

… to this!

I think I’m going to have to start turning it on the diagonal from now on, if I’m going to keep using this same chair for staging. But anyway, here is part four, which again added a lot of that lovely Helen Shrimpton trademark texture — albeit of a subtler type than in the last few sections. No bobbles, puffs, beads, or popcorns here:

I’m having a terrible time trying to get a picture that captures this section properly. Oh well. These colours are a little bleached out from the sunlight, but you can see the rows pretty well; two green and blue bands made with stitches worked in front and behind each other, green star stitch in the middle of those, two rows of plain dc with my base colour (the navy), and then the top section is made with a row of single crochet, a row of fans, and then alternating single and triple crochets in and around the fans, plus a row of sc to finish it off. Phew!

I didn’t do too much counting this time around, trusting that things would work out OK given that I know I started in the right place. Was this foolish? We’ll all find out when I get to part five! I’ve heard from other crafters that it’s a bit of a doozy, so… we shall see. I’ll let you know how much I regret my decisions on this round.

This project hit a much-anticipated milestone as I got toward the end of part four: it’s finally big enough to keep me warm while I work on it!

On to part five…

Faith CAL, part 3

Previously: part 2, part 1

Over the past two weeks, my afghan has gone from this:

…to this:

Part 2 squared the squodgy octagon, and now the blanket will continue growing as a square until it’s finished. This next section only added ten rows, but those rows pack a lot of visual and textural interest! It started with the first base row of fans (in white), and the height difference between the top of the fans and the single-crochet stitches in between them meant that there was a lot of space to fill with various tall stitches until everything evened out together. (Mostly.)

The fans were built with a cluster of treble stitch, followed by a cluster of double and treble stitches made sort of on top of each other. Honestly I’m not sure why that one wouldn’t just be another row of trebles, as all the doubles seemed to do was add bulk on the back. After that came some double crochet clusters in the light blue, and the top rows are mostly singles.

In between the fans, I got to do more popcorn stitches (new favourite), and the ridges were built up by alternating double crochet stitches with front-post trebles.

For some reason it was those blue DC clusters that gave me the most trouble. There are supposed to be eleven of them on each fan. My fans do have eleven clusters… except for the ones that have ten. Or twelve. (This is one of the consequences of most of my crocheting time being relegated to after the kids are in bed.) I didn’t notice until my stitch counts stopped adding up properly in the silver row! Fortunately I’ve been crocheting long enough that I knew how to fudge things to get back on track — some skipped stitches here, some extra stitches there — and I didn’t have to rip anything out. It’ll do. Everything from the silver row onwards is correct, so I don’t anticipate any problems joining the first row of the next section.

If I were making a lap robe or fancy baby blanket, this is probably where I would stop. But I’m not! On to part 4! Tallyho!

Faith CAL, part 2

Previously: part 1

In the second part of this crochet-along afghan pattern, we’ve gone from this:

To this!

This section of the pattern involved first squaring-off the centre motif — I wanted to call it a circle, but I guess it’s more of a blobby octagon? Anyway, it magically transforms to a square through using stitches with different heights across each side: triples, then doubles, then half-doubles, then singles, and then reverse it all on the way to the next corner.

After the square came the construction of this funky mesh, which uses both bead and puff stitches for lots of texture. I messed up on my second row of bead stitches; somehow they crossed in my mind with popcorn stitches and I added a slip stitch / chain when finishing each one off. This left me with a lot of extra stitches to account for when I started the next row! Fortunately I noticed before I got too far along, and was able to fudge some adjustments instead of having to frog it. Ordinarily I might have gone back and redone it correctly, but bead stitches are so terribly tedious…

I do have some rippling as a result, but it’s not dire, and I think once I go on to part 3 things will start to even out again. And as this is still just a small centre portion of what will be a much larger blanket… well, nobody’s going to notice once it’s actually in use!

Even the back has its own sort of prettiness, now that I finally bit the bullet and sewed in all of my ends. Note to future self: sew your ends after every section from now on.

Onward and upward!

Faith CAL, part 1

Here’s what’s been occupying my crocheting time for the past week or so:

This is the beginning portion of what will be a large afghan when finished — somewhere between double-and queen-sized if my math is correct. It’s the “Faith” crochet-a-long (CAL) pattern from designer Helen Shrimpton, who creates amazingly intricate and beautiful patterns. The section pictured above is part 1 (of 8), complete to row 21 (of 96), and is just about 11″ across.

It’s hard to express how much I’m enjoying this pattern. Every row is different, which is basically like handing my brain a big bag of candy. And it’s really highlighting the architectural potential of crochet for me — look at all that squishy three-dimensionality! The construction is super clever. It’s also been an opportunity to learn some new stitches as well as practice a few that I haven’t used much.

I’m using the suggested yarn for this CAL, which is Stylecraft Special DK (truly a workhorse yarn), but I’ve chosen my own colours instead of following one of Helen’s combinations. The seven I’ve picked are Royal, Aster, Cloud Blue, Cypress, Mustard, White, and Silver, and they’ll carry on through the whole blanket. I’m very excited to see how the whole thing will come out.

Two small blankets

Finally I can blog about these! Both blankets were made as gifts, and both were much delayed in their gifting for various reasons, so I’ve had to sit on them for a while. But here they are!

This first was for my Grandmother, in a German Shells “virus” pattern. It’s sized so that she can use it as-is on her lap, or fold it in half to get a triangular shawl for over her shoulders. I used just about two full skeins of Lion Brand’s Shawl in a Ball Metallic yarn, in the colourway “Namaste Neutral” — or as I tend to think of this palette, in warm coffee-shop colours. The pictures don’t show it very well, but there’s a thin gold metallic thread that runs throughout, which give it a very pleasing sparkle. Using a G (4.25mm) hook kept the shell pattern nice and airy, and it has a beautiful drape.

I finished this in July and was supposed to deliver it by hand, as we were planning to visit my Grandmother on the last leg of a short road trip. On the day we were supposed to head over there, Anselm and Perpetua both had sore throats, and so we had to cancel our visit as they wouldn’t be able to pass the covid-19 screening of the facility where she lives. It was a super bummer… but as it turns out, her facility ended up going into outbreak status & a lock-down later that morning! So at least we found out we couldn’t go in before driving all that way to either be turned away at the door, or be let in and then get exposed. (Grandma is fine, by the way!) So I didn’t give her the blanket in July as planned; it came home, got unpacked, and then sat on my shelf for a month until I finally remembered to mail it.

The second blanket is for someone way on the other end of the age spectrum: my cousin’s daughter, who is about four months old now.

This is yet another iteration of my trusty twelve-point star blanket, which I’ve made… at least six times now? Something like that. Mostly I’ve done it with self-striping yarn, so using a couple of different yarns and manually changing the colours was a fun little twist for me.

This was a stashbuster project, made with Stylecraft Special DK leftovers from my Eastern Jewels blanket in the colours Sage, Duck Egg, Violet, and Buttermilk. (I forget what hook I used; probably an H.) That worked out really well until I ran out of Sage, which meant I needed to order another skein and wait for it to come, which meant I started another project in the meantime, which meant further delays… well, you get the picture. But at last I had all of my supplies at hand, refocused, finished it off, and got it in the mail.

I finished the blanket with a row of crab stitch, a new one for me. Crab stitch is made with a basic single crochet stitch, everything the same except that instead of moving across the fabric from right to left, which is the regular direction for crochet stitching, you go from left to right. It wraps around the edge and makes a beautiful little border. It doesn’t stand out super well in the photo above because it’s the same colour as my final row, but here is a good example of a crab stitch edging on someone else’s work. I have to say, it felt realllllly odd to be working backwards like that. But I love the effect, and I’ll definitely be tucking this stitch away in my toolbox.

And so there you have them. Two smallish projects, finally in or on their way to their new homes. Tomorrow I’ll show you what I’m working on now, which at the moment is also small, but won’t stay that way for for long!