The honeycomb blanket (free pattern)

This blanket made it safely through the mail to its recipient, so I can finally blog about it!

Dear friends of ours are expecting their third child very soon, and since the sex is a surprise I thought a nice neutral like yellow would work well. This is Lion Brand Scarfie yarn in the colourway “cream/mustard” which reminded me very strongly of bees and honey — and so the honeycomb blanket was born! I’d never used Scarfie before, but it’s a delightful wool-acrylic blend, warm and very soft, that I would be happy to crochet with again.

The construction of this blanket is relatively simple. If you can crochet a granny square, you can crochet a granny hexagon, as the principle is exactly the same. Once you have the basic pattern down it’s easy to just keep repeating until you’ve achieved the desired size. In this case, I used almost four skeins of yarn for a toddler-sized blanket.

Start with a magic circle (or if you’re rather not punish yourself, ch 4 and sl st to join).

Chain 3 to serve as your first dc, 1 dc — this is your first granny cluster (six sides requires only 2 dcs per cluster as opposed to the regular 3). Ch 1, and repeat until you have 6 clusters joined with a chain stitch in between each. Slip stitch to close the round and move over to a chain space.

Ch 3 to serve as your first dc, 1 dc, ch 1, 2 dc — this is the first corner cluster of your second round. Repeat pattern in each chain space around; you will have 12 dc granny clusters, with a chain space in between every second cluster. The chain spaces will be the corners of your hexagon (although it can be a little hard to discern them in the early rows this will become very obvious soon). Slip stitch to close the round and move over to a chain space (corner).

Repeat the general cluster pattern, doing two clusters joined with a chain in each corner of the previous rounds, and a single cluster in between each non-corner cluster. Go until your hexagon is as big as you want it, then sc around for a nice finish.

Happy crocheting!

The blanket so nice I made it twice

Remember the twelve-pointed star blanket I finished a couple of weeks ago? It seems like everything’s coming up babies around here, so I made it again. Same pattern, same yarn, but this time I reversed the colours by working from the outside of the skein instead of the centre.

Once again, this is Red Heart It’s a Wrap Rainbow in the colourway “foggy”, with a G/6 hook. I wish there were a way to let people touch yarn through the computer — it is very fine and soft, and with a larger hook like I used (larger relative to the yarn weight, I mean) it has an incredible drape. It would be a lovely choice for something like a miniature version of the Trio Blanket — which is definitely on my crochet bucket list.

Of the two star blankets, I prefer this version; I find the dark centre and lighter edge more pleasing to the eye than the reverse. But I’m pretty sure that part of my preference has to do with how much quicker and easier the second run through a pattern always is. I’ll be able to make these in my sleep soon.

This blanket is for Sami, who lives next door and is very small and precious.

This is why my library books pile is so high right now

Six colours, three stitches, 35 rows, plus 54 ends to weave in… equals one baby blanket. And now that it’s finished, I may finally have some time to attend to my reading!

This is a self-drafted pattern. I started out with two skeins of varigated DK acrylic yarn I’ve had sitting around for a couple of years — that’s where the white and the pinks come from. For the central granny square, I basically followed their original arrangement in my rows, alternating with the blue that acted as my neutral. The pattern is ABA, blue, BCB, blue, CDC, blue, etc., until it wraps around again to “A” (white) as the middle colour of the triad. I don’t know if I explained that well, but if you look you should be able to see exactly what I mean.

After the last row of blue granny stitch, I went all the way around in single crochet in order to establish a good base for my border. For that, I did two rows of moss stitch in each colour from the white-pink skeins, followed by blue loops to finish it all off (single crochets in every other moss stitch ‘hole’ below, joined by a five-stitch chain in between).

I am very pleased with how this turned out. It will be gifted to a much-anticipated little girl who is due in September, and I hope that she will use it for many years.

Eastern Jewels: the squares (work in progress)

One of the things I’ve learned about myself as a crocheter/crafter is that I often suffer from project boredom. By the time I’m 3/4 done a project, I never want to see it again, can hardly be bothered to finish it, and will just add it to my pile of “I’ll finish it one day” abandoned projects if I don’t force myself to keep going. See, for example, the queen-size quilt I started back in… 2009. Which was eleven years ago, which makes me feel very suddenly old.

What helps, though, is having more than one thing on the go at a time, so that when I start getting bored with one project I can switch out for something else, and then rinse and repeat as needed.

Along with the virus shawl I finished earlier this week, I’ve been making some slow progress on the Eastern Jewels blanket. This is a pattern that was designed by Janie Crow and originally released as the Persian Tiles blanket in a blue/orange/red colourway. It was subsequently re-coloured by Lucia of Lucia’s Fig Tree  and called Eastern Jewels. I absolutely love the colours Lucia picked for this blanket, and so last year I bought the blanket kit as a birthday present for myself. 

(Note that the squares haven’t been blocked and I haven’t woven in any ends yet. I keep telling myself that I should do them now instead of having a huge amount to do at the end… but… I think we all know that I’m going to have a huge amount to do at the end.)

The blanket is constructed out of multiple repeated motifs: nine squares (pictured above), sixteen large octagon tiles, and then sixteen triangles. After those are all made and sewn together, there’s also a pretty border to go around them. It’s going to take… a while. But I really like having those small motifs to work on when I’m getting tired of a larger project (like the shawl) that just goes on and on and on…

I decided to start with the granny squares in part because I just like making granny squares. My tension was a little tight on the first one, and so I might end up re-making it at the end if I have enough yarn left in the appropriate colours. But overall these were very pleasant to work on, and even taught me a new stitch (the longer buttermilk-coloured “posts” that dip down and wrap around a previous row). I think there are one or two squares that I managed to do without any errors — no shade on Janie Crow for that, as the pattern is well written and easy to memorize. Blame my faulty memory for things I have allegedly memorized.

Since the octagons are so much larger than the squares, I decided to take a different approach with them. Instead of doing them all one at a time, I’m taking more of an assembly-line approach where I do round one sixteen times, then round two sixteen times, then round three, etc. Here they are all strung together on a long piece of yarn so that I don’t get their order mixed up; only three more iterations of round four to go. I’ll post better pictures when they’re finished!

Fiesta Virus Shawl

No, not “fiesta virus” … although that sounds distinctly more fun than corona virus (olé!). This is my latest finished project, a virus shawl made with Red Heart’s It’s A Wrap (Rainbow) in the colourway Fiesta.

When I made my mini-lotus blanket back in April (now lending my nightstand a splash of colour), I still was left with an entire second skein of the same yarn. I didn’t want to make another lotus — it’s a great project but doing two of anything in a row is pretty boring — so I set it aside for a while and worked on other things.

The virus shawl pattern has been around for a while, but as you can perhaps imagine, it’s gained a lot of popularity recently due to the name. What’s more apt than spending your quarantine/self-isolation crocheting something with a viral name. As my feed filled up with virus scarves an shawls and blankets, I figured, hey, why not hop on this bandwagon too?

There was only one problem: there isn’t a written pattern for the virus. There’s a printed pattern, and there are a lot of videos, but that’s it. Now, I far prefer written patterns to printed ones, which I still have trouble deciphering. And I’m not crazy about video tutorials because you’re always either rushing to catch up or waiting around for the next step… not to mention how few content creators include useful things like timestamps for their videos. But what can you do? Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and… watch the video. I know, I know, the sacrifices I make!

Much to my (pleasant) surprise, the pattern turned out to be much easier than it looks, consisting of a simple four-row repeat that was easy to memorize. It’s also seriously customizable in terms of yarn weight (any will do) and overall size (since you just keep repeating until you either decide to stop or run out of yarn). This is definitely a pattern I’ll keep in my back pocket to make again.

(With many thanks to my model, Perpetua, who loves to be fancy.)

Mini-lotus

Hot off the hook: this is my latest crochet project, a miniature version of the spectacular “Lotus Flower Blanket” pattern by Hooked by Robin. I made a full-sized version of this last summer, and it was so lovely that I knew I would want to make it again. And now I have.

The details: the yarn is Red Heart “It’s A Wrap — Rainbow” in the colourway “fiesta”. This is a 2-weight, unplied cotton-acrylic gradient, and I used a 4.5mm hook which felt just about right. I cast on not long after Tertia was born — I think, anyway, it’s all a little hazy — so it took about a month of on-again off-again work.

The “It’s a Wrap” yarn is about half the length of a skein of Scheepjes Whirl (which is what the pattern calls for) so I only went to row 33, which made my last row a bit fringey instead of ending on a row of petals like the pattern specifies. But I liked the effect of that just fine, so I added a row of single crochet all around to neaten up the edge and give the fringe a little more weight. You can kind of see it in the picture below.

It’s a good thing I decided to end that way instead of trying for another row of petals, because I would definitely have run out of yarn otherwise! In the end I only had about two feet left, which is not a wide margin when you’re dealing with these sort of lengths. The finished piece is just about the right size to cover one of our side tables, or to be used as a pretty centerpiece on a full-size table. Or I suppose it’s a good size to use as a lap blanket in the car. I didn’t really have a use in mind when I started; I just wanted to make something.

I have another skein of the same yarn in the same colourway, and I’m debating whether to try my hand at a shawl of some sort… or just make another lotus!

A new blanket for a new arrival

Did I mention that I’m pregnant? Probably not. Well, I’m pregnant enough that I get winded putting on my boots and can’t see anything south of my belly button without bending over. There’s a baby coming soon, and what does a new baby need? A baby blanket, of course!

This was a freehand project using Lion Brand’s “Ferris Wheel” yarn, in the colourway “Vintage Carousel”. It was dreamy to work with — no snags or knots — and I love the tweedy effect for the long slow colour changes. You can see in the close-up below that the light blue consistently carries through all the way, while the other colours change around it. I got some lovely stripes just going back and forth in moss stitch for the main panel.

As for the border, I wanted to do something a bit chunkier as the main panel ended up smaller than I had planned (I know, I know — my own fault because I never measure anything). After trying a few different options I ended up choosing a wide band of granny squares all the way around, capped off with a single row of single crochet just to neaten up the outside edges. I like being able to see the colours (and changes) in a different way, because of the chunkier stitches, and the border is pleasingly floppy.

This worked up relatively quickly, although I was a bit stop-start on it and at one point had to go back to Michaels for another skein of yarn. I used a J hook, and about 3.5 skeins of the Ferris Wheel. And with the blanket done, I now feel like we’re really ready. Looking forward to meeting you, baby girl.

Anselm’s Afghan (finished)

Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy: I have finally, finally finished the afghan I’d been making for Anselm.

I’ve been working on this blanket for so long that I had to go back into my own archives to figure out when I started it. The answer? August 2018. if you read that post, you may notice that the final design is quite different from my initial plan. Well… this was a learning project, to be sure.

As far as the actual method goes it was easy enough: the whole thing was worked up in moss stitch, which I can pretty much do in my sleep at this point. I used a size-I hook and the yarn (Lion Brand Mandala) only changed in terms of the colourway. Ha ha ha! No! That was a lie. The yarn was supposed to only change in terms of its colours, but the weight was surprisingly — shockingly — inconsistent which led to all sorts of issues, like strange bunchings and accidental trapezoids where no trapezoids should be.

Somebody at Lion Brand owes me a drink.

Anyway, besides fighting with the yarn I had to come to grips with my own errors and faulty assumptions, especially as regards the design phase. I realised about halfway through that my original idea would result in a blanket that was a lot longer and skinnier than in was supposed to be, and so I redrew things on the fly, and then did that several more times as things continued to… evolve.

In the end, though, I ended up with a cosy, lightweight afghan that is approximately twin size — different than I had imagined it, but still perfect for warming up one sweet and snuggly little boy. I’ll take it.

Lotus Flower Blanket

This doesn’t happen to me often, but when I saw the Lotus Flower Blanket pattern on Hooked by Robin, I knew I had to make it. Eventually. I first saw it not long before we moved, which didn’t seem like the right time to start something so intricate — and the yarn it calls for, Scheepjes Whirl, is expensive enough to fall into the “splurge” category for me (especially when you add the shipping to Canada as there are very few retailers here who carry it). But thanks to a goodbye note with an amazon gift-card tucked inside I decided to go for it, and my Whirl was waiting in the mailbox of our new place when we picked up the keys.As it turns out, the pattern is actually a lot easier than it initially appeared, especially after getting through the first ten “set-up” rounds. It wasn’t long before I memorized it and could crochet while listening to a podcast or watching TV, just checking in once in a while to make sure I was counting the increases correctly. I didn’t get all the way through the pattern — I must crochet a bit loose compared to the pattern writer — and so stopped at row 46 instead of going to 50. From there I just did a row of single crochet all the way around to give it a bit of a finished edge. And it’s a good thing I did, because I would have absolutely run out of yarn otherwise!The yarn was Scheepjes Whirl in the colourway Sherbet Rainbow, and I worked it all up using a G/6/4.25mm hook. I can’t get over the beautiful gradient of this yarn: it’s one continuous piece, a whole thousand metres (about 1100 yards), and the colour changes one tiny strand at a time.I will definitely make this pattern again; it’s a lot of fun, deceptively simple, and I’d love to see how it works up in different colourways — or even the same one, but working the yarn in the opposite direction, so that it would be blue in the middle and pink on the edge. But not for a while. After making 800+ shells/petals I am ready to work on something more… straightforward. Ba-dum tscha.

Anselm’s Afghan (III)

Good news: I’ve finished the third panel on Anselm’s afghan! Bad news: I totally pooched my counting and it’s gone kind of trapezoidal. Good news again: this is a gift for a four-year-old, and so while I’m not exactly trying to screw it up, I’m not especially worried about it either. At this point, we’re shooting for completion rather than perfection.

What I was pleased to find was that my theories about how it would work to join up with the other panels while working perpendicular to them were correct — and if I had been paying better attention while doing the entrelac, it probably would have ended up closer to rectangular. Oh, well… it will have some lumps and bumps. (Actually, as I type this I remember that one of the challenges was that this skein was woven a little thicker than the other two despite being the same weight of yarn — so that extra thickness is also playing a role).

Here is a close-up the join between panels 1 and 3. The colourway for this third panel is “Spirit” (still Lion Brand Mandala) and it’s the last colourway to be added — the next four panels will all be repeats: one more each of Spirit and Genie, and two of Thunderbird.

It’s not perfect by any stretch, but I’m pretty pleased with how this is coming along, especially since it’s my first time planning and executing such a big project. The colours work well together — next up comes another long panel of the Thunderbird, for a big pop of colour in the centre. I might start running out of couch space for displaying it after that point… this is going to be pretty big.