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.

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.

Two pixies and seven squares

In between making Perpetua’s dress and reading giant historical fiction novels, I’ve been doing some slow-but-steady work on a few new things for the prayer shawl ministry at church: two baby blankets and a handful of prayer squares. The baby blankets were made (more or less) following this pattern from The Spruce for an easy crochet blanket in moss stitch.

Moss stitch (also known as granite stitch, linen stitch, and woven stitch) is absolutely my new favourite stitch: it’s insanely simple, I love the interlocked look, and because you’re working each stitch into a space rather than into another stitch, the result is very airy and has a lot of drape. It’s perfect for blankets! Most moss stitch tutorials tell you to chain an even number of stitches; the version from The Spruce is different in that you chain an odd number, and your turning stitch is worked into the turning chain of the row below. It took me a little while to get the hang of it — you’ll see that the edges on the first (lower) blanket I made are a bit wobbly — but eventually I figured out where exactly to stick my yarn on every turn and we were off to the races.

See those wonky edges? Oh well. The nice thing about crafting for babies is that babies don’t care!

Both of these were worked up in Lion Brand Mandala, a lightweight (3) yarn, using an H hook. This is a gorgeous yarn to work with; it’s much softer than many acrylics I’ve used in the past, and the colour transitions are a lot subtler than you find in other yarn cakes. I used the same colourway for both blankets — Pixie — and I love how different from each other they turned out, since each yarn cake started and ended at a different point in the sequence.

As to the squares, I was recently gifted the remains of a skein of Caron Simply Soft — I forget the colourway and threw out the wrapper, but I think it was Orchid — from a non-stitcher who had somehow ended up with it. There wasn’t enough to make anything substantial, so I decided to toss off some prayer squares and see how far I got. The final count was seven: six of regular size, and one teeny-tiny little square that was just short of having enough for another row. We’ll call that one “wallet-sized”. Or just right for someone in the under-five set.

Here they are being blocked. (Those stains on the pillow aren’t mold — I know they look like mold — but were left behind by a previous project where the yarn dye ran a bit.) I have to say, I wasn’t impressed with the Simply Soft yarn. It was soft, granted, but it split like crazy. It was fine for working up some small pieces like this, but I wouldn’t want to use it for anything larger.

The squares were a nice change of pace from the longer projects, though – just the right sort of breather before I move on to the next thing. Right now I have a shawl on the hook, and then at some point I have seven more Mandala cakes waiting for me to make them into an afghan for Anselm. And when I finish that, I really will have to stick to squares for a month or so, just for balance!

Sunny Side Up baby blanket

As a means of continuing my new obsession with the granny stitch, I decided to try my hand at a granny square baby blanket. I call this pattern Sunny Side Up because the colours reminded me of my favourite way to cook an egg! This was also the first time I’ve attempted to change yarns/colours as I’ve been working, which turned out to be easier than I expected.

I haven’t blocked the blanket yet, so you can see a bit of wonkiness, in that centre panel especially. I think it must have something to do with my tension but further experimentation is probably warranted.

I finished it up just with a double-crochet border, which was easily added, albeit tedious. The yarn was two medium-weight mystery acrylics from the church stash, and I worked it all up on an H hook. Overall I am quite pleased.

It’s entirely possible that I may have gotten slightly carried away.

The prayer shawl ministry at our church — I’ve mentioned it before — makes things like shawls, lap robes, and baby blankets that are blessed and then given to people in the hospital, with new babies, and with other pastoral care needs. We also make “prayer squares” which are much smaller, meant to fit easily into a pocket or a purse, used both as a reminder to pray and as a reminder that others are praying for us.

While the larger shawls etc. are distributed by the pastoral care team, the squares sit in a basket at the back of the church and are free for the taking. We restock them as needed, but we also try to have a good surplus in reserve for times when we know a lot of them will get taken: Christmas, Easter, summer camp. So with one just passed and two upcoming, everyone was asked to knit or crochet ten squares over about the next four months. Easy enough.

I started by eking out a few squares from the leavings of some others’ blankets (all of which need to be blocked so that those corners stay down):

Then I realised how profoundly satisfying it is to work on a project that can be knocked out start-to-finish in twenty minutes or less. I found a ball of fluffy purple yarn in the group stash and made some fuzzy squares:

When that yarn was used up, I found a smaller ball of variegated yarn, in a colour scheme that you could variously describe as either “skittles” or “crayon barf” depending on how charitable you’re feeling. I got another nine squares out of that (and again, these will look much better after blocking):

And then I remembered the massive amount of yarn I have left over from my Christmas crocheting. Five colours of yarn in combination yielded ten more squares:

After that it seemed like the perfect time to finally learn how to make granny squares. After several false starts I finally found a tutorial I could follow (YouTube link) and managed to construct something that, though rather wobbly, is still recognizably a granny square (left). My second attempt (right) is closer yet:

And now all I want to do is crochet granny squares all the time. So I have been neglecting my reading to do just that. I seem to have rather overshot the mark in terms of our “ten squares before June” goal… though, somehow, I don’t think the others will mind!