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!

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.

“Carrot Cake” lap blanket

Unlike the last project I posted about, this lap blanket offered me no frustrations at all: just smooth sailing from start to finish, plus the fun of using a new yarn. I was given a gift certificate to the local fancy yarn store, and so this is actually my first foray out of acrylic-land. This was worked up with three(ish) skeins of Ella Rae Seasons yarn, in the colourway “carrot cake”. I liked it; it’s a soft, springy wool blend with long gradient transitions between colours that ended up making a wonderful stripe. Best of all, it promises — despite the wool content — to be washable.

I worked this up using (my beloved) moss stitch, with a J hook. At that size, the individual stitches really stand out — which gives an effect that reminds me a bit of houndstooth:

The “ish” designation appended to my skein-count is because I had to chop off several lengths each time I changed skeins, so that the pattern would be more or less consistent. I don’t mind; making prayer squares for church means that I always have a use for those little balls of scrap yarn.

It even works as intended!

Aunt Thirza’s Lapghan

I made a lapghan! — otherwise known as a lap blanket, I suppose, but lapghan is way more fun to say than that. This is another piece for the prayer shawl ministry at church, made from a pattern provided by another woman who’s part of it; the above-named Aunt Thirza was her husband’s aunt. She apparently had made over seventy of these for a local hospital, crocheting well into her nineties. And it’s a great pattern! I will see if I can get permission to publish it — and then if I can translate it back out of the super-abbreviated version I wrote down.

This was made from a very large ball of Loops & Threads “Impeccable Big! worsted” yarn (yes, the italics and exclamation point are part of the actual name), in the colourway “earth”. I worked it all up on a J hook. It’s a very simple pattern where you’re just repeating two rows — one is a bunch of loops anchored to the row below with single crochet, and the other is clusters of double-crochet done in the loops, with a chain stitch in between them. At the finish, you’ve got a row of loops on each end in which to stick some tassels if desired. I like the result; it’s a little like granny stripes, except the blocks are stacked on top of each other instead of interlocked. I was also tickled to see that the Loops & Threads pooled!

Here we are with a banana for scale. This would be very easy to scale up into a larger project such as a full-size blanket, as the only thing you have to worry about is that your starting chain is divisible by four. This was a nice size to work with; not too big to carry around with me, and large enough to cover one regular-sized lap, or several small ones.

Almost-checkered lap blanket

Recently I joined the prayer shawl ministry at our church, after first ascertaining what a prayer shawl ministry actually is. Essentially, ladies of the church (men would be welcome, I’m sure — they just don’t come!) crochet and knit things like shawls, baby blankets, and lap blankets, which are then distributed to people with various pastoral needs. Or as I explained it to Anselm, “We make these things to remind people that God loves them and that we love them too.”

What the prayer shawl ministry is for me is effectively two things:

  • A chance to get out of the house once a month sans offspring,  to craft and chat with other women
  • A reason to make things without having to keep them

I love crocheting. But I already have all the winter-wear I need, I don’t wear shawls, I’m not interested in learning to make clothing, and the last thing this house needs is more blankets. So joining the prayer shawl ministry is perfect for me, because it means I get the pleasure of making things — and then they leave my home and are never seen again. Perfect.

I have one shawl on the go which I won’t write up until it’s finished, but joining this group also gave me a reason to hunt up one of my unfinished projects, a lap blanket I started probably 3-5 years ago and just never finished (for reasons unknown):

This is how it looked when I found it, after I had re-balled the yarn (some sort of acrylic of unknown provender).  Then came the challenge of figuring out what hook size I had been using — which through trial and error turned out to be a G. I finished out the ball, which got me five or six more rows, and voila: one completed lap blanket. The pattern was just repeating triple stitch, so it came together quite quickly. It’s long enough that you could wear it as a shawl if you liked, but will probably end up with a wheelchair user, for their lap.

Here’s a finished shot:

The colour changes on this one were a lot longer than on Perpetua’s blankie, and you can see what a difference it makes. I would say there was generally about ten inches between colours, which left me with an almost-checkered pattern. If I had known anything about planned pooling when I started I probably could have made something argyle-ish with this yarn… but I didn’t. Maybe another time!

As you see, my children “helped” me take these pictures. But you can see the effect of the colour pooling, how it almost makes checks… actually, looking at it on the screen instead of in person makes it look more like ripples or waves of checks in a way that reminds me somewhat of bargello quilts. At any rate, it’s done, and quite a relief to have finished off another one of the many projects languishing half-completed in my closet. In a week or two I’ll take it to church to be added to the stash there and look misleadingly productive, I’m sure.