Here we go – it’s July, so the Christmas countdown is upon us! Actually, relax – it isn’t. But designing a new blanket pattern for Christmas 2023 most definitely is!
There needs to be time to design and make the blanket, and then write up and publish the pattern in a timescale that allows people to then buy the pattern and yarn, and of course crochet the blanket in time for the festive season.
So here we are, hot off the hook – the Christmas Baubles blanket. This little beauty has been a love/hate project for me (more about that later) but now that she’s finished and washed, it’s without a doubt all about the LOVE.
So how did this design come about? As you know, I design a new Christmas blanket every year, this being the fourth year. Last year’s was cool and frosty (see it in an earlier post), so this year I decided to ramp up the colour vibes and do something totally different.
Our family loves the shiny baubles on the tree each year, each of us having our favourites that we claim for ourselves. I even tend to hang my husband’s favourites on the side of the tree where he can see them from ‘his’ chair, and likewise my favourites beside my sofa perch.
Colour co-ordination is never part of my tree decorating plan. Everything goes on, in a glorious mixture and the more the merrier.
So, baubles seemed the perfect theme to me for the blanket, all the more so because I’ve had a circle in a square design hanging around for a few years, which I thought would be just right to adapt as the bauble square.
I started making the blanket last month and felt confident enough to video the tutorials for it as I was going along. That’s not the usual way I do things though, normally choosing to make up the whole blanket first, and then making separate video tutorials afterwards.
And here is where the ‘hate’ part of the relationship starts to creep in. First off, I decided to go down a hook size when I started the bauble squares. I really don’t remember what was going through my head at the time, but perhaps I was wanting the circles (baubles) to be tighter. Whatever it was, I realised eight or so squares in, that I didn’t really like the close feel of the yarn with the smaller hook, so reverted to my usual size. But did I discard those first eight? Not siree, I was too lazy to make a new batch, so they stayed in and were joined to the other squares in the centre.
My punishment for that was to see the blanket rippling, and getting bumpier and bumpier as the next sections were added. I of course knew that would happen, but optimistically I told myself it would all come out in the wash. Still I fretted all the way through, on the verge of pulling it all out on several occasions.
I shouldn’t have worried. That old ‘pamper wash’ thing at the end, which I always swear by, didn’t let me down this time either, and the lumpy bumpy blanket came out of the washing machine smooth, soft and most importantly, flat.
I’m so happy now with the result – from the brightly coloured baubles in the centre to the string of little baubles (or are they multi coloured fairy lights?) which form the edging. I hope you will be happy with it too.
Now I have the job of writing the pattern, but first as is my norm, I’ve made a list for you of the yarns I used, with the recommended number of balls for each one, plus the actual amount by weight I used of each of them.
This is because I know that many of you have your closet yarn stashes, very often with plenty of Stylecraft Special in there, so you can check the amounts in your stash before you start ordering them.
Almost all of the colours are Stylecraft Special but I went for a different yarn for the background colour, another stylecraft one, this time Bellissima. This was because I wanted a softer ‘denimy’ shade which the Special range doesn’t have.
Just before I give you the list, I thought I’d mention an alternative to Stylecraft Special which some of you will be aware of already. Scheepjes Colour Crafter yarn is another DK weight which actually uses exactly the same colours as Stylecraft Special. The good thing about Scheepjes, for any of you on the European mainland, is that it is based in the Netherlands so is widely available across Europe, without the customs shenanigans brought about by Brexit for yarn coming from the UK.
So you can opt for the Scheepjes alternative if you are in Europe to save some pennies (or rather euros).
There are however two shades which Scheepjes doesn’t have, so I’ve put in the closest substitute in the photo below. And of course there is a substitute for the Stylecraft Bellissima Double Denim. The Colour Crafter I’ve chosen is a little lighter in tone but if you prefer a darker shade, you could pick another one from the blues in the range.
So, now I’m off to write up the pattern and edit those videos. It will take me a week or two to get it just right before publication, but the yarn list is here for you to get yourself prepared and ready to start as soon as the pattern is available.
I’ll let you know just as soon as I’m finished. Bye for now xx