I’ve been involved in textile design and embroidery for many years, and recently become passionate about crochet too. I was originally an art teacher and embroidery tutor, then created a small business publishing greeting cards. It became a successful family partnership and we are finally handing the reins over to our daughter and stepping back a little. Now is the time for me to enjoy exploring and learning -and sharing - all that this wonderful world of textiles can offer me.
Never again will I take a break half way through the process – (you’ll remember I took December off to make some Christmas gifts) – because you lose the momentum and it’s so difficult to get the brain back into gear.
I have to say I loved making the blanket. The colours are so different to what I’d been using before and the pattern worked up so fast, it was a pleasure to see it appearing before my eyes. And I absolutely adore it as a focal point in the bedroom – now that the pattern is off my hands.
It has been finished for months. In fact it only took six weeks to make and I started in September, but I haven’t been able to actually enjoy it as a finished piece until now, as I got stuck into pattern writing as soon as the last stitch came off the hook. I knew that I would need to keep referring to the blanket while doing the writing, so it lay in an untidy heap at my feet all the time, occasionally being spread out on the floor if I was taking a photo.
However yesterday it had its pamper wash at last and as always, thanks to the Stylecraft and Deramores yarns I used, it came out of the washing machine sparkling clean, perfectly flat and looking absolutely beautiful. (See my previous Frosted Pearl blogpost for the complete Yarn List).
This is it on a double bed to show the size. It’s a big ‘un, 68” square approx.
Did I say how much I love the look of it? I keep popping into the bedroom to gaze at it (sad person) and marvel at how the colours change so much with the light. (That was what made it such a nightmare to photograph, by the way.) And I’m tempted to make a second one, in a totally different colour scheme, but I’ll have a break and do something else first.
I hope you like it enough to give the pattern a try. You will find that it’s not a difficult one to follow and it works up quickly, as I said. That’s because it uses a third less stitches than a normal granny square and that of course means it takes a third less time and a third less yarn! It’s also a pattern suitable for someone who hasn’t done a lot of crochet before – simple stitches and lots of photos, plus some video tutorials you can access which take you through different parts of the pattern. All good.
Footnote – The cushion you see in the photo was a way of using up the bits and pieces of leftover yarn. I started with one of the squares from the blanket pattern in the centre, then just worked around it with small squares and areas of plain granny stitch until I reached the size I wanted. Then I attached some of the little flowers from the blanket too.
I’m not a huge fan of having to crochet a back for it – too lazy to be honest – so I chose a method I’ve used before and decided to attach the crochet front to an actual cushion.
It needed to be a plain cushion, the right size of course and most importantly have a piped edging. I was lucky enough to find the perfect answer on Ebay, after a quick search on Google. This particular company sells the covers either on their own or as a complete cushion with pad and there is a wide choice of colours.
I chose the mink shade and a 22” size, and was delighted when it arrived. It has a luxurious velvety feel and is remarkably well made for the price. In fact it was only £2 more to buy the whole cushion than a similar size pad only, from Amazon.
Here are one or two tips for sewing the crochet front to the cushion. The crochet has to be the exact size, too big is no good. I added one or two rounds of granny stitch until it got to the right size.
In order to make sure it was straight, I pinned the four corners in position first. (By the way, I attached the crochet with the pad still in the cushion.) Then I put a pin in the middle of each side, checked it was straight and then pinned all the way round.
I used the 4 ply cream yarn from the blanket, a needle with a large eye and sharp point (darning needle) and starting from one corner, slip stitched all the way round and right up against the piped edging. Using the yarn to sew with, rather than ordinary thread meant that it held firmly without slipping and it disappeared satisfactorily into the crochet. I think It took me an hour to stitch all the way round.
I don’t tend to wash cushion covers all that often, (if at all to be honest!) as there no children or pets in the house, but I reckon that if I had to, I could wash the cushion without having to remove the crochet. The cover is washable, as is the yarn, so a hand wash and drip dry should be fine. Just remember to make sure the zip is on the back when you sew it on – I nearly made that mistake, which would have been a problem trying to get the pad out to wash!
So there we have it – my finished double bed sized blanket and a matching cushion.
I’m now going to tidy away the little leftover scraps of pastel coloured yarns and have a lot of fun selecting something totally different, and probably a lot brighter for my next project!
The handsome dude in this photo (see arrow) is my nephew John. This strapping lad is 24 but at the age of 12 was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This of course came as a real shock to the family, and John who was only just reaching his teenage years.
However, he put it to good use and became an ambassador for young MS sufferers.
He has also just been chosen by the MS Society to compete in the London Marathon on their behalf.
He tells it better in his own words.
To help him in his challenge, I have decided to donate all the proceeds from the sale of my most popular pattern the Beach Walk blanket during the month of January, to the MS Society on behalf of John.
If you have been thinking about purchasing it, now is the time to do it.
UPDATE January 31st – Thanks to everyone who purchased the pattern between 7th and 31st, I have been able to donate a whopping £921 to John’s GoFundMe account for the MS Society. It’s over to him now, to get in training for the Marathon in October.
Both John and his Mum (my little sister) are blown away by your kindness and pass on their heartfelt thanks. xx
Hello again and I hope you are enjoying this run up to Christmas 2020 in the best way you can. We have to look for the positives in this troubling year, and sometimes it’s the little unexpected things that give the most joy.
I took a break from pattern writing in December to make a few Christmas presents. If you follow my Instagram or Facebook pages, you’ll know that I started with a scarf……then another one…..and yet another one. The yarn I was using was so lush that I just couldn’t stop and so far four have been wrapped up for friends and family. There’s enough yarn left for a fifth one but I’ve run out of people to give it to. That probably won’t stop me though!
Now, a few people have been in touch recently asking if there is a pattern for the scarf, and until now I’ve replied saying no, I hadn’t thought about it. Well, I thought about it today and decided maybe I could write up a pattern for it. Consider it my Christmas gift to you all as a thank you for your continuing support and friendship and the fact that as I write this I’m just a little off the amazing number of 20,000 followers on Instagram. That is quite frankly, unbelievable.
So here is the pattern –
You will need 3 balls of King Cole Riot DK in a shade of your choice, (and there are lots of gorgeous colourways to choose from). You could just about manage with two balls, but I think you would have to make the scarf shorter. I chose to make mine long enough to wrap twice around my neck.
A 4mm crochet hook, sharp scissors and a blunt tapestry needle.
The instructions are in UK terms. Stitches used are treble crochet (TR), double crochet (DC), treble two together (TR2TOG), slip stitch (SL ST), chain stitch (CH).
Equivalent US terms are TR= double crochet (DC), DC = single crochet (SC), TR2TOG = double crochet 2 together (DC2TOG)
The scarf is made in two parts. First there are the little granny squares. There are three squares in each row and 26 rows in my scarf. If you have the three balls of yarn, you could add another row or two to make it longer if you like.
Secondly, there is the joining method and a border to finish it off.
To start, check the balls of yarn. Hopefully you will have two of them wound differently, so that the beginning of the thread starts at a different part of the colour sequence. For example, say you had a ball that shaded through red and blue to yellow. One ball might start with the red length whereas another might start at the yellow part. This is ideal, as the beauty of the scarf is that the colours of the squares are at a different point in the sequence from the joining. Does that make sense?
If your three balls of yarn are all wound exactly the same so that they all start with the same shade, don’t worry. Just wind some off one of the balls until you reach a different colour. You can keep that first bit for later on.
The squares are made up of a very simple two round granny square. I’m going to assume you know how to make that, but if not there are plenty of tutorials on google. Start making a fine big batch of them and lay them out in rows of three. You can continue to make all 78 at this point, or if you don’t have the space to lay them all out, make a few rows then start to join them with the second ball. And please, please, please sew in the ends of the squares before you start joining them! I sewed them in as I went along, and when it came to joining it was a much more enjoyable process, with neat little squares lining up to be attached and not an end in sight!
The colour sequence in this yarn is generally very good, but sometimes there is a part where all three squares in a row look exactly the same colour and therefore a little boring. This is where a little tweaking can help. I looked at the squares as they were laid out and pulled a few, just a few out of the line up, then swapped them around a little to get a pleasing balance. So again, say you had red, yellow and blue in your yarn and you had a row of squares that were all red. Just pick a blue out from somewhere else and swap it with the middle red in the row. I wouldn’t change it too much, as the colour sequence is pleasing but the occasional pop of a contrasting square helps to liven it up.
Row 1 of squares -When you are ready to start joining, take a fresh ball of yarn. Attach it to the bottom right corner of the square at the right hand side of the first row. This is called Continuous Join As You Go, and the following photo shows the direction in which you will be going as you join the squares together.
(The following photos were done with odd left over scraps of yarn so the colours don’t correspond with any of the above scarves, in case you’re wondering).
CH3, TR2 into that corner. TR3 in next space up the side. TR3, CH2, TR3 in the corner space. Now work along the top of the square with TR3 in the next space and TR3, CH2, TR3 in the next corner. Continue down the left side of the square until you reach the bottom corner where you TR3, CH2 and then stop. Don’t complete the corner, and also just forget about working along the bottom of the square for now. (pic 1)
Instead, line up the middle square of that first row and put your hook into the bottom right corner of it. Do TR3 in that corner, then move upwards to the next space in the first square. (pic 2) Slip stitch into that square, then come back across to the second square and TR3 in the next space in it. Over to the first square and SL ST into the next space. Now you have reached the corner of the second square. TR3, CH2, TR3 into that corner. Don’t be tempted to slip stitch to the corner of the first square, that’s where my needle is pointing in pic 3. Instead, leave it unattached and a bit flappy for now. You’ll attach it later.
Work along the top and down the side of the second square like you did the first until the bottom corner. Like before TR3 and CH2 in the corner, then line up the third square. Work up the side of it as before and along the top, leaving the corner of the second square unattached as before. (pic 4)
Attaching Row 2 – Now, when you reach the top left corner of the third square, something different happens. TR3, CH2 into the corner but don’t complete it. Instead, rotate your work around so that the top edge is now at the bottom. You can see that my hook which was at the top left of pic 4 is now at the bottom right in pic 5. You are going to work along, going from right to left, joining the second row of squares. Pick up the blue square which had been at the left hand side of the second row and TR3, CH2 into its top right corner.
SL ST into the next space of the peach square, TR3 into the next space of the blue square, SL ST into the peach and now you will at the left corner of the blue square. TR3 into that corner, then move diagonally up to the corner of the pink square ( see where my needle is pointing in the pic 7). SL ST into that corner space, CH1 and then repeat this process with the next square of the second row. So continue working along the second row, joining the squares. Remember you are just working horizontally along the row at this stage.
When you reach the left side, TR3 into the pink corner, then SL ST into the corner above, where my hook is in pic 8, then CH1 and complete the corner on the pink square with TR3.
In pic 9, I’ve rotated the work through 90 degrees to show you that you work around the pink square like you did in the first row, and my needle is pointing to the 4th corner of that square. There are three TR already in that corner, so you just need to TR3. Now, pull up the loop that’s on your hook to make it a good bit bigger, then slip the loop off the hook. The next bit is a little different.
So, with your hook free, look for that corner from the row below that is still flapping free. It’s the one which is diagonally below the corner where you’ve just done the TR3. Put your hook into that corner, then also under the joining stitches and finally put the loop back on your hook. Anchor the whole corner neatly together by pulling through a SL ST and then make another SL ST. (pic 10)
The journey now continues up the side of the peach square, joining it to the pink square like you did in row 1. Remember to leave the top corners unjoined. (pic 11)
Continue in this way, joining all three squares of row 2, remembering again that you don’t join the top corners together, and doing just half of the corner at the left side, before revolving the work once more to start attaching the next row of squares, repeating the instructions as for row 2.
Right, you now know how to do continuous join as you go, or nearly. You will be aware that the whole left edge of the scarf, as well as the bottom edge is unfinished. This will get sorted out when you reach the top end of the scarf.
So, you’ve reached the last row of squares. You’ve attached them along their bottom edge ( as in row 2 of the pattern) and you are joining them all together. This time don’t leave the top corners flapping. You are doing an outer edge now, so SL ST from one corner to another and CH1 between the two groups of TR3 in the corner of the second square. (pic 13)
When you reach the corner on the left side, TR3, CH2, TR3 to complete the corner and now you start the LONG journey to work all the way down the left side and finally back along the bottom until you right back where you started!
There is just one little trick to help keep it all neat and tidy. When you reach the point where two squares butt together, you’ll notice that there is quite a big jump you have to do when going from TR3 in one corner to TR3 in the next. I’ve drawn an arc in pic 14 to show you where I mean. So, to get you neatly over that join, TR3 in the first corner, then CH1. Now make a SL ST in the actual join itself, CH1 again and you will find you have travelled over to the next corner and can TR3 in it quite neatly. (pic 15)
Work all the way round in this way until you get back to the beginning, finishing off that very first corner with TR3, CH2 then SL ST into the top of the very first CH2. Fasten off and sew in the ends.
And now, the scarf just needs a border to finish it off. At this point I turn the scarf over and work on the reverse as it helps to keep the edges flat and the corners square.
Round 1 of the border. Starting in any corner, CH2,TR2. Work all the way round the edge with TR3 in every space and TR3, CH2, TR3 in each corner. There is one important point to note though and again it’s when you have reached a point where two squares have met. If you put TR3 in one corner, followed by another TR3 in the next you would effectively be increasing the number of treble clusters. The result of that would be the edge starting to ripple. So to keep it the right number this is what you do.
In the corner of the first square, TR1 then TR2TOG from that corner into the next and finish off that corner with TR1.
(To make a TR2TOG, you yarn over, insert your hook in the first corner, yarn over and pull through (three loops on your hook), yarn over and pull through two loops. Now leave the remaining two loops on your hook, yarn over and insert it into the next corner, pull through the loop. You will have four loops on your hook. Yarn over and pull through two loops then yarn over again and pull through the remaining three loops). (pic 16)
Work round all four sides of the scarf until you get back to the beginning. Finish off the first corner with TR3, CH2 and SL ST into the top of the first CH2. Fasten off and sew in the two ends.
Round 2 of the border. This is a pretty scalloped edge, which really shows up the colour changes in the yarn.
In any corner, attach your yarn and CH1, then DC1. *Miss a stitch, TR5 in the next stitch, miss a stitch, DC1 in the next stitch. Continue from * all the way around. This stitch is quite easy to “fudge” as there may be times at the corners where the stitch count isn’t quite accurate. If you have to miss two stitches for example,d I don’t worry. And I like to do TR7 in the corners which gives a nice rounded effect.
So there you have it, your finished granny square scarf! The yarn is machine washable so I now give it a pamper wash on the shortest setting with ordinary wash pods and fabric conditioner. In my machine the the setting is 30 degrees and a 15 minute wash and I put it through a spin cycle of 1000 revs so that it comes out just damp. You can block it if you like, but I found it was fine to just lay it on a blanket on my spare bed and gently tweak any parts that needed pulling slightly. Then leave it overnight to dry naturally.
Finally in my opinion, if you are giving it away as a gift, this is now the MOST IMPORTANT THING to do before you parcel it up – take several minutes to just look at it! Drool over those colour changes, the surprising little areas where different colours meet, the fact that the scarf goes through many different colour combinations along its length. That is just so satisfying, and testimony to the utter delights of this yarn.
Now let’s see all your finished scarves, particularly if you have used a different shade of yarn. I would be so delighted if my Instagram and Facebook feeds started filling up with colourful scarves in all different hues. Share them with me @woolthreadpaint.
Please note, this pattern and all the photos are the copyright of Marion Mitchell of Woolthreadpaint. I would respectfully ask that you do not copy or lift any part of the pattern, or any image without my permission. You can make the scarf for yourself, as a gift or indeed as a finished item to sell, where I would expect you to acknowledge me as the designer.
Today I’m sharing with you my latest blanket. It was completed yesterday, pretty much six weeks since it was merely a collection of yarns in a box, and is now a rather large king size cover for my bed.
Note: the Yarn List with colours and quantities, appears at the end of this rather long post! Read on…….
So these were the first colours I pulled out of my yarn stash. They were to be a homage to my mother who passed away four years ago in October, and I picked colours which I knew were her favourites. Soft pastels in pinks, lilacs, greens and greys.
I gave it a working title of ‘My Mother of Pearl Blanket’ as in My Mother, plus Mother of Pearl colours. However, I’ve since renamed it the Frosted Pearl Blanket to take into account the frosty winter season we are coming into in the UK and I do think it describes the colours well.
The story behind it (there always is a story, isn’t there?!) is this. Back in my early crochet days, I made a blanket which I liked in part, but also felt didn’t quite come together as a whole. Elements of it really worked, but the overall look? Not so much. However, this time I took a couple of those elements and decided to put them together again in another design to give them one more chance.
The slightly different looking granny square and the little appliqué flowers in the pictures above, are those two elements.
Now taking the cue from the granny square, the whole blanket has been done with one less stitch in the treble clusters, so two instead of three. This is what gives the more open look, which I love in this blanket.
bBut the benefits of this stitch pattern don’t stop at the look of the blanket, oh no. Just think, two stitches instead of the usual three in every cluster means a third less yarn. It also means a third less time – the six weeks it took me to make it, would have turned into nine! And possibly most importantly, as it is such a large blanket, the more open texture gives it a lovely drape.
As I worked away on the different parts, something quite strange became apparent. It was the transient way the colours changed depending on the changing light. In bright daylight, the colours merge and soften to become more of an overall pearly look. As the light fades, or if it’s a dull day they deepen in tone and begin to stand out individually. And under artificial light they are even more prominent.
The overall tone changes as well. Daylight gives the blanket a silvery lilac look, whereas lamplight makes it more of a pink/green.
It really played havoc with my brain as I was trying to take the photos, and even now with hundreds of pics stored on my phone, I don’t think I’ve found the true colour representation, and probably never will!
When I first started working on it, I couldn’t decide where it would eventually live, as it were. There isn’t a room in the house which would take these colours really. My living room is golds, greens and terracottas. My kitchen/family room is white and bright primary colours and neither could allow a wishy washy pastel intruder in their midst. I already had a blanket on my bed, but I tried the Frosted Pearl in its half finished state on it, just to see.
And there it was! Absolutely right at home. My winter bedding is a cosy brushed cotton all over small flower pattern in silver grey, and my summer covers are pure white seersucker. The colours of the blanket blend beautifully with both. It was immediately apparent this was where it had to go and of course that meant I had to make it a big ‘un.
I simply added borders and edges until it reached the right size.
When it was finished and laid on the bed, I discovered that although I had designed it to have horizontal stripes across the bed, it looks just as good with the stripes as vertical. I can’t decide which is actually better now, so I can ring the changes!
So, some technical stuff…….
Firstly, it measures a generous 68.5 ins (174 cms) and is practically a square, so it’s that length pretty much in both directions. It lies neatly on my king size bed with a little of an overhang.
The yarn I picked from the first collection had some of the stronger shades taken out and I concentrated on the pale shades. This was because the deeper plum and the sugary pinks tended to be a bit overwhelming. As in all my blankets, it is a 100% acrylic double knitting weight and for the colour choice I mixed Deramores Studio, Stylecraft Special and a little Scheepjes Colour Crafter.
For once, I managed to be economical as far as left over yarn was concerned and this is all I was left with. Some colours were used up entirely.
I have plans for these little bits, but more about that later.
I think the size, coupled with the open stitch pattern has meant that there has been no distortion as I was working, and what you see in these photos is a blanket which hasn’t been blocked or even washed, which is what I usually do to tweak into shape while damp. It lies nicely with no intervention.
Finally this is the list of Yarns I used. Some people have asked for it in advance of the pattern, so they can order it and have it ready for when the pattern is published.
In addition to the yarns listed, I have to say I also used one ball of Stylecraft Special 4 ply in Cream for the flower petals. This was because I wanted a more dainty look for them. However I know you will have plenty of the Deramores Studio in Pearl left, and that could be used for the petals instead, to save having to buy the 4 ply. It’s your choice.
So there it is. The blanket is finished. The pattern writing begins!
Can you have too many blankets? Possibly, but then again every one of the blankets which I’ve spent hours, days, weeks crocheting with love, has become a loyal friend. I’ve happily handed a lot of them over to family and friends over the years, but my own ever growing collection is stacked in my studio, waiting patiently for their time in the limelight. I just love the way that a room gets a real freshen up just by swapping one blanket casually thrown over the sofa, with another in a different colour scheme.
The changing seasons influence this a lot, and at the moment the warm golds and russets of Autumn in Scotland bring two of my favourite blankets to the fore. One is the Autumn Gold blanket of course, which has its own blog post, but today I want to tell you all about the Copenhagen Blanket which actually never leaves the back of my favourite crochet chair.
Three years ago we had a wonderful November holiday in Copenhagen. The Tivoli gardens were still decked in their Hallowe’en costumes, with pumpkins in the trees and spooky spider webs over the bushes. The weather was cold and dry, slightly overcast but the grey skies just accentuated the warm yellows and terra cotta colours of the tall narrow buildings. I absolutely loved the city and we walked many miles each day, taking in the beauty of the old harbour houses and the fairytale spires.
Of course with these colours dancing in my head, it was only natural that once home, they would spill out in my next crochet project. I wanted a smallish throw for my green chair, something where the colours blended well, without having a strong geometric pattern like granny squares for example. Something with a tweedy look…..
Instagram provided the answer with a random post by @meetmeatmikes about her Snugglestitch blanket. I loved the way the colours looked woven into each other and blended so well, just the way I wanted.
The next job was to select the colours and, armed with the Copenhagen photos on my phone, I pulled a load of yarns out of my stash. There were golds, terra cottas, greens along with surprising little glimpses of grey blues, navy and even a touch of violet.
So, with a basket of colours at the ready, I picked up my hook. Snugglestitch is a simple stitch once you get the rhythm of it. Each row is a different colour and is always worked right to left (if you are right handed), so there is no turning at the end of the row. But all these colour changes mean only one thing – ends, hundreds of the little blighters, on both sides!
Don’t despair though, in my blanket, the ends were efficiently dealt with, without having to be continually threading a needle. More about that later.
The yarns – I used a combination of Stylecraft Special DK and Stylecraft Batik. You can of course use whatever yarn you like, but I liked the softening effect of the Batik among the solid colours.
Now here comes the tricky bit to explain. If you look at my blanket, you will see that the colour changes produce a variety of stripes, but none of them are the same and none of them repeat themselves. This is because I wanted a RANDOM look. It’s not quite as easy as you would think to achieve a random look. At the beginning of each row, when I chose the next colour to use, I had to ask myself – has that colour appeared next to the previous one already? If it had, I had to choose something else. If the combination of two or three colours together appeared more than once in the blanket, then the brain would see them right away and identify them as a possible pattern.
Of course it would have been infinitely easier to lay all the yarns out in a row in a pleasing colour arrangement, and then proceed to crochet one row of each colour, then go back to the beginning and start again. You would have a simple, if boring striped blanket. No thought needed.
But the beauty of my blanket, or at least I think so, is that you can lay it over your knee and study the myriad different colour combinations making up these subtle stripes and always be fascinated with the way one colour plays off against another. It’s never boring.
OK I accept that you might think that I’m slightly batty, studying the colours in my blanket, but I get SO much pleasure from that, I can’t tell you!
The other plus as far as this stitch is concerned, is that it is double sided – the front and back are identical. This increases the thickness and cosiness, but I have to say it also gobbles up the yarn.
If you haven’t been put off by all this, and I sincerely hope you haven’t, then all it remains for me to do is give you a list of the yarn colours and the sequence I used them. That’s coming up, and there is also a link to the free pattern on Meet Me At Mike’s blog.
Finally, I chose to ignore the forest of ends and made a double border of half trebles in order to neatly encase them. It does involve sewing of course, but that’s only threading the needle once instead of hundreds of times.
I used the same method in the May Blossom blanket and there is a video tutorial for it in my blog post about that blanket, which should be quite useful.
YARN LIST ( You can click on this list, save it to your Photos, and print it from there if you want to.)
The following list is the first sixty rows of my blanket. You can repeat those rows if you like however many times you want, or do as I did, now you have the gist of it and continue to work random coloured rows. My blanket is approx 180 rows and measures approx 48 ins long by 42 ins wide. I reckon chaining around 160 chains for the start would give you that width.
The doubled over borders were worked on all four sides, but I chose to make the top and bottom borders a different colour from the sides – two reasons – I like a bit of quirkiness, and I was able to use up two of the colours I had most left of, in this case Lime and Khaki.
Finally, I left the corners of the blanket empty and then made a circular button in contrasting colours which I stitched in place to fill the corners.
The link for the stitch pattern is HERE on the Meet Me At Mikes Blog, and I have to say a special thank you to Pip for sharing such a lovely stitch tutorial with loads of helpful photos. UPDATE: the above link isn’t working, but you can easily find the tutorial if you google ‘Snuggle Stitch Blanket’
I hope you enjoy making a Snugglestitch blanket, if you want to have a go. If the colours I’ve listed don’t suit you but you still want to have a similar random pattern, just pick your own colours and substitute one of your colours for each of mine.
I’m feeling pretty happy tonight that I’ve created this pattern and will now be sharing it with you for FREE. This is by way of a BIG THANK YOU to you all, for your support and encouragement over the past few months, since I embarked on this pattern writing lark.
In a nutshell they collect patchwork quilts, and knitted or crocheted blankets to give to children who are in hospital. They comfort the little ones during their stay, and then they can take them back home with them. I’ve put more details in the pattern for you to read.
Anyway, this stupid pandemic and lockdown prevented me from being able to hand the blanket over in the Spring, so I thought that now I would take some photos and write up a pattern before I part with it, hopefully soon.
It’s a good size for a child’s bed or a sofa throw to snuggle under while watching TV or even as a cover for a wheelchair user.
The yarn is Stylecraft Special DK, which I’m sure you know is 100% acrylic and easily machine washable.
It’s made up of circles in squares, joined together with my own Side to Side Slip Stitch join. (Pop back to my home page to find a blogpost with a video tutorial for this super easy join). The borders are simple stripes in Half trebles, so all in all a nice straightforward pattern for all abilities.
Yes, it’s here! I’m very happy to announce that the pattern was published in my Etsy shop this afternoon.
It all started back last year when I decided to make myself a blanket for our kitchen sofa in colours that would represent Christmas. I chose a palette that was softer and more muted than the obvious seasonal red, green and white and set about it, making it up as I went along.
I liked some of it, the colours certainly, and certain aspects of the pattern, but other parts didn’t work out in my opinion and although it graced the sofa over Christmas and to the untrained eye looked perfectly fine, I was disappointed.
But then I did share photos of it on Instagram and Facebook, (as you do) and took carefully positioned photos to hide the bits I didn’t like. There was quite a lot of interest in it which was lovely, but I was being asked for the pattern and I had to tell people that there wouldn’t be one because it wasn’t a successful project, in my eyes.
So 2020 comes along and of course lockdown, with more time spent at home, and in the summer the idea came to me – why not design another one, using the successful elements from the last one and the same colours – and have a new version for this year.
The time to make it was over the summer, so that there would be a pattern ready in time for the start of Autumn. So here we are……..
Except it would great if it was that easy. But no, the Christmas blanket gremlins struck again, and time after time a whole day’s work would be ripped out come the evening, when I would cast a critical eye over it and decide it didn’t quite work. In all, I reckon at least 75% was pulled out and redone, in some cases two and even three times.
But in the end, it was worth it and I’m very happy with the result. There is a new granny square design called Ring of Hearts as a centre feature, a new Candy Cane stripe using block stitch and a recurring theme of large red hearts.
I published the yarn list a few weeks ago and I know a lot of people have already got their yarn and are waiting patiently/impatiently for this darned pattern to appear!
Whew, it’s a load off my mind to be able to say it’s ready, and I’m now going to fold mine up and put it away until nearer Christmas, when I’ll have forgotten the hair-tearing-out evenings, and be able to enjoy it’s beauty on the kitchen sofa.
This Christmas, of all years I think we’ll need to hunker down and enjoy being in our safe homes – some candles, fairy lights and a cosy blanket – to help us block out the anxieties of the past months.
I hope you enjoy making it and even more, enjoy its contribution to your cosy Christmas home. xx
P.S. There are two video tutorials linked to this blanket, which are on my You Tube channel now. The first is how to make the Large Heart Square, working with two colours and the second is all about the Candy Cane Stripe section of the blanket which is done in Block Stitch, using two colours once more. You will find them both here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp2lHaeNZftvWTz-RaBXJ9A?view_as=subscriber .
For want of a better title, this post is my story.
This has come about because I admitted recently on Instagram and Facebook, that I picked up a crochet hook for the first time only four years ago.
It gave rise to a few kind comments along the lines of “How can that be?” “ I can’t believe you’ve only been crocheting for four years”. That sort of thing.
Well guys, it’s not even four years. It will be four years in a couple of months time. Admittedly it has been an intense four years, both in teaching myself the crochet techniques, and producing a blanket a month for the first two years. Twenty four blankets did give me some experience.
Anyway, my story……
I’m 67. Four years ago my mother was 90. She was a lady of many talents. When she was young she had a bright future ahead, possibly studying French and English at university, but at the age of 14 in 1940, the war intruded on her life plans. Instead of staying on at school, she left and joined the Fire Service in Glasgow, during the bombings. It seemed the only thing to do. After the war and without any exam qualifications, she went to a local secretarial college. Her typing and shorthand skills put her top of the class, and in demand by a number of employers. She met my father in the insurance company she started working for, when he spotted her as the brightest and bonniest spark in the typing pool.
Marriage and children ( my sister and I) followed, and as a perfect ‘50s housewife, she threw herself into homemaking.
Cooking, cleaning, baking, sewing, knitting, crocheting, patch working, embroidering – she was accomplished at everything she turned her hand to. We were clothed in pretty handmade dresses and skirts, with hand knitted sweaters and cardigans. She became famous around our small town for the toffee apples she made in the hundreds for the local children at Halloween. Her baking skills were legendary. The tins in the cupboard were always kept topped up with sponges, cookies and tray bakes.
When we grew up and were off her hands, she turned her new found free time to the most exquisite embroideries and cross stitch. No chart or pattern was too complicated for her and the stitchery was perfect.
Now here is where I come in. From a very early age, my favourite pastime was to sit with a sketch pad and pencils. I also learned to knit, do embroidery and even, I have to admit, crochet although that was reluctantly, and never got further than one awful brown waistcoat.
My single minded obsession from primary school onwards was to go to Art College, despite protestations from teachers who felt I should go to university and study something ‘worthwhile’, and from my father who thought I should do what every young lady should do, that is leave school, get a nice job in an office until I got married and had children, and then become a proper little housewife, just like his good lady wife.
My determination won though, and in 1971 I headed off to Art College to specialise in Printed Textile Design and Embroidery.
In my five years there, I learned to design and print fabric, draw and paint, and most importantly learn as much as possible about every aspect of embroidery and textile arts. My mother was so pleased, and became my biggest supporter.
By the way, from that early age in primary school, I had realised the importance that colour had in my life. It has shaped all my creative thoughts since then and fills my head with ideas every day.
Anyway, after college I moved into teaching – Secondary schools for art in general, adult education centres as a tutor and latterly my own classes for embroidery. I’ve given talks and weekend schools all over the country and thoroughly enjoyed the job of inspiring people to be creative when often they were inhibited by lack of confidence.
Nowhere at this point did crochet make an appearance.
There were a number of years after college when I was working on my own textile art pieces, exhibiting with my college peers who had formed a group to promote our work through galleries, and things were going well. My mother came along to all the private views, offering help and advice.
Then in 1989, with my ownchildren now at school, I started my little craft business. Blessed with the same work ethic I had witnessed in my mother, I put my heart and soul, not to mention every waking hour, into growing this business, so that after a few years my husband, also an art teacher was able to leave a job he wasn’t happy in and become my business partner. We both worked extremely hard as the children were growing up. The business, (which was designing and self publishing greeting cards), continued to grow. The children thrived in an environment where their parents were at home all the time. We worked from home for thirty years and the business became really quite successful. My own textile art and embroidery was put on the back burner.
Anyway, still no crochet. When does that come in?
What I’m trying to do is paint you a picture of what has led me to where I am today. Crochet has become my means of expression now, but why not embroidery?
Well, back to four years ago, and my 90 year old mother. After my father died twenty years before, she had lived a very independent life, happily surrounded by her embroidery and garden.
She moved closer to us and inevitably her advancing years began to impact on her health. Her brain remained as sharp as a tack, but her eyesight wasn’t so good and her hands developed a tremor. Frustrated that she couldn’t maintain her exacting standards, she gave up her embroidery.
It saddened me to see her sit with idle hands, so I came up with the idea of getting some yarn and a hook to see if crochet was something she might still be able to do.
I had no idea whether it would be easy for her to do, but thought it was worth a try.
However, my heart broke when I gave her the yarn, and saw a fleeting look of fear cross her face. She knew she wasn’t going to manage, but at the same time it upset her to think I might be disappointed.
Instinctively, I knew not to push it. The yarn and hook lay on the table beside her chair for a week or two and then disappeared. No more was said about it.
Just before her 90th birthday, she fell and fractured her hip and the subsequent decline was prolonged, painful and awful to watch. It felt so wrong that someone whose life had brought so much love and happiness to her extended family, should be suffering so much.
Four years ago in October, her pain finally came to an end.
Then came the difficult task for every grown up child, clearing a house full of memories. My sister and I shared that task.
One day I opened a chest of drawers and found the yarn and hook. Unknown to me, she had attempted some crochet, just to please me. She had only managed one round of a granny square. The stitches were uneven and lopsided, and she probably gave up in disgust.
It completely and utterly broke my heart.
The decision was simple after that. I had spent several hours of my day, every day for the last year of her life, to be with her in hospital and then the care home. I was left with these hours, empty. The business had evolved around them, so I thought I would try to learn some crochet in these hours, in memory of my mother.
I would later come to imagine that this had been her last parting gift to me. I can’t explain why the passion started so suddenly and completely, but after an initial terrible attempt at a doll blanket, which we will hastily skim over, there was a hunger to learn everything I could. My skills of patience and precision learned from my embroidery years, my continuing obsession with colour, and the strong work ethic acquired from running the business, meant that I started to live and breathe crochet.
As I’ve already said, the first two years saw a blanket produced every month. The criteria around that was to learn a new technique or style with each one. I worked (and still do) into the wee small hours of every morning , and in the still of the night when I put my latest blanket up on the wall to study it from a distance, my mother is there with me to encourage and support. I’m not a fanciful person at all, but I do know that I’m closer to her at that time than any other, and my greatest sadness is that she never knew during her lifetime that I would become a crocheter.
So now you have my story. I am a textile designer, embroiderer, colourist, teacher, and business woman. Also a daughter, wife, mother and grandmother.
And every single one of these skills and attributes have led me to able to produce the crochet blankets and patterns I do now.
My heart and soul goes into every one, and maybe a little of my mother’s heart too.