Recently in Crochet Category

Blankets are boring. 

They are also the best way to use up stash yarn.  With a knitting machine, they can also come together very fast, except for the tedious first round of crochet border into the edges of the knitting.  I hate doing that, too.

When the local Ben Franklin Crafts store went out of business, I bought a whole bunch of their sale yarn.  Too much.  Way too much.  This is in addition to yarn I'd accumulated over a decade and a half of buying yarn.  I think there was another retailer's Going Out of Business sale in there, too--another time when I bought way too much yarn with no plan for it.  And every time I visit Michaels (Yeah, I thought there was an apostrophe, too.  Their website says otherwise.) or Jo-Ann Fabrics or the local yarn store, just to see what's new, I walk out of there with yarn.

Don't get me wrong: I love yarn. 

I love the different kinds and colors and sizes and textures.  I love the potential that yarn represents.  But that potential also gets me down.  Yarn wants to be used.  Yarn wants to become things, not sit around in dusty boxes being yarn.  It wants to be a sweater or a hat or, yes, a blanket.  And as it sits there wanting to be something, it's also on my to-do list, which already torments me with its unassailable length.

So, after I finish the SO's matching couch blankets, I resolve to use up as much stash yarn as I can by making blankets.  Some I'll keep, some will be future presents, some I'll give to Project Linus.  But they'll all be a thing with a purpose, even if they're in storage.  How is that better than yarn in storage?  The work is done and they're ready to be used or gifted.  And they're off my to-do list.

I dub this new initiative Stash Zero.  Join me, if you must. 
Purple Blanket Edging Detail.jpg About a month ago, I was notified that this summer, I'd become an aunt for the first time.  After offering my congratulations to the expectant pair, what did I do? 

Like any good crocheter, I got to crocheting.

But not so fast. 

First, I had to figure out what I was going to make.  This wasn't so hard, since I wanted to make something useful, but also not too simple.  I wanted it to be an item the child would treasure when it was old enough to treasure items handmade by a relative for them.  This would be some time in coming, hence the usefulness requirement.

Purple Blanket Body.jpg I browsed my pattern books and dragged the SO to the local Michaels to browse their pattern books and yarns.  I went to that particular store because I wanted to get some good (read: machine washable) utility yarn.  The interest in the item would come from the stitches. 

We found a booklet which had a pattern for a blanket with a dense pattern stitch body and a wide, lacy border (Leisure Arts' Baby Layettes and Afghans--the afghan with set 3 beginning on page 21, Lacy-Soft Layette).  I like a solid body for a baby blanket because there are no holes for fingers or appendages to leak through.  I think it just makes using the blanket easier because it simplifies the baby-unwrapping procedure. 

At least in theory, it does.  I haven't made holey baby blankets, so I haven't been in a position to receive the kind of feedback that would confirm my supposition.

Purple Blanket Stitch Detail.jpg Next, I had to decide on a color for the project.  My philosophy when making an item for a baby is to choose a color or colors that appeal to the baby's primary caregiver.  After all, even if the baby has a preference, the caregiver's overrides it, since the adult is the one who's going to have to look at it all the time (including during washings).  Also, in cases where the baby isn't born yet, the gift is as much to the mother/parents as to the child.

The soon-to-be mother of my soon-to-be niece is partial to purple.  Easy enough.  I chose a purple worsted-weight yarn (Caron Simply Soft in Orchid 9911) because I had a bunch of it at home already.  I love using yarn from my stash and it seemed it would work well with the pattern.

It did, but it didn't.  The pattern is pretty and relatively easy to do, but it resulted in a very stiff, thick fabric.  I worried, but my SO said it could be used as a floor blanket for the baby to sit (when it was old enough to sit) and play on.  Even if it couldn't, I knew it was only one of the items I was going to give to them.  At the very least, it would be impressive and go on a shelf to be passed down as useless "heirloom" things are.  Not my intent, but not a terrible fate for it.

Since I figured it wouldn't get used, I made the lacy border pretty big.  The one use for the blanket I could think of would be to put the baby on it for a photo shoot.  The purple is pretty but not overwhelming and the pattern stitch and edging would make a nice frame for the baby. 

Time will tell.
Full Bobble Blanket.JPGI found out late about friend's advanced pregnancy.  The baby is due in the middle of March.  I wanted to give her something handmade, but didn't have time for anything complicated. 

I looked through my commercial pattern books and also asked my SO's opinion about which would be nice.  We decided on this one (Set 3's blanket from Coats and Clark's Sweet Baby Crochet, which isn't listed on their site anymore, ISBN 073650773303), in a different color than pictured in the pattern. 

I was concerned about the bobbles -- would they bother a baby?  My SO assured me they were fine.  They're not too lumpy (and even a little hard to see in the pictures).

Speaking of pictures, I need to start taking full-blanket pictures.  There are nine bobble panels in the blanket, but each is rectangular the long way, as is the blanket itself.  I need to start measuring finished blankets, too, so I can give some idea of the scale.  It's sometimes hard when you're just seeing a photo.
Wrapped Bobble Blanket.JPG
It took about a week of evenings to finish.  When I was about a third of the way through, I noticed that I'd pulled bobble panels too tight, so the blanket wouldn't lay completely flat.  I hoped a washing would even things out a little, but washing doesn't help acrylic yarns too much in that way.  I should have done a bigger gauge swatch, including the bobbles, but I wanted to get it done and mailed as soon as possible.

I used acrylic, machine-washable yarn because it's cruel to give a new parent something that requires handwashing.  That's fine if it's an heirloom item, not meant to be used by the child (and the parent understands that), but it still needs to come along with a usable blanket.  This isn't a time to be messing around.

I wrapped it up with a wide ribbon and had the presence of mind to take a picture of the wrapping.  Go, me.  Then I nested it in a box with some white tissue paper and washing instructions (always give these with gifts), and off it went. 

I know it'll be appreciated and I hope it gets some good use.