Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I can tell that we are gonna be friends!

Well, here it is in all it's finished glory - the red white and black blanket! I thought the dramas I had with this one would end my love affair with crochet, but now that it's done and sent off to it's intended recipient (and if this is YOU then please act shocked when you open it!) I have to say, I'm really happy with it.

So now that we're all friends again, let me explain from the beginning why this blanket nearly drove me up the wall.

The original concept was simple: a blanket made up of 9 squares (50cm each) so it would be 150cm square. It was to be in different tones of red, black, white, grey and burgundy. Each square would be made using a different crochet technique, so that it had a patchwork feel to it.

The first square to be completed was the skull square. I'd seen a pattern on Flickr (thanks to underthevalley http://www.flickr.com/photos/nat_neko/3456699344/ ) and wanted to give it a go, and so I did. I loved the result but decided I didn't care for making picture designs in crochet as there are far, far too many ends to weave in. And we all know how I feel about end-weaving! So I went back to my list and changed the few squares that would require much end-weaving. The only one I left was the square with the wording, I figured I was writing block letters and the end-weaving was minimal, so I wrote myself a pattern for the words and got stuck in. I learned that it doesn't matter if you're working in straight lines or doing small patches of colour, there's still a hell of a lot of little fluffy end bits that need seeing too. Hmm, let's re-assess the patterns, I say.

Next was a black and white checkerboard patterned square (which sadly, didn't make the final cut). I decided I'd make it like 5 little scarves, alternating between black and white after so many rows, then stitching them together side-by-side at the end. I thought it would would quicker than making granny squares and stitching them together, and there would be less ends. True, there were less ends. But it wasn't quicker and the end result was a square that wasn't actually square but rectangular. Bum.

So, feeling peeved I started on the mitred square and was pleased with how it looked. It's a great pattern and nicely geometric, but when I laid it out with the squares and rectangle I'd already done, I decided that geometric shapes need balance and symmetry, so I had to complete 3 more to make the corner squares. However, I ran out of the yarn I was using and had to use different yarn on the 4th square. No big drama, *recipient* won't notice, right? Just keep going...

Next was a gorgeous square made from 9 granny squares out of the Jan Eaton "200 crochet blocks" book, in the red, white, grey, black and burgundy colour combo I had originally intended. It's pretty, I think. However, you may notice it's not part of the final blanket.

So now I'm up to 8 of 9 of the squares. Good, I'm on the home stretch now and I just need one more square to finish it off and hooray! we're done. I decide to make a nice striped square with the same colours of the Jan Eaton squares so that they all tie in to one another. It worked up quickly and again, I think it looks lovely.

I clear the loungeroom floor of everything and lay out the squares, but I don't think it looks right. After about 15 minutes of "what if I swap that one with this, and rotate that one like this...." I look to my husband and say, "It sucks and I hate it". To which he tactfully answers, "It doesn't suck baby, just...have you tried...?" and suggested the layouts I'd previously tried. Nothing. I sighed, picked up the checkerboard square and say "It's all your fault, you just don't fit in!!" and toss it in the spare room. Again, it's the symmetry that bothers me. It just isn't balanced and I need to find something similar to the skull because then it'll be even and it'll be perfect.

I need something gothy, something punk and symbolic...hours of fruitless internet searching yields nothing but a migraine that leaves me blind in the right eye. There's nothing for it but to write my own pattern. Gasp! Hence the ankh pattern was born, and I stitched it up and was well impressed with the result. (See previous post for patterns).

Then, looking at the squares laid out again, I turn to my husband and say "The squares with the grey have to go - but what will take their place?" Unfortunately, he's an xbox man and doesn't know much about crochet (other than, it's what I do!), so I jump back on the internet and search for free patterns. After a day of seaching, I decide I'm willing to pay for something. Another day, no results. Bugger it. So, I create the crow pattern. I stitch him up and I'm happy with that one too. Although, I did realise about 3/4 of the way through I'd used 12 ply yarn while I'd been using 8 ply previously. Probably had something to do with the yarn band being in German or Dutch or something. Hmm. Oh well I'm almost done now!
The last square. This is it, the final showdown. I was going to try a dragon pattern I had, but pulled it undone 3 times and decided it just wasn't going to work. The problem is, I like to work in double crochet (trebles for UK terminology) so this messes with the patterns. I do 2 doubles per one stitch on the chart when working across, but only one for the height since it's a double and is already twice the height. This means that the design ends up being a little fatter than the chart represents, or a little shorter than it's supposed to be. This was the reason I dismissed the awesome pentagram design from Sooticas Dream on Flickr ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/sooticasdream/3476198617/) because it'd mess with it too much. Then I had a brilliant idea. I'd work the pattern from the side, so that it stretched it up instead of out. Success!
Then yesterday, I laid it out and thought "Yes, this is it!" and whip stitched those suckers together, then finished off with a border of white single crochet. It's done, as of 12.35am last night. I posted it off this morning, and now I am happy again. Next project please!!

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