Firstly may I wish you a most marvellous and magnificent, peaceful and happy 2015…………..it seems ages since I wrote anything on my blog but every year Christmas takes me by surprise, and even though it’s just the two of us (well three including Bernard) getting the house decorated, food prepared, presents sewn and wrapped takes over and everything else goes out the window……it didn’t help that mid month I had a tickley throat which rapidly turned into laryngitis (anyone who knows me knows I can happily talk the back legs of a donkey…I grew up in a house of chatty women and am sure the reason my dad had 3 sheds was to hide up and get a few minutes quiet away from me and my sisters) and whether this is for real or was just in my head (The Arpette rolled his eyes and sighed deeply and put in a request for a cup of tea when I ran the theory by him) while I had laryngitis and a sore throat, I found I didn’t have the words when I went to write my blog…I’d sit down and everything would be a blank. Anyway my throat is now all better though I have a runny nose, we both look like Rudolph the Red nose Reindeer impersonators and our coughing makes the cat jump when he’s cuddled down on our laps (I suspect he thinks we’re about to cough up a fur ball)…………..
I was still sewing Christmas eve, making a little coat from Harris tweed for my doggy friend Daisy who lives just round the corner, and then after that was delivered and I was covered in doggy kisses, I finished off a cycling cap for The Arpette using a brown vintage tweed (we’d decided to try and keep things simple this year and rather than buy him things he didn’t really need I’d thought to make him a selection of new hats….I ended up making one but am hoping to finish the others over the next couple of weeks) and then collapsed on the sofa with a Christmas movie and a plate of mince pies (of which I intend to sing the virtues of later)………
I’d already made a list (I’m pretty sure I have lists for every occasion) of things I’d wanted to make over the holidays….the first list is more a wish list and even while writing it I know I’ll never get everything done on it, the next list is more about the main thing I want to make and breaking it down in stages……a couple of Winters ago (we’re talking early 2013) I began making my Grannies Paperweight Crochet Blanket, (the pattern is also known as African Flower but I much prefer the other name)…..I’ve wrote about this blanket several times before so will try to keep this as brief as possible……..making and joining the hexagons was fine, it took over everything else, and often The Arpette would come home from work to find the drawing room carpet covered with tapestry wool and me in the middle furiously crocheting little hexagon shaped flowers (oh, I decided to make it out of tapestry wool for a couple of reasons….partly I tried a few hexagons in acrylic yarn and wasn’t so keen on how the colours sat together, they just jarred rather than blended…and then I am convinced that when I use acrylic yarn my hair frizzes due to static…..this may be my imagination but I’m sticking to it….also I seemed to have hoarded a rather impressive stash of tapestry wool….some was from my Nanny’s sewing box when she died but others have been from jumbles, car boots, charity shops….I use tapestry wool for when I am embroidering on wool blanket fabric, but some colours weren’t getting used, just hoarded)………anyway, I made and joined as many hexagons as I thought made a reasonable sized blanket and then I had the daunting task of sewing in the woolly tails……
If you ever choose to make one of these blankets for yourself (and seriously, they are so beautiful it’s worth the effort of learning to crochet just to make one) then my one piece of advice would be to say “keep on top of the tail sewing in”…if not, man, it is a never ending task……my blanket has over 400 hexagons flowers, and each one has 10 tails….that’s over 4 thousand woolly tails to sew in, and while it isn’t the worse thing in the world to do, it’s just boring (and normally I love hand sewing)…….if I ever made a blanket again then I think I’d make up flowers of seven joined hexagons, sew in all their tails, and then join those together…..it’s just difficult to stop making the hexagon flowers as they are lovely, but 4 thousand tails is enough to make anyone’s heart sink.
Anyway, I’ve tried my hardest to sew in as many tails before I died of boredom and figured I’d sort out the edging as if that looked better I’d be more motivated with those woolly tails……. I also needed to make some half hexagons, they are a bit more fiddly as you aren’t working in a circle but more right to left each time, and then stopping halfway. (there is a link at the bottom to a tutorial I made to show how I made mine)….
The central little section really doesn’t use very much wool at all, so I un-ravelled one of them and then measured against it all the shorter lengths of wool I’d bundled up and knotted (I’d intended to use them for embroidery but actually a lot of them were a good length for the hexagon flower centre)…and I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone that I made way more of these then I actually needed for the blanket….however, I’d already began planning and starting on a couple of other things (my work room is full of piles of works in progress and I’m sure there are more UFO’s* in my wardrobe than are supposed to be at Roswell and Area 51) so these are no bad thing and have already been put to good use.
I’ve written before how to make up the half hexagons and how to join them in the gaps that form when working with hexagons, and include links to all parts of the blanket at the bottom of this post.
Something that I found which makes the construction easier is to work the first three rounds using a 4 mm hook (I use a stubby little Clover soft touch) and then for round 4 and 5 I switch to a 3.25 mm hook, the one I use is a Brittany wooden hook ((partly as I don’t have a Clover one but also the wooden tip is nice and poky and you can jab it in the stitch space more easily).
I don’t have a particular colour scheme in mind, at the start of the blanket I painted up some combinations to help as sometimes when you have all the colours imaginable in front of you it can be a bit over whelming (another reason I love using tapestry wool is there are so many shades and hues, delicate and subtle changes in colour across companies…….one day I’d love to make one of these using Jamieson and Smith or Jamieson’s of Shetland wool…..hmmmm actually if you are in a knitting or crotchety crochet group then I’m thinking if you each bought what, maybe 10 balls of wool in different colours (it depends how many of you there are) then if you share the wool you’d be able to create some fantastic blankets.
Mostly I try to blend the colours together, using colours in combinations that I really like…..and then every so often I use a variety of colours to add a little more interest in the hexagon flowers.
However, working in the evening can be a bit of an eye opener next morning…I ended up un-picking this one as it was a tad on the garish side. Eco light bulbs are all very well but even with what seems like every lamp in the drawing room lit, the light given can be mis-leading…..this one was way too bright, but it’s not hard to un-ravell any that are a bit much and work them with softer subtler shades……I find grey, green and blue all look the same at night, orange becomes brown, and pale yellow looks white.
Joining these half hexagons into the missing gaps was so much fun, I had a little play about laying the halves in the gaps and seeing which ones worked best, I like a mix of gentle blends and a few “oooh” combinations……the best part was having pretty much the whole blanket draped over my knees while I was working, it was so warm and cosy…..I ended up having to sit on the floor with my back against the sofa so my bent knees could support the blanket (it’s rather on the heavy side). So I happily spent a couple of days making half hexagons and joining them in with a pot of tea close to hand while watching all the Harry Potter films.
Closer scrutiny of the finished halves is making me think a few will need to be un-ravelled a smidge….the bottom edge works best with about 16 – 18 chained stitches, and on a couple I’ve made over 20 which makes the halves rather on the bulgy side (if you click on the two above pictures it’s easier to see what I mean)…certainly that pale green one is going to need re-working but it’s not difficult to put right (more concentrating on crochet and less Hogwarts distractions I think).
And where there is a crochet blanket you know you’ll find the crochet blanket inspector…..just about every time I got up to put the kettle on for more tea, I’d return to find “someone” sprawled out inspecting the blanket, often with a little soft kneading and paddy pawing and chewing of the woolly tails. I’m sure he thinks this is in fact his blanket, and if he could talk it would be “crochet faster”…
Previous blanket and crochet links
(with links to Heidi Bears totally excellent tutorials on how to make the whole hexagons and how to join them together)