It seems like more than a few months since I visited the Stylecraft mill over in Slaithwaite near Huddersfield to see the new yarns that were due to be launched. As well as working with the lovely new Batik yarns I’ve also had a chance to play with the new colours in the Stylecraft Special Aran range and this is my post for this year’s blog tour with the big reveal of my new circular blanket pattern.
But important things first. This post includes a competition and giveaway to win LOTS of lovely Stylecraft goodies. You can win a complete pack of 10 x 100g balls of Stylecraft aran yarn with which you can make the new blandala. Just click on the button below to go off and enter then come back and read on… There are also free copies of the blandala pattern up for grabs AND stylecraft vouchers available to spend in UK-based bricks-and-mortar yarn shops.
Congratulations to Georgina Lambourne who won the aran pack!! Competitions now closed and thank you so much for taking part.
The new colours in aran and chunky
These were chosen by a public vote among the Stylecraft followers and it was nearly pistols at dawn when duck egg missed being an aran and a chunky yarn by just a few votes 🙂 The colours that have been launched are equally lovely and its great to see such an expansion of colour choices. I have loved using Stylecraft Chunky in the past, most memorably for my retro granny stash bag.
The aran yarns have been in my stash for a while but I hadn’t got round to using them with some of the colours of the Stylecraft Carnival chunky that go so well together. I therefore jumped at the chance to take part in this year’s blog tour as the challenge was to come up with a new project that used 10 colours in the aran weight yarns:
These included pale rose, saffron, denim, aster, pistachio*, storm blue*, sage*, meadow, silver and empire*. The newly launched colours are starred.
Starting out on the blandala journey
I began making the blandala in September and remember making some of it over at the knit and natter group at Cooper’s in Skipton with the lovely Lucy from Attic24, Tracey of Handmadeoveryonder, Julie and Sheila and some of the other regulars. It grew quite fast in the beginning as the first few rounds follow much the same pattern of increases as my mega granny mandala that has been available since January.
I had much bigger plans for the blandala though. Instead of having just over 30 rounds, I was going to aim for at least 60. And in the lovely aran weight yarn, I expected to be able to make a blanket sized circle ready for snuggling under when the weather started to change in autumn. I managed quite a few more rounds while I was away at the end of September, enjoying the Yorkshire Dales and Yarndale.
As the blandala grew, I had to do some experimental rounds, loads of calculations and make pattern notes as I went along. Working with an aran weight yarn rather than a DK meant that the pattern changed quite quickly from my previous mega granny mandala. When crocheting any circle, its really important to increase so that the circle stays flat. Do too many increases and you get a ruffled effect that’s difficult to block out. Do too few increases and the circle curls up at the edges like a big saucer.
I also wanted to make the pattern really easy to make – so no counting at all. And I’m really pleased to have achieved that. I’ve added the stitch count at the end of each round, but there really is no need to count as long as your circle is coming out reasonably flat. If you have problems, its most likely because you’ve missed a row or put some extra stitches in, so you have a benchmark stitch count to check against to find out where the problem started.
On the edge…
As I carried on working, I realised how relaxing this blandala-making is. Just as meditative as any mandala but you are making something that is a useful blanket, not just a decoration. I love the big mandalas that Lucy made for Yarndale but can’t really see any of them being for ‘home’ – they are HUGE and need to be hung up to make the most of their beauty. But making a circular blanket… very practical 🙂
As the blanket grows, the number of stitches grows too, so you use more yarn in each round. I kept a close eye on my 10 balls of aran yarn and made sure that I used them evenly in the design. When I got to the border I decided on a simple linen stitch to give the blanket a more solid edge. I was getting quite low on yarn by then, so I decided to use each colour up and just carry on doing rounds. It didn’t matter if a colour ended, I just rejoined the next colour and carried on with the round. I LOVE this effect!
To bring it all together, I dug out one of my stash balls of Stylecraft Carnival Chunky in the Paris colourway as it has all the same kinds of colours as my aran pack, but is quite a bit darker. I completed the border with three rounds of Paris and it just finishes it off nicely. A sort of visual full stop. And the crab stitch edging (reverse single crochet for those of you who use US terms) is a perfect, non-fussy edge.
So here it is… the big Blandala reveal
The blandala makes a great lap blanket but because its circular it works very well on a circular table too… or a sofa… or inside a tub chair all ready to wrap up over you…
Blocking the blandala
I did block the blandala by laying it out on my blocking mats, smoothing it and then steaming it but I didn’t go to all the effort of pinning it. The circle was pretty flat and smooth and as its going to be in use as a blanket, it will probably only need to be at its most perfect for the pictures for this post!
The great thing about this blanket too, is that it looks good from both sides – it has a wrong side because all of the stitches are made on the right side, but the differences are hard to spot…
The Blandala pattern and giveaways!!!
Five more free copies will go to members of The Crafternooners group who comment on my post there today. And 5 more copies will be up for grabs in a thread in my Ravelry group.
Competition now closed – winners announced Friday 4th November 2016.
And more giveaways!
In July I was given a small stash of Stylecraft vouchers to giveaway so I thought I would add them into the mix in this special blog tour post. If you are IN THE UK ONLY though, sorry. They can only be spent at real, bricks-and-mortar yarn shops and I will give them away by using the random number generator to pick the winners. Competition now closed – winners announced Friday 4th November 2016.
Its great to be part of the blog tour again this year and to be in such talented company. So far, we’ve seen blog posts from the fabulous (all of them) Heather of Keep Calm and Crochet on with a beautiful hexagon patchwork blanket, Sue Pinner with her Spinning Top Pattern, Sandra of Cherry Heart with a lovely ripple blanket, Angie at Lemondedesucrette, Phil of The Twisted Yarn and yesterday it was the turn of Sarah at Annaboos House with her gorgeous granny wrap. After me still to come are Julia of Hand Knitted Things who I had the great pleasure of meeting again at Yarndale this year and the lovely and talented Heather of The Patchwork Heart who has just moved house a few miles away from where I am. Hopefully meeting up for some crafternoon treats are in the offing…