Crochet is such a pleasure to me now, I just can’t believe I put my hook down in my early 20s and didn’t pick it up again for over two decades. Oh, there were all sorts of reasons why – family, time, work. But I could kick myself now as its such a great craft to do when you don’t have much time and when you have small children. Its also a big regret that I missed out on crochet’s transition from a rather staid granny craft to uber cool and colourful textile art. Crochet trendy? Amazing.
I had a lot of catching up to do
For my first project I thought I would start on something easy but pretty. I tried to make a simple flower using thin cotton and a size 1 hook (yes!) but failed, failed, and failed again. I couldn’t read the pattern as in my former crochet life, I had only ever used charts. Then I noticed that some patterns were in UK terminology, others in USA speak. No wonder my flowers looked like mutants. I was using all the wrong stitches. And the thing I was working on was so tiny, I could hardly see it.
OK, so no more running before I could learn to walk again, I had to go back to the beginning.
Re-learning the basics
I started playing with some proper wool and remembered how to make a simple granny square using a size 4 hook and wearing my proper working glasses.
Reading through blogs and looking at Pinterest, I found Attic24 and the possibilities of using different coloured yarns was a real revelation.
Inspired by the lovely patterns that Lucy has on her blog, I decided to do a big project and something I had never attempted before. A blanket.
I chose the granny stripe blanket as it seemed a good idea to start with what I knew I could do. My crochet confidence was still a bit fragile after the flower episode.
I chose the wool from Wool Warehouse – the Stylecraft DK special – in 15 gorgeous colours. Previously I had only used ecru or white cotton to make doilies, so this was wonderful. I spent a few evenings just putting the colours in different orders before I did anything! Beads give me this trouble too. Sometimes I have an hour to make some jewellery and use it all just sorting out beads and handling stones. Its so relaxing.
The granny stripe is born
I started the blanket around the end of January this year and struggled with the first row, which twisted like an uncooperative snake. I did the chain too tight but once I had done the first row of double crochet, there was no way I was going to start over. Stupid really, as the whole blanket was going to take oodles more time. But it was OK and the stitches began to relax as I worked on the first few colours.
I relaxed too, and then I began to love it. The repetitive trio of trebles was hypnotic and so therapeutic. I found myself crocheting and thinking through problems at work, thinking about my mum, coming to terms with the fact that she was no longer with me.
The need to do another row started prickling at the back of my mind sometime after lunchtime every day while I was working. After finishing tea and clearing up, I would snuggle up in the lounge with the TV or an audio book and do another couple of stripes. The blanket grew quite fast and what I first thought was going to take me months, maybe years, seemed doable in much less time. I could actually see myself finishing this.
Being winter, it was great to have the blanket on my knee as it grew.
And after just 6 weeks of doing a few rows each evening, the blanket was finished. I wanted to use it as a throw for my bed so I didn’t make it full length, although it is wider than a king-sized bed. My bedroom has very neutral colours and such a bright pop of colour would be just what it needed.
Its been in place for a few months now and it has to be folded away at night as its very warm just now, but it gives me such a good feeling to see it everyday. It was a great first big project and its inspired me to go on to do lots more complicated projects – including the lovely bower bird that I was so lucky to be able to make at Lucy’s workshop in Skipton earlier in July.