Monday, 3 November 2014

The Granny Star Blanket

Apologies for being so quiet, I have been finding juggling all the things that are involved in my life a bit tricky over the last few months, but I am back, and hopefully I will manage to stick around for a while.

As you may have noticed I love to make blankets. Don't get me wrong, I make lots of other things too, but blankets are my favourite, they are my go to item. Over the years I have tried lots of patterns, simple ones, complex ones, colourful ones etc and what I have discovered is that I am a bit of a lazy crocheter. What I mean by this is that I am always doing at least two things at once, whether its crochet and making mental to-do lists; crocheting and watching whilst the girls demonstrate something for me; crocheting whilst listening to a tale from work by my other half, or just crocheting and watching tv.
So whilst I love to look at a complex border, or an intricate pattern that has you counting every stitch, the reality is that I love a pattern that enables multi-tasking so is intrinsically simple.

I hope that this pattern ticks those boxes, once you get past the start it has a simple three row repeat. I have not specified yarn type of hook size as this is completely up to you, pick a yarn you like and use the hook you would normally use with it, then make your item as big or small as you want, it could be made in cotton and used as a mandala, it could be made in DK and used as a blanket, or made in t-shirt yarn and used as a rug.

In these pictures the finished rainbow blanket was made using Ice Gumball yarn, the how to pics were made using cotton as I think the stitch definition is clearer in cotton.

* apologies, some of the pictures will not stay where I ask them so if you suffer from OCD look away now, this pattern seems to be reflecting the chaos of my life in pictorial form! *

All of that said here it is my granny star blanket pattern, I have had a few friendly crocheters check it over for me, and I am very grateful for this but if you spot an error please let me know, it was written whilst watching my daughters rehearse their halloween jokes and try on costumes:

Lulu Loves Crochet
Granny Star Pattern

pick whatever yarn you fancy, and an appropriate hook, for blankets I would normally use DK yarn and a 4.5mm hook. 

Once you get started this is a simple pattern with a three round repeat until you reach the size you want your blanket/rug/mandala to be

you only need to know four stitches for this pattern - which is written using english terminology:
  • chain stitch
  • treble crochet (US double crochet)
  • double crochet (US single crochet)
  • slip stitch

To start:
chain 5 and join into a circle

round 1:

chain 2 (counts a 1 tr) 2tr, *ch2 3tr* repeat * to * three times, as you would to start a normal granny square, slipstitch to join to top of starting 2chain and slipstitch across to the 2 chain space from previous round

round 2:

ch2 (counts as 1 tr) 2tr, ch2, tr3 in same space ; *3tr ch2 3tr* in each 2ch corner space repeat * to * all the way around, ss into top of starting 2ch and ss along to 2ch space from previous round

round 3:

ch2 (counts as first treble) 2tr 2ch 3tr all in same space , in next space *3tr 2ch 3tr* repeat from * to * all the way around another 6 times, should end up looking like 8 granny corners. ss into top of starting 2ch and ss along to 2ch space from previous round

round 4:


ch2 (counts as first tr) 2tr 2ch 3 tr in first corner space, *skip next space from previous round, 3tr 2ch 3tr into next “corner point space”* repeat * to * all the way around (another 6 times).

ss into top of starting 2ch and ss along to 2ch space from previous round 

round 5:

Ch2 (counts as first treble) tr2 ch2 tr3 in two chain corner/point space from row below, *3tr in space working along 3tr 2ch 3tr in point/corner* repeat from *to* all the way around. ss into top of starting 2ch, ss along to corner/point space

round 6:

Ch2 (counts as first re) 2tr 2ch 3tr in point space *3tr in each space along to next point 3tr 2ch 3tr in point* repeat all the way round. ss into top of starting ch2 , ss along to space

Round 7:



Ch2 (1tr) 2tr 2ch 3tr, *work along with groups of 3tr until you reach the middle of the row, skip one space (its easy to find as it is directly in line with the one from row 4)

 3tr groups along to the next corner, 3tr 2ch 3tr in corner space* repeat * to * all the way round

repeat rows 5-7 until you reach the desired size.

To finish I did two rows of double crochets then added pompoms onto the points

Please note, I do NOT do a chain space between groups of trebles on straight edges, this is a personal choice, if when doing a normal granny square you would do a one chain space between groups of 3 trebles then you might want to include them in this pattern I omitted them as I felt the pattern did not need it/was too loose with them. But this is a personal choice.

I hope you enjoy it

Saturday, 16 August 2014

African Flower Obsession

Over the last few months I have developed a small obsession, Africa flowers.
I started by making a few by way of a stash buster. I used a pattern from Simply Crochet magazine but you can find plenty on the internet

They grew and grew

But joining them, well that was another matter, I just couldn't decide,  I joined, then ripped back again and again

  so instead I just kept making other projects, and looking at them every so often

Then I had the daft idea to start another…..

so I made more….

and more….

Eventually I had something approaching 350 individual flowers

Now I have two joined and have begun to join the third

Well I have laid them out at least

And believe it or not I have started planning a fourth. I cannot deny it, I am addicted to African flowers

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Glasgow Skies

Hello out there,
its been a while so I hope there are still a few of you reading.
There has been a lot going on recently, much of it I either can't or would prefer not to talk about right now, some good, some bad and some decidedly ugly…….so lets look back instead

Late in 2012 I heard about the idea for a sky blanket, something similar swept Instagram towards the end of 2013, but with a different slant, a mood blanket. Anyway, back in late 2012 I decided that this was the sort of thing I could take on, one square, stripe etc every day for a year, given the amount I crochet that surely wasn't too much to ask.

S0 I set about my yarn stash, selecting my acrylic DK and picking and assigning different colours to different skies, I live in Glasgow so you can imagine, lots of greys, whites, the odd blue and yellow and a sparkle, I assigned them as follows:

  • snowy/frosty days were to get a sparkly white square ( I must confess for a while the girls and I were so excited about this that there may be more sparkly days than there should as a hint of snow and we were pulling it out the bag)
  • cloudy days were to be determined by the colour of the clouds so maybe white, light grey, dark grey…. I also had a really dark blue for stormy days
  • clear days were to get blue, I had a cold icy blue, a warm sunny blue and various shades in-between
  • rain would get grey - as again shade to be determined by just how wet it was
  • sunny days - as in days when i had my sunglasses on would get yellow, I had a couple of warm shades for those gorgeous summer days and one ice yellow for those bright winter days when the sun is low and even though its -1 outside you still have the sunglasses on in the car!

So I began on January 1st 2013 with my first granny square. Initially I decided that, given that I live in glasgow where we can easily get four seasons in one day I would gauge the sky at a set time each day. I chose 12 noon. But this quickly proved unworkable as maybe there was a quick flash of sun/rain on an otherwise cloudy day, or else I was busy and just plain forgot. SO I resorted to plan B which was the majority vote - my girls and I would decide at the end of the day what the weather had mostly been like and decide a colour accordingly

for a few months it grew well, I'd forget the odd day, but could easily catch up, then as often happens life would get in the way, other things were going on and for a while I tried noting down the sky each day and making up my squares for the week on a sunday evening.

I chose to work with diagonal stripes, the only rule being that the weather is never identical two days in a row (no matter how heavy the rain!) so no squares side by side need be the same colour. The advantage of working diagonally was that if I got bored/gave up it wouldn't be too much work to square it off to make a smaller blanket. 

So on I plodded, sometimes with daily diligence, occasionally letting weeks go by where all I would do was scribble in my notebook a brief description of the sky that day. Sometimes I enjoyed it, others I would see the bag in the corner of the room and just groan. Slowly it grew and by the middle of the summer I was amazed by how many bright yellow squares I had acquired. In fact I was even accused of making it up or lying about where I lived. What I found fascinating is that living in the west of scotland we have a tendency to just assume the weather is rubbish but when you actually study the sky daily that just isn't the case.

By the autumn I could sense the end was in sight

I could roll it up, or lay it on a bed and pretend it was almost finished, if you just used soft focus on the missing corner!

In the end my blanket was made up of 357 four round granny squares, 17x21, the last week I used to add an edge, something I must confess I still have not completely finished seven months later. However here it is, the Glasgow Skies Blanket 2013. I enjoyed doing it, and the way it made me think about the weather and the sky colour each day, but I must confess, I am glad it is finished!!

 I enjoyed doing it, and the way it made me think about the weather and the sky colour each day, 
but I must confess, I am glad it is finished!!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Facebook Phenomenon

I am quite new to this blogging thing. I am enjoying the chance to explain how my blankets evolve in a bit more detail than Facebook or Instagram will allow, so please indulge me as I do just that. The power of Facebook has been extraordinary in the development of this blanket, as I will explain. But I would like to take the opportunity first to thank everyone who took the time to reply and help us with this decision.

First let me give you the background to this blanket. I have been part of a rather amazing group of ladies for five years now. They live across the length and breadth of the UK and beyond and come from all walks of life. We all have one thing in common, we were all pregnant in 2009 and had similar due dates so are, I think, a unique support group for each other. For me that 2009 pregnancy is now a wonderful independent spirited little girl who is known to her family as Lulu.

Anyway, one of these ladies contacted me recently after seeing Lulu's Nursery blanket, if you haven't seen it you can read all about it here. She had seen my photos and loved the blanket and what Lulu herself calls its 'purple heart'. She asked me could I make a similar, but smaller version of Lulu's blanket for her new baby. I of course said "I'd love to"

so I began making all this rainbow squares again

This time I made the squares smaller, as the blanket was to be smaller. and I edged them in cream, just to be a little bit different to Lulu's blanket

Once I had made all 56 squares the girls and I set about laying them out in various different designs, always with purple at their heart, for the blanket's owner to choose from. The good news for me was that she pretty much loved everything we showed her, the bad news was she couldn't decide which she liked best, so we decided to ask the world of Facebook and instagram for advice. I made up a photograph with nine different layouts on it:

I then posted it on Instagram and Facebook simply asking which one people liked best. My plan had been to make up a wee graph or pie chart with the results to see if there one clear favourite. However we got over 100 replies on IG and on the Facebook post here we had almost 700 responses. I have to be honest we were both blown away by this. I know how many 'follower' my Facebook page has but have never had a response like this to anything I have posted, and I suspect I never will again. 

What was interesting was that there were two real clear favourites, I quickly abandoned the pie chart idea, because quite frankly I was overwhelmed with responses, so much so that I switched off all notifications for a few days as there were just so many. 

Eventually a decision was made, and after another day or two of indecision a layout was picked, so I set about making it. And I am now proud to show you the new blanket and the winning layout:

It is a riot of colour and I adore it, I even got a sunny day to photograph it

 The winning layout was by far the most popular choice on Facebook, and it was picture number 5, so if this was your favourite and you took the time to tell us, thank you. If this wasn't your favourite, thank you just the same for taking part in our not so little survey, and I hope you like the final blanket, even if it wasn't your first choice.

It will shortly be heading off to its new home where I am confident it will be loved as much as it is here. Thank you again to everyone who helped


Friday, 27 June 2014

The Surprise New Beginnings Blanket

I'm not sure if its just me, but I find as I get older I know lots of people, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I have lots of friends. Sure I have many acquaintances, but friends, the sort you would trust with your most personal things, very few. Friends come and go over the years, there are friends from school; from university; from various different work places; the ones I used to be out with drinking and singing along to Dolly Parton with in our favourite pub in my 20s; the ones who have had families at the same time in our 30's who we meet up with a children's birthdays, weddings etc. And a few who you just know will be friends for life, no matter what. There are a couple of people who I would include in that small group, and this post is, in part, about one of those.

We have been friends over 30 years now, our fathers were friends, the first time I remember meeting we, along with our younger sisters, were taking part in a charity raft race, memorable mostly for oversized life vests and the tying of one vests directly to the plastic seats we were all sitting on, much to everyone's amusement. I believe there are photographs of this event somewhere…..but fortunately since I was only 9 I don't have them.

As the years went on we went to university in different cities, made new friends and lives for ourselves, we settled on opposite sides of the country and by out late 20s were lucky if we saw each other once a year, and spoke maybe 3 or 4 times a year on the phone. But, she is one of those people who it doesn't matter if you haven't spoken in days or months, the conversation picks up exactly where it left off, and I just love that, I also love her individuality, in school she would turn up in the middle of winter in sandals and with no jacket, where I was in a thermal vest and woolly hat!

She has been there for the good times, and more recently has helped me through some tough times. So when she phoned me late last year to tell me about a life changing decision she and her family were considering making I was not surprised that she spoke about the impact and benefits for her husband, her children and the effects it could have on the rest of her family. Not once did she talk about herself in any of these conversations, they were all about everyone else.

They decided to go for it, a decision that would see their family move hundreds of miles to the the opposite end of the country. I would have loved to catch up and say goodbye properly but it never happened, so I determined to do something that was for her, to show her how proud I was of her. Now I'm not very imaginative, in fact I am quite predictable so the decision was not a hard one, it was time to make a blanket! and a surprise blanket at that….

I had recently 'acquired' quite a few balls of cotton from Lidl, it was just so pretty it kept slipping into my shopping basket, in fact I rather wish I had bought more. So I laid it all out and tried to decide what to do. I had loads of colours so decided just to go for it and see what happened.

Initially I planned a blanket about a metre square, one that could be used for picnics, or thrown over the back of a sofa, I know roughly for a blanket that size how many squares I need so I set out making the middles. My girls are used to me with a hook in my hand and we enjoy a 'crafter-noon' where we all get to do out own thing, whether with yarn, paint or something else.

Several of these January afternoons later and my squares were beginning to take shape, there were some colours I loved, some I wasn't too sure about, I felt more were needed so raided my cotton stash and found some red and a dark blue bamboo cotton that I added it, the colours reminded me of something, but I just wasn't sure what.

I am a working mum, with two kids so crochet is very much an evening activity for me, its a hobby, a past time, it helps me relax and de-stress, sometimes I do lots, sometimes not so much, I frequently get bored of a project half way through, or doubt myself and whether it is going to work and I always have more than one thing on the go at a time. That was definitely the case here, I was using so many colours, colours I had fairly randomly thrown together without too much thought, but I had gone too far to turn back, and anyway I was determined to finish, I was going into hospital mid february and had set myself a deadline of that date to be finished and posted.

The squares continued to grow round after round, and actually what I realised was that there were not enough of them, so I made more, and more. I had decided four round solid granny squares would be perfect, but actually once I reached that stage it all still looked a bit disjointed, so I added a fifth round, and, to my eye at least the repetition of colours involved in this seemed to help pull the squares together.


So I ended up with 120 squares, using 10+ different colours. decisiveness is not one of my strong suits so my daughters helped me decide how to arrange the squares for joining, and I have to say it came out so much better than I had hoped. Being cotton it has a softness and a weight to it that you just don't get with acrylic yarns.


I even eventually remembered what it reminded me off, my russian doll that my parents brought me from a trip to St Petersburg, in fact looking at it, I believe it may have subconsciously inspired me.

SO here it is the Surprise New Beginnings Blanket, can you see the pattern in the squares? and the one square that I put in the wrong place? I couldn't face ripping several rows back so there it will remain. It is bold and bright, and I hope beautiful.

I managed to keep it a secret. I got it posted the day before my operation and got a lovely phone call a couple of days later. I am happy to say it is now happy in its new coastal home in Cornwall, and most importantly, they liked it! If you have read this far….thank you, I promise the next one will be shorter, more crochet, less chat.


Saturday, 21 June 2014

The Nursery Blanket

It's been a hot day and this is my first post so please be patient with me.
Lots of people have been asking about my latest blanket - the Nursery Blanket - so I thought this was the time to try and finally start a blog in order to explain it.

Two weeks ago I asked my younger daughter what she would like to give her nursery teachers as a leaving present, she finishes next week as she is starting school after the summer. I had anticipated a card, or two and had expected chocolates or some such as her gift suggestion but NO. She announced that she wanted me to make a blanket for them to have in the family room as they didn't have any blankets in there are the moment. Our house is full of crochet blankets and she felt this was something that was lacking at nursery.

It was a lovely sentiment so I agreed, quickly thinking up simple and easy blankets I could quickly rattle up in the ten days I had to finish it. However little miss had other ideas and pointed to a blanket that lives in our house and said could I do something similar to it. This is the blanket she wanted me to replicate Lulu's rainbow blanket. This blanket is based on Bears rainbow blanket by the Purl Bee and the pattern can be found here Bears Rainbow Blanket

So Off we went upstairs to pick yarn, me quietly thinking at least she picked solid blocks of colour, that will be a bit easier. She picked some variegated Ice yarns, Ice magic Light to be exact, in eight different shades, two blues, green, yellow, orange pink, fuchsia and purple> I got mine direct from Ice Yarns in Turkey.

So I got started that evening. I am a working mum so my crochet is mainly restricted to evening once my girls are sleeping. I decided to do simple solid granny squares to give the blocks of colour she liked and estimated that I would need 8-10 squares in each colour to make a good sized blanket. I could write out the pattern for you, but it is available freely all across the internet and in pretty much any crochet book you care to pick up, a good tutorial I saw recently was by Wink of A Creative Being her description and photos are clear to follow so if you need help try this link.

It took five evenings of Solid crochet but I got all the blocks made and they looked lovely, it almost seemed a shame to do anything with them and we had lots of fun laying them out in different ways and admiring the colours 

Next we had to decide how to edge the squares, my daughter was pushing for black, but quite honestly my eyes we not up for it so we agreed on Stylecraft DK in Parchment, not to dark and not to bright, a colour that should enable the squares to be the focus. The next couple of nights were spent edging all 100 squares with a final round in parchment.

The next decision was how to lay them out to make a blanket, I had a few ideas of my own, however this was not a blanket of my design so I gave the squares to my daughters, explaining that their blanket had to be 8 squares across and 10 down and left them to it, we used a camera to record all their efforts 

As you can see they were at this job for quite some time and came up with many different layouts before deciding on the winner. my daughters favourite colour is purple so untimely she decided the heart of the blanket should be purple, and that the other colours should spread out from there. Next I had to join them. I did this by putting the squares right sides facing each other and did a slip stitch into the outside edge only of the treble crochets from the parchment row. They were all joined with a couple of days to spare so I quickly did a very simple edge, also in parchment. 

To do the border I did one round of half trebles, the next round I did htr, ch2 (skip two tr from previous round) her, all the way round. the next round I did 3htr in each 2ch space. And then it was done. a quick wash and it was ready to go

SO we parcelled it up and off to nursery we went, there is only one day a week Lulu's two favourite teachers are there so we had to take it then, and I think they liked it, when I left Lulu and her teacher were busy arranging it on a chair in the playroom, her teachers favourite colour is also purple so they were making sure its purple heart was right in the middle.

I hope you like it as much as we do