Bringing home a bag full of new yarn has to be one of my tippety-top pleasures in life, it sends shivers of excitement down my spine. And when that yarn is new BLAnKeT-MaKiNg yarn, well now, that makes it Extremely tippety-top if you ask me. It's just so full of promise. A bag full of promise, how wonderful to think of it like that!
I look in my bag and see eighteen bundles of delicious colour and I squeeze my eyes tight shut and try to picture it all strung out and converted into blanket form. WoW. I see it! I can see it so clearly! This bag of yarn is going to transform into one a-MA-zing blanket, and I'm incredibly excited to be starting out on this new creative Blanket Journey.
This is my Blanket-to-be then, eighteen colours of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, details as follows ::
TOP ROW [left to right]
:: 044 jade :: 027 denim :: 059 teal :: 043 purple :: 37 maroon :: 700 red ::
MIDDLE ROW [let to right]
:: 047 green :: 046 turquoise :: 032 mid blue :: 060 magenta :: 042 cerise :: 023 bright orange ::
BOTTOM ROW [left to right]
:: 031 aqua :: 002 pale green :: 025 celery :: 062 mustard :: 063 tangerine :: 033 lavender ::
If you've been bobbing into the Attic for a while, you'll already know all about this yarn. You'll remember me showing you the shop it came from and you'll remember me nattering on about the process of choosing colours. You'll recall me having second thoughts and making changes. Trying hard to get it Just Right.
Choosing the colours for a blanket is a really fun process, but there is often a weeny bit of pressure. The colour choosing is such a crucial part of the whole process, and in my experience the colours do often become more important than the yarn itself. Ok admittedly I'm a right Spoilt Brat here cos the yarn itself is without doubt TO DIE FOR, but if this to-die-for yarn was given to me in cruddy colours I would find it incredibly difficult to create something lovely from it.
So how do I go about selecting my colours??? It's a veeeeeeeeeeeery tough question to answer! There is no magic formula folks, and truthfully it's really difficult to describe my method. I can tell you that I do appear to have a very consistent colour palette which doesn't seem to alter much from year to year or from project to project. So what defines it as Mine???
Well I start out by selecting what I call my "soul colours" first. For me these are the colours of the sea (the blues and greens). You probably know instinctively what your own soul colours are. They're the ones that you're naturally drawn towards without perhaps knowing why. They may be colours you like to wear, colours that you naturally surround yourself with. You can see in the selection above that half of them are either blue or green, there are three in each row.
As these colours are cool colours, I then instinctively balance them out by adding in some heat. So I select a good few pinks and purples, plus some red. Then last of all I look for some light relief, something to lift the whole scheme, and this is usually yellow and orange.
As a general rule I tend to go for good, strong "pure" colours. Colours that are quite close to natures Spectrum. I don't often use colours that are too diluted with white (pastel colours) or grey (mucky colours).
I also keep the tonal values of the colours quite close, and by that I mean not much contrast between light and dark. If you look at the colours above, you can see I've arranged them into three rows. The top row shows the dark colours, the middle row show the mid colours and the bottom row shows the paler colours. But I haven't included any very dark colours (eg navy blue) or any very light colours (baby pastel colours). There is just enough contrast to keep it interesting, but not so much that it becomes hard to combine them successfully.
Another thing to mention is that some colours might not float your boat on their own, but combined with others, they work a treat. In my selection I have several colours that are like this eg. the rather acidic green (on the left, above) and the deep maroon red (on the left, below). These are both quite difficult colours to get to grips with on their own, but combined with the others they help to add some light/depth respectively.
Now take a look at this...............................
.......this selection of eighteen colours is not mine.
These belong to Heather of Little Tin Bird, it's her current stash of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK.
Now look at our collections together....can you see that we have a lot of similarities, but there are also some noticeable differences?
Heather has a lot more contrast in her selection. She has some very dark colours and some very light colours. She's also added in a neutral colour (bottom row). But interestingly, she has chosen 9 blue/greens and 7 red/purple/pinks, which is the exact same cool/hot balance that I have.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh such beautiful piles of lushness!! Don't they look incredible together?
Now then, we can't talk Blanket Stuff without discussing the design, can we?
Well.............it's going to be stripes, ripply, wavey stripes to be precise. Yup, I'm starting out on another happy Ripple Journey.
The ripple blanket I made way back in 2008 is always in great demand around here and is the cause of many sibling Sofa Battles. The Little Peeps quite literally fight over it, it's the warmest, softest and most snugglesome blanket ever. So in the interest of keeping the peace I'm making a second one, although this one is going to be worked slightly differently. I'm working the stripes in a combination of single and double rows. In the rough doodle above, can you see what I'm doing with the design? Each colour is worked up as three stripes (a double row in the middle, with a single row either side). The colours above and below are then sort of "interlocked" by their single rows, do you get what I mean? It'll become clearer when you see the blanket itself I hope.
I am often asked the same questions about my blankets, the ripple in particular. How many chains to start out with? And how many balls of yarn are required?
Firstly re the size and the number of chains....I'm aiming to make a good Snuggle Blanket, which shouldn't be skimpy on size. I think the size of a standard single bed is a good measure (roughly 110 x 180cm). You can see on the scrap of paper above how I calculated my starting chain, as follows ::
1. Make up a sample swatch by chaining 31 (14x2+3) and working 2 or 3 rows.
2. Measure the width of the sample (mine measured 14cm).
3. Work out how many multiples you will need to get the required width (mine was 8 multiples, ie 8 x 14cm = 112cm)
4. Each multiple requires 28 stitches, so 8 x 28 stitches = 224, then +3 for turning. So chain 227 altogether.
As for the number of balls, roughly speaking, a blanket this size worked in a medium weight yarn would need approx 30 x 50g balls. As I have 18 colours worked at random, it's not a case of simply having 2 balls of each colour. I know I'll use less of some colours and more of others. So I tend to start out with 1 ball of each colour, then buy more as and when I need it. I know this isn't ideal if you are ordering via the internet, but this is the way I do it.
So. A new blanket begins. Ripple, ripple, ripple, it's love with every stitch. And the love grows with every row.
Can you get a better idea of the design now? The interlocking colours? I'm thrilled with the way it's already beginning to look. The colours are incredibly vibrant in real life. They sing such a beautiful colour-song!
I showed you Heather's yarn stash above because we are embarking on a joint Ripple-A-Long together (you can read Heather's ripply write-up here). I've not ever worked with a friend on a joint hook-a-long before and I'm really, REAlly excited to be doing this with Heather. I anticipate it taking us right through Autumn and Winter, my-my, what a delicious thought. My first ripple blanket was a Spring/Summer affair, so the very idea of cosy, fireside hooking with these rich colours is wonderful.
So the first 14 rows of our blankies are shown above....Heather's blankie is going to be chunkier than mine as the Baby Cashmerino I'm using is slightly thinner than standard DK weight and I'm using a 3.5mm hook. Don't they look good together? Already very different too.
Ahhhhhhhhh, what sweet, neat ripples, I love love love them.
Love hooking them, love looking at them. A sea of glorious colour, wave upon wave upon wave.
It's going to be a wonderful creative Blanket Journey this one, I can just tell. And I'm soooooo much looking forward to sharing it with you!
Edit to add :: if anyone is rippling at the moment or would like to join us in our ripple-a-long, it'd be fabulous to hear from you! Come join the Ripple Party! ♥