Good morning and welcome to what I hope will be a lovely floral and blankety ta-dah! I really love creating these uber-happy, ever so slightly showy-offy ta-dah posts, I think the over excitement is partly to do with the timing of these blanket reveals as it feels like I have to sit on my hands and wait for aaaaaaaaaaaaaaages before I'm able to fully share. So by the time I start to upload all the photos and tell you the whole story, I am already way beyond the point of giddy at the prospect of putting it all out there. It's excitement with a cherry and a liberal dusting of sugar sprinkled on top.
So today my lovelies, I'm going to show you what happened in the weeks/months following the Pilfering Of The Hydrangea Flowers From Unsuspecting Neighbourhood Gardens Incident. Or PotHFfUNGI for short. Do you remember me telling you about it back in October last year?
I have love love loved having those flowers spread out on my studio table, and later hanging up above the radiator so that the petals could gently dry in the warmth. Almost every day I would study them, taking in the subtle yet rich colour variations whilst I pondered over a good many Hydrangea inspired creative ideas. The above photo shows the flowers at the time that I "acquired" them - they are only partly dried at this point, but the flowers were most definitely out of their summer finery and beginning their journey into the Autumn spectrum.
As the petals dried out over the Winter they began to slowly change - it was fascinating to observe and although some of them faded somewhat, they definitely retained their beauty. My biggest disappointment was that most of the beautiful deep pink petals completely lost their colour and turned brown. But if you look at the "brown" petals (at 3 o'clock in the image above), they are more dark golden yellow than mucky brown and I found I could get on board with that colour.
I made the above floral layout a few weeks ago using the now completely dried petals that have been in my studio since October, isn't it just sooooooo pretty? I love all the subtle variations of colour, they are delicate yet strong, faded but rich too. But above all, I find them incredibly inspirational.
As you well know by now (and I am most certainly predictable when it comes to these things), the inspiration I find in nature almost always sparks off a whole flurry of yarn related ideas. And when I say ideas, of course I mainly mean blankets. The more I pondered over the gentle colours of dried Autumn hydrangeas, the more I began to visualise those colours coming together as soft, warm blankety stripes. I just couldn't help myself, the blanket-maker in me is very much alive and kicking.
Over the weeks that I worked through my ideas for this colour palette, I certainly didn't obsessively try to match the yarn colours to each petal and leaf. I used the hydrangeas as a point of reference, but also tried to capture something of the emotion behind the whole story of the flowers. I wanted to describe the transition from living blooms to faded petals, to show the subtle depth of the colours that looked so beautiful as they changed and settled.
I also wanted to create a colour palette that was balanced and harmonious, something that was soft and pretty, perhaps with a slightly faded vintage vibe. These are gentle, sleepy colours that remind me of Summer easing into Autumn slumber.
I chose fifteen colours to make up my Hydrangea palette and the yarn pack contains 15 x 100g of Stylecraft Special DK, as follows ::
Top row, left to right ::
Violet ♥ Denim ♥ Cypress ♥ Mocha ♥ Pale Rose
Middle row, left to right ::
Grape ♥ Storm Blue ♥ Meadow ♥ Vintage Peach ♥ Mushroom
Bottom row, left to right ::
Raspberry ♥ Duck Egg ♥ Pistachio ♥ Camel ♥ Parma Violet
Ahhh, it always feels so good to have a fresh new blanket-to-be nestled in my yarn bag! Seeing the yarn balls like this always gets me really, really excited for the journey about to begin, it's a thrill that I never, ever tire of.
I am fascinated with how designers work, with the whole process of finding inspiration and developing ideas. Not many designers share the origins of their pattern inspiration, and I often wonder about this. Where do they look? How do they create their patterns? Do they look at vintage patterns, do they get inspired by what is already out there, do they sketch their ideas first, or do they get scraps of yarn and a hook and launch themselves into it blind?
It's not often that I decide to show you the true origins of my pattern designing, as usually my early samples look pretty appalling to be honest. They are scrappy and half worked, ideas tried out and abandoned, plenty of failures in amongst those first stitches. But I thought it would be fun to share this time, so you can see how I arrived at the simple stripe I've come up with for my Hydrangea blanket. If you look at the sample above, you can see that I started out trying a variation of the V stitch. I didn't know this at the time I was playing around with my own sample, but I later found out that this "double-V stitch" already exists in the public domain and is often called Iris Stitch.
I liked the look of this stitch (and it is super easy to do which is always a priority for me when I design my patterns), but decided it was a bit too open and holey for me to like it for a blanket. So I had a try at filling in those holes - if you look at the third (denim blue) colour in the sample above, you can see where I began to add in an extra double crochet stitch in between each double-V shell. And by working two rows in the same colour, my stitch pattern came out looking a little bit like a four-petaled flower, which was a perfectly happy accident!!
Once I'd decided on using this stitch pattern I'd created, I had the headache of working out the numbers. Oh. My. Goodness. Crochet Maths is a necessary part of the design process, but it drives me nuts. However, once the numbers have been conquered and the blanket can go full steam ahead, wowsers, it is the very best feeling when it all works out.
I knew after the first few stripes of this blanket that this pattern was going to hit the sweet spot for me - it is Super Easy in that once the first two "set-up" rows have been created, every row follows the same pattern and there is no counting involved. You can cosy up with this project in front of your favourite thing on TV (or in the pub/cafe) and hook away with only a small part of your brain needing to be engaged.
This is speedy, rhythmic, pleasurable hooky, with the "double-V" made using a UK treble crochet and the infill stitch made using a UK double crochet. Working two rows of each colour means that there aren't too many ends to darn in and the stripes grow satisfyingly quickly. Also, you'll be pleased to hear that this is not a blanket that has wobbly sides either - the ends of the rows come out looking remarkably straight and neat, hooray for that simple fact!!
As the blanket grew, I was delighted by the unexpectedly lovely surface texture of the stripes. The hydrangea stitch pattern makes quite a dense fabric, which means that the finished blanket feels as if it's made from thicker yarn than a DK weight. Everyone who has seen and squished this blanket in real life has loved the feel of it, and been surprised that this is indeed Stylecraft Special DK yarn.
I have enjoyed hooking this blanket so, so much - the quiet ease of the pattern has pleased me on so many levels (especially coming after the intensity of the Moorland Blanket), and has been an absolute pleasure.
I have also loved the way the colours have played together - often the combinations ended up quite surprising and rather quirky (Vintage Peach next to Pistachio? Raspberry next to Denim?), but the overall harmony of these colours creates a beautiful energy I think.
Whilst I've been making the Hydrangea blanket, I've also found myself playing with the flowers at the same time, it was instinct I suppose, to keep looking, comparing, referring, feeling.
I sometimes felt that the blues/purples I'd picked out were maybe a tad too dark - the Denim, Storm Blue and Violet yarn colours are quite intense against the softer more pastel shades. Yet when I looked at the dried hydrangea flowers, the deep stormy blues and purples are right there in real life, just as the pale baby blues, soft limey greens and delicate grey/purples are.
I've lost track of the weeks a bit with making this blanket as I can't quite remember when I started it. Sometime towards the end of February I think it was, when my Moorland Blanket was awaiting it's border. It feels like it's been a short journey, and yet I've been pondering these colours since way back in October last year.
I put the final stitches into the blanket last week - I opted for a simple two-round Linen Stitch edging to very gently hold the stripes and give a very subtle finish. To be honest with you, the edges were so neat and straight (they pleased me so much!) that I even pondered the idea of leaving the stripes free of constraint and not making an edging at all.
But in the end, I decided that creating a narrow edging would be the thing to do, and as always it's amazing what a difference it has made to the finished blanket. It turns a whole load of stripes into a very definite Finshed Object, and I love to see and feel that transformation.
There is that delicious moment when the last ends are darned in and the blanket is finished, and I confess that I do actually shout a grand "Ta-dah" out loud to whoever happens to be listening at the time. Sometimes it's just the kitty, but that's OK, she opens her eyes wide when I shout and gives me The Disapproving Look that makes me feel like I am behaving badly.
But finished blankets are so worth shouting about, they really are.
All those relaxing moments and happy memories locked up in those colourful rows. A crochet blanket is so much more than just a whole collection of yarny stitches, and I love more than anything to celebrate that fact.
And if I want to leap about and shout about it, then nobody (not even the disapproving kitty) will stop me............
To be perfectly honest this blanket turned out differently to what I had first seen in my mind, which has surprised me as that doesn't often happen (my Creative Mind is surprisingly good at giving me accurate visual predictions). If I had to try and put into words why this is, I would say it has something to do with the energy that this blanket has. In my mind when I first chose the colours, I thought :: soft-sleepy-faded-vintage-floral. And yet this blanket isn't really those soft, faded things at all - it is much more energetic, striking, vibrant than I thought it would be.
I wonder if you agree with me? I wonder how these colours, these stripes make you feel? Do share, I would LOVE to know....
As with all my finished blankets, there is no softly-softly approach to their treatment around here. They are launched into family life the minute the last end has been darned in, and Little B has already had this blanket pegged up to form the ceiling to his secret hideaway at the weekend. I particularly like to see it draped over the grey of our sofa, those colours really do go very well with grey.
I love seeing these fifteen colours all together, even more so now that I know what stripy delights have come from them playing together! I also happen to think that these Hydrangea inspired colours would work beautifully made into a blanket of squares - there is just something playful and quietly energetic about them which I think would work very well with squares (I can so see the Harmony blanket worked with these colours - I am very tempted!)
I am really happy with my continuing partnership with the lovely folks at Wool Warehouse*, my Attic24 shop is celebrating three years this month, and I still feel such a thrill when I think about it all. I love that I can share my blanket journeys with you, and very much hope that you might find yourself inspired to embark on your very own creative journeys.
So....I think we should maybe round off with a few blankety facts?
♥ Yarn ♥ I used 15 x 100g Stylecraft Special DK to make this blanket and a yarn pack is available from my shop at Wool Warehouse. A full colour printed pattern is included with the yarn, and the lovely peeps at Wool Warehouse* will happily ship all over the world.
♥ Size ♥ My blanket measures 120 cm x 170cm, but there is no reason why you couldn't increase/decrease the starting chain to make a humongous bed blanket or a lovely baby sized blanket. You would need to double the yarn quantity to make a double bed size blanket.
♥ Pattern ♥ I've named this pattern the Hydrangea Stripe, and you can find a full picture-heavy tutorial in the left hand side bar of my blog. This is a brilliant pattern for beginners, and I think one of the easiest I have ever written - it is pretty hard to go wrong with this stitch, once you've completed your foundation row and first pattern row it's a piece of cake. Included in the tutorial is a table which gives the colour order for working the stripes - there are 88 stripes in total.
I was going to wait a while before talking about these crochet hydrangea flowers, but honestly they are so cute that I can't resist sharing them with you right now. I designed this little four petaled flower to use up the leftovers from my blanket as I've been so inspired by these flowers that I have in mind to make a Hydrangea Flower Wreath....
....I still need to make a lot more, and I'll be sharing the pattern for them here on my blog in the next few weeks.
As ever, thank you so much for joining me here in the Attic and indulging my over-sharing, I appreciate your company very much..
ps * Wool Warehouse does a fantastic job enabling my yarn packs to be shipped all over the world and I really enjoy the way in which we work together. Wool Warehouse is the only yarn company that supports my blog and I earn a commission on sales of my yarn packs via my Attic24 shop.
pps if you are sharing your own hydrangea blanket journey on social media, please do add the #hydrangeablanket hashtag - I'd love to see your pictures. Happy hooking! xx
....more little snippets from the Attic...