Over the years that I've been designing and making blankets I've become fascinated with the way in which inspiration strikes - it's a very unpredictable thing indeed and really rather amazing! Sometimes an idea will ping into my mind as if from nowhere, a sudden vision that I can see as if it were right in front of me already. Other times a vague idea will creep and crawl oh-so-very-slowly into my Creative Mind, growing and changing over a period of months/years until the time is right to try and bring it into reality. This was definitely the case with the Moorland blanket, and the very idea of making a blanket inspired by the colours of this particular landscape was a slow thing to grow. I don't think it could have happened in any other way actually. It became a culmination of many years of happy memories, a colourful, creative description of time and place, of emotions and family life, of seasonal change and natural beauty.
The colours I chose to make the Moorland Blanket describe my memories of the heather moorlands in late summer. I wanted to try and give a feeling of being high up on the moors on a beautiful clear day, a feeling of openness, freedom, fresh breezes and sunshine. I created a colour palette which I think feels fresh and light, but earthy and natural too. I used 15 shades of Stylecraft Special DK...
Top row, left to right ♥ Pistachio ♥ Sage ♥ Grape ♥ Wisteria ♥ Duck Egg ♥
Middle row, left to right ♥ Lime ♥ Meadow ♥ Mocha ♥ Violet ♥ Cloud Blue ♥
Bottom row, left to right ♥ Cyprus ♥ Khaki ♥ Walnut ♥ Plum ♥ Storm Blue ♥
You can buy the yarn pack from my shop at Wool Warehouse..
I wrote quite a a bit about my design process for the Moorland Blanket when I introduced it back in November last year (hard to believe it was so long ago!). The above photo shows the final result of my many stripe samples - this was my way of working out how to organise the 115 stripes so that they told the story of the moorland landscape. I remember being so excited about the idea of making this blanket into a "colour-story", but also strangely nervous as well. Behind the scenes I spent a fair bit of time questioning my ideas and fretting about how everyone else would take to it. It's one thing to create a blanket in isolation for one's own pleasure and enjoyment, but creating a Crochet-A-Long project where you hope to encourage and inspire others to follow brings a weeny amount of additional pressure.
But whenever I had my doubts, I looked back over my collection of photos and reminded myself how joyous this blanket would be, simply because of the stunning inspiration behind it. The creative journey would be a fulfilling one, I felt sure of it.
When I am designing a blanket, it's nearly always the colours that come first, followed by the pattern. For me, the essence of any blanket is the colour palette and this will always be my priority. Yes, I really am that obsessed with colour, always have been and probably always will be.
I flirted with some straight-stripe pattern ideas for a while, but pretty quickly knew that straight stripes wouldn't work. The pattern needed to have movement, and I began to look for something that would be a good fit for the undulating layers of wide open landscape that I wanted to describe. I sampled a good number of different chevron, ripple and wave patterns before settling on a variation of a simple wave effect that I felt happy with.
There is something quite magical about working on those first few rows of a blanket, building the foundation for what will become a treasured and much loved piece of yarny fabric. With every blanket I make, I always try and practice some gentle mindfulness whilst hooking - catching a hold of the memories and feelings which make up time and place and embedding them into the thousands of little stitches. Mostly, there are a tonne of happy thoughts and emotions that make up a blanket, and I just love that idea, don't you?
I have to say (honestly) that the very first part of this blanket didn't really, truly make my heart leap with joy. I do have a soft spot for these lovely shades of green as in my minds eye this isn't just yarn - it's moss and grass of course! It helped that I could visualise the bigger picture, and could see how eventually all those greens and browns would be balanced out with the purples and blues.
After two weeks and forty stripes, the purple haze had started to gently creep in.....
....and after three weeks the blanket was looking much more colour balanced. At this point I was just over half way and absolutely falling head over heels in love with the wave pattern. The way the colours play together when they are forced to move up and down is amazing, there is such movement somehow, a visual rhythm which is mesmerising to look at.
It seems appropriate to be writing all about this blanket right now, as I do really think of the Moorland blanket as a Summer blanket. But remember at the time the Crochet-A-Long was taking place in January/February this year, we were in the dead of Winter here in the UK and only dreaming of summer. It seems odd to think about that now, but I do remember daydreaming a huge amount about summertime whilst meandering up and down these stripes with my hook!
During the fifth week, I was absolutely on cloud nine in my colour-filled world as the soft summer blues began to arrive. Oh deep joy, it felt so so good to be floating up in the sky!
I love the way that the purples and greens merged so beautifully with the blues - I tried to capture the feeling you get when you look out over a large expanse of landscape to the horizon beyond. Its' a calming, slightly dreamy feeling I think, especially if you are up on high ground and looking out over many, many miles of countryside.
All too soon, the sky was complete and my Moorland stripes were done and dusted. I have to confess that I really did miss those hooky hours of easy waves and could quite happily have kept going. And going, and going.....but at the same time, I had the delicious business of the edging to get to grips with, and I do love a good Edging Challenge. This was one of those blankets that needed very careful handling on the edge, as I didn't want anything to take away from the gorgeousness of the stripy colour story. I opted for a narrow band using four colours - just enough to neaten up those side edges and gently frame the stripes without drawing too much attention.
It feels a bit funny now, attempting a big grand Ta-dah moment a whole six months after the blanket was completed. I guess many of you have already seen the finished blanket all around the internet, and a good many of you will have your very own slice of Moorland draped across the back of your sofa. But it's still a nice feeling to celebrate the making of something that has given a huge amount of creative pleasure. I'm super-proud of this blanket and absolutely love it to bits.
A few weeks ago, I took my Moorland blanket up onto the moors, purely for the heart-stopping visual pleasure of it all. The heather was looking absolutely spectacular (you can see the photos in this post) and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed taking in the colours of the real landscape alongside the colours in my blanket.
It was one of those times where I was glad to have J and the Little People with me, as I did feel a little bit of a loonie doing my thing up there in the wilds. Of course my family are so used to my bloggy ways that they don't think anything of it, and that makes me less self conscious about the weirdness of arranging (and re-arranging) a blanket on the ground and taking (many, many, many) pictures of it.
I had to laugh because when I came to roll my blanket up ready to head back to the car, it had gained some extra texture! I spent ages picking out all the little bits of moss and heather that got caught up in the stitches, restoring the Moorland blanket to it's cosy indoor state. I wonder if it enjoyed it's little al fresco adventure?!
I've been thinking a lot just lately about our online crochet community, and the way in which we inspire and encourage each other. I consider myself extremely lucky to experience this almost daily as I pootle about in Blogland, Facebook, Instagram and Ravelry, it really is a wonderful thing. So many talented and generous people making and sharing so much fabulous crochet, I love love love being a part of it.
Creating a project to run as a Crochet-A-Long is so exciting, and it's something that I've come to look forward to each year very, very much. I get such a happy feeling knowing that we can all connect through our mutual love of crochet and colour - this connection creates a genuine feeling of "belonging" which I am personally very grateful for. I spent a good many years in my younger adult life feeling rather alone and adrift with my creativity, and I haven't ever forgotten that rather lonely feeling of existing in an isolated bubble. I am so glad that I discovered a way to burst my bubble and find my way into Blogland. It honestly changed my life.
Anyhow.....I could probably write a whole other blog post on the subject of creative blogging, but what I really want to do right now is to share some of the crochet projects I've come across that have been inspired by the colours of my Moorland Blanket. I want to show you what happens when one idea/colour palette sparks off a whole lot of glorious, inspirational hooky creativity......feast your eyes on all this moorland loveliness!!!!!!!
♥ the beginnings of the most amazing "free form" crochet blanket designed by Roslyn. I've not seen a picture of it finished, but it really is spectacular even at this stage. A bit like "Van Gogh goes on a Moorland Adventure"!
♥ Heather turned her neat waves of moorland colour into a beautiful jacket.
♥ Miranda created this very pretty mixed-stitch bag using the leftover yarn from her blanket.
♥ Another fabulous Moorland bag made by Nancy.
♥ Judy - wow, what a creative lady she is. Judy came up with the idea of making a summer moorland decoration using her blanket left overs (2nd from left). She then went on to make three more beautiful decorations to represent all the seasons. Truly lovely, and such a joy to watch these in progress via Judy's regular updates on Facebook.
♥ I especially loved seeing Sarah's "Moorland Harmony" blanket in progress recently - it amazes me how different the same colours look when worked up in squares instead of stripes. Just beautiful.
♥ Shenandoah embarked on an epic "Moorland Madness" journey using her Moorland yarn pack, and the finished mandala is nothing short of spectacular.
♥ Alexandra used her left over yarn to make some beautiful cushions in Moorland colours.
♥ Another really lovely cushion made by Gez, I love the way she has arranged the colours so that your eye is drawn to the soft blues at the centre. Gorgeous work. And awwwwwwwwwww........just cast your eyes on that cutesome little woolly sheep wearing a rather fetching Moorland jumper!
♥ Katherine added her little sheep to the virtual Moorland flock.....
♥ .....and Fiona did too!
In fact there were a fair number of little woolly sheep which came to live on the Moorland this summer.....
.....including Heather's very sweet little Sheepish.
All these Moorland sheep were made by ladies who joined a thriving Facebook group which started up at the beginning of the Moorland CAL in January. This wasn't a group set up or run by me so I can't take any credit for it, but it has became a lovely source of friendship, support and shared hooky goodness. And now 8 months since the Moorland journey began, the "Attic24 Moorland and More"group has grown to include over 1,800 members and is still going strong. A truly fabulous little online community.
I guess it comes back to that feeling of Belonging that I spoke about, it's such a good, good thing that we can connect with each other using words and pictures from wherever we are in the world. Long may we continue to burst out of our private little creative bubbles!
....before I go....
....I want to share with you....
....my very best photo from the Moorland.
I had to utilise a little bit of child labour....
....combined with lots of verbal direction....
....but eventually, after many failures, we got a photo that I am proud to share....
The Moorland Blanket looking stunning up on the moorland. I can't tell you how much I adore this picture, it encapsulates all the joy that this blanket holds in it's stitches. Beautiful, in every way.
With thanks and gratitude to Little Lady, who enthusiastically did what I told her to do without complaint and showed great humour and strength (especially in her arms, bless her)
And huge heartfelt thanks to all of you who joined me on my moorland journey this year, I really hope you loved coming along. If you're still working on your Moorland blanket, or think you might like to give it a go in the future, all patterns and CAL posts will stay on my blog indefinitely, free of charge. I created a page in my left hand side bar which contains all the info and links, so that everything's in one place and easy to find.
ps my next CAL will follow similar timing - yarn packs will be available from mid November 2017, and the Crochet-A-Long will run throughout January and February 2018. I absolutely can't wait! x