I can honestly say that I never ever get tired of making and sharing blankets, both in real life and here on my blog. It's almost 8 years to the very day since I first picked up a crochet hook and learnt to make granny squares, and each year my blanket pile grows a little higher and a little plumper. Crochet blankets are my passion, I love designing them, creating them, sharing them and of course using them, they fill my life with colour and happiness every single day.
I've often written about the joy of starting out on a new blanket journey, it's one of the things I most enjoy. Choosing the colours and settling on a pattern that will float the Creative Boat for many months is a whole lot of fun.
I chose these fifteen colours back in March, just when we were on the cusp of Springtime here in Yorkshire. Spring was long and cold here this year, and I remember yearning for some sunshine and warmth, dreaming of a time when there would be blossom and bluebells and fresh zingy new leaves in the treetops.
I hadn't quite realised it at the time, but the colours I chose for my Harmony blanket tell a story of early Summer. These are the soft blues and greens of bluebells and woodland, the clear blues of an early summer sky and the pretty pinks of frothy blossom. It all comes together to make a very lovely, fresh, gentle colour palette.
I just love these colours so much - they are soft without being pale, and they are pretty without being too sugary sweet. They are the breezy, happy colours of early summer for me, which is my absolute most favourite time of year without any shadow of a doubt.
Before I start actually making my blankets, I like to work up a colour sampler. I crochet some simple 3-round solid granny squares (there is a pattern for them here) and stitch them together so that I can get a feel for how the colours are working together. I like to look at the hot / cool balance and the tonal (light / dark) balance to make sure that nothing is too out of place or jumpy. It's that balance that characterises my colour palettes, and I just love to see colours sitting so harmoniously together like this.
Unlike the last three blankets I've made, I chose to do squares instead of stripes this time. I wanted a project that would be nice and portable, something that I could easily take out and about with me as Spring turned into Summer. I spent a long time sampling various ideas - let me tell you, it's not at all easy to come up with a new granny square design, something fresh and original that hasn't already been done to death. But eventually I managed to bring forth a simple square from the depths of my messy creative mind, one that was easy to make and wasn't too holey. I would be really interested to know if anyone has come across any similar square in their hooky travels?
As this blanket was destined to be made into a crochet kit, I had to approach the making of it in a very considered way. You all know how much I love to embrace the random approach to colour when I make blankets - well I simply couldn't do random this time. What I had to do was come up with a number of colour variations (14 in total, shown above) which would be repeated throughout the blanket. It was such an intense (but wonderful) process - I did it in my typical low-tech way, with yarn pegs, pen and paper, working out the five rounds of each square very carefully so that every colour of yarn was used the same number of times throughout. Yeah- I know! Talk about tricksy!!!
Continuing with my new found Methodical Approach, I worked out that I would need to make 126 squares in total (for a 14 x 9 format) and I set about making all one hundred and twenty six teeny-tiny round-1 squares. Seeing all these little squares together made me happier than I can tell you - they seemed to me like little nuggets of possibility, the very essence of a blanket-to-be.
After the first round though, I changed tack and started concentrating on just 14 squares at a time. 14 squares make up one vertical strip of the blanket and seemed to be a good number to get stuck into without getting bored or feeling overwhelmed.
So I worked 14 round-2's.......
....then 14 round-3's, 14 round 4's and 14 round-5's.
I named the squares with letters (A to N) and typed out a little info table which I kept with my hook and yarn. The table lists the colours needed for each square, so for example, Square A would read :
Square A : 1. Pale Rose 2. Storm 3. Turquoise 4. Violet 5. Lavender
So whenever I sat down with to work on these squares I would always know exactly what I was doing.
I thought I might find this approach a bit tedious after a while, but actually it was the exact opposite. Because all the working out had already been done, the crochet itself was very relaxing and easily fitted into my busy, sociable days when I just needed to sit and work on something and not multi-task with my brain too much. I could simply pick up my hook, look at my little printed table of colour order and get stuck in. And now I really, really, TOTALLY get the appeal of crocheting something that has already been worked out!!! I get it!!!!!
One thing I learnt very early on with working 5-round granny squares is the need to tackle those yarn ends pronto. I made myself a little fishy needle-keeper to attach to my scissors (totally inspired by Sandra, thank you my lovely), and every single time I snipped my yarn I also darned in my ends. Every. Single. Time. Working 14 squares with 5 colour changes = 140 ends to darn folks, so pleeeeeeeease do take my advice and adopt the darn-after-each-round technique.
After five rounds, the Harmony Granny Squares are edged in a subtle purple-grey colour (Stylecraft Special Parma Violet). I worked out a way to make this sixth round a join-as-you-go round, which really dictated the way this blanket began to grow. I would work on one vertical strip at a time, making up the 14 squares then methodically joining them into a long strip, but also joining them to the previous strip at the same time.....
.....this was the beginnings of my blanket at Easter when I was on holiday down in Dorset - the first two strips joined. To be completely truthful with you, at this point I wasn't really in love with this blanket. I worried that the colours I had chosen were too soft, that the Parma Violet was too dull. I felt it was just a weeny bit boring compared to my usual bright and cheerful creations.
But those colours.....oh those colours were still singing the sweetest summery song to me, and I held on to the belief that the more the blanket grew, the more my vision of Harmony would come together. Positive thinking my friends, I am blessed with it in abundance.
We are into early May now, and suddenly my blanket is in tune with the actual seasons. As I work these squares and immerse myself in these colours, the bluebells are blooming and the blossom is blossoming and slowly the trees are beginning to shoot out their new greenery. I can feel it all suddenly coming to life and making sense.
So the Harmony blanket has 9 vertical strips, which is a very manageable number to get your head around. It's only nine. I was truly amazed by how quickly I managed to whizz through the making of these squares (I confess I did become a little addicted). And with each strip joined and completed I became just a little bit more desperate to reach the end, just to see how it would all look.
I loved the colours more and more as I worked with them (which was a small mercy really, as at one point I really did think I'd made a terrible mistake).
In mid June, at our wonderful Friday Creative Coopers Café group, I joined square 126. It was Done. I was soooooooooooooo happy!!
I am one of those people who LOVE crocheting borders, I really get a kick out of working those long, long rounds. And I've enough experience of making blankets now to know that a good, well thought out border can utterly, totally transform a blanket. It can turn a random gathering of squares into a framed thing of beauty.
I spent an absolute age working out this colour sequence. The way I worked the squares meant that I used an equal amount of each colour, so in theory I had enough yarn to make the border using all 14 colours if I wanted to. But in the end I settled with 8, and ordered them in the most pleasing way possible. I wanted the border to really sing a beautiful, harmonious colour song.
I think I succeeded (she says modestly) - well I do really love, love, love the border! I really love the way these colours work together, and that's the truth.
Oh the bitter-sweet joy of finishing a big project that spans across months and seasons - it's exhilarating and sad all at the same time. Joy with the finished article but also a sense of bereavement when there is not longer a project to lose yourself in.
I think the feeling of Joy comes out on top though.....
....blanket making is amazing! It really is, you just can't beat that feeling of heart-skippy happiness that blankets deliver, it's the best thing ever ever. Ever.
I finished making my Harmony Blanket towards the end of June (remember this post?) and it was immediately absorbed into the Attic24 household. Blankets aren't precious objects around here, they are loved and used on a daily basis by all members of the family.
Oh that border - mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, so delicious!!
Sorry, got distracted by the above image for a moment......
So at the weekend, after much procrastinating, I took Miss Harmony with me to my studio and got down to the business of taking some photographs. I moved a load of furniture so that I could spread her out and show her off in her entirety as I hadn't really been able to see her all laid out before. When you work in squares and strips, you never quite get a proper feel for the overall design until right at the very end.
It's a pretty great moment when you get to take it all in.........................
Love love love love love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This pretty blanket doesn't yet have a specific home or a place to be - it just kind of lives with the rest of my blankets here at number 24. I've noticed that Little Lady has taken quite a shine to it though, and often in the evenings she is the one snuggling underneath it's pretty folds.
So shall we talk practicalities now?
The Harmony Blanket is roughly single bed size, measuring 115 x 175cm.
I used 17 x 100g balls of Stylecraft Special DK in the following colours :
Petrol : Storm Blue : Sage : Lavender : Violet : Raspberry : Plum : Clematis :
Pale Rose : Cloud Blue : Turquoise : Aster : Meadow : Lime Green :
Parma Violet (x 3 balls).
Each square measures 10cm after FIVE rounds (so not including the joining round). The joining round on all the squares was worked in Parma Violet.
If you purchase the Harmony yarn pack from Wool Warehouse, you will also receive an 11 page full colour printed pattern to make the blanket. But as always, I do LOVE to share and inspire (gives me a Good Feeling that is irresistible) so I have put a complete step-by-step tutorial on my blog for FREE. As it is so lengthy and comprehensive (we're talking 100+ photos and 6,000 words), I've split into two parts.
Part 1 is the Harmony Granny Square.
This is a full picture tutorial for making the six round square (shown above)
Part 2 is the Harmony Blanket.
This is a very comprehensive guide to making the whole blanket. It includes full details for the join-as-you-go method, tables for the colour order and square order used in the Harmony blanket, plus the border pattern.
I confess it wasn't an easy job to make these tutorials, they were long and complicated to write. But I have done my very, very best and I hope that you might feel inspired to give it a go. Remember, you don't have to use my colours - I would LOVE to see you take this pattern and make it your own using your own colours.
I continue to be hugely happy to be working alongside the really lovely yarn-happy people at Wool Warehouse. They do 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. Thank you very much for joining me on this colour-filled journey and adding your hooky enthusiasm to my own. It is very, very much appreciated.
Oh - I almost forgot..................
.............what do you think of the Harmony colours worked up using the Cosy Stripe pattern????? One word from me - TeMpTinG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!