As you can see, he likes to relax on the sofa, with a whisky after a hard days work. Snoozing seems to be a common occurrence too.
We don’t often give each other serious presents, just joke ones mostly. But, for some strange reason, just for once last summer, I thought he might like a real present. So, a couple of weeks before his birthday I asked him if there was anything he would like.
And his response….
“I’d like my own blanket please. And I want you to make it for me”.
I was immediately delighted that my big brother wanted a blanket of my making, but then realised that there was no way I could make one in two weeks! I’m good, but not that good.
So, I warned him that I would make it, but it might be a Christmas present rather than a birthday present. I even let him choose his own colours from my stash. (I was pretty surprised at the colours he choose, but they worked well together actually).
I insisted on choosing the design though and decided upon a striped V-stitch style. (Quick and easy)
Then started it off, as usual, in the passenger seat of the car whilst my better half was driving us away on holiday. (It passes the journey time really quickly and gets loads done)
The work continued for months. Often whilst eating cake and drinking coffee at the Wool Monkey knit and chat groups.
(Also a common occurrence)
Until it became too big to take around with me and I was finally restricted to making it at home.
The advantage of this was that it kept us both warm whilst I was making it. (Me and my better half that is).
Eventually it was done. And just in time to be wrapped up for Christmas.
I think he liked it…
… I think he was even smiling.
He wore it all afternoon on Chirstmas day anyway.
The only awkward thing about the blanket was that I foolishly thought that my brother would share it with his other half, as she particularly liked the colours he chose. But no, he won’t let her near it. So now I have to make another one!
Here’s the finished thing.
And the V-Stitch?
It’s really, really easy. So easy that I think this is a beginner’s pattern. (Or a really relaxing pattern for those of you with more experience).
It’s also a definite winner as a man blanket and a Christmas present!
If you are interested in the pattern, it’s available from:
Sometimes it’s a great idea to ask your kids what they think you should make next and sometimes it backfires, big time.
I made the mistake of asking my girls if they would like it if I made them a blanket each. I told them that it could be their own choice, unique to them. Of course they said yes and then promptly told me what sort of blankets they would like. The youngest requested spirals. Spirals! Once my brain had recovered from the panic of wondering how I was going to do spirals I naturally said yes, of course you can have spirals.
Hmmmm. Spirals. How shall I do spirals. Hmmmmm. Spirals. (This is how I spent the next day or so, pondering spirals).
After several attempts, and lots of frogging, I finally had a spiral in a square and a set of colours chosen by my 5 year old that would hopefully work. All I had to do now was create 23 more spirals!
I must admit, it doesn’t look very good does it.
Since then, I have been spiralling everywhere.
Spirals in the cafe, with coffee and cake.
(This is my favourite type of spiral)
Spirals at the sports hall during my kids gymnastics lessons. (It makes the lessons go really quick)
Spirals sat at my desk, when I am supposed to be working. (ooops)
Spirals in the pub. (Why not?)
Spirals sat on the sofa at home. (This is where most of them get done. I don’t actually have that much of a social life)
Spirals in a coffee shop. Again.
I think you probably get the idea by now that I have been doing spirals everywhere I have been recently.
I have been trying to get one done everyday, so that it didn’t become a burden and I still had time for other projects.
My youngest was pretty pleased last week with how her spirals were looking. Everytime I add to the pile she lays them all out on the floor. She says she is planning how they are going to fit together. Hmmm.
Four weeks later and I have a large pile of square spirals. Now begins the bit that I don’t really feel like doing – sewing them all together. Grrrrrr.
We laid them all out on the bed, trying to arrange them in such a way that meant all the colours were evenly spread out. This is trickier than you might imagine. Then, after a little deliberation I decided to use the slip stitch method to join all the squares together. It gives a nice neat edge to all the squares and is fairly quick. (Always a good thing).
Once they were all joined together, all that remained was the edging. Several rounds of edging as it turned out, but nevermind, I thought it finished it off nicely and sometimes it’s worth putting a bit of extra effort into the edging on a large blanket.
Here it is, the finished blanket. My daughter loves it and has used it on her bed every night. I was worth the effort I reckon.
If you’re interested in creating your own spiral blanket, then the pattern is available on Etsy:
I have often been asked the question ‘how much yarn do I need for a blanket?’ To which, of course, there is only one reply, ‘depends how big your blanket is going to be’.
Then of course the next question is usually, ‘how big does my blanket need to be?’ Sounds silly, but there are no fixed rules about how big a blanket should be, just make it to the size you want.
OK, so that sounds like a bit of a slack answer I know.
I have done a little bit of digging to find out what sort of sizes people generally consider to be standard. Or standard-ish at least. Some people have their own personal set of sizes that they tend to work to and others like to make it up at random. I know I have a rough guide in my head and I tend to vary it depending upon the project.
One thing to bear in mind, if you are making a blanket for a bed, UK bed sizes and US bed sizes are different!
So most of you will have at some point made a baby blanket I suspect. The sizes do vary a little bit, but most of them out there seem to fit into the same categories and approximate sizes.
Not necessarily for adults, but it just gives a different category from babies. These can vary quite a bit more, especially between the continents! So, I had a look at the bed sizes first as the standards seem to vary slightly. Here is a comparison between the USA and the UK. Obviously there are many other variations around the World, but there is a limit to how many I can list and these two seem to be pretty common.
When it comes to the blanket sizes, as oppose to the actual bed sizes there seems to be a lot more discrepancy as to how a blanket should fit a bed. Should it just reach the edges? Should it overlap the edges and drape down the sides? Should the top be long enough to cover the pillows? Is it just a decorative thing?
I still believe it’s all just personal preference. There are no right and wrongs, but here are some guidelines to what appear to be the most common blanket sizes out there. Most of them allow for some drape over the sides of the bed. This is NOT a definitive answer as to the size a blanket should be, NOR is it an instruction that you must create your blankets this size. It is simply what my research has found…
I hope these help some of you a little bit. If not my advice when making blankets is to make them big and just keep going until you’ve had enough of making it and then it’s big enough.
There are loads of lovely books containing patterns for blankets out there, but these are a couple of my favourites: (click on them to look inside and check out the latest prices)
OK, so I admit, I really enjoyed making my Moroccan Desert Blanket sooooooo much that I have made a new version. I couldn’t help myself. I wasn’t entirely sure what size it was going to be when I started, or how the colours were going to work, but just had to start it.
This new one was a little bit quicker though and grew so fast that I didn’t have much chance to think about the colours.
For starters it was made using chunky yarn and it’s only baby/toddler sized. Hence, it didn’t take me twelve months to make it, it took less than two weeks.
It was still very addictive to make though, I could happily have made it bigger!
The stitch I used is the same as the stitch used in the Moroccan Desert Blanket, Houndstooth check, in three colours. The only real difference is the yarn and the sizing. I have written up the pattern for this one too though, for those of you who prefer quicker projects!
As this blanket grew, I realised that the colours were getting very bright. Probably too bright for most adults. But for kids it’s perfect. Eventually the colour pattern started to look a bit like a rainbow and my kids love it so much that I am now pondering making one for them. Which of course would turn into two blankets for them as they fight over everything.
I do love working with bright colours, it’s a bit frivolous, but is really good for cheering you up on gloomy winter evenings.
The yarn I used is Schachenmayr Boston Sun, a chunky blend of cotton and acrylic and it gives the blanket a wonderful, slightly heavy, floppy feel to it. It’s not a commonly used yarn, but I would recommend you give it a go if you haven’t tried it before. Youcould of course make the blanket in whatever you fancy. But, chunky works well, as it grows so fast!
Here it is in all it’s finished glory!
Here is the yarn, Boston Sun, which I used for the blanket and a couple of alternatives. (click on the images to find a price)
About this time last year, I had finished all my crochet projects and was looking for something new to do. So, I thought, I know I’ll do a new blanket, (I like making blankets). A nice quick stitch, so it doesn’t take too long. Maybe I’ll have a look at what random colours I have lying around and see what matches up…
I found that I had loads of colours that when put together reminded me of Morocco.
The colour palette looked like it had just come straight out of a desert bazaar. I decided upon an old fashioned hounds tooth stitch in three colours and thought I might do a kind of gradual colour progression. Shouldn’t take too long.
Famous last words.
As ever I didn’t bother with a pattern, I just make it up as I am going along. I wanted a nice big blanket, so I did my foundation chain nice and long. Ooops. Perhaps a bit too long this time. Nevermind I thought, I ‘ll carry on anyway and make this a really big blanket! I was enjoying the simplicty of it and the three colour, changing pattern was working well.
And then of course, other projects interfered. So the blanket got shelved temporarily. This seems to happen to me a lot when I am making blankets. Quicker shorter projects, usually requests by other people always have a habit of taking priority over what I really want to do.
So, late spring came and went and then finally, during the summer I had a few weeks of working on my blanket again. It grew quite quickly too, considering how wide it was. When I sat on the sofa working on it, it almost covered my feet now. This would have been great if it was winter and it wasn’t making me so warm!
And then the inevitable happened and it got shelved again. There was a small part of me that was starting to wonder just how big this blanket was going to end up. I really had done the rows far too long and at the moment it was a long thin rectangle. I was going to have to do soooo many more rows to make it balance out. Hmmm. More yarn was going to be needed.
Well, suddenly it was December and miraculously I didn’t have any other projects to work on. None. I was down to just my blanket. This is a true rarity as I usually have at least four projects on the go. So, one final push and I thought I could finish it by Christmas. I’d forgotten how big it was. After a week or so of working on it I needed more yarn. Which I promptly used up. It wasn’t big enough. So I found some more yarn. Still not big enough.
Eventually, the week after Christmas I made a decision that enough was enough and once I had finished the colours I was using that I would stop.
Sometimes it’s hard to stop when you’re enjoying making a blanket. The temptation to make it just a little bit bigger creeps up on you…
I’m not sure what it is about this blanket that I love, other than that it has kept my legs warm throughout December, but I think it is going to become one of my favourites. The texture is really lovely. It doesn’t feel like a crocheted blanket, it feels like a woven blanket, with a dense and fabric-like structure to it. The colour patterning is so simple, yet looks really effective.
So, now it’s January and I have finally finished the blanket. Time to measure it. It’s somewhat larger than I originally envisioned, being 175cm wide and 150cm long, but that’s a bonus as it fits a double bed comfortably and you can get several people under it at once on the sofa. Then I had a thought about the number of stitches. It’s not something I normally think about, but I got curious about how many stitches there were in my blanket. So I worked it out. I thought there might be quite a few but I wasn’t ready for 84,900. (give or take a couple). Wow! That’s a lot of stitches. In fact that’s a seriously large number of stitches. Makes it sound really impressive. Made me wonder how many stitches, crochet or knitting, I do in a year. Think I’ll leave that calculation for another day.
Here it is, the finished item. I have called it my Moroccan Desert Blanket.
It’s definitely my favourite so far and very easy. I might have to make another one.
If you fancy making one, I have put the pattern on Etsy and there is a brief video tutorial on the hounds tooth stitch in my tutorial section.
Sometimes I have to invent a new blanket, just to try something out that I haven’t done before. Sometimes I have to invent a new blanket just to try out a certain set of colours.
I have crocheted plenty of hexagons before, but can’t remember making them into a blanket before. To be honest, I think I just got the urge to make a big hexagon blanket in repeating colours for a change.
So, I started making hexagons. Then I continued making hexagons. Then I made a few more hexagons. Then I had a pile of hexagons.
I had reached that point where you start to think to yourself, ” shall I sew some of these together now, so that I don’t have to do them all at once at the end?”. This was closely followed by wondering if I should block the hexagons first. It would make it easier to sew them together. But then, wouldn’t it be better if I could block them all to be exactly the same size. Imagine how much more straightforward that would be!
I was considering a polystyrene block and some cocktail sticks. I thought I could pin them out on the block, one after the other, leaving the sticks in place so that each one ended up the same size. The only problems being that I didn’t have an appropriate piece of polystyrene and it would probably take longer to block the hexagons one by one than it was going to take me to crochet the whole blanket. In the end I had to ask my ‘other half’ if he had any polystyrene, which then meant that I had to explain to him what I was up to. That’s not usually a good thing. He gave me that look that seems to imply that he thinks I am embarking on yet another mad, destined for disaster scheme. Then he told me to wait a couple of hours and he would find something.
A couple of hours later, plus a bit and look what I had!
My very own, custom made, hexagon blocking device. With bamboo skewers instead of cocktail sticks and hard MDF board with ready drilled holes instead of polystyrene. The best bit too, is the fact that I could block a dozen hexagons all at once. Woohoo!
My blocked hexagons were perfect.
All I need to do now is drill a few more holes in my new toy and then I can block other shapes and sizes too. I had never seen anything like this for sale anywhere before and thought that there could be a market for them out there somewhere… Well, maybe one day, but for now you have the idea, so at least you can make your own if you want to try it out.
Well, time to get sewing hexagons. 31 hexagons to be precise. It was surprisingly quick and enjoyable once they were all so neatly blocked. Happy blanket making!
If you are interested in the pattern for the blanket, it will be available on Etsy fairly soon. Alternatively, the blanket itself is now for sale.
A little while ago one of my close friends decided to use up all her oddments and leftovers to make a blanket. She didn’t make the usual granny blanket though, she just made a really simple blanket in rows, it turned out to be a really lovely blanket. She decided not to keep it though and sent it to the refugees in Syria. I thought it was a lovely gesture and very generous.
It got me thinking, (as most things seem to).
It was a really quick blanket, really easy and a great way to either use up loads of leftover yarn, or to create a blanket with a multitude of different textures. So I created a pattern, similar to what I thought my friend had created. The beauty of it being that it is a great pattern for a beginner, fast to finish (for a blanket) and also really, really relaxing to make. Plus, you don’t get bored as you change yarn and colour every row!
So, if you fancy giving it a try, then go and find yourself a whole heap of random yarns. You can colour co-ordinate them or just use a complete mixture of colours, it’s up to you. You will need at least 1500g OF YARN. The more wool and natural fibres you include, the more warm and heavy your blanket will be, but also the more yarn you will need. Try and stick to a mixture of DK, aran and chunky weight if you can, but with a mixture of different textures, fluffy, shiny, cotton, smooth, wool etc. etc. The DK is worked using 2 strands together to create the thickness required to work with the other yarns. You can always use 2 different strands together to create different effects if you wish.
You’re also gonna NEED a 5.5mm crochet hook.
Your TENSION should be approximately 9 or 10 treble stitches per 10cm using a 5.5mm hook. The tension is not crucial for this blanket, it will still work fine if you are a bit loose or a bit tight, but it will end up a slightly different size to what is stated.
The FINISHED SIZE of the blanket should be approximately 120cm wide and 150cm long, but it’s not an exact science. It will vary according to your tension and the type of yarns your use. The width can very easily be changed by increasing or decreasing the number of starting chains. To create the length you want simply keep working the rows until you reach the size you want.
Let’s have a look at the pattern.
FOUNDATION ROW Using a 5.5mm hook, make 142 chains.
It is absolutely essential that you do not make your chains too tight or the edge of the blanket will be tighter than the rest and look pulled. Your chains should look nice and loose. Don’t worry if you don’t have the exact number it will not affect the pattern, just the size of the blanket.
SET UP ROW
Working back along your foundation row, miss the first 2 chains, then do a treble crochet into the third chain. Follow this with 1 treble stitch into each chain to the end of the row.
Change to a different yarn. I picked my yarns blindly from my bag to make sure my blanket had a certain amount of randomness to it, but you can choose your yarns however you like. Bear in mind that because your yarns are all different some will go further than others and you may run out of some well before others too.
Using your new yarn, work 2 chain stitches, then turn your work. These will count as a treble stitch at the beginning of the row.
Work 1 treble stitch between the posts of the first and second stitches on the row below.
If you are worried that you are going to have lots and lots of yarn ends to sew in after you have finished your blanket then you can work the ends in as you go. Hold the end of the yarns you need to work in above the row of stitches that you are about to work. As you crochet a stitch make sure that you work around these strands and that they are incorporated inside the stitch.
Continue along the row, working 1 treble stitch between the posts of each stitch on the row below, to the end of the row.
The ends of the yarn you are working in will disappear into the centre of your stitches as you go.
Repeat Row 1 for every row of your blanket, changing to a different yarn for each row and preferably working the ends in as you go.
When you have finished your blanket it is up to you whether you put an edge on your blanket or not. If you do want to edge your blanket I think the easiest way is to do a round of double crochet stitches all the way around.
Choose a yarn, join your yarn to one corner of your blanket, do 2 double crochet stitches into the corner then double crochet stitches evenly all along the edge. When you get to the next corner do 2 double crochet stitches again and then double crochets down the next side. Continue in this way until you have worked all the way around the blanket then slip stitch to join the end of the round and fasten off your yarn. You’ll have to sew the end in this time though.
So, then the only remaining question is what to do with your finished blanket?
Did you make it with a purpose, for a friend or relative? Or just to use up your oddments?
I wrote the pattern and have made it freely available in the hope that people might decide to use up their oddments for a good cause, but if you make it for yourself that is perfectly ok by me.
If you don’t really have a use for it and just made it for the sake of making it, then why not donate it to a worthy cause? Refugees, homeless, elderly, orphans – there are lots of people out there in need of warm blankets and it’s a little bit like giving a complete stranger a massive hug. It’ll make you feel all warm and cosy inside too knowing you’ve done something nice. Either way, get in touch and show us your finished blankets, it’s always nice to see what folks have created.
Whilst visiting a friend recently, over the other side of the Pennines, I went for a visit to a local yarn store. This was the first time I had been in another yarn store since I had closed my down and it turned out that the lady was closing hers down too.
The yarn store was Yarnbirds in Whaley Bridge. It was such a lovely shop, with oodles of beautiful yarn and a shame to see it close, but the owner, a lovely lady called Claire, had her reasons. Anyway, we had a good old natter, as you can imagine yarn shops owners are good at chatting and before I left Claire very kindly gave me a ball of Caron Simply Soft yarn, for free, to try because I had mentioned that I had always wanted to try working with it.
It was baby pink. So, what to do with it?
I pondered the idea of a baby blanket. I wondered if you could squeeze a whole blanket out of one ball. They are 170g afterall. I thought it might be pushing my luck, as it is aran weight and probably won’t go that far. But started crocheting anyway. As usual, I changed my mind several times about the size and the shape and the stitch. I didn’t get far that night.
I thought a really simple pattern would be nice, which focused on the texture. A little bit old fashioned maybe, but with a bit of a modern edge to it. Next morning was knit and chat morning in the cafe, so I took it with me and things progressed a little faster.
I think I probably spend too much of my time in the cafe, eating cake, drinking coffee and knitting or crocheting. It’s a bad habit.
It made my blanket grow faster.
Unfortunately it made me use up all the yarn really quickly too. It turns out that you definitely can’t get a whole baby blanket out of one ball of Caron Simply Soft. (Unless you want a rather small blanket). So, then I had to go on an internet search for more. Which also means that my experiment was no longer a free experiment!
So, a few days later, my yarn turned up and I could continue. I was rather surprised to find that it was vacuum packed. I have heard that lots of sellers are doing this to ship yarn these days, but I hadn’t actually seen it for real. Until now.
It was flat. Totally flat.
It was almost fun opening it and watching it grow before my eyes, like one of those expanding fish toys for kids that you soak in water over night and they quadruple in size.
I was pleased to find that it returned to it’s normal shape with absolutely no sign whatsoever that it had been squashed flat. (I must make a mental note to ship stuff like this in the future).
So, back to work and two more evenings and the blanket was finished. Did I mention that it is quite a quick pattern?
The stitch I used is sometimes called a V stitch, as it looks a little like rows of Vs. To be honest, I really, really like the effect it gives. I think it’s a great texture for a baby blanket and would work with any colour.
The Caron Simply Soft worked really well too. I don’t normally like acrylic yarns much, but this one is lovely and soft. It has a gentle sheen to it too and is quite heavy, so the blanket has a lovely floppy drape to it. You don’t often get that with acrylics, I think they can be a bit rigid when crocheted sometimes. So, all in all, it cost me money in the end, but it was a fun experiment and I have now written the pattern up to share with the World.
If you would like the pattern, it’s called Sweetie Pie and it’s available from my Etsy shop. Of course you can crochet it in whatever yarn you like. It would be interesting to see it done in something else.