It has been a long time since I have knit anything substantial with commercial or millspun yarn. I’ve been pretty heavily focused on knitting with handspun for the past couple of years. Handspun will continue to be my first choice when it comes to yarn and projects, but my yarn stash has been stagnant for a long time and I thought it was time to get through some of it. A larger blanket project would mean using up more of it and thus clearing another basket (I have roughly 4 medium baskets of yarn at the moment, not including handspun). Also, I have been craving some different materials, textures and colours.
After cruising Instagram one night, I stumbled on a gorgeous blanket that was crocheted for a wedding gift. The recipient is the dyer behind Sweet Fiber, who also happens to be the daughter of my LYS owner! The original pattern is here.
Berroco Vintage in Oatmeal, Charcoal, Grapefruit, Sunny & Forget-me-not
There was one problem: I’m not a crocheter. I haven’t spent much time crocheting. Certainly, I know enough people who would be able to help me and I eventually asked my mom if she could give me a hand to get started. Now that I’ve figured it out (which took about 30 minutes), I’ve memorised the pattern. It’s very intuitive, the hexi’s are easy to join and the amount of yarn I’m eating through is awesome!
In my stash, I had a blanket-worth of Berroco Vintage for a project meant for one of the kids a few years ago. My mom and I were waylaid by the project for a myriad of reasons so the yarn has been sitting, balled and unused. I started with that yarn first and have since run out of the border colour, Oatmeal. The colours of this blanket are quite … well, vintage looking. They were colours my mom had bought based on a Berroco pattern and she chose the exact colours in their pattern. This is really unusual for my mom since she’s an artist and has a very strong sense of colour, but regardless, the colours work together beautifully. In the original pattern that we were pairing this yarn with, there is much less charcoal, but I have bought a couple of extra skeins to match the amount of the yellow, grapefruit and blue. After crocheting 59 hexagons, I completely ran out of the oatmeal. I have already calculated that I need 168 hexagons to complete this project, so I have ordered another 4 skeins of yarn. For the border, which will just be single crochet all the way around, I have bought a skein of navy blue to tie it all together and deviate from the oatmeal … which I am already a wee bit sick of!
Early into the project, I learned a few things about managing this project. Some of these projects come from the comments section of Bonnie’s (the designer) Instagram account, others from blog authors who have written about making their blankets and some from my experience:
Weave in the ends as you go! The number of ends is insane so I have started weaving in the colours as I crochet, clipping the little bit left after I attach the hexagon to the blanket.
The attach-as-you-go method seemed daunting when I read it in the pattern, but it’s easy-peasy! The thought of seaming all of these together (even though I don’t mind sewing) was quite overwhelming and kept me from starting this project originally. The joining creates a lifted ‘seam’ but it also adds texture and interest.
Making the hexagons, particularly the centres, is fast and portable. The reason I’ve been able to make so many in such a short period of time (about 2 weeks) is because they are such an easy take-with-you project. I can make the centre in about 4 minutes. And that includes weaving in the initial yarn at the beginning of the hexagon.
It can be difficult to figure out yarn requirements for this project since there is no indication in the pattern about how much or how big. I made a seven hexagons (pictured above), attaching them as I went, and measured the finished size. From there, I decided on a lap-sized blanket (50” x 65”) and did a bunch of math. I wanted 13 hexagons in one row, then 12 in the next, alternating but finishing with 13 again. In the end, I need 168 hexagons for this blanket and 357 for the next one (described below). I may have enough yarn to make more for this one, and if so, I’ll add them to use up as much yarn as possible!
I have made most of the hexagons for this blanket, which I am calling “Vintage,” so this was the perfect excuse to start another one!
The second blanket has become a bit of a mammoth because I wanted to use all of my hand dyed yarn that has been sitting in my stash for quite a long time now. I knit a total of EIGHT things out of commercial yarn in 2016! Some of the yarn that has been sitting in my stash is oooold – like 2006 old. But it’s beautiful and interesting and … strangely related. Most of it is purple, yellow, blue or some combination of those three. And grey. They all have a muddy grey undertone, which I thought was interesting. When I started lining them up to choose colours, it was immediately impossible to choose what to include and what to let go. In the end, I have 15 colours and two ‘accents’ that will be used to fill in the ‘corners’ – you know, add Pizazz! One of those yarns is a Tanis Fibre Arts Sock yarn that I bought at The Purple Purl in Toronto in early 2006! It was in the colourway Chestnut – that’s all I remember about it and the socks were too small but I still wear them regardless!
For this blanket (see no 4 above), I need to crochet 23 of each little centre and then I can fill out the next row and then start attaching. Surprisingly, I have finished 4 of the batches but if you’re wondering what 23 little hexagon middles looks like, this is it:
Sweet Fiber Yarns, Super Sweet Sock in Silent Night (a limited edition colourway from Christmas 2014)
These projects were exactly what I’ve been looking for in terms of something different – I have a spin in progress on my Lendrum but I was really needing something different. Also, I was starting to feel bogged down by the remaining bins of stash that I want to use and enjoy. It was really fun going through my stas`h and remembering yarns I’d bought. I’ve been loving crocheting with them as well, seeing the colours work up.
The beginnings of this blanket have been quite interesting for me because the stark white that I’ve thrown in and the yellow that jumps out not matter where you look are difficult for me to ‘let go’ of and trust the process. The scrapey nature of this blanket has me thinking very seriously about a handspun version instead of my Mitered Squares blanket because I can make the centres and then attach later … definitely something to contemplate.
What have you been working on lately?