Temperature Blanket 2018 – January Update

I don’t know if it’s just the circles I’m moving in but there seem to be a lot of people making Temperature Blankets this year.  I am, of course, no exception!

I am so excited by this project.  I have long been enthusiastic about the weather, loving to watch the sky, the clouds and the changing seasons and this blanket is the perfect way to use this obsession creatively.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept let me give you a quick overview.  The maker creates a colour key with different colours representing different temperatures and then uses this to create something lovely.

I am in a Facebook group with over 1000 members some of whom are making scarves, there are a couple of snakes and lots and lots of blankets!  People are knitting, crocheting and using looms and I love watching their creativity.  Some are using bright colours, some pastels, some variegated yarn and some beautiful muted shades.  There are people adding in special rows for snow or celebration days, some are working the high temperature, some the low, some both and some the average.  There are blankets for this year’s weather and also many using historical data to celebrate the first year of a loved ones life, the first year of a marriage or another meaningful year from the past.  In short there are no hard and fast rules!

I have chosen to make my blanket using the midday temperature, as defined by the Met Office app on my phone, at my home location.  I have an alarm set for 12.01pm each day and at this point I check the app and either record the temperature in my bullet journal or screenshot it to record when its more convenient.  So that equates to just one row per day for me for all of 2018.

Do you want to see my colour choices?

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to regular visitors here to see that I am using a rainbow of colours, nor that I am using Stylecraft Special DK, my blanket yarn of choice for some years now.  As well as loving rainbow colours I also find myself drawn to the idea that cold is blue and hot is red with my colours echoing those on the TV weather maps.

I am using the temperatures in celsius (which has caused some confusion talking to American crafters) and fairly narrow bands to ensure lots of colour changes and variations as my blanket grows.  I think its pretty unlikely that I will use the colours at either end of my spectrum but you never know and I feel happy to be prepared for extreme weather.

I decided to crochet my blanket and plan for it to live on the back of the sofa when it is complete.  Using the sofa as a size guide I began with a chain of 304 stitches which has made my blanket around 150cm wide.  From my browsing around Pinterest and Ravelry before starting I found many people using tall stitches were surprised by just how long their blankets were ending up and so I chose the shortest stitch I could think of, linen stitch also sometimes known as moss stitch.  And it turned out to be a great decision.  By measuring my progress after a couple of weeks and then doing a couple of quick sums I have calculated that my finished blanket will be around 150cm square before I add a border, perfect for sofa snuggles!

So here are the first 31 days of the year.

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January is blue!  I have loved watching the patterns emerge.  The odd warmer days in the first half of the month showing up as spots of paler blue.  The single row of purple marking the day that was still freezing at midday and then the period of much milder weather, so mild in fact that there were a couple of days of teal.

The eagle eyed among you may also have spotted the little strand of metallic silver thread at the far right of the photograph.  I didn’t really want to mark the month ends in this blanket, preferring to let the colours flow into each other but thought this teeny bit of sparkle might help when looking over the full year to see where the months end and begin.

I love the way the story is emerging and I’m really pleased with the overall look of the stitch as well.  I am so excited to see how the rest of the year unfolds.

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Decemberist

Brrrrrrrr!  Tis the season of lovely warm scarves!  When I saw Countess Ablaze post her Decemberist shawl on Instagram I knew I wanted one to wrap my neck in all the snuggliness and keep me warm for the rest of the winter.

The Decemberist is a top down triangular shawl pattern by Melanie Berg knitted in super chunky yarn and is brilliantly written and easy to follow.

I love to knit with indie dyed yarn and all of my other shawls and scarves are in a beautiful riot of hand crafted colours.  But I felt a bit intimidated by the 293 metres of yarn the pattern calls for.  That takes it into three 200g skeins of most indie dyed yarns which given my confidence level before starting the project seemed like a lot of money for something I might mess up.  So I choose the budget brand Drops Andes in their medium grey (colour number 8465) which is a wool/alpaca blend and I was pleasantly surprised by both how soft it was and how well it behaved while knitting.

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Just look at those great big chunky stitches!  I knitted mine on 9mm needles and it has a nice drape but I don’t think that 10mm would have hurt at all.

It was so much fun to knit such large yarn on great big needles and watch how fast it grew into a shawl.  In fact the blocking took almost as long as the knitting!

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Pinning it out really opened up the gorgeous lace pattern and was definitely worthwhile but I live in a draughty, cold, old house and it was taking aaaaaggggggeees to dry.  So I changed tactics for the last bit with a rigged up washing line, all of my pegs and the trusty aga.

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Then it was ready to wear!

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So for less than £10 and under a week’s worth of evening only knitting I have a lovely shawl!

But… as big and snuggly as it is I kind of want it to be bigger!  Mine didn’t come out to nearly as big as the pattern designer’s and looking through the Ravelry Project Gallery this is a common theme among those not using the pattern specified yarn.  The pattern calls for Woolfolk Hygge which I have struggled to find to buy in the UK and Yarn Sub say that they do not know of many closely matching yarns.

As it was Countess Ablaze that set me on this journey, and now I know how wonderful the pattern is, I think I’m going to knit another using some of their lovely yarn!  I’ll also go up a needle size or two and I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on. 🙂

 

Sophie’s Stool

I bought the Sophie’s Stool Kit on a total whim.  I had no burning desire to own a new stool, in fact I’d not even come across the idea of making a cover for a pre constructed stool until the lovely, but seriously enabling, Mrs Snufflebean started posting photographs of the kit on her social media pages!  But once I had seen it I knew I needed it!  The kit includes a wooden stool with a padded top, 9 skeins of Scheepjes Catona cotton yarn, a label and some buttons along with a pattern for the stool cover which does send you to the Sophie’s Universe pattern for the mandala.

I have long admired the Sophie’s Universe Pattern by Dedri Uys which was a crochet-along to make a blanket in 2015. Last year I went as far as to buy the book containing the full pattern but I haven’t made the blanket yet, I intend to this year and would highly recommend the book.  Although the pattern is available for free online the book is a thing of beauty with lots of very clear, step by step photographs which I used to make my stool cover and is, in my opinion, well worth a purchase.

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So you may have seen the mandala that makes up the top of the stool before as I finished making it with a couple of days of 2017 to spare and included it in my Year in Yarn post.

I haven’t shared the side view though.

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In her pattern Dedri points out that her crochet tension is tight and that it is important to swatch, measure and change hook size accordingly.  As I love to live dangerously (!) and very rarely do any of these things my cover is too big and overhangs the sides!  That deep section in pale blue is supposed to be on the top not halfway down the edge.  But I don’t think it detracts from the beauty at all.

The sides are then made up of lovely stripes of linen/moss stitch which I think I might love almost as much as the top. These colours together and this pattern are right up my street, I love everything about it.

 

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The eagle eyed among you may have noticed a difference between the two full length pictures of the stool above.  The first one shows the stool legs to be barefooted whereas in this one they have socks on!

I remain undecided about the socks.  My children love this stool and on our wooden floors the socks cause it to slip about more than it does without.  They are also a level of frippery to which I do not usually reach, I tend to like my lines a bit more straightforward and plain.

But they are just so pretty!  Especially with the gorgeous buttons from the kit sewn on.

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I just don’t know what to do about the socks!  As I type this the stool is still wearing two socks and there is a third almost finished in my WiP bag.  I have moved on to other projects, some knitting which has really captured my interest and another crochet project, I can feel these socks slipping away.  I am so tempted to take off the already completed socks, move the stool from my works-in-progress to a completed project, both on Ravelry and also in my mind but then where would the harm be in finishing the socks eventually…?  Decisions, decisions!

2017 – My Year in Yarn

As the year draws to a close and with my last project off the hook I want to reflect back upon the last twelve months in yarn based projects.  And also crunch the numbers, I love statistics!

When I think back over the year the first thing that comes to mind is blankets as they took up the bulk of my crafting time.  I made two blankets this year, my Spice of Life Blanket and my Sunny Log Cabin Blanket.

While the blankets may have taken the most time, I think the most exciting make of the year would have to be publishing my first two patterns for a Swaledale Sheep and a Woolly Bully.

Last year was all about the wreaths with 16 wreaths made!  This year I only made 4.  My Moorland Wreath in the colours of Attic24’s CAL and with the interchangeable sheep or cow sitting inside; my Balloon Bunny Wreath; and two Mini Autumn Wreaths with little gnomes.

2016 also featured more socks, I made just two pairs this year Rhian Socks and a pair of basic socks.  I intend to make more next year and branch out further into patterned socks.

Sticking with the wearables I made six pairs of wrist warmers; Victorian Shell MittsGreen Thumb MittsRainbow Shell Wristwarmers; and after my children saw the rainbow mitts and declared them just like Wonder Woman’s gauntlets and requested a pair each, 3 more of the same pattern!

From feet and hands lets move up the body to shawls and scarves. Three of them this year.  Reyna ShawlSeafoam Scarf and Close to You.  I have several in my Ravelry queue for next year so I expect them to feature heavily in 2018.

To finish off the wearables, hats.  I also made a baby cardigan this year but as it had a matching hat it can sit in here!  So one hat for me, my Sweet Trellis Beanie, two Pixie Baby Hats, one hat with a matching cardigan and a Rainbow Toddler Hat.

Which brings us to the stuff which can’t be neatly categorised!  I made 8 butterfly flowerpots which I sold as Mother’s Day gifts. A Yarny. Three little sunflowers for A Flower for Jenny.  A Scottish Thistle.  A Yarndale Creative Heart.  A Fat Fabulous LadyChunky Holly, Two Baby Sloths, A Yarny Christmas Card and 7 little things to go in Christmas Crackers.

And finally two beautiful mandalas to bookend the year.  I made my Starflower Mandala in the first week of January and finished my Sophie’s Stool today with just a few days of the year remaining.

 

So drumroll please…

… 2017 a year in yarn in numbers.

2 blankets, 2 patterns, 4 wreaths, 2 pairs of socks, 6 pairs of wristwarmers, 3 shawls, 5 hats, a baby cardigan, 27 things that defy classification and 2 mandalas.  Phew!

54 separate items (if we count the pairs of socks and mitts as just one thing each).

Just 12 of them, or 22%, knitted the rest in crochet showing a clear bias towards my yarn craft of choice.  I would say that this is because the majority of the fiddly little bits are crochet but the biggest items, the blankets, are also crochet and so it seems fair to say that crochet is dominant here.

I wonder how next year will measure up!

Christmas 2017

I am planning to gather together all of my makes for the year into one post in the next few days but for now I am desperate to share some Christmas things.  I find it so hard to be crafting things without sharing all about them but at the same time I love a Christmas surprise! Although to be fair these have been on Instagram where most of my family are  not.

First up, my Christmas card.  When my children were younger (and less numerous) we put photographs of them on our Christmas cards but this has become more challenging as the years have gone by and I now tend to put something crafty on.  This is this year’s.

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The penguin is my own design (and also features at the very end of this blog post with links), I usually make it using my trusty Stylecraft Special DK yarn but this one is slightly larger because it is made from some aran weight yarn.  The big snowflake pattern is from the fabulous book 100 Snowflakes to Crochet by Caitlin Sainio, the little ones are by Lucy at Attic24.  The cables, I think I’m going to have to knit some cables next year, are a RTW jumper from my wardrobe!

The next one is not a Christmas gift as such but a secretive seasonal make.

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Aren’t they sweet?!  A lovely friend sent me a link to the pattern for these Crochet Baby Sloths by The Twisted Crocheter back in October.  We had a chat about how cute they were and she mentioned that if I had time she would love to buy a couple for Christmas.  Of course the mere mention of being paid to do something I enjoy for someone I cared about made me want to make them and send them as a surprise and so that is what I did!  We discussed it no further but in early December they arrived out of nowhere through the post for her.

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I am quite ashamed to say I bought a kit to knit this Chunky Holly from Sue Stratford Knits at Yarndale, not this year, or even last year, but waaaaaaaay back in 2015!  I’m not sure quite what it did to deserve being stranded at the back of the cupboard for so long but it was a lovely knit when I finally gave it a chance.

I learned two new to me techniques in the construction of this, cable cast on and three needle bind off and I’m really pleased with how it looks.

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The little mouse is very teeny and knitted from gorgeously soft angora yarn and is very popular in his new home.

This year I also decided to fill my own crackers for the Christmas Day table.

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There is an interesting mix of characters for the filling!

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Septic Eye Sam has been requested for a while from my children (no, I don’t really understand either!) and so this seemed a good opportunity to make one. I used this pattern by Mommy Made Crochet but with a couple of adjustments to make it a bit smaller as I was worried about getting it to fit inside the cracker!

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Very little explanation needed for this one!  The sloths that left in the post earlier in the month were coveted!

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The last of the not-immediately-recognisable-as-christmassy items is also my least favourite.  One of my children is a big fan of tigers and I just couldn’t find a pattern for one of small enough that I liked and so I just made it up as I went along.  I can see lots of things that I would change should I do it again but it was well received. I found it really tricky in the busy pre-Christmas rush to find time to sit and crochet and harder still to find time to sit and crochet where no-one was watching and so I just didn’t have time for experimentation and tweaks.

The other things were for the adults around the table and were more traditional.

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This little guy is from a pattern called Yummy Brussel Sprout by Made Out of Things but I certainly wouldn’t fancy eating it!  It is brilliantly sprout like though and nice and easy to make up.  I might make some more of these in the future!

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This little snowman is my absolute favourite and is now living on my husbands desk and making me smile as I type this on his computer. I absolutely love how it turned out.  I used this pattern by Lucy Ravenscar with a few changes to remove the hat and change up the shape slightly.  The scarf is knitted, just 3 stitches knit in garter stitch, with a scrap of yarn left  over from my Seafoam Scarf.  I want to make lots and lots of these, with a rainbow of scarves between them and then arrange them in pleasing shapes!

The last two cracker stuffers are my own patterns from last year (which I have been hoping to write up for over twelve months but never got round to!) I first mentioned them way back in November last year in a post called Teeny Creatures and there is a lovely photo of them being wreath dwellers in my little mini wreaths in my 2016 in Review.

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And so, the children are deeply engaged in the serious business of playing with their Christmas gifts, there is no need to cook as there is plenty of food to sustain us for days and there is nowhere we need to be and nothing we have to do. I wonder if I will manage to finish my current work-in-progress before the end of the year or if it may carry over?  Either way I’m going to enjoy this downtime.

Sunny Log Cabin Blanket

In November 2015 I was riding high on the success of having made my first crochet blanket, the Attic24 Cottage Ripple Blanket.  I was new to crochet but I had finally mastered it and I had a wonderful blanket to show for it.  Then the lovely Lucy announced her next blanket, a crochet-a-long, with steps of the pattern released throughout November and December, I saw the photos and it was love!  It was her Sunny Log Cabin Blanket and the bright rainbow of colours was right upon my street.

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As with all of Lucy’s blankets Wool Warehouse sell packs with all of the yarn you will need, I put on on my Christmas list and my lovely motherinlaw bought one for me.

I was so excited.  I sat, surrounded by toys and tinsel and on Boxing Day 2015 I started making my first blanket square while watching The Snowman on TV.  I made a few of the sunny motif centre pieces over the next few days and then I started building the log cabin of colours around it…

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… and very quickly became fed up.  Oh so much counting.  And colour changing every two minutes.  And all of the ends that produces. Bleugh.

In April 2016, with a mere two of the sixteen squares made, it went into the naughty corner while I worked on things I found more fun!

2016 came and went.  As often happens, with the New Year came new intentions and out it came once more.  I managed another two blocks in January 2017 and remembered why I found it frustrating in the first place.  Back to the sin bin it went.  In one year I had completed one quarter of the blanket.

But it nagged at the back of my mind, this unfinished blanket.  Looking at the photos of other people’s finished blankets I was still head over heels in love with the finished object and in September of this year I vowed that I would not let another year finish without this blanket gracing the back of my sofa.  I decided that I would not pick up any other crochet projects until it was done.

Obviously I had left myself too much wriggle room there and while I did plod with the blanket I also knit a pair of socks for my husband and my Reyna Shawl and so once the shawl was off the needles I also banned knitting 😉

It is astounding the speed of progress from that point onwards!  I worked on it every time I sat down at home, sewing the squares together as soon as they were off the hook to save me a big job at the end.  I love this photo I took last week which features my ripple blanket and first pair of hand knit socks as well as the progress on my log cabin.

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Also in this photo is an amazing cushion made by the talented Heather at The Patchwork Heart.  I am very proud of myself for buying this cushion!  Every time I saw Heather post one of these wraparound granny cushions on her Facebook or Instagram I thought to myself “I really should make one of those, they are lovely”.  But I have a long list of to-makes already, including of course this blanket, and so I bought one she made instead!

By the end of October I had completed twelve squares, the blanket was almost there.  The end was in sight and I started daydreaming about new projects.  With a big final push the last four squares were made in just six days!  Quite some contrast to the 20 months the first twelve took!

As mentioned below the first photo at the top of this post I still had a lot of yarn left over and so I decided to go with a thick, rainbow border of trebles rather than the more low key border in the pattern. 7 rounds of lovely rainbow trebles.

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I am so so so pleased to say that now it is all done I still have that same rush of love for these wonderful sunny colours and Lucy’s clever pattern every time I look at it.  Would you like to see the whole thing?

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Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!  It’s just gorgeous!  I can totally forgive it for the journey and I actually really enjoyed the final sprint!

I am pleased to move on to new projects though, hopefully none of them will take almost two years to complete! So pleased, that I cast on a hat just minutes after sewing in the final end on the border last night 🙂

Reyna Shawl

When I look at my handmade shawls draped across the back of my chair it is clear to see that my favourite colours are rainbow and shades of blue.  All four of the shawls and scarves I have made are in the blue zone of the spectrum.

When I was making my plans for Yarndale this year I set myself a couple of shopping guidelines. No rainbows and something that wasn’t blue!  I also wanted to buy more semi solid yarn than variegated skeins as my Ravelry favourites have lots of shawls with contrast details and I keep buying just single skeins that appeal. Do you want to see how I did?

 

Oooh look at all the lovely squishness! And pattern books. Such lovely things in waiting!  Just avert your gaze from the rainbow in the bottom right corner, apart from that I think I did quite well on my rules! 

This post is about one skein in particular dyed by the fabulous Mothy and the Squid. This is a super wash, merino, sock weight yarn in gloriously earthly, leafy tones called Autumn is Coming. 


I felt that I must get this knitted up while it was still autumn and the colours were echoing my surroundings and so it jumped my queue and I cast on soon after Yarndale. 

I decide to make a Reyna shawl by Noora Laivola. It’s a single skein shawl pattern with alternating areas of garter stitch and a simple eyelet mesh and I found the pattern clear and easy to knit. 


I love these colours so much! The finished shawl has a lovely drape thanks to the open texture and has come out a perfect size for warming my next on these chillier days.


Want to see all of it instead of these sneaky bits?!