When the weather begins to cool down, I get the blanket bug. This has been going on for several years. Cooler nights and earlier sunsets make me want to stake out a corner of the couch for the evening, crocheting something big while I watch TV - the more mindless, the better (the crochet, I mean, though I do sometimes crave mindlessness on TV too). This fall, I'm working on a blanket I've been calling Heartwarmer - it's big, soft and warm, like a hug. I'm enjoying the work - it's suitably mindless, perfect for my evenings with Create TV or Law & Order on Netflix, but also good for this week's viewing of Ken Burns' documentary, The Roosevelts, which has been excellent but requires more concentration. Sometimes we just listen to the radio or talk. But always, the crochet is easy and calming, and the blanket keeps my legs warm on these cooling evenings.
This is my color palette for Heartwarmer, which is destined for our family room. My goal is to replace two very old, worn out afghans made by my husband's grandmother about 30 years ago. She loved to crochet and she churned out gigantic blankets. We've had at least four of them in our house and we're down to just two, the better ones. Those two are fading fast, though, and I intend to replace them with new blankets in the near future. We already have two others that I've made, and I'd like to have four good ones so that we'll each have one to use. They're good for tent-building too, of course, and all manner of rough-and-tumble play. To this end, I've been using tough yarns - mostly I Love This Yarn worsted-weight acrylic. I've had a love/hate relationship with this yarn, but it's softer than it used to be, and they've added new colors. My main color for the blanket is that gray yarn above; it will be used more often than the other colors, which I've attempted to keep in a soft, classic palette. The furniture in the family room is upholstered in navy blue corduroy; I think these colors will work well. I'll probably stick with most of them for the other eventual blanket too.
(As an aside, I've struggled in the past with writing about yarn on my blog. I have felt a little scared to admit that I use this sort of yarn in much of my work. I think I worried that I wouldn't be taken seriously as a "crochet blogger" (not that I'm really trying to be one; the competition is stiff). I love luxury yarns and natural fibers, but my crafting budget is small and most things I make end up being used, hard, by the whole family. I think this very rational, but I felt shy. I've even stated that I wanted to stop using it eventually. I don't care anymore, though. Loud and proud: I use cheap yarn, a lot).
Heartwarmer is crocheted with stripes, which is my favorite motif in crochet lately. I love granny squares, but after making Ice Cream Flowers, I'm burned out on small, fiddly crochet. I wanted mindless and boy, did I get it. The stitch pattern is a very simple one that I improvised - hdc, ch 1, sk 1, all the way down the rows. Each stripe is made with eight rows. In worsted-weight yarn with a size H hook, eight rows of hdc creates a three-inch-tall stripe.
I love hdc (half-double crochet); I think it makes a nice, dense fabric. This stitch pattern looks woven, to me, like the cotton waffle-weave blanket we've always had on our bed. I also like the way a new color looks against the previous one; the "teeth" remind me of something interlocking, Lego maybe. It's a warm, cuddly blanket already, and I still have a lot to crochet. Good; that's what I wanted - a project that takes awhile and requires very little thought.
I haven't decided exactly how long I want it to be; I'm thinking at least five feet. The Bear is a bit over six feet tall, and he likes to wear a blanket up to his chin, so it needs to be long for him. I think I'll just keep going until the yarn runs out. I have lots. It's pretty wide, over 44 inches, and there will be a border, eventually. For now, I'm just enjoying the simple, soothing pattern, the color palette (my kind of colors, the ones I have always loved and always will), the warm, squishy texture and the way it's already keeping my lap warm as I work. Heartwarmer, I think I love you.
image via Fat Quarter Shop
I'm also thinking about a new sewing project. My kitchen curtains are old and tired. They're Waverley valances in a frumpy ivy-and-berries print. I want something fresher! I'd make them myself, and this is the fabric I want to use. It comes from Moda's Milk Cow Kitchen feedsack reproduction line; this design is called Strawberry Jam. My kitchen happens to be strawberry-themed, with lots of red. I think red is so cheerful in a kitchen. Gosh, I love to shop for fabric. Online, in a store, it doesn't matter. I never get bored looking at fabric.
What are you working on? Does fall bring out the crafter in you, like it does me? The cooler days and nights, the darkness, the impending holidays and all the decorating opportunities...I feel invigorated, I tell you!