Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ice Cream Flowers


Some projects feel nearly perfect. The pattern is simple and soothing, the components easy to create and quick to pile up, stacks of them flying off the hook every time you sit down to work. There are few hiccups, and fewer feelings of frustration or boredom. For me, the GB's flowers-in-the-snow blanket has been this kind of project. I adored making this blanket, not least because I was making it for my adored little girl. But I loved it for itself too - it was a happy project - colorful, creative and made with new techniques.


Back in February, when I was choosing my color palette and starting to make my first few circles (of a total of 192), it occurred to me that the colors had an ice cream-like quality to them. I made my first circle on a snowy morning, which was really only a coincidence. As I made more circles, the ice cream appearance took hold even more and I began calling my blanket Ice Cream Flowers. I usually name my blankets, if only in my head, because I feel like it gives them more personality. If you're going to spend a lot of time with a blanket, you might as well be on casual terms with it. This blanket took me just about six months from start to finish, making it my longest-lived crochet project yet.


This blanket is intended mostly for use on the GB's bed, folded at the foot or pulled up over her quilt in cold weather. I don't mind if she plays with it or carries it out to the couch. I realize that it's a fairly delicate blanket, being made with a lacy, open joining method. But I'm willing to take chances with it. She's getting older and, hopefully, more careful with delicate things, and I'm of the general belief that blankets are meant to be used. The blanket is a gift for her sixth birthday, which is in a couple of weeks. She hasn't received it yet. She stood nearby, watching with a mix of curiosity and impatience when I photographed the blanket on her bed the other day. She knows it's for her and she wants it now. But I know she can wait and I hope she'll enjoy it when it's hers for good.


To make this blanket, I used Solveig Grimstad's Flowers in the Snow pattern from her blog, Sols(tr)ikke. I followed both her circles pattern and her join-as-you-go pattern, to join the circles and create squared-off edges at the same time. Both parts of the pattern were simple to follow. Solveig helpfully rewrote her original Norwegian pattern, which was very popular, for English-readers. I first saw this blanket about two years ago when I was new to Ravelry, and I "favorited" it and put it away in my mental "someday" project queue, thinking it would be a very long time before I felt confident enough to try it out. I have always loved the look of granny squares and enjoyed making them once I became serious about crochet a few years ago. I love that there are so many variations on the basic theme with granny squares and round designs have become my favorite.


The only part of this project I didn't love was creating the border, not because it was difficult to do but because I couldn't decide what I wanted. I did the same basic border as Solveig did, up through the second edging round (first, a round of US double-crochet in white, then a round of US single-crochet in light blue, with extra stitches in the corners). Solveig created an outer edging, in white, of small chain-4 loops anchored with single-crochet stitches on her blanket, which I liked and did on mine too. But I wasn't happy with it. I felt it looked a bit ragged on my blanket and I frogged it. Then I tried a round of scallops all the way around but it looked too heavy and floppy compared with the lacy look of the joins. So I frogged that too. See what I mean? The border just didn't come easily to me. In the end, I went around with single-crochet in every stitch, with two chains in the corners to make them a little bit pointy. I like this a lot. It allows the squares to shine and it doesn't weigh down the laciness. It's simple and clean.


Photographing the entire blanket was tricky. It's big, and I couldn't get up high enough to capture the whole thing. The Bear stepped in with his monopod (basically a big stick you can mount the camera onto and hold overhead to photograph something below). This worked great. I wanted an overhead shot because it's such a dramatic blanket. Each of my circles is different. A few might use the same colors but not in the same order. And that joining method is really stunning, I think. I love the way it looks like stars in the centers where four squares are joined. The joining method was not difficult, really, but it did take some practice. There are a few places where I grabbed the wrong loop, but not very many and I feel pretty good about my work. I love the effect of the colors and I hope it's evident why I think of this blanket as Ice Cream Flowers (in the snow): I see sherbets here, fruity yogurt pops, chocolate and caramel and dulce de leche.


I used to be truly afraid to try a project like this, thinking I'd just make a mess of it. But it was time to try and I'm so glad I did. It wasn't difficult, though it would have been a year or two ago. My skills have come a long way. It never ceases to surprise me, when I finish a project, just how good it feels to be able to do things. I know how easy it can be to forget, in the hubbub of daily life when you're raising young kids and maintaining a home, that you've got creativity inside. I'm happy to have learned to make room for it in my life. I'm happy, too, to make pretty things for my daughter. She gladly accepts my creations (there have been a few duds, but she's usually polite about them). I'll be happy to teach her to make them eventually too. I want her to know how much I love to make things for her, to decorate her room and, well, her. I also hope to show her that it feels good to surround yourself with things you love and find to be beautiful, and even better when you can make them yourself.


I made this blanket with DK- or "baby"-weight yarns in numerous colors, probably too many to list here. They are primarily from the Stylecraft Special DK line, but there are also several yarns from Lion Brand Baby Soft, King Cole Pricewise and Yarn Bee Baby Bee. I think there are about 25 yarn colors among the circles (this is a fantastic stash-busting project; tiny amounts of yarn create lots of variety in the circles). I chose soft, dusty colors, including grays and browns, to make the blanket look sort of vintage/classic, as well as feminine. I did not keep track of how often I used each color, nor did I try to use them equally. I just popped all my yarn in a big basket and chose colors as I felt like using them, though I did generally try to keep each circle visually appealing by using colors which worked well together. The white yarn is Stylecraft Special DK in White, and the blue in the edging is Stylecraft Special DK in Cloud Blue.

Some stats on this blanket:
192 three-round flower circles, arranged 12 by 16
Hook: G/6 (4.00mm) Susan Bates Silvalume
Size: About 48 inches by 60 inches, including border
Weight: About 1200 grams total (used about 600 grams of White)
Started early February 2014, finished early August 2014

59 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Jennifer; I so admire all the work you've put into this. xxx

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  2. Oh goodness, Jen!!! This is absolutely amazing! I am just learning to crochet. I hope to make a blanket Just. Like. This. one day. I am a little intimidated by it like you said you were, but I may give it a "go" when I feel more comfortable with my skills. I will be checking out Solveig Grimstad's blog. Also, Ravelry. I have seen and read about it, but don't know much about it yet. Thank you for always being inspiring! xo Jen

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  3. Absolutely beautiful. I am still astounded that it only took you six months to finish; you must have been putting tons of work in on it every day.

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  4. utterly delicious! it's a wonderful thing. Almost a crochet right of passage I think! you may pass ha ha! really lovely. X

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  5. Congratulations - one beautiful finished blanket !
    I really like how you made the border. It just "works" with your blanket !
    I think there will be a very happy six-year-old in you home in a couple of weeks ;-)...

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  6. Its beautiful Jennifer, really beautiful, your daughter is a very lucky girl.
    Such a tremendous amount of work and I love the border, it's perfect for it.
    V x

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  7. How delightful, a truly beautiful work of art and made with love. The perfect gift for a special little girl on her birthday.

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  8. Apart from the finished article (which is gorgeous), it's the joy of giving the ice cream blanket to your LB that just shines through. She's obviously chomping at the bit to snuggle up in it. What a lovely feeling it must be. Made and given with love
    Leanne xx

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  9. Jennifer, that is absolutely stunning. Your daughter will cherish this. I have made quite a few for my daughters over the years. My youngest asked me for one when she was 10 she is now 20 and she said whenever she feels a little blue she wraps her blankey around her shoulders and she says it soothes away those blues. Strange thing is every single random choice square I made soothed my soul ,with every stitch I felt the tension of the day disappear. Tell your daughter the blanket has magical qualities as ever time she uses it ,it will remind her of you and she will feel instantly better. It worked for my daughter .
    I love your border it frames the blanket perfectly. Stylecraft yarn is such a practical yarn choice it washes so well.
    well done Jennifer

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  10. Absolutely beautiful! It's just so lovely. :)

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  11. It's beautiful Jennifer! well done on completing it so quickly, six months is nothing for a blanket this size, your daughter will treasure it. )

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  12. A really beautiful blanket. I hope your daughter treasures it. :) x

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  13. It's just so beautiful, no wonder you are pleased with it. So much love has gone into it, your daughter is very lucky to receive such a special gift. x

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  14. It's beautiful. Definitely a blanket to be treasured, it will become an heirloom I'm sure.

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  15. How lovely it is. Six months well spent crochet-wise, I'd say :)

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  16. Just beauuuuutiful! Great job Jennifer, congratulations :D

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  17. It is SO pretty, Jennifer. My goodness, so much detail, colour and pattern, all working so nicely together. I really like the blue and white border, kind of reminds me of some of the pieces I've seen here on the island.

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  18. Your blanket is lovely, I really enjoy making blankets, I never thought I would be able to but now I have as many as I need (one for each bed and two smaller ones for the living room). I keep seeing more I'd like to try, one day...

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  19. So beautiful Jennifer. I love the way the circles are joined, absolutely stunning. I hope the GB treasures it everyday

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  20. Beautiful Jennifer! I made one just like it but used dark grey to join the circles. It was an immensely satisfying project. I am sure your little girl will cherish this blanket for a long time. x

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  21. It's fabulous, Jennifer. Well done. :o)

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  22. Stunning. I love the way you've achieved the vintage look along with fresh modern colours for a six year old girl. It all works perfectly. J x

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  23. Jennifer you have created a work of art. Truly. I know your small little GB will adore it and keep it always. That feeling of accomplishment when you finish something that you never thought you would be able to do is unbeatable. The colors you chose look beautiful together. I'm so happy for you and your contentedness at finishing something so amazing oozes off your blog post. Thank you for sharing with us.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  24. It's absolutely fantastic, she is going to love it, and no doubt treasure it for a very long time. It's wonderful when you have a project you love working on isn't it. Now you need a new one!

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  25. Really, really lovely Jennifer. I envy your skill, and patience. I wouldn't know where to start.

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  26. lovely blanket! delicious and yummy! I don't knit, but both my grandmothers used to and I still have some precious crochet blankets they did long time ago. I always feel a tender awe for people who are able to knit and create such soft precious things like you did with this blanket.

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  27. Hi Jennifer,

    The blanket is beautiful and how lucky your sweet daughter will be to have that on her bed. She will treasure that.
    Hope you are enjoying your week
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  28. A very beautiful blanket Jennifer and something your daughter can cherish forever xo

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  29. Wow - this blanket is really beautiful! It really does have an old fashioned charm about it. GB will treasure it I'm sure!

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  30. Jennifer!!! It is beautiful!!!! I am at a loss for words....what a stunning blanket! Such a wonderful gift for your sweet girl! Wishing you a great week! Nicole xoxo

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  31. Such a lovely, well made blanket. Your daughter will really love it. It might not be too long before she wants to learn to make things herself.

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  32. Beautiful and truly a perfect blanket for a girl!!!! Love the soft colors and the name suits it really well!!!! She will surely treasure it forever!!!! Have a fab week!!!
    Love
    AMarie xxx

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  33. It's stunning! You should be so proud of yourself. What a wonderful present for your little one, made with lots of love.

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  34. It's beautiful, Jennifer, the colours are absolutely ice creamy ones. Your daughter is one lucky little girl.

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  35. It is beautiful Jennifer and I am sure that GB will love it for her birthday and keep it and use it for many years to come. It is very similar in design to a blanket that I have had all my life - although mine doesn't have such pretty colours, it is very of its time! - so I know how treasured these things can become! xx

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  36. It is a gorgeous blanket, Jennifer, really beautiful. It is so special that it is for your daughter and she will always treasure it. I love the effect of the white with all the colours, and your border choice is perfect.
    Helen xox

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  37. Wow, wow, wow ! Its so beautiful Jennifer and will be such a special thing for your daughter to keep and treasure.
    Kate x

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  38. Such a pretty and perfect blanket, Jennifer! I can see this blanket going off to college some day in the future with GB, and then to her own home, and maybe then being passed along to her own little GB. What a treasure!

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  39. Jennifer it's soooo beautiful, a blanket to be treasured
    Clare x

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  40. BRAVO! I'm SOOO impressed! I love it totally. Maybe someday I will do this one. I'll put it on my crochet bucket list. To think that this will be a family heirloom is wonderful. Good job, mom! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  41. I really love the colors, it turned out so pretty! I wish that I had your patience, I have to have quick crafts or I end up not finishing them :)

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  42. It is really beautiful.
    Carol xx

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  43. It's truly beautiful, lucky daughter! I use a lot of Stylecraft Special in my crochet blankets, it's soft and forgiving, never splits as you use it, isn't stiff like many acrylics, and the range of colours is pretty amazing too. Edgings are a pain in a way aren't they? Get it wrong and it spoils the whole project, get it right and it really adds that little extra to the blanket.

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  44. This is a very beautiful blanket and a really wonderful birthday present for your little girl. It's going to be loved and treasured for many, many years. x

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  45. Oh my goodness, it is gorgeous. The border may have given you a headache, but is is perfect now. I see GB taking it with her everywhere in the house, she is going to love her very own, wonderful blanket that her Mum made just for her. Remember you are so talented, you never have to worry about a big project, you can do anything.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  46. Such a beautiful blanket, I love the colours you've chosen.

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  47. Oh my! Your blanket is just marvellous! Well done on such a beautiful piece of work, no wonder your daughter is impatient to get her hands on it! x

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  48. Wow, just wow. You've done such a beautiful job of picking and mixing the colours and showing off the pattern in all it's glory. I'm in awe!

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  49. Oh my word. It's GORGEOUS!! It really is. I love the pattern and the colours you used and yes, I too love that star shape the corner joins give you. What an achievement. You are right to he happy and proud of this! xx

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  50. It's really beautiful, and I love all the bright, cheerful colours you've used.
    Your daughter will absolutely love it and I'm sure she'll be extra careful with it.
    It's lovely making things for our children isn't it?
    Take care
    Jill x

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  51. This is so beautiful Jennifer. I love everything about it and the border with the pop of blue is perfect. Such a gorgeous gift for your daughter, made and given with love.
    Marianne x

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  52. That really is lovely! Oh! You make me want to learn to crochet and make something lovely!

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  53. The blanket really is stunning, Jennifer! The Girl Bear will surely treasure it, and I am inspired by it. Will I ever make anything so complicated? I don't know, but I love your color arrangement and the border you settled on seems perfect to me. Bravo!!! xx

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  54. Wow! Well, you should be so proud of creating such a beautiful blanket Jennifer! I am in awe! The GB will love it, no wonder she is feeling excited. I really like the border and I think the colours all work so well together, well done!

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  55. Your blanket is SO beautiful now it's finished, Jennifer - something to be treasured and handed down.

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  56. It's awesome! Well done you. I'm waiting for that day when I finally decide to give this pattern a go. It really is a work of art. X

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  57. Great blanket... Great job. I love the white border with all the colors around. So very pretty !

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  58. Oh my, that is so pretty, Jennifer! It definitely looks like ice cream in snow -- so many beautiful colors. I know your little one will have sweet dreams sleeping under all this prettiness that her momma made for her.

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  59. It is STUNNING. Go you! I am in awe. And GB is very lucky.

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