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