Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Making now


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!

47 comments:

  1. Your heartwarmer afghan looks so nice! I could use it right now, as it's quite chilly in my living room this morning. I think your reasons for using your yarn are good ones and the type of yarn you use certainly doesn't take away from your crochet skills. I really like that fabric too - very cheery!

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  2. Hi! Oooh, I love the look of your new blanket in progress, that waffle like texture is pretty cool! :) Your colour palette reminds me a bit of Sandra from http://sandra-cherryheart.blogspot.co.uk
    I love your crafting with a firm purpose to suit your family requirements! Lovely yarn cakes!!!! :) What kind of yarn you use is your own preference and might also depend on what's available wherever you live - this is not really the main point when you want to blog about something. As long as you are happy with what you are making!!! You are being creative and for me that is much more important!!! I love reading your blog! :) ps: the fabric looks cute!
    Looking forward to see your blanket growing!
    Ingrid xx
    http://myfunkycrochet.blogspot.be/

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  3. Autumn is definitely a blanket time of year! I love the colours you have chosen and I think acrylic yarn is the best for a much used blanket, it's tough and easily washed.
    V x

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  4. Autumn is definitely the season for crochet particularly something big to cover the knees. Your throw is looking gorgeous I love the simplicity of the pattern and the beautiful colour palette. I totally agree acrylic or a mix is perfect for family living and can easily be washed.

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  5. Your blanket is looking great. I use acrylic for blankets because quite frankly why would anyone want to spend a fortune on posh wool for it to end up being dragged round the floor, hidden under things & well just lived on & eaten by moths. A sensible choice. Posh yarn however is collected until I am a proper knitter & will be used for garments for me & no one else, well maybe for grandchildren in the distant future. Failing to be the proper knitter part I shall just stroke it instead. I find it hard to knit with acrylic yarns but I will always use them for crochet. I'm trying to find the time to crochet another blanket. xx

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  6. I really like your striped blanket !! I've said it before, it's a welcome change from all the granny square blankets (not that I don't like those, it's just that I've been seeing A LOT of them lately on blogger...)
    As for the use of cheap acrylic yarn, I also use it a lot ! When making things like decorations/blankets/pillow covers, I think it's a little bit a waste of money to use cotton/wool/etc... Plus, there is a lot of nice and soft acrylic yarn to be found nowadays in shops...

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  7. The blanket looks lovely. One of my favourite stitches the hdc (or htr in the uk). It's going to be a classic. I think everyone would love to spend a small fortune on luxury yarns but not everyone has a small fortune, acrylic yarn these days is pretty good compared to the nasty stuff they had years ago. I sometimes use a mix, like the Stylecraft alpaca/acrylic blend they've just introduced, it's quite soft. The colours will look great against your navy sofa. J x

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  8. It's going to be a lovely blanket, a much loved blanket, and a true heartwarmer. You do have a special place here to visit. I can tell that there is a lot of love in your home.
    Best to you, Ellen.

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  9. It's lovely! I'm also returning to blanket projects now I can bear the warmth on my lap again! I also use a LOT (in fact nearly all) acrylic: I can't afford nice yarn for the blanket type projects, I'd rather use cheaper yarn and be able to make more and enjoy more :) I love the colours you're using!

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  10. Your blanket is looking wonderful and warm. I just ordered yarn for a blanket, I suddenly want to crochet big squares and put them all together, and the strange thing is a have a ton of yarn, but none for a blanket. That fabric will be so festive as curtains.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  11. Ha, you're so funny! Loud and proud with the acrylic, I like it. I use cotton for household things a lot for the same reasons you do - it's affordable and durable, while not always being the nicest yarn to work with. I have a weakness for "good" yarn but tend to limit it to small projects like cowls and scarves and blow my birthday money on it.

    It sounds like you have September Fever to me, full of ideas and inspiration for crafting. Your blanket is coming along so nicely already. I am still plodding away on mine, and craving a simple stripe or ripple project afterwards just to avoid the fiddly colour changes and darning in all those flipping ends! x

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  12. Blanket making and Autumn just go together. This time last year I had a granny stripe on the go. This year I'm still battling along with my granny squares for spring. Perhaps I should have a push and finish it for Christmas? I love the colours! The grey just calms the rest and helps them blend.

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  13. Gosh all those abbreviations, it looks like the enigma code. I am thinking about learning to crochet. I will have to teach myself, although I guess most people learnt that way. I have bought a book and bookmarked some youtube tutorials. I ought to learn how to cast off my knitting too. My Mum finished my scarf for me when she visited. I was going to blog about it, but got shy. I think the colours that you've chosen are lovey - just my kind of colours.
    Leannexx

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  14. Beautiful colours for your Heartwarmer, Jennifer! In my home there is a mix of antiques, hand me downs, and Ikea cuties, and they all work well together because I love them. Your yarn is yours; so glad you embraced it!

    Poppy

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  15. Nothing wrong with using cheap yarn! I use acrylic for knitted toys because these get a lot of wear. I use ordinary sheep wool for blankets because I love the smell. There are some brands (Drops for example) that sell very affordable sheep wool. I love you colour palette, just what I would choose. I am working on socks and an alpaca jumper. the alpaca was a less than half price sale yarn I bought a long time ago. I do feel blanket urge but can't decide on a design. Enjoy your crochet work. Cx

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  16. I love the blanket you are working on and I think the yarn is perfect for it! I use that brand of yarn the most too. I made a dark purple long cowl in that same stitch and yarn and loved it, but I gave it away. It will make a great, comfy blanket. I don't know how people afford to use the more expensive yarns for large blankets. I'd love to make one using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, but jeez! It would be $200 at least! Those yarn balls are much smaller in yardage than ILTY too! Glad you've picked up your hook...can't wait to see it grow.

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  17. You have nothing to apologise for. I also use this type of yarn. My household is so crazy that I didn't even dare to have blankets or cushions on the chairs for many years. The messiest person has just moved out, so I am contemplating crocheting some cushion covers. But I won't be tempting fate by using expensive yarn.

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  18. That is going to be a beautiful blanket, I will look forward to seeing it grow. I often hand quilt big projects in the winter as they keep me warm as I work them on my lap. This year it will be my first crochet blanket :)

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  19. Your blanket will be just lovely! Can't wait to see it completed. I am working on one giant granny square now. I hope to create some kind of flowery blanket like you did earlier. I know, yarn is so very expensive when you need a lot of it. It adds up! I use cheap yarn as well! xoxo Jen

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  20. Nothing cheap-looking about your blanket at all. When it's made with love, all the better. I just bought a red bread bin for my kitchen. You're right, it's a cheery colour in there. Another lovely post, Jennifer. x

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  21. I know exactly what you mean about September and yarn, I always get that too. Your blanket is looking beautiful, and well done you for using affordable yarn to make it. Luxury yarn is usually out of my price range, and it's really inspiring to see lovely things made from less expensive yarn. CJ xx

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  22. Your blanket is looking great. I started a new one tonight too - v-stitch. As you say, a big, mindless, and soothing project for the coming months. :) x

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  23. I use cheap yarn too........there......I said it!
    I think your blanket looks lovely and warm...the way blankets should be!
    I have finished a small "basket" and a scarf for the boyfriend...
    I ordered a pattern from ETSY...it is the "Baylie Bear Cowl"...to make for Miss V...
    It is adorable...so it was a must...
    I never buy patterns...either make them up...or get them off the internet...
    enjoy the rest of your week my friend!

    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  24. I use acrylic for a lot of things... I also like to work with cotton, a lot. Hey, I don't judge on yarn prices at all.. it's all good! Some people buy it in thrift shops.. I have all kinds in my stash. I love your blanket. I still have to finish Caleb's big cotton blanket. Yes, Autumn makes me feel crafty, for sure. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  25. You are making great progress on your blanket, Jennifer! Whenever I see your projects it makes me want to learn how to crochet. One of these days I'll act on that impulse. Would this blanket be a good beginner's project?

    As for the kind of yarn you use, it's important to use what works for you. You have rough and tumble young children, and you need a rough and tumble kind of yarn to match their energy. A blanket made out of an expensive, non-washable yarn would be of absolutely no use to you.

    To answer your question, fall definitely makes me want to cozy up with bigger knitting projects, the kind it was too hot to have in my lap all summer long. It's one of the things I love most about fall!

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  26. Your blanket rocks! I love the thick striping! The colors you have chosen are beautiful as well! And I am watching the Roosevelt's as well...very interesting! Keep us posted on your drapes for your kitchen! I can't wait to see them!!! Nicole xoox

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  27. I say, "Go for it!", about the acrylic yarns. I use them all the time, especially for my charity knitting/crocheting. hard working and washable yarns are much preferred and I want the same with my blankets and throws. I go through a LOT of yarn and my budget doesn't run to the fancy yarns although I do like to pet them at the yarn store. Love your blanket. The colors are perfect together and I'm looking forward to watching it grow as you relax in the longer evenings ahead.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  28. I think that is going to be a lovely blanket, Jennifer! I think I have done a similar stitch in the many dishcloths I've crocheted -- mine was completely by accident because I am not very good at reading crochet patterns. I always buy whatever yarn is on sale as long as it meets the soft test. I have to touch every yarn on the racks! That is really cute fabric.

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  29. Well it's going to be lovely snuggling under that blanket, alone or with friends! I use cheap acrylic yarn too... Stylecraft Special is a gorgeously soft yarn available here in the UK, not at all plasticky feeling, hard, like some acrylic, and cheap too, with the most fantastic range of colours. Lucy at attic24.typead.com blog is a great user of this yarn too... you should check out her blog if you don't know it already.

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  30. This year's autumn is a very warm one, over here. More like mid-summer!
    When the weather becomes cooler, I feel myself drawn to my writing desk; I am working on a novel, and am most productive in late autumn and winter. I think this is because I tend to turn 'inward' more in those seasons which benefits my writing. Makes for slow work, but that's something I've come to accept.

    Beautiful, beautiful work you're doing there, Jennifer. And I love the colours, as always. xxx

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  31. It's looking fabulous already. I've always used Stylecraft Special DK which is acrylic for my blankets, though I am trying to build a stash of more expensive wool for a special blanket I'll eventually make, it's taking some time though. I'm back to working on Eleanor's ripple now the colder evenings are here, it's quite big now so it's lovely to cosy up in whilst I'm crocheting away.

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  33. So pretty! I am in need of learning to do this.

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  34. Yarn is yarn lady no matter what it is. I use alsorts and very rarely is is the luxury stuff mostly it is given to me and I make the best of it - stand proud Jen and show us your crochet!! Jo x

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  35. I like the fabric for the curtains. New curtains can make such a difference in a room! I painted and put up new curtains in our kitchen last summer and it looks so much nicer :) Love the colors on your blanket too, our nights have already started to be in the 40's so it's definitely time for blankets!

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  36. Ooh I love that you have named it the heartwarmer, the colours are a delight as it is the pattern I really love the waffle effect and you're lego description made me smile.
    Clare xx

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  37. love the way your project keeps your knees warm as you make it x

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  38. Love your progress so far Jennifer, all yarn is ok, I use mostly acrylic you can get lovely soft acrylic yarn that comes in all sorts of shades, it's hardwearing and great to work with, I love your colours and the stitch you have used. I will be starting some kind of blanket soon, I need to gather my stash and decide very soon, it's driving me crazy not having a blanket to work on. :) xxx

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  39. What a lovely piece of crochet work.....stunning colours....:-)

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  40. I love the sound and look of your new blanket, who cares what yarn you use your the one using it.

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  41. I also use cheap-ish yarn. The cotton yarn for my granny square throw is less than £2 per ball which I think is not too bad. I've never bought yarn that's over £3. I think the more expensive ones scare me a bit because itnwould mean I have to use it for something and make some something very nice with it to make it worth the money I paid for. Anyway I love your new blanket and the colours you're using. I'm still working on my granny throw and finishing a headband. I'm hoping to start knitting scarves for the girls soon. X

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  42. The colours are fab, it's going to be a great blanket :) xxx

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  43. Your blanket will be gorgeous, and now is the perfect time to begin it! I use acrylic yarn for my crochet blankets to keep the cost down and because I like lots of colours which the acrylic ranges are good for.
    Wishing you a happy weekend, Jennifer.
    Helen xox

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  44. Your blanket is looking gorgeous so far. I adore making blankets and it's cheap yarns for making blankets for me too! I love to use Stylecraft Special DK for my blankets, like you my blankets are made to be used and my daughter uses them daily to tuck her toys in, make dens and for general snuggling!
    Marianne x

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  45. Beautiful blanket Jennifer. The colours are gorgeous. I will make a blanket, one day. I'm still working on small things whilst I perfect my fledgling crochet skill (if you can call it that....it's still a tremendous work in progress!). I also find it hard to resist fabric!! Looking forward to seeing your finished items.

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  46. Your blanket looks wonderful, Jennifer, and I wish I could crochet. I agree you should just use the yarns you like and can afford. Some people can be very snobbish and precious about yarn unfortunately. :(

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  47. Your heartwarmer looks so snuggly and cozy already, especialy in that top picture! I'm working on a crochet blanket at the minute too, Attic24's ripple pattern, and I'm just in love! Autumn really is blanket making season! x

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