For the past several years, I've begun a new crocheted blanket project in early September, with the intention of working on it through the winter. I have made blankets in other seasons, but it's more pleasant to make them in wintertime. It's a firm part of my life now; as sure as the seasons themselves turning, my winter blanket plans start taking shape as August closes. I start perusing Ravelry for patterns and I choose a design. Then I go through my stash and see what I'll need, buying (or ordering) more yarn as necessary. I didn't really need any more yarn this time; I had a lot left from last winter's blanket, Heartwarmer, and still more in my yarn bins. I did buy one more skein of my old-standby gray (Graybeard, the color is actually called), but nothing more. I intend to clean out the stash with this one, and hopefully I won't need any more. I haven't made any promises, but that's the plan for now.
Rituals are important to me, in the year and in my months and weeks and days. I love this ritual. It feels the same every year, even though the work changes depending on the pattern, the yarns, the colors, the light. The blanket grows down my lap as I work; it covers my legs and keeps me warm through the long afternoons of homeschool (I often crochet while we work; it keeps me calm). I usually take my project out again in the evenings, to do a row or two while I watch TV or listen to the radio. It helps me decompress after the bustling dinner/baths/bedtime portion of the day, which is honestly my least favorite time. I still think of it as the "witching hour," just like I did when my children were babies. We're past the fussing and cluster-feeding, yes, but I don't think we're at our best in those hours. Evening comes and my blanket calls. The work is soothing and it brings me back to myself, to the things I enjoy, the time I make for myself at the end of a long day of caring for the people I love.
You probably think I write a lot about being at home and feeling cozy, etc. It's true, it's a big topic around here. It's important to me, though. There's really nothing more important to me, it's just part of who I am. I'm a creature of habit and I love to be at home, but it's more than that. It's a sense of needing to circle the wagons, so to speak, to keep this place happy and peaceful. Not to be antisocial, or to shield ourselves from reality, or to be hermits (though I wouldn't be offended at all if you called me a hermit, I think I might be one, kind of). It's just an instinctive response I have sometimes (which the Bear shares with me) to life out there. We know how we want to live and we're okay with being a little isolated if that's what it takes. I used to be afraid to stand up for this decision, but I'm not anymore.
For both of us, hobbies are tied up with this desire. It's deliberate; we want to keep our focus on what happens here, under this roof, as much as we can (obviously, jobs and school and friendships and commerce are important too). I didn't always have daily hobbies the way I do now, and I honestly can't remember what I did. I think I was more anxious, less centered, not as focused. Regular commitment to creativity, and to following through with my projects and hobbies, has changed me and I'm thankful.
My winter projects have been, for me, a way of learning the fine art of follow-through. I wasn't raised with it. I didn't really even know where to begin to learn, but crochet brought it into my life. The idea that I can sit down in September with my basket of inexpensive acrylic yarns and a couple of crochet hooks, with a commitment to working a little bit every day, and have a whole new blanket to use by the time the ground thaws? It was life-changing the first time I did it. That blanket was my first ripple, which was on our bed for about a year. It's in the family room now, a winter's labor of love, the main component in a hundred blanket forts.
My current blanket project is being made with the Larksfoot stitch pattern from Crochet Geek. This is a really simple pattern but I think the design is quite striking. Have you tried it before? Look closely at the above photo; it's a little like a granny stripe because there are clusters. Each stripe is made of two rows of stitches, the first of which reaches down through the previous row with an extended double-crochet stitch in the middle of each cluster. I suppose this is where the "larksfoot" name comes from; that middle stitch, dipping down into the row below it, looks like the center toe on a bird's foot. I like the way it's coming out so far; I'm using worsted-weight yarn with an I/9 (5.5 mm) hook, so the clusters are chunky, with a sort of shingled effect as the rows bulge slightly, right-side to wrong-side. It's working up quickly too; I actually have to pace myself a bit to savor the work. It's okay if I finish quickly, though. I'd be more than happy to start another blanket before the winter ends.
I was wondering, would anyone like to join me in a winter-project check-in? I noticed that some of you said you liked having winter projects, or that you would enjoy doing so. Maybe we could have a link-up once a month, just to check in and keep each other going? I could set up a link-party kind of thing, and then we could visit other blogs and see the progress. Please let me know if you'd be interested in participating.
I just wanted to say thanks for your lovely comments lately, especially the get-well wishes. It has been a rough week for me, but I'm finally feeling better now. It was just a bad cold but it hit me like a ton of bricks and the coughing has been terrible. I'm not totally back to normal but I'm doing much better today. I'm sorry I've been absent from your blogs lately. I also wanted to say hello and welcome to new readers and followers. I was so pleased to see that my Sugar and Spice Cardigan was featured by Simply Crochet (thank you, Simply Crochet!) on their Facebook page earlier this week. If the feature brought you to my blog, I hope you'll enjoy visiting. I'm really glad you're here!