Saturday, September 5, 2015

Larksfoot for the winter


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!

34 comments:

  1. First of all, so sorry it has been a rough week for you, and glad you are feeling a little better.

    So many of your words about being home, and enjoying the space where you live, and wanting to tuck yourself away there echo with me. I am the same, I love being home, in our space. My hubby and I are both homebodies, and share that same instinctive response you and the Bear share, to be home and away from the world out there. And like you, we have little projects that keep us busy, and happy in our space.

    I look forward to seeing the progression of your winter project :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so happy you are feeling better. Colds when it,s still warm outside are just the worse.
    My husband and I were just talking about it in the car today : The change of seasons has been affecting less and less over the last few years. It used to be that the end of summer meant being "trapped" inside the house soon, but not anymore. Like you, much of our life centers around our home now. We used to live outside of ourselves much more before. Since we have simplified our life, we haven't had that nagging feeling that winter and cold = solitary and cooped-up. It means rest. It means family, warmth, recentering ourselves and slowing don even more, We look forward to that change every year now. It's a well welcomed feeling of peace.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I loved this post, and I suspect that many of your readers share (as do I) your feeling of being centred with craft. I really love your colours here - I'm sure I said that last time, but they work beautifully together and I think this is a blanket I would not mind seeing on my couch either ;-)
    I would like to join in a monthly check in with my main winter knitting project as it would be nice to share and see what others are doing.
    Count me in!
    www.offthegridneedlearts.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm glad you're feeling better. I love the pattern for your blanket and the colors are cozy and peaceful. I really like what you said about circling the wagons it's a great mentality and needed now!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am so glad you are feeling better and congratulations on having you your cardigan featured. I too am crocheting a blanket for the lounge along with lots of Christmas goodies and now baby items but yes I would be interested in sharing my progress. mamasmercantile1@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. so glad you are on the mend....and I'd love to join you with a winter project.....maybe this will be the winter that the mitered cross blanket will be finished! (one can always dream, right?)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I like a bit of 'wagon circling' myself! I actually started my current blanket back in June, when E and I went to Dorset post-exams, but I'm still working on it - does that count? If so, count me in too please. Glad you're feeling so much better. xx

    ReplyDelete
  8. I like a bit of 'wagon circling' myself! I actually started my current blanket back in June, when E and I went to Dorset post-exams, but I'm still working on it - does that count? If so, count me in too please. Glad you're feeling so much better. xx

    ReplyDelete
  9. From one hermit to another : I completely understand the importance you attach to "home"... Same here.. Long time ago, many of our friends called us asocial, and it bothered me... I didn't feel like participating in that life "out there" (like you call it) too much, it disturbed me, and made me restless.. Years later, everybody accepts that we're a bit different and more to ourselves.
    Love that pattern for the blanket - do you know how it is called over here ? "Pied-de-poule" stitch, which is french and translates as "chicken's foot" :-)))))
    Xxx

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm glad you're feeling better now. I'm a homebody too & it suits me I stopped apologizing for it years ago I'm happy being me but it took me a few years during my younger adult self to realise that was allowed. I think your idea for a winter check in would be a splendid idea. I'm in the process of a simply granny square blanket to use up the rest of a blanket pack, I'd love to take part. Take care xx

    ReplyDelete
  11. We love being at home too, Kristie, despite the fact I write about our excursions on my blog. HB works from home, so we spend a good portion of most days together here, and don't mind at all. We sit out with our coffee and look at the garden, making plans. When we are apart for more than about 3 hours, we are looking for each other :) Your blanket project is very attractive, and I can see the bird-foot idea. I am pleased you are feeling better; I have a mild dose of the prevailing virus here, and I don't like it one bit...

    ReplyDelete
  12. So much of what you say resonates with me. That need to create a sanctuary away from the rough and tumble of life out there is something I really understand and concur with. And the calming and fucussing feel of hobbies, I know it soothes the mind. The calmness of home always comes through loud and clear in your posts, they're so good to read. I like to pick up yarn in the autumn as well, I'm inching my way slowly down a blanket. I'd definitely join in with a check-in, although my progress tends to be slow! There's a chill in the air here in the evenings now, so I'm glad there's enough blanket to spread over me while I work. CJ xx

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
    Rosie

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hope you feel much better with time, lovely work and greetings to you!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love the pattern you are making...
    And I am certainly ok to follow you in a winter -project share!!
    Home is the only world I know during winter...too much snow , too cold (very cold), well wool is the only way to be happy during long cold night.
    Miss. xx

    ReplyDelete
  16. Your blanket is going to be lovely and such a good companion to you through the winter. I hope that by now you are feeling well and the nasty bugs have gone completely away.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hey Jennifer,
    I'm glad to hear that you are feeling better. I think colds are very underestimated; they make me feel like hell. And how funny that you call that early evening routine 'the witching hour' too! When you write about your home and family life it always seems full of warmth and happiness and harmony. Even when things are difficult. I think that sense of home as sanctuary and shelter is so important. It feels like we are priviledged indeed to call it ours, especially when there are many fleeing theirs.
    Have a good week, my friend.
    Leanne xx

    ReplyDelete
  18. That is such a pretty stitch Jennifer, I'm looking forward to seeing your blanket grow!
    V x

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is such a lovely post. I know exactly what you mean by "home" and I think that's partly why I like you and your blog so much. I think that crochet stitch is really lovely and I'd like to try it sometime. It has a pleasing shape, and your colours are working well together too.

    I'd definitely be up for a winter link up.It will mainly involve crochet and cake though, just warning you now. ;-) xx

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm definitely happier in my own home than anywhere else. If I'm out doing even something "simple" like grocery shopping, I find myself hurrying to get home. :o)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh Jennifer, you say in words a lot of my feelings in my heart. I, too, love being cozy at home. Whether that is in my little trailer or in my "big" house. In my trailer I have afghans and pillows and doilies that I have made and lots of pictures of my kids and grandkids. It makes both Dennis and I happy to have our family there in pictures. Some people make fun of me for taking a camping trailer into a "house" with personalization but I NEED it. I'm still knitting a zig zag sock yarn blanket. I like the warmth on my legs right now too. The shawl I just finished was knitted with greybeard. I like the softeness of HL I love this Yarn.
    I would like to be part of your winter project although I still haven't decided on a big project quite yet.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

    ReplyDelete
  22. What a wonderful post, Jennifer. It's like an expanded definition of the Danish term hygge, which is something I am always striving for (but not always successful at maintaining!). Being at home, and being cozy are two of the best things in life. I say that, and here I am heading off to Ireland in a few days. But as much as I am looking forward to the trip, I already find myself looking forward to returning and "settling in" for the fall and winter. You new blanket project is perfect, and the colours are gorgoeus!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I don't know how I have missed so many of your last posts, but I did. Glad you are feeling better. Your larkspur blanket is looking really nice. I have a couple or three or four or five blankets I need to take out and work on this winter. I would be interested in some kind of link-up if you decide to do one. Those peach squares you made look and sound so wonderful! I'll have to save that recipe and try it. And I loved your post about the two christening gowns you have. That crochet lace work is so pretty. I love seeing things like that. Hope you're having a good holiday weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I found your blog low on my list again so I'm late to the party. I think that's looking really pretty. I'm working on a neutral neat ripple.. not sure if I can join in with something that's already in the works. Mine is a wedding present for my niece and her new husband. This time of year, especially, I feel like being cozy at home. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Another post that resonated with me Jennifer. I do love your honesty and the fact that you are so true to yourself. I love making cosy corners for myself and my activities and my children used to do the same too. Now they are growing up and living away from home for the first time it is lovely to see and hear about their home-making routines. Enjoy your blanket making, your colours are just perfect.

    ReplyDelete
  26. So happy you getting better hun!!! and congratulations on being featured too. Just lovely. The colours you are weaving together on your winter blanket are gorgeous. I am so going to love seeing updates of it through the season. xxxx

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am glad you are feeling better, the effects of a cold are greatly underestimated. Your post today is really lovely. I have similar feelings about home. Although I am quite a social animal and participate in many community projects, home is where I like to be most, where I am happiest. In the evenings, I like to sit down with my needles or hook and relax. I have been thinking about blankets a lot (now that I have finally finished one for Annie). I really like your lark stitch project, the colours are lovely and the stitch looks very special. x

    ReplyDelete
  28. So glad you are feeling a bit better Jennifer. such a lovely post. I love my home, being at home and I love the winter because it is cosy and Hubby is at home more. there is something so relaxing about sitting down with a crochet hook and balls of yarn of an evening. x

    ReplyDelete
  29. Sorry to hear you have not been feeling well and that you are better now :), a cold in summer is not fun at all. I hear you on the need for a winter project, although mine tend to be projects as I often have one or two small ones on the grounds that are more practical to take out the house for when we are meeting up with friends. Your blanket is looking great.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I am so sorry you have been ill. I have been so busy this week I have missed so much. I love to be home, it is a place I never want to be away from for very long. I miss being home by myself, that was so peaceful to me. I love your blanket and the ritual of making one every winter.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

    ReplyDelete
  31. So pleased you are feeling better.
    Love the colours you are using in your crochet.
    Best Wishes for a good week

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi Jennifer, your larksfoot blanket is looking good, very cosy and I especially love the grey. My mind turns to blanket making in the Autumn too and I have a plan for a new one even though I'm part way through another one. I'd love to join in a winter project check in please!
    Even though my children are no longer little babies (12,10 & 6) there are nights when "the witching hour" or "cactus hour" still applies! xx

    ReplyDelete
  33. Jennifer, every time I come here and read one of your posts, I come away feeling enriched. Your words about home, and feeling protective about what goes on within your family totally resonate with me. We are the same, we do what we think is right, and we pull together for our boys. You have expressed that so beautifully. Your blanket is going to be 'awesome' as my boys say! Thank you again for the richness you bring to this space. X

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...