Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Vexed and hexed
Hello! Thanks for your lovely comments lately, especially your birthday wishes for the GB. I'm feeling like I'm back in the blogging groove in the past week or so, after a very hectic settling-in period when school first started a month ago. New teachers, new routines, new rules - it was all feeling pretty oppressive there for a bit. I think we're all doing better with it now, which is a relief. I missed being here, though I wasn't really gone that much. It's just the habit of it that I've gotten accustomed to - and look forward to, a part of the rhythm of my days. Today, I want to share my newest crochet project, and the roundabout journey it took to get to here, the exciting early days of a new creation.
Back in the spring, I decided to start looking at designs for a new blanket. This blanket would be a big one, destined for our queen-sized bed, and would probably be my last blanket for a while because - let's face it - I've made a lot of blankets over the past few years. I've even started a few others that haven't featured much on my blog. There are only so many blankets you can make, I think. Yes, it's lovely to have stacks of them all around for the family to use but eventually, the piles are just huge and storage becomes an issue, at least it does for us. We have a smallish house and we are careful to limit our furniture to the most useful items; I already have one large cedar blanket chest full to the point I can barely close it. But I did want to make a big blanket for our bed, in part because the one I made a few years ago isn't quite large enough to cover us comfortably, and also just because. I haven't really crocheted much in the past six months since I finished Hensfoot, the larksfoot afghan that I made last winter. I devoted my crafty time to cross-stitch instead, creating two pieces that I really enjoyed stitching - Retro Kitchen and Voyage.
I missed crochet, though, and was feeling down in the dumps a few weeks ago when I realized how little I'd done lately. It wasn't for lack of trying. Back in the spring, I went through a period of trying all different kinds of blanket motifs - squares, circles-in-squares, flowers-in-squares and others - trying to figure out exactly what I wanted this blanket to look like. I don't want to treat this blanket like it's my magnum opus or anything, but I want it to be nice and I want it to feel worthwhile. It needs to be very large and it will require lots of yarn and time. I was frustrated time and again with everything I tried. Nothing felt right. I didn't want to have to make 300-400 small motifs. I didn't want to do any more stripes or ripples, either. I especially didn't want to do another giant granny square, which is what we have currently. I was stressing out way more than anyone needs to stress out over a crochet project that hadn't even happened yet. Finally, toward the end of August, I hit on the perfect design - hexagons. I'd made a few last year, just for fun. I liked the look of them and I thought they could be a fresh addition to my crochet repertoire.
I'm totally loving these hexagons! I'm so glad. I went hunting through Ravelry for inspiring hexagon afghans and came across the Ruby Hexagon Blanket, which led me to the maker's blog and her pattern for hexagon motifs. Nova Seals is a talented crocheter and her Ruby blanket really spoke to me. I love the way she made her motifs all different, with lots of different colors, but I had a more limited palette in mind for my blanket, as you can see above. My blanket will have very soft, cool colors with gray as the main color around each hexagon. I haven't yet decided whether I will join them as I go or if I will sew or crochet the motifs together. That's for another time. Right now, I'm just enjoying making the main parts of each hexagon. It's an easy design, just like a granny square except that you make six corners instead of four. I recommend Nova's pattern highly; she teaches it really well.
I had such a hard time getting started with this project, and I've only made these six hexes so far, but I'm really excited. I've also promised myself a new duvet cover when I'm finally finished and the blanket is ready to put on the bed. The current cover is four years old and starting to get a bit faded and worn (it's a small floral pattern). I'd like to get a plain off-white one next time around and have the blanket be the colorful statement piece in the room. We have a funny bedroom with no large solid walls (one has a full length closet with sliding doors, the other three boast a window, a doorway or both - it's weird), so I can't easily paint an accent wall, and we don't get a lot of sunlight as the room is on the north end of the house, so light and airy linens are a good idea.
I'm using Stylecraft Special DK for this blanket, as I often do. I really like this yarn for blankets because it's soft and cozy but it's also washable and sturdy for hard use (which I consider nightly sleeping to be, especially with a flailing lumberjack sharing the bed). Above are the colors I'm using for the main hex shapes. Top row, from left: Pale Rose, Raspberry, Plum, Grape and Parma Violet. Bottom row, from left: Denim, Petrol, Storm, Sage and Duck Egg.
The same palette with the inclusion of the main color, Grey. I know that some of the colors sort of blend together, but it's deliberate. I really want this to be a calm and soothing blanket with just occasional pops of brightness and mildly clashing colors, a look that is harder to achieve with large color palettes or "random" color placements within a motif. I like that look sometimes, but it's not the one I want here.
To that end, I made my own color placement guides. I want the hexagons to contain color gradients - one color fading into the next in a sort of spectrum - as opposed to using the colors "randomly" (I put this word in quotation marks because it technically isn't truly random when you do this, and because I'm always biased about which colors I put next to each other. I also always end up using my favorite colors more often than the others, almost unconsciously). I find random placement to be pretty stressful, actually. I lose interest more quickly. For these hexes, I'm glad to have an "order" to follow. I made my sketches with colored pencils, trying to match the yarns as best I could. There are twenty different designs (ignore the third one in the bottom right photo, it's a repeat). I did all the math and worked out that I'll need 180 of these hexes to make a queen-sized blanket with good overhang, so there will be 9 of each of these designs in it. I probably will place the hexes "randomly" on the blanket for interest, but let's cross that bridge when we come to it.
I'm glad to have a long-term crochet project again and I really like having a portable, individual set of motifs to work on. I have other projects in the queue - some more cross-stitching, a crocheted decoration, some machine-sewing - which I'll pick up as needed (some of them are to be gifts), but these hexes will take a lot of my crafty time this fall and winter, I am sure. It's a relief to have a big project back on the go. I needed to put down the crochet for a bit, but it's always there in the background calling out to me, even when it doesn't speak as clearly as I would like it to.
While we're on the subject, I'd like to ask if there is interest in another Winter Project Link Party for this year? No pressure, and certainly no hard feelings, but if you would like to take part, can you leave a comment to that effect? I'd post about specifics another time, but it would be about the same as last year, a monthly check-in/link-up where you would link to a post on your blog discussing your current projects. The first one would be at the beginning of October, to help you plan ahead.