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.

31 comments:

  1. Hexagons have never called out to me but I really like the design you're using and the colours too, I think they're going to make a beautiful blanket. My crochet has been put on the back burner too, I haven't picked it up for ages but I'm sure the cooler weather will inspire me to do so.

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  2. Jennifer I really, really like your hexagons and the colors that you've chosen. You've put so much thought and planning into this blanket. I'm facing a dilemma with our queen size bed. We had to get a new mattress which is waaaay deeper than the old one. Now the quilt that I made is much too small for the bed. A king size quilit isn't even wide enough to hang down enough to cover the mattress! I could custom make one, but my back isn't up to me sitting at the machine that long.

    You have me pondering crocheting a new one. However, I'm afraid it would be too warm for the summer months. See, I told you it's a dilemma. The only other option is to order a California King quilt online and they are quite a bit out of my budget. But, as I said, you have me thinking about crochet!

    I would love to take part in your winter project posts. I really enjoyed them last year although I wasn't very faithful about taking part in it.

    Have a lovely day Jennifer!
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  3. Your hexagon blanket is going to be so lovely. I can't wait to see what method you pick for joining them. I have finally finished my granny square blanket!!! Yes, I'm a tiny bit happy about that : ) Now I'm trying to decide on what project to start next. I would definitely take part in a Winter Party Link. Maybe this year my project will be finished during the winter or at least before summer. Lisa

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  4. The hexagons are a great idea, Jennifer! The finished blanket is going to be lovely. And I'm glad you are settling back into a routine. It's always such a great feeling!

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  5. Your hexagons are going to look amazing, Jennifer. 180 sounds terrifying but 9 of each colour scheme sounds much better! :oD

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  6. Yes please and thank you for a new winter project link party! I really enjoyed reading about your new blanket, it is so nice to see a project evolve from a twinkle of an idea to a plan to a finished object. I am sorry you felt so frustrated over the summer, creativity can be a fickle friend. I'll be looking forward to seeing your progress. I am making a tiny hexagon blanket (tiny hexagons, not tiny blanket) but haven't worked on it for a few weeks. You should definitely get new duvet covers, what a lovely reward for yourself. I love white duvet covers and sheets. Have a wonderful time working on your new blanket. xx

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  7. Ooooh, such beautiful colors! It will be really fun to watch your little project grow. Your comment about your coverlet being 4 years old and showing it made me chuckle remembering ours -- we have an off-white matlisse (that spelling is atrocious but I can't even get close enough for a dictionary to find it) coverlet. When it was 5 years old I took it to the cleaners for cleaning. They washed it and it shrunk, so they bought me a new one. When that one was 5 years old, I took it to the cleaners again -- this time they lost it! So, they bought me a new one. That one is probably 8 or 9 years old now and really showing it's age. I'm waiting until we're animal-less to get anything else though -- I have to keep it covered all the time to protect it and what's the point? ;-D Happy Crocheting!!!

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  8. Your balnket is going to be wonderful. I once had a lighter duvet cover and was so excited to spread it out on top of my bed, after just a few hours I went to gaze on it lovingly and found a chocolate stain on it from a little boy, since there were two in my house neither fessed up. Well it was stained from then on out until I got rd of it a few years later.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  9. I love color gradients, too! You have put so much thought into this blanket. It is going to be gorgeous!

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  10. It's going to be so pretty! I really like your color choices.

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  11. love those colour choices! I also love how you think about things with a deliberate intentionality! :) ... I can't do any link ups right now personally, this season is so busy for me, I am having a hard time keeping up with it all. But I would love to read about your progress on your blanket! :))))

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  12. I love that you took your time deciding on a style for your new blanket and I think you've got it spot on. The hexagons are gorgeous and those colours are my favourites. I know what you mean about having room for only so many blankets, but when I start another(if it's OK with you) I might pinch your design! xx

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  13. That is going to be a wonderful blanket! I love the colours. And yes, you should get yourself some new bed linen too :) I'd like to try to join in with your winter making party too! Have a great week xx

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  14. I love your hexagons. So much, in fact, that I've bookmarked the Novamade page you linked to. Thank you :)

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  15. I love the colours you have chosen and cannot wait to see the blanket develop and grow. It will be beautiful. A winter link up party sounds great as it may encourage me to start the blanket kit I was gifted last Christmas!

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  16. Grey is such a classy way to hold a blanket together, it is going to be great. I loved the winter link party, it really got me through my cabin blanket. In fact I have never chosen yarn for a blanket they have always been left over affairs so I would like an excuse to make a special purchase. Jo x

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  17. It really is going to be a beautiful blanket I love the colour palette you have chosen. I certainly would like to join in with the winter project link up, I am going to start thinking what my project will be. Thank you for your lovely comments it is wonderful to know someone is thinking about you. Take care.

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  18. Such a beautiful idea for a blanket. The hexagons make it extra special and I love your colours. I would be happy to join your winter link up. B x

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  19. I really like your new blanket project.. the colors melting into each other.. the colors you chose.. all of it. I look forward to watching it grow. I am kind of bad about the group project thing.. but will see how it goes. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  20. I love hexagon blankets and have made several over the years, playing with different styles and giving then away to friends (sometimes). I have similar storage issues too but the conclusion is that I am well covered for the next ice age!
    Would love to join in with another Winter Project Party, I really enjoyed it last year. Xxx

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  21. I love your sweet blanket! The colors are gorgeous! Oh, it's going to be a favorite, I'm sure.
    I hope you are having a happy week, friend.

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  22. Hey Jennifer,
    I really enjoyed reading about the creative process behind your hexagon blanket. I often wonder how you decide on colours, pattern and so on. I'm not at all creative, although I really enjoy the creative endeavours of others.
    Leanne xx

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  23. I always feel kinda disjointed when I haven't got a blanket on the go and like you it always takes me a while to find a pattern I'm happy with but once I've found it I'm as happy as can be. I am making hexagons too in the background that's one of my neverending stash projects, the one thing I will say about them is they are awful to join and I'm in the process of doing that now very slowly. I love the colours you have chosen and I can't wait to see how your blanket grows, have fun! :) xx

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  24. It will be gorgeous Jennifer. Your colours are soft and beautiful, and blend so well. You will be through those 180 hexes in no time at all, and the result will be stunning. Have a good week and greetings from London.

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  25. I totally understand the blanket dilemma, and get how important it is to decide on a design you love, given the time and yarn that will go into it. I think this is going to be lovely - I've been looking at crocheted hexies myself too lately. I look forward to seeing your progress, and yes I would love to join in with your Winter Link Party again. xx

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  26. I love those colours! And know exactly what you mean about making too many things and then what to do with them. I slowed down on quilts because I'd made one for everyone at home, then when I was mending my daughter's this week I realised I really miss doing them, so have decided to start another one made from all the bits and bobs of fabric I have left over from other projects. I think your hexies look great and am sure the finished blanket will be lovely. x

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  27. I look forward to seeing how your blanket progresses. The colours are lovely, very easy on the eye :)
    I would like to join a winter link party. I've not done one before, but it is my hope to start and finish my first crochet blanket this winter, so some extra motivation would be perfect.

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  28. You have a beautiful plan in the works, Jennifer, and I like that are leaving some choices for later in the project. Your Winter Link Party is a great idea. I did not make nearly as much progress as I hoped to, but watching the progress of others was inspiring. It is lovely of you to be willing to organize it. Thanks! xxxx

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  29. so lovely xxx and yes yes yes to a winter linky! xxx

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  30. I love your hexies, this is going to be a very lovely blanket. Yes please to the craft party link up!

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  31. I love they way you are mixing cool and warm colours. Your hexies are looking fabulous, this will be a wonderful blanket.

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