Or: An Experienced Crocheter Still Has Much to Learn
I've been trying for over a year to decide on a blanket design; I want a new afghan for our queen-sized bed, to use with the duvet in cooler weather. I made a giant granny square blanket for our bed several years ago and we like it, but it would be nice to have something new. The "giant" granny square isn't as big as we'd like, in spite of its name. And I'm better at crochet now, so I wanted to try a more complex design. Choosing one has been so hard. I knew I didn't want stripes or ripples for such a large bed blanket. I wanted individual squares. I tried close to a dozen different kinds of squares and hexagons, but nothing felt right.
I think I've finally figured out what was giving me so much trouble, and it's a huge relief. This may sound silly but my problem was color: I was using too many colors and everything was looking very busy. I was having trouble making pleasing combinations with so many colors in the mix. I kept seeing "gaps" in my color palette, and every time I added a new color, I'd have to add one or two more to balance it out. It was getting out of control. Most recently, when I thought I had found the key in Sunburst squares, which I really do love and enjoyed making, I was up to something like 24 shades. I started joining them and they looked terrible. The colors bothered me.
I thought I wanted another blanket like the GB's Ice Cream Flowers, only with gray instead of white. Her blanket is lovely, but...well, it's a little girl's blanket. I'm happy with it, and it works really well in her sunny, colorful bedroom, but it's not right for our room. I want something quieter and calmer, more grown-up. I also want a project I can handle. Some people are good at wrangling huge color assortments into a visually-pleasing creation. Some are really good at limiting themselves to a small color selection and methodically planning where colors should go. Some people can do both, which amazes me. I can make a detailed plan, but it's hard for me to execute. I don't like total randomness either, so I feel stuck sometimes. I think it's why I usually fall back on stripes or ripples. They make more sense from a color-theory standpoint, for me. Some colors look bad together, so you don't make adjacent stripes with them. Simple. Squares with multiple-round motifs confuse me, color-wise.
What I wanted, I slowly began to understand, was a square design that didn't rely on multiple colors. I thought about solid one-color grannies but those seemed very plain. Then I remembered how much I enjoyed making Maybelle Squares in the past. I'd only ever made them as decorations (I made a garland of squares as a blog giveaway prize several years ago, and a garland of the inner flowers without the square rounds for the GB's room). I liked making them, though, and I really enjoyed the blanket projects I'd seen made with the pattern, which is a joint effort between one crochet blogger, from the blog 6ichthusfish (sorry, but I don't know this lady's name), who designed the flower and another, Annette, of the blog My Rose Valley, who designed the squaring part. Annette has made beautiful blankets with the square she designed, and I've always thought I'd like to try making a pillow cover or throw with her squares. Last year, she made a baby blanket with her squares that I really admired. It occurred to me that Maybelle squares fit all my criteria for our new blanket: fairly large squares (about 6 inches across in DK yarn), one color for the flower and one for the squaring rounds, easily joined (I usually prefer joining-as-I-go and may do that here). Most importantly, it's pretty but simple.
I remembered that I'd already been thinking somewhat along these lines last fall, when I came up with a plan for large hexagons made in various color gradients using nine colors of yarn, joined with gray. I lost interest in the hexagons, but I still liked the colors very much. I knew I would do better with fewer colors, which is why I wanted to do the hexes in just such a way, and it occurred to me that I could use those colors for Maybelles instead! Annette's baby blanket uses five colors squared with cream and joined with beige. I love the look but I wanted to stick with gray for our blanket. I think the gray offsets the femininity of the flower motif. My nine colors of Stylecraft Special DK are in the basket above. Clockwise from top: Denim, Grape, Raspberry, Duck Egg, Petrol, Pale Rose, Sage, Storm, with Gray and Parma Violet in the center.
I worked out the numbers for my blanket and started crocheting. Most of the colors will require 19 squares and a couple of them (Raspberry and Petrol) will require 18. I finished all the Raspberry ones already. I looped a piece of yarn through the centers to keep the pile together. Then I started the Sage ones. I think Sage is my favorite color of Stylecraft Special DK right now. I just love its retro look; I think it has sort of a 50's feel. In fact, I think the whole color palette does. I like the slightly washed-out look of these colors with the gray. I know I keep saying I feel good about various blanket projects, but I really do think this one is right. I honestly love making these squares. They make me feel like I did when I first started crocheting seriously five years ago. It's that kind of design, I guess. I find it exciting and calming at the same time. The pattern is easy to memorize and they make up quickly. I can work on them while I do other things. I think this is going to check all my blanket boxes. Finally, a blanket!