Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Presenting Maybelle


Maybelle is all finished! I'm so excited to share my latest crochet blanket project today. I can hardly believe Maybelle is complete and ready to use (though we haven't really needed an extra blanket on the bed yet this fall). I started Maybelle in March 2017, finishing in November, for a total of nearly eight months of work. But really, this blanket's story began at least a year before I settled on the Maybelle square design. I searched and searched for the right blanket design but never felt comfortable or even very excited about a design until I hit on Maybelle. And then, it was like I'd experienced a bolt of inspiration and I was off!


The Maybelle Square is designed by Annette of the blog My Rose Valley. The center flower itself comes from another blog, 6ichthusfish, designed by a lady whose name I don't know. Annette came up with the squaring-off and has made many lovely blankets with the square design. My blanket is not my first brush with Maybelle; in the past, I've made stand-alone flowers (for a garland which hangs in the GB's room), as well as squares for a Christmas garland that I gave away here on my blog several years ago.

I've enjoyed the Maybelle design for a long time. I'd never really thought about making a blanket with Maybelle squares until this blanket, though. After trying numerous square and hexagon patterns, and being dissatisfied with all of them, I realized that what I wanted for this blanket was LESS of everything - less color and less busy-ness, above all. But also less switching colors, less weaving-in, less to look at. I wanted a smaller color palette and I wanted the texture and design of the crochet itself to be at least as important as the colors. Maybelle seemed like a good choice because I could limit the center-flower colors to just a handful (I ultimately went with nine colors), and keep all the outer rounds and joining to just one color - the gray that I knew I wanted as a main color regardless of the pattern I chose.

As an aside, I often name my blanket projects. The names are sometimes jokey, sometimes sentimental. I know it probably seems silly to name them, but I enjoy it. Here, I chose to stick with Maybelle for the project name. I like it - I think it's a pretty name - and also, since it was made for our bed, and because we met in May, got engaged in May, and got married in May (all in different years), it seemed fitting to keep the name as is.


I had been thinking about a gray-dominant blanket for years. I love gray because it goes with everything, and I also love the way it looks in my bedroom, which receives filtered light. Bright colors don't work well in my room. Soft, muted colors look much nicer. For my blanket, I decided to use a mixture of shades, mainly in the mid-range, with a few brighter or deeper ones too. (See the bottom of this post for a list of the yarn colors I used). The yarn is all Stylecraft Special DK acrylic, my favorite yarn for blankets. I'd already been collecting balls of Gray for a while, anticipating its use in a blanket. I had plenty of these other colors are well, because I liked them and knew they'd be good contenders for the eventual blanket, whatever it turned out to be.

My plan called for this blanket to be really large, the biggest one I'd ever crocheted. I wanted this blanket to be big enough for us both to sleep under it comfortably. I started with the measurements of our queen-sized duvet, which is 90 by 90 inches. I wanted the crocheted blanket to be at least that size, preferably a little larger. I crocheted one Maybelle square all the way through to the joining round, and found it measured almost 7 inches. By my calculation, the blanket needed to consist of 169 squares, arranged 13 by 13 in a huge square. In the end, given stretching of the work and the addition of a border, my blanket is closer to 100 by 100 inches, making it very BIG!

The final square!


I crocheted Maybelle squares throughout the spring and summer. I had nine main flower colors, divided up over 169 total squares, which meant that most colors would appear in 19 squares each. Two colors appear in 18 squares; it's just the way the math worked out. I worked on these squares almost every day, usually making one or two in a sitting. I took them out with me, crocheting on the shaded grass near the pool. I crocheted in front of the TV a lot; this blanket is made of Switched at Birth, Heirhunters, and Last Man Standing, not to mention lots of radio: The John Tesh Show and repeat broadcasts of Casey Kasem's Weekly Top 40 from the 1980's (a local radio station plays them on Sunday afternoons) are in this blanket too.

By mid-September, I'd finished crocheting all of the squares. Miss GB helped me arrange them in a pleasing way. We spread them out all over the living room floor and tried to make sure the colors were fairly evenly distributed. It didn't need to be precise. Then I began joining the squares, using the technique in Annette's tutorials. The joining took about six weeks, and was probably the most difficult part of making this blanket because it became very unwieldy as it grew. I had to work mainly in the living room, where the chairs are wider and deeper than the one in the family room, just so I could have the blanket spread, or sometimes bunched up, on my lap as I worked.



Once the blanket was all joined up, I realized that it didn't need much of a border; it was already enormous and a simple border suits me more anyway. I did a round of granny clusters in the main gray color all around the outer edge of the squares, dividing the clusters at the places where two squares met (one stitch in the right square, two stitches in the left). This was to help keep the border from becoming too ruffly. Then I added a round of single crochet in Duck Egg (pale bluish-green) and a final round of single crochet in Gray. In the corners, I followed the same pattern that I'd used when joining the squares: in the granny cluster round, 3dc, 2ch, 3dc and in the outer two rounds, 3sc, 2ch, 3sc. In hindsight, I should have reduced the number of stitches in the corners because they're a little too pointy, but I like them well enough anyway.


I asked the Bear for some help with photographing my blanket, as I often do. He's much better at tinkering around with lenses and holding the camera on a monopod (not to mention 6 or 7 inches taller than I am), which makes for better shots of a large blanket. Here, he held the camera over the bed so you can get the perspective of how big this blanket really is. It covers the whole mattress top and hangs down substantially on the sides. I really love this photo because I can see that I did a pretty good job distributing the colors. There are a few gaps I'd go back and fix if it were easy to do so, but really, it looks pretty good to me.


The blanket is large enough to hang down almost to the very bottom of the mattress, where it meets the box spring. The wood in the above photo is the side rail of the bed frame. I'd been thinking that I would need to buy a new duvet cover just to look better with the blanket, but I needn't have worried because you can't even see the duvet under this blanket unless you scrutinize the open spaces in the crochet! The blanket covers the duvet completely. And actually, I like the way it looks against the duvet cover fabric, so I'm not in a hurry to replace the cover. It still has plenty of life in it, which gives me more time to shop.



It fits the bed really well in general. It's large enough to be more of a bedspread than just a blanket topper, which is nice because it will be plenty large enough to keep us warm. I love having a crocheted blanket on the bed in winter; it's just heavy enough. I have tried so many different kinds of blankets over the years, but when I started crocheting in earnest about 6 years ago, I realized that a crocheted blanket is just right for our needs. And it looks so pretty folded at the foot of the bed during the day, so it's just a nice thing all around.


I'm pretty proud of this blanket. It took a long time to come together and I was actually starting to wonder if I had reached my limit with crocheted blankets. I just couldn't seem to find a design to spoke to me or made me feel calm when I worked on it. That's the most important thing about crochet for me: it needs to make me feel happy and peaceful inside. With this blanket, I feel a renewed energy for crochet and also something unexpected: a sense of contentment in my own work. I think that sometimes, especially as a blogger, I feel some pressure to produce something new and cool for others to enjoy. What I've realized is that the basics make me happiest. The more complicated stuff - inventing new things, mastering really difficult techniques, working successfully with a multitude of colors - they aren't who I am as a crocheter. I want to create beautiful things (and I hope that I am), but even more, I want to feel good about it. Realizing this has been an important part of the journey. I'm happy with my Maybelle blanket; I feel true contentment with my creation, and I can't wait to start using it. Bring on the coldest, frostiest nights! We're ready.

Maybelle Blanket
Pattern: Maybelle Square by Annette Ciccarelli
Size: approximately 100 by 100 inches (169 Maybelle Squares)
Hook: size G/6 (4.00mm) Clover Amour
Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK in the following colors - Gray, Raspberry, Pale Rose, Parma Violet, Grape, Duck Egg, Sage, Denim, Storm, Petrol (1 ball of each flower color; approx. 20 balls of Gray)
Started: March 2017
Finished: November 2017

27 comments:

  1. Congratulations on finishing such a stunning blanket :) I really like the colours you've chosen; they're very gown up! I'm currently crocheting a Granny Hexagon blanket for DD1 to take to university next September, but can see the Maybelle blanket in DD2's room, in brighter colours (and I'll have the yarn for the middles even after I've finished DD1's blanket!).

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  2. It's stunning and given the colour palette, will last for years as it'll never go out of fashion, it's so stylish. Well done on producing such a wonderful blanket.

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  3. Really love your blanket Jennifer. You've done a fantastic job designing and crocheting it. I love the colours and the fact it has both a feminine but masculine calming feel about it. Beautiful. Cathy x

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  4. It's absolutely beautiful, Jennifer. Well done! :o)

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  5. it's really quite lovely!!! well done!!! I am so glad you were able to complete it! Perfect for that needed extra layer of warm and so attractive too! :)

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  6. It's absolutely lovely Jennifer, and I really love that it's such a good size - a proper winter blanket. I like calm, plainer things as well. Squares are pretty much my favourite, I come back to them again and again with quilting. The last blanket I made (knitted) was grey, with just 7 or 8 one-inch stripes in it. It's especially nice to have calmer things for the bedrooms I think. I like the list of things you watched/listened to while you made it and the places you went with it. I think of projects in those terms as well. Nicely done Jennifer, and I absolutely love the border, it's just right. Now you just need a cold snap so you can enjoy it on the bed. CJ xx

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  7. A beautiful blanket Jennifer and massive, well done you xo

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  8. What an incredible achievement! It's absolutely stunning Jennifer. You really have got staying power! J x

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  9. You should be very proud of yourself, it's just gorgeous. It looks like a piece of art. The gray was a perfect choice for the background.

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  10. Oh Jennifer! Maybelle is stunning! Thank you for sharing the thoughts behind her creation through the finishing edge. A project this size is a work of art and from the deepest part of your heart and I'm so thrilled that you love it so. It looks absolutely perfect on your bed. Well done my sweet friend.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  11. I've been watching this one come together since the beginning and I have always loved it! It is truly beautiful and just has a cozy feel to it. Great job!

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  12. It was lovely to read the story of your Maybelle. having not long ago finished my king-sized Sophie blanket, I know the satisfaction you are feeling at a job well done. I like the grey as a main colour. My mum only ever used dark brown because she felt that went with all the colours better than anything else. The centre motif is very pretty, and not one I have tried. I shall look it up and have a go. A super project. well done! Kate x

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  13. What a beautiful Maybelle blanket you have made Jennifer! It has come together so well, and looks so soft and cosy. Lovely to read the story of its creation too...well done xox

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  14. Oh my goodness, it is beautiful! And thank you for sharing the story behind Maybelle and its creation. Enjoy the warmth it provides. xo

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  15. Maybelle is beautiful! I really like the muted colours and imagine the blanket would have a calming effect for those lucky enough to sleep under it. Perfect for your bedroom. I always plan to make something calm and then end up with something riotous and crazy. One day I'll achieve calmness, I will. I really enjoyed the story of Maybelle's making. She is a memory blanket, isn't she? This makes her even more special. Wishing you a cold night so you enjoy the warmth of your blanket. You are right I think, crochet blankets are just the right weight for a wintery blanket! xx

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  16. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I love grey too, a splendid heirloom xx

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  17. Congratulations on the finish Jennifer it's enormous! It's a lovely blanket and will keep you both snug and warm in the colder months. I wonder what your next blanket will be like. :) xx

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  18. It's gorgeous! So cozy! Well done, Jennifer!

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  19. Your blanket look lovely, you should be proud.

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  20. Maybelle is brilliant Jennifer. It looks lovely, the design is really good, and it covers the bed beautifully. You must be pleased and proud of it!

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  21. Congratulations on completing your blanket...it looks stunning. I am glad to hear that you have found your place in crochet, that is such an incredible feeling. Keep doing what you are doing and what is making you happy!

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  22. Yay for finishing! I would not say that's a simple project. Certainly took a lot of time and effort but the results are fabulous! I definitely prefer simple projects. If there's too many row or color changes, my eyes glaze over. :) Congrats on a gorgeous blanket.

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  24. Watching this project come together has made me want to crochet again -- like not in 40 years have I wanted to crochet. Beautifully done; no way I could do anything close.

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  25. Maybelle has a beautiful story and I loved reading what you wrote about her...the choices you made to create her. Thanks for posting!

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  26. Maybelle is just beautiful. I love the way the individual colours tone with the overall background colour. I also really enjoyed following it's growth and progress here. Great job. X

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  27. Wow Jennifer -- Congratulations -- She's just BEAUTIFUL! What a lot of work!

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