Artistic advice needed!

Remember the Arran Temperature blanket?

During our stay on Arran I planned to make a Temperature Blanket based upon the C2C Temperature Blanket MAL pattern by Esther Dijkstra from itsallinanutshell.com .

To that end I carefully selected 30 shades of mostly acrylic DK yarn that would provide a graduated selection of colours to correspond to temperatures that ranged from -3 to 26 degrees.

I also decided to use both the minimum and maximum temperatures reached each day to create the blanket so that each day would have 2 rows.

However, in practice I soon discovered this meant that there would not be a gradual colour change across the blanket, as there is usually about between 4 and 6 degrees difference between the minimum and maximum temperatures. Meaning that in reality there is a wide colour change between each row.

Here is my Arran blanket for our first month on Arran, of May.

After the first few days of making I began to feel uneasy about the constantly stripey pattern I was creating but ploughed on as I thought I just needed to get used to it. I did enjoy the fact that the blanket was recording the variable weather we were experiencing and the randomness of the colours it threw up.

Then a couple of days ago I thought I would try a test sample for the month of May just using the minimum temperatures. I did consider making it into a cushion using the maximum temperatures for the other half of the rectangle.

This is how it has worked out so far.

The camera has bleached out the pale lilac on both photos so that it looks like a pale grey. So the colours are not as vivid as in reality. But you can see that the colours have a slightly more gradual change and in some cases where the minimum remained the same for several days there is accordingly a block of the same shade.

Which version do you prefer, please ?

And do you have any other thoughts about how I could develop this project using both sets of temperature records.

Your thoughts will be greatly appreciated!

Why on earth did I do that…..???

Or, never say never!

Over a year ago following a blanket that took absolutely ages to complete I solemnly swore to never, ever, ever attempt another large project using DK yarn and small motifs i.e. Granny Squares. All that horrendous sewing up !

So why oh why did I do it?

Why didn’t I take a leaf out of one of Gary’s friend’s books! The story goes that against his better judgement he had been persuaded to go on a weekend “lads”sailing trip from Southampton to Cherbourg on a small yacht. He knew he suffered from dreadful sea sickness…Gary was once with him on a car journey which had to have an emergency stop so that he could get over violent nausea brought on by reading the car atlas. However on this occasion he was persuaded by his mates that after a few hours at sea he would get his sea legs and all would be fine and anyway the weather forecast was excellent.

Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

Of course you have guessed what happened. He puked all the way to Cherbourg. He was so distressed by how ill he had been that whilst everyone else went off to explore the local bars he went and booked a return trip on a large and far more stable cross channel ferry. Then he nipped back to the yacht for a well deserved rest. He finally slept soundly as only those who have been wretchedly ill can. He woke up to discover that to his dismay the yacht had left the harbour and was homeward bound! However, on the bright side, he had finally found his sea legs and did indeed enjoy the rest of the trip.

But he was determined not to be fooled by this turnaround ever again and once finally home he made himself write out 200 lines which read….”I must never go on a boat ever again”.

So I feel that I need to write out 200 lines to say I will never do a big DK yarn project again.Because despite all that I said I did!

Today I have finally finished a cardigan ( Mod Tiles Cardigan by Universal Yarn) I began in November. It was already taking way too long , then when I sewed it up last week I discovered it was far too big! So I had to unpick it all, resize it and ………then of course decide to make it much longer than originally intended. Which of course meant I needed to do more flipping Granny Squares!

Was it worth it?

Not sure, I think its a bit too garish.

What do you think?

Arran Temperature Blanket

Wohoo!

Finally made my choice of colours for the Temperature Blanket I intend to make during our 5 month stay on the beautiful Isle of Arran. I have tried to pick colours that I think reflect the colours of water, sky and landscape I have seen there.

I plan to use the gorgeous C2C Temperature Blanket MAL 2018 pattern by Esther Dijkstra as published in Its all in a Nutshell. But with some adaptations. As we are not there for a full year I intend to crochet 2 rows each day using minimum and maximum temperatures. I say intend as I often find that projects often seem to take a life of their own and end up being quite different in the end from my initial considerations.

I really enjoy C2C crochet and made my first blanket using this technique earlier in 2018 when I made my Be A Lochranza Deer blanket. This was made using Jess Coppom’s Be a Deer C2C Afghan pattern.

I was inspired to make this blanket by the many deer I saw at Lochranza last Easter.

Largely, my family will be so pleased to hear, I am using DK acrylic yarn from my gi-normous stash. The majority of which will be Stylecraft Special DK, I do so love Stylecraft yarns.

I am using DK even though I swore never to make a blanket again with DK weight yarn after my marathon efforts to produce the Opulent Blanket For Laura and Arya that I made using Veronika Cromwell’s Emerald Opulence pattern. That just seemed to go on forever.

Hey ho. Never say never!!!!

You are bound to regret it!

Knitting might be slicker but crochet is quicker

For many years knitting has been my passion. I just loved the beautiful fabrics and patterns that could be made. I loved the feel of the wool between my fingers and the way it offered thousands of possibilities. I loved the joy of a finished article and the pleasure it brought myself and hopefully others. Once I had set my heart upon a project I couldn’t wait to get started.

Knitted scarf which took several days, pattern used is Spring Neckwarmer by Bonnie Sennott

But I didn’t love the amount of time it took to complete some projects. I am a fairly slow knitter so even a small baby blanket would take several weeks and as for an adult jumper….well that could run into months. Also , I found that boredom would often set in once I had mastered a pattern and I would soon be casting envious eyes at possible future projects. this led to many half finished articles. In the final stages of making something I would have to really push myself to make sure it was completed. Then would come the other part I loathed and hated. The tedious sewing up! Additionally, I rarely felt satisfied with the look of a finished garment once I had stitched it together. Sleeves seemed to be a particular bete noire. How many times have I held a finally completed jumper before me and then felt like hurling it across the room in disgust.

Jamie’s favourite hat,
which he thought he had lost during his travels in America,
only took a couple of hours to whizz up this replacement using the pattern Bouncy by Eleanor Burke

Then I discovered the joy of crochet! Wonderful , wonderful crochet. An intricate and huge blanket could be completed in the time it took to knit a jumper. So speedy so fast. A hat can be made in just a couple of hours .

My version of Helen Shrimptons fabulous Dream Weaver blanket

But hang on you say, it is harder to make jumpers and socks that fit well using crochet. Au contraire, it is possible to make good fitting garments and……they can be crocheted top down and so have no sewing up.

Made these in just one evening using wool bought 30 years ago for a knitted jumper I never finished!
(Pattern: Snuggly Slipper Socks by Jess Coppom)

Socks can be adapted to the width and length of the wearers foot during the making of them. Using slip stitch it is even possible to make a fairly good looking rib or you can always make a knitted rib if you prefer.

Crocheted jumper made from the yoke down, in the round with the sleeves included in the main pattern so no sewing up!!
Pattern: Snow Flowers Jumper by Simone Francis.

Just as with knitting the possibilities are endless………but oh so much quicker.

Frantic knitting for inner peace…

Throughout my teens and into my early to mid twenties I continued to knit and extend my crafting skills. I moved on from soft toy making to garments and hats. I mastered cables and intarsia methods made cute baby clothes and blankets, tried crochet and even had a go at macrame. Along the way there were many successes and some disasters and one or two UFO’s (unfinished objects).

However life soon got in the way ! Work and family became my priorities and although my stash of yarn continued to grow so did the numbers of UFO’s until finally I stopped crafting almost altogether. By the time I had reached the grand old age of 55 life was very busy. I was working as a SENCO in an inner city comprehensive school in Leeds which served some of the most disadvantaged areas in the city. All the while continuing to support, with my husband, our two children through teenage years and early adulthood with all the challenges that they can bring. I did have a cellar full of beautiful yarns, thousands of knitting patterns, knitting needles and crochet hooks and other associated paraphernalia….but no time to use them. Or so I thought.

So there I was frantically running round and round on the hamster wheel of life with little time for anything else, when disaster struck. As it does for everyone at different points in their life.

My beloved older brother was diagnosed with lung cancer, it was terminal, palliative care the sole option. Sue and I were his only close family. There was no question that we wouldn’t drop everything to care for him…..after all …..remember we had made a pact all those years ago to look after each other.

Bob

Helping Sue to care for Bob in the last weeks of his life changed my perspective on my own priorities totally. We were able to share many small intimate moments. During one such moment Bob told me that he felt I had “changed” and not for the good. He said that I needed to “slow down”.

Sitting with him , watching and sharing the London Olympics I found I needed to occupy my hands and calm my frantic mind which was in full overdrive. At the same time one of the many problems or difficulties we needed to resolve was that of his feet. His poor feet and ankles became so swollen that his socks were very tight and he couldn’t wear shoes or slippers. Always looking for solutions and recalling my knitting skills, I used double pointed needles to make him some socks, tailor made to fit. He loved those socks , showed them off to his many visitors and wore them constantly- colourful, warm and comfy.

Crocheted sock made with the same yarn as the ones knitted for Bob.
Original ones unavailable as he wore them at his funeral.

This making unleashed an avalanche, a desperate need to knit and knit and knit to find some sense of calm amid the horror of the unfolding, unstoppable drama.

Bob and Sue didn’t entirely seem to understand this frantic knitting thing. He rebuked me for being a “tricoteuse”, the nickname for the women who sat knitting beside the guillotine during public executions in revolutionary Paris. But I couldn’t help myself I had to knit. Whenever I could I had to escape the house and search out more yarn, more patterns, more ways to escape my ever churning thoughts.

I had found an inner peace through making.

Finally, I was slowing down.

Why crochet?

Yesterday would have been my brothers 70th birthday.

Bob in his thirties.

Thinking about him and rembering the points where our lives touched draws in all of the threads of my life today which originated in the far past.

I first began knitting and crocheting when I was in my early teens. I found it very difficult at first to manipulate the needles as I was poorly coordinated. I had always struggled to do those simple things that my older siblings found so easy, such as to throw or catch a ball, or eat dinner without spilling it half way between plate and mouth. I remember feeling a great affinity with a character, in the Mary Norton Borrower books, who had the strange name of Spiller. He didn’t know what his name was really but remembered as a small child his mother saying to him ” You are an awful Spiller! ” and so decided that it must be Spiller.

Back to the intolerance of my siblings to my poor coordination skills. Perhaps it was the age difference , they were seven and nine years older than me and often had little patience for my ineptitude. I was without doubt- born cackhanded.

This continued throughout childhood and my teenage years. At high school I was useless at tennis. To spare others the pain of my inability to hit a ball or even serve I was paired with “Beady” a lovely calm, quiet girl who was also totally incapable of correctly wielding a racquet and ball. Together we would spend a horrendous, tedious and humiliating hour. I would whack the ball to one end of the court and she would walk to pick it up and then whack it back so that I too could go and collect the blasted thing.

So , conquering the difficulties presented by making two unwieldy metal sticks move together to produce fabric seemed beyond me. Everyone else in the family could do it, if they so wished. Our mother was a fabulous knitter and speedy too, creating garments that largely, we loved to wear. There was of course the early debacle of the knitted swimsuits which looked beautiful on Scarborough beach but stretched to buggery once they hit the freezing waters of the North Sea and then hung limply, baggily and heavily from our goosepimpled bodies. I also had suffered torments at primary school over the lovely hand knitted, bolero style cardigans she created. Oh so fashionable now, but in the early 1960’s provoked hoots of playground laughter and taunts of ” Look, she’s so poor she’s wearing “babbies ” (babies) clothes” or ” Did that shrink in the wash? Dun’t yer mam know owt about washing clothes” . How I hated those despised cardigans!

An early picture of me in one of the despised bolero cardigans hand knitted by my mum

As I said, everyone else could do it. Bob of course had mastered the art of knitting early and at the age of nine had knitted a beautiful cardigan for his other sister, Sue or Susan as she was then known. Apparently , he was very and rightly proud of his accomplishment but this was soon dashed when Little Granma ( our mother’s mother) insisted on pressing the darned thing before he wrapped it up. In doing so she pressed out the cables and intricate patterning and stretched it all out of shape. Whereupon he threw the ruined garment down and refused to give it to his sister…..and bore a grudge against his interfering grandma ever after. He would infuriate her by calling her “Little Grimmie” to her face. As a strict disciplinarian and ex teacher this was bound to enrage her. Having tried various corporal punishments to no avail with the strong willed little boy she resorted to blackmail once and refused to give him his dinner until he said ,” Please, Grandma may I have some dinner?” After missing several meals and watching his little more compliant sister tuck in he finally conceded defeat and used the appropriate moniker. However, once he had eaten his fill he put his arms around his plate and looking the old matriarch mischievously in the eye declaimed….”Its Grimmie, now !”

Sue, was also talented , musical and artistic in every way. She was a beautiful dancer and skilled at tap and appeared in several local theatrical productions. My mother had hoped for similar pathways to open for me and I was duly sent to attend the same dancing class. This only lasted one lesson as the dancing teacher asked my mother to never darken her door with me again as I had ruined the session for everyone else and referred to me as a small elephant with flat feet.

However, despite poor coordination I was determined to learn to knit and with support and gentle encouragement from my mum gradually managed it! My first completed project was a misshapen attempt at a teddy bear for a school fair. I duly left the despised object at school on the soft toy sale table. Once at home I was worrying about the fact that no one could possibly want to pay good money for such a poorly designed teddy and that it was sure to be the only one left on the shelf. Bob, in his early twenties,was home from university and overheard my complaints and said that he would like to go to the fair to support me and the school and also see the teddy I had made. He was as good as his word and met me at the door of the fete. He said that he intended to buy my teddy as he quite fancied having my first make. I knew that what he really intended was to save me from the humiliation before all of my classmates of an unsaleable article. Of course you have guessed the outcome of his quest. When we got to the stall there was no sign of my misshapen creation…..the teddy had already been sold!

I was hooked on knitting….crochet would come later.