Granny stripe/ mojo blanket

What a long journey this blanket has had from when I embarked on the first chain way back in January to finally reaching completion 2 weeks ago. It has been a very spluttering, stop and start kind of journey, it has been worked on solidly for evenings at a time and it has also been abandoned in favour of other projects for weeks at a time. The yarn for this blanket was actually a 4oth present to myself a year and a half ago but I refused to let myself start it until I had finished 2 blankets I had on the go for Christmas presents last Christmas: ‘Hazy Days’ blanket and  Eclectic Mix large granny blanket

I eagerly started it in January but progress on it really slowed down as I began to find it too hard to concentrate on the long rows  due to  struggling with the winter blues which I wrote about here: A blip and a few days away 

I mentioned in a previous post The halfway mark that I was debating what to call the blanket  but have finally decided on ‘the mojo blanket’. It just had to be for 2 reasons. The first being that  its progress was so dependent on how I was feeling at the time and lots of memories of this years struggles are tied up this blanket, the other reason being that just the sight of this blanket now completed, really does lift my spirits. It is such a happy looking blanket, with its vibrant colours and I just love seeing it perched on the back of my settee.

Here it is in its entirety:

I have to warn you that there are quite a few photos  of this blanket. I always like to get an overall shot and maybe a shot of a couple of sections but I just felt that it needed lots of photos to do it justice. There are so may colours in it, it can give you a completely different feel dependning on which section you look at and how close or far away you are. Some sections are super vibrant whereas others are more pastel and sedate. Here take a look for yourself and see what you think:

and here it is with my granny squares blanket (Drum roll please…) :

This sight makes me very happy. Two very different blankets but both bright and happy and that is how they make me feel 🙂

The nitty gritty:

The yarn I used was stylecraft special dk. Now it was my first time using this yarn and I had heard it recommended on so many blogs that I just had to try it out for myself. I wasn’t disappointed, it is a lovely yarn to work with and it really does make for a rather snuggly blanket. It also has the advantage is that there are so many colours to choose from on the colour palette seems to get added to on a regular basis.

Here are the colours I used, although I didn’t keep a track of the order I used them in. I could work it out though if anyone really wanted to know.

Aster, Matador, Lemon, Apricot, Sherbert, Teal, Mocha, Turquoise, Saffron, Pomegranate, Shrimp, Clematis, Wisteria, Bright pink, gold, sage, pistachio: a total of 17 colours, I did order extra for the border though.

As is usually my way with making blankets, I had no plan, other than to use a granny stripe pattern. I selected the colours first over the internet from wool warehouse, using a gut feeling approach, I basically just picked 17 colours I liked and hoped for the best that they would look good together.

 

As I started the blanket I literally used the colour that I felt like using at the time, holding it next to the last row to double check it looked ok.

A lot of things about my work life are planned to the nth degree so I think to plan a blanket fully before making would take the fun out of it for me. Letting a blanket evolve as I make it is much more fun.

The border was ummed and aaahed over for quite some time before I finally got around to doing it. I actually put the blanket away for a good 2 months after finishing the main body of it before starting the border. I just wasn’t quite sure what border to do or what colours to use. In the end I just ordered another ball of a few of the colours I had used and just started, again by just seeing which colour looked right as I went along. when I started the border, I had it in mind that it was only going to be a couple of rows (partly because I thought that would look just fine and partly because I find going around and around the blanket to make the border a tad tedious if I’m honest) but after stepping back and looking at it and seeking the opinion of my husband, we decided it needed to be a bit thicker and so another 3 rows were added.

I didn’t bother to block the blanket as it wasn’t tremendously wiggly and I don’t think handmade blankets should be poker straight anyway. Plus the fact that it was being put into immediate use.

I really am very with how it turned out. Right, time to go and start my next one …

Karen x

 

 

 

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Feeling lucky

When I’m out running I often think how lucky I am to live where I do, within 5 minutes I can be in the countryside surrounded by greenery and visually pleasing landscapes. Within just a 10 minute walk there is a field of flowers  where you can go along, cut your own flowers and put the money in an ‘honesty’ box.

I’ve often run past it but had never actually been before so, on Sunday,  we decided to take a stroll and pick some flowers.

What a beautiful place, there is something really peaceful about being surrounded by flowers, especially sunflowers, they are so bright and cheery, how can that shot of yellow sunshine not brighten up your day?

Little Miss loved choosing her two (which Daddy dutifully cut for her) and took the responsibility of carrying them carefully home very seriously.

Once home she also helped to fill a jug, cut the stems to size and arrange them. They now have pride of place in my hall and make me smile each time I go past.

Maybe next week we’ll go back and pick some Gladioli.

What makes you feel lucky to live where you do?

Karen X

Something to show

I am one of those people who likes to have something to show for their time, perhaps that’s why I like crafting so much. I’m always looking at where my time has gone and asking myself what I’ve achieved so it has irked me somewhat recently that I just don’t seem to have much to show for my efforts. I’m fairly near completion of 2 crochet blankets but they seem to be growing so so slowly and I have a number of other projects that I just haven’t got round to finishing (or in some cases starting) just yet.

Yesterday however, this little beauty turned up in the post and reminded me that although I don’t have a lot of crafty makes to show recently, I have actually been doing something constructive with my time.

Over the last 10 and a bit months I have been taking part in a ‘virtual challenge’ where I had to cover the 1084 miles between lands end and John o’groats by running/ walking/cycling. It worked out at 3 miles a day over a year and despite being behind earlier in the year I managed to finish ahead of time. I’m also in training for the Berlin marathon on 24th September (4 and a bit weeks to go…eek!), raising money for Macmillan.

I’m not sure quite why I keep putting myself through these challenges but it may have something to do with the shiny medals, I think I may be getting a little bit addicted to them!

Karen x

A crafty kind of day

After a hectic week at work and beginning to feel like I was wading uphill through treacle again, Friday was just what the doctor ordered. In between shopping and washing I managed a good couple of hours in my craft room. Whilst it still doubles as a spare room and I haven’t got as much space as I’d really like, I do so love it in there, being surrounded by all my crafty things. The only problem with going in there is that I always get waylaid. I go in with a firm idea of what I’m going to do and then end up doing something else. On Friday, I went in with the intention of finishing a heart garland that I’ve started, all I need to do is sew the hearts on to ribbon but after ten minutes of looking at them and just not finding the enthusiasm, I made these cards instead…
Then I cut out some material to make another appliqué bag, I’ll post photos once it’s all attached and finished.
In the afternoon I met up with a friend back at Be-mal, the ceramic studio I told you about here. I do so love it in there. I stood in there, looking at all the different pottery items and wanting to decorate each and every one of them. I knew that would happen though so I had already had a think and made the decision to decorate another pot for my craft room for more pens to go in. After a lot of deliberation of colour and technique (I’ve got far too many creative ideas going round in this little head of mine), I finally decided on a bubble painting technique in pink and red with hearts in relief. First I had to stick on some little paper hearts, bubble paint over in the 2 colours, letting them dry in between, peel off the hearts and paint the inside of the pot. As always the colours look a lot paler than the finished result will be as the glazing and firing really lifts the colours and makes them stand out.
I was going to show you the ‘in process’ pictures and the finished pictures all at once but I just can’t wait so here are today’s pictures. I will post a pic of the finished, glazed pot when I collect it on weds…oooh I literally can’t wait!!
 
All in all it was a pretty good crafty day, which always makes for a happy me. 🙂
Karen x

The halfway mark

It has been a long time coming but I have recently, finally, reached the half way mark in my granny stripe blanket! Woohoo!

Normally I struggle to think of a name for my blankets but this time I’ve actually got 3 names that I need to choose from:
The big one:
As I treated myself to the wool for the blanket on my 40th birthday last year and had aimed to have it finished by this years birthday (that time frame has however, since gone out of the window as my birthday is next week!) Also, it is going to be a pretty big blanket when finished.
Mood blanket:
As this blanket is going to be quite big and the rows long, I’ve found that I’ve really had to be in ‘the mood’ to work on it. Also, for quite a bit of time in February and March I just didn’t feel like working on a big project and needed quick crafting fixes, so this blanket was often put to the side. At the moment, I really am in ‘the mood’ to work on it and the rows seem to be flying off the hook.
Another reason for calling it the mood blanket is that I had absolutely no plan for how the blanket was going to look and the order of the colours. I literally just picked each colour a row at a time depending on what colour I felt like using at the time. I even ended up putting colours together that I normally wouldn’t and I absolutely love the overall effect.
Mojo blanket:
Now I’m getting my ‘mojo’ back I’m really enjoying working on it and the better I feel the more the blanket seems to grow. I also think that seeing those lovely colourful stripes could brighten up anyone’s day.
To celebrate reaching the halfway point, here are a few sneaky peaks.
  
I have my favourite sections and parts I don’t like quite so much but I just love the way it looks when laid out and looked at from a little distance. Each bit you look at is so different, some parts are pastel, one section reminds me of Easter eggs or sherbert and then a few rows further on the bright colours almost smack you in the face.
To begin with I regretted using the red and the dark green and had considered frogging it back but I’m actually glad that I didn’t. Whilst there are bits of the blanket that I like better than others, all the colours have their place and contribute to the overall effect.

Hopefully it won’t be too long until I can show you the finished product and decide on the name! Eek exciting!

Karen x

A blip and a few days away

Not an awful lot of crafting has been going on here in recent weeks due to a bit of an emotional struggle. To call it a ‘blip’ is playing it down somewhat and the last thing I want to do is to make light of an issue that so many people struggle with but are often too afraid to talk about. I also don’t want to go on about it too much as things are now hopefully on the up but to not mention it doesn’t feel right either. I’ll say a bit about it and move on to happier topics. 
In a post earlier this year… I mentioned that I was struggling with the winter weather and dark days. Well, it got a bit worse than that and I’ve been having a bout of depression and anxiety. In recent months I’ve felt like I’ve been wading through treacle, dragging myself through the days in waves of panic and dread, going through the motions, with every minute feeling like an hour and every hour like a day. I’ve been forcing myself to carry on as normal but feeling like I’ve been there in body only, not really enjoying anything, just getting by. I’m writing about it here as I think it’s important to talk about these things. Too many people suffer in silence, embarrassed to tell others as they feel they should just be able to ‘get on with things’ and ‘pull themselves together.’ It’s a topic lots of people are uncomfortable to talk about for fear of upsetting others too. I’ve also worried about upsetting loved ones thinking ‘how can I possibly be feeling like this with a beautiful daughter, a loving husband, good job, lovely home and supportive family?’ The truth is, it can just happen. There doesn’t have to be any particular reason or trigger. From time to time some of us just need a little extra support to get back on track. 
Many folks struggling with depression try to keep it hidden, appearing to others as fine or even just as unsociable. I myself am very good at hiding how I’m feeling appearing normal, laughing and joking when I’m panicking inside, like a swan paddling frantically under the water. 
Well, I finally sought help and discovered that in my case there are some easily treatable medical reasons that could have exacerbated things. I’m now starting to feel much better and thankfully am beginning to enjoy life and my family once more. Things are most definitely on the up. 
I just hope that this post can help even one person to talk to somebody if you’re  struggling or to even recognise it in somebody else and reach out to them. There’s no shame in depression. 
Anyway, sorry for the deep post, now for some happier news.
Last week we went away to Oberhausen for a couple of nights. Due to the way I’d been feeling of late I was a little bit nervous about being away from home but I needn’t have worried, we had a lovely time. 
The first day we got there we went straight to the ‘Kaisergarten’ and I had a little experiment with the camera on my phone to see if I could take some decent photos of the beautiful blossom on the trees and some of the other flowers and wildlife in the park. I’m actually quite chuffed with how the photos turned out.
 
 
 
S had a great time whizzing along with new found confidence on her balance bike. She also loved seeing the animals in the ‘tiergarten’ but still can’t understand why animals run away from her when she growls at them in what I’m sure she thinks is an endearing manner! At least the horses stayed put for a stroke, although all they were really interested in was the food we had!
Mr O was happy to find a playground with an Archimedes screw so that he could have a bit of ‘manly’ fun, obviously under the pretence of trying to teach S a thing or 2 about science!
My favourite part of the park was the bridge modelled on a slinky and with a colourful walkway to brighten up a dreary day.
Maybe I’ll go back one day, take a note of the colours and use them as inspiration for a blanket.
Oberhausen is not somewhere I’d visit on the merit of its beauty as quite frankly apart from the lovely park, in the town centre it’s a rather ugly, grey, quite depressing kind of a place. However it does have some good tourist attractions. It is home to the largest shopping centre in Germany, near to which can be found theatres and concert venues , a sealife centre and Lego discovery world, the latter 2 being the main reasons we went.
As with any children’s tourist attractions during the school holidays, both were hideously busy but we did have fun and Scarlett really enjoyed herself. She loved seeing the Rays or ghost fishes as she calls them because of the way they seem to have a face on the white underside and move along as if stood up with arms outstretched in a ghostly fashion. I did have to laugh every time she backed away when they came too near as if they could somehow get her through the 2 inch thick glass.
 A giant turtle was also a big hit, she just couldn’t believe quite how big it was, announcing ‘Wow, Mummy, that’s a big one’ several times. If it hadn’t have been so busy I could have stayed there for some time just watching the fish swim around. There’s something very therapeutic about both water and fish.
Peepo!
After the Sealife centre, we took S to the ‘Build a Bear workshop’ in the CentrO shopping centre, as a reward for being nappy free in the day for a couple of weeks. It was so lovely to see her blowing on the heart before it went in and giving ‘Snuggly Bear’ his first ‘shower.’
Lego Discovery world was noisy but fun. It was maybe still a little bit old for S but she had fun nevertheless, even if she did spend most of the time riding around on a Bobby car (which we also have at home) and pretty much ignoring the Lego! Daddy had fun making a Lego car with (read for!) S and both were suitably chuffed when the second attempt made its way over both ‘hills’ on the testing circuit without stopping. I think Daddy was also the one who enjoyed the 4d cinema experience the most too (S was terrified of the Lego dragon, thinking it was coming out of the screen to get her and spent the last 5 minutes on my knee with her face buried in my neck!)
Unfortunately I did absolutely no crocheting, despite taking the granny stripe blanket with me to work on. With small child sharing the same room with us, the evenings consisted of sitting in the dark, waiting for small child to fall asleep, whilst watching a film on the iPad, with one earpiece of the headphone each and of course I did what I invariably do whilst watching a film in bed…fell asleep!
On the whole it was an enjoyable few days away, making memories with my nearest and dearest.
Karen X