Friday, 29 January 2016

Marrakesh Crochet blanket

This is my second blanket from the Comfort Knitting and Crochet Afghan book, although it is very different from the pattern.  The pattern is by Donna Yacino and it is called Marrakesh,  in Tunisian crochet.  I have never tried Tunisian crochet; I have seen other people do it and it does not seem difficult.  But I don't own a Tunisian crochet hook, and, as I would need several to try out the tension, I don't want to make the investment.  And, where do you buy them?  They are not widely available.  I could get them from the internet, but I do like to see what I buy.  And, it is not wise to try out a new technique on as large a project as a blanket.

So I decided to do it in a crochet stitch that look similar to the Tunisian stitch, standard double crochet.  The pattern is done in three panels, presumably to accommodate the length of a Tunisian crochet hook.  Ordinary crochet has no such limitations, so I did it in one.  I started with a new technique for me, foundation crochet.  It worked fine, and I prefer it to starting from a chain, so I will use it again.

The yarn choice started with the pink Sandnes Mandarin Soft cotton.  I bought a lot of 10 balls against my better judgment, because it is a Norwegian brand.  It is a very nice cotton, soft as implied by the name.  Because it is loosely plied you do have to watch out that it does not split.

The second yarn came from a garment in the yarn store, this cotton chenille knitted jacket with a cable design.  I bought it, not for this project, but because I liked the blue colour, and chenille gives a nice texture to knitted blankets, although it is difficult to knit with because it is non-stretchy.  Here I thought it would look nice with the pink.  It might be Rowan yarn and Rowan pattern, but I could not find it from a quick search.  It has got the buttons you find on Rowan garments.

These two yarns are both aran weight cottons.  I added other similar balls of cotton yarn from the yarn store in suitable colours.  (I didn't use all the yarns in the picture.)  I arranged the yarns chosen in a pleasing order and started the crochet.

I enjoyed doing this.  I think because it was mindless crochet.  I could pick it up at any time and keep going without thinking about pattern or yarn.  There was interest in adding the next ball in a different colour.  When I came to the end of one ball I added the next.  I enjoyed the crochet with some yarns more than others.  My favourites were Rowan Blue Jeans and an old Pingouin Coton Naturel 8 Fils.  The chenille yarn was not a problem.

I did realise, not for the first time, how difficult it is to find yarns that look good together.  There are a lot of yarns in the yarn store, but once you whittle them down by weight, by fibre, by shade, you struggle to get enough for a blanket and you end up with less than perfect results.

I didn't do the embroidery.  It looks nice on the pattern, but I don't do embroidery.  If I did it would be abstract patterns and not flowers.  Any embroidery would anyway disappear in my stripes.

I like the blanket.  The colours are what were available.  I ran out of the pink Sandnes, as I knew I would, so I added two shades of pink.  It was a struggle to find blues, too, at the end.  The texture is lovely, the chenille feels so good, but  so do all the cottons.  It would have looked better, if I had added new yarns at the sides.  Then I would have had to plan colours, and I didn't know how many rows I would get from one ball.  So I would have needed more shades to make sure.  And I would have ended up with scraps of yarn.  This way everything got used up - except for the blue chenille and some other blue.

I decided the sides were fine without an edging.  At the top I did a row of slip stitch to mimic the foundation row.

CKCA2 Marrakesh
Yarn: Sandnes Mandarin Soft, cotton chenille, odd balls of cotton yarn
Hook:  5 mm
Tension:  13 sts to 10 cm
Weight: 1730 gr
Size:  125 cm by 177 cm
Made: 6 November 2015 to 18 January 2016

Friday, 22 January 2016

The next blanket

The next blanket, #174, is red again.  I do have a lot of red yarn.  I quite like it, particularly together with beige and brown as in this blanket.

Some 18 months ago I started knitting thicker blankets - combining yarns to aran rather than to DK weight.  It works well.  I have stopped classifying yarns according to standard weights; I use thicker yarns singly and combine thinner ones two, three or four to get the required thickness.

With the last few blankets I have made another change.  I have reduced the number of yarns used in a blanket.  This was because I got tired of a particular yarn lasting for years - some eight or ten years.  If I use more per blanket I will finish them sooner.  There is an unexpected consequence.  Stripes become more pronounced.  In blanket #173 there are clearly brown and green stripes.  In itself this does not matter, but I have to take more care when I decide the order.  Before it was done randomly.  I do miss the randomless, but otherwise I like it.

For this blanket I unravelled a sleeveless pullover, grey with two red cables.  The cables have been done as fairisle rather than intarsia, and the red shows through in between the cables.  Otherwise it is nicely knitted, and the yarn is lovely.  I suspect it is Debbie Bliss Rialto 4 ply.

The other garment was one I knitted myself.  I wrote about it here.  I have worn it a lot, but fashions have changed, and now it has gone.  The rust cotton yarn, Jaeger Pure Cotton, disappears in the blanket, and it adds nice texture.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Account for 2015

I bought a lot of yarn in 2015.  I have my guidelines, and somehow all yarn can be made to fit the guidelines.  Storage is a severe problem.  In November I woke up one morning with a strong feeling that I must stop buying yarn because I have run out of places to store it.

I actually went around practising not buying yarn, and I managed it for several weeks.  But now I'm back again.  I'm surprised that price has turned out to be the deciding factor.  I will buy at 10 - 15% of full woolshop price.  I think this is low, but it can still be managed, especially if I bargain.  I wish all wool had an obvious price label.  Once I have to ask how much it is it is very difficult to walk away.  I can't walk away without knowing the price.

On the other hand I have refined my system for deciding what yarn to knit next.  I have my standard blankets, and they are no problem at all.  I enjoy knitting them so much, and the yarn or knitted items that I buy for them disappears soon enough.  Now I go through my spreadsheet of yarn acquisitions and I will use each item in turn.  If a yarn is not suitable for special projects they must go into standard blankets however nice they are.  And I have my waiting list of blankets to knit.

It is just such a long term plan.  And the group of yarn meant for garments make me feel stressed.  I look at patterns and there are plenty that I would like to knit and I have suitable yarn, but knitting a garment takes so long because when it comes down it I prefer to knit blankets.

The good news is that I knitted a lot in 2015, a total of 22.2kg.  This is the most I have ever knitted in one year.  I noticed that my standard blankets were finished more quickly than before and I did several special ones.  I hope I will be able to keep this rate up in 2016, but I do have plans for at least one intricate special blanket which will take a long time.

To add a picture - this was my first purchase after I decided to stop buying yarn.  I have a nice collection of Rowan Summer Tweed.