Wip Wednesday – Willow Baby Blanket

I was asked to make a baby blanket last week, and I instantly knew wanted to use the Willow block from Jan Eaton’s 200 Crochet Blocks. It was my favourite block when I made my daughter’s preschool blanket. It’s so pretty! The only remit is that it be made with animal or plant fibre, no synthetics. I’m using Cleckheaton Country 8ply which is 100% grown and made in Australia at Wangarrata Woolen Mills in Victoria. The blanket is headed to Europe, so this will make it extra special – completely Australian made, from sheep to hook ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m a little over a third of the way through already – as it’s an order it’s taken priority over other wips. There will be twenty-five 15cm blocks in total; plus border this will make a good size for car seat or buggy, and will fit nicely inside a nappy bag too. I don’t usually make to sell, but I do consider unsolicited custom orders from friends and family, and this one is certainly a delight to hook.

It’s the first day of Winter tomorrow and I’m feeling the temperature drop right on time! Nights are very chilly now, but I’m still able to sit out on the veranda during the day when it’s sunny. Soon, it’ll be time for fireside hooking – which also has it’s charm, of course. However, for now, it’s not too cold to hold my hook out here, and I’m making the most of it!

Crochet is my Meditationย 

After about six months of intensively using traditonal meditation techniques to build my confidence in my increasing mental wellness (I have a history of anxiety and both Postnatal and Clinical depression), I now find that crochet has become my meditation of choice.

I’ve long been aware of the therapeutic benefits of crochet, and it has been a vital part of my wellness toolbox ever since I learned to hook a couple of years ago, but I was very focussed on learning and healing through (primarily guided) meditation (via Insight Timer). I learned so much during those months, and benefitted enormously both from my practice itself and from the knowledge and skills gleaned during the process. I have a heightened sense of perspective and calm in my daily life that enabled me to successfully wean off my antidepressants back in February and which serves me so well today. 

However, gradually and unintentionally my more formal meditation habits have fallen by the wayside. At first this concerned me – could I manage without? Would my mental health deteriorate again? Should I force myself to do something that I just wasn’t ‘feeling’ any more? – but now I see that my mind remains balanced and healthy; there is no cause for concern. The time has simply come for change, as it always does, and I welcome that. 

I now enjoy my time before sleep lost in a novel – I’ve missed that so much, unable to stay awake long enough to both read and meditate. And I still do meditate, just in a different way. 

I meditate on the veranda in the beautiful Autumn sunshine, with my crochet in my hands. I listen to the birds and rhythm of my hook. My mind is soothed and still. I am calm, grateful and sometimes even joyful. It works for me, so very well. 

Crochet is my meditation ๐Ÿ’œ ๐Ÿ™‚

Finished Project Friday – Block Blanket

She is done! There were little girl squeals – can there be any more fabulous a response to a crochet gift?! My four year old daughter will be proudly taking her new blankey to preschool next week for resting time. Happy days ๐Ÿ™‚

I was able to get really stuck into the final stretch today because yesterday I had an accident with boiling water and ended up in the ED. Hurt like hell but dressed well and cared for. It’s on my hip so resting today in order to keep the dressing still and sterile. The German (my husband) took time off work to take over the school run and preschooler crazy, and I’ve been forced to sit on the veranda crocheting for much of the day. Nightmare, as you can imagine! Every cloud has a silver lining and all that ๐Ÿ˜‚

The border is #107 from Edie Eckman’s beautiful little book Around the Corner Crochet Borders. The blocks are from the wonderful 200 Crochet Blocks by Jan Eaton. These are Book Depository affiliate links – I earn a small commission if you purchase either book by following my links. I think it’s clear from this and previous posts that my love for both these books is genuine indeed ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, where’s my hook? There’s lots of lovely afternoon sunshine left!

Wip Wednesday – Block Blanket & Fitted Shrugย 

Sophie has taken a back seat this week as I move further forward with my blanket – also because the next round involves popcorns, which I need to revisit, especially when they’re to be worked in fingering with a 3mm! Evenings are not the right time for new detail work – hopefully tomorrow when I have some child-free time during the day ๐Ÿ™‚

Meantime I’m making good progress with my blanket, with a little more joining and weaving each sunny Autumn afternoon. 

There are thirty-five blocks altogether, from thirty unique patterns to be found in one of my current favourite crochet books – Jan Eaton’s 200 Crochet Blocks. I’ve bordered each block in off white and am joining using single crochet worked from the back. The joining is not quite straightforward because the stitch counts of each block are not uniform. But, I’ll get there! I’m looking forward to deciding on the border.

I couldn’t resist also starting a fitted shrug with cap sleeves in Caron Cakes Rainbow Sprinkles. I had to go up a hook size to get the correct gauge, fingers crossed it will fit! It’s the first time I’ve attempted a crochet wearable that’s not based on a single square or rectangle, so I’m in very new territory, to the extent that I haven’t taken out any stitch markers or weaved in any ends, just in case I have to frog the whole thing!

I also have a Basketweave mandala on the go, but it’s still very tiny so I’ll save that for another time. Meantime I’m out on the veranda with a mug of green tea and a blanket to join. Happy days ๐Ÿ™‚

Finished Project Friday – Infinity Scarf & Mandalaย 

It was Mother’s Day on Sunday and Tamara at Moogly offered a pattern discount coupon for her newsletter subscribers. I immediately went over to her Ravelry store and bought a few, including the Melting Snow Infinity Scarf. It’s a lovely repeating pattern that’s so soothing to hook once you get going. I started it that sunny Autumn afternoon and finished it the next day. It’s the perfect width to wrap around twice, and looks lovely in a single loop too.

It’s the first time I’ve used Caron Cakes and I’m really happy with the yarn. This one is Cookies & Cream and I have half a ball left (any project ideas for a half cake would be welcome!). It was fun waiting for the colours to change. I have a couple of balls of Rainbow Sprinkles too and am currently torn between hooking up a fitted, cap-sleeved shrug or a bag…oh happy decisions, decisions!

Speaking of rainbows, this week I’ve also finished another of Haafner Linssen’s patterns from her beautiful book Mandalas to Crochet, currently one of my favourite crochet books. This one is called Starry, Starry Night. 

Makes me smile to look at it ๐Ÿ™‚ I was going to get right back into finishing my block blanket today but I think I’ll be unable to resist starting another of these mandalas first – they are such a lovely crochet fix! I have put a sticky note on ‘Bewitching Basketweave’, which looks like it will be an interesting make. It has a lot of post stitches which I’m developing a real liking for through my work on Sophie’s Garden. More on that next week ๐Ÿ™‚

The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop Chapters 1-3

I purchased The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop by Dora Ohrenstein last year and while I have enjoyed simply browsing through it very much – nothing like a good crochet book and a cuppa, with or without a hook! – it’s time to up my game and read it properly and with intent.

There are over seventy-five swatch patterns included in this guide to honing one’s crochet skills, and I already love this hands-on approach to learning. The book has had rave reviews and Ohrenstein is clearly very highly regarded within the industry. She’s also easy to read and her tone is warm and encouraging to boot.

Chapter One is all about yarn for crocheting – its history, the varied sources, manufacturing processes, spinning, twisting, weights, specialty and hand-dyed yarns, fabric and drape. A wealth of information! There is clear discussion about how best to select yarn for a project based on its properties and the desired outcome in terms of drape. I have learned so much, and I thoroughly enjoyed hooking the Medium and Very Open Lace swatches that the author uses to illustrate this point.

Swatch patterns throughout the book are presented in both written and chart form. I am less familiar with charts but nevertheless found myself using the chart only by the end of the second swatch. There’s no doubt that the ability to read charts is extremely useful – not least if the project you long to attempt is written in Japanese only and that’s not one of your languages, for example! – and being able to learn to read charts while making these many small swatches is to my mind a fabulous added bonus.

Chapter Two is all about the tools of our addiction ๐Ÿ™‚ The author explores the anatomy of the hook and the many choices we have in terms of the materials they are made from and the variations in shape of the component parts. I myself prefer ergonomic handles, and most specifically Clover Amours, or as a reasonably close second, Knitpicks ergonomics. I’m awaiting delivery of an Addi Swing ordered recently on a whim and am excited to try it. Ohrenstein encourages us to try different hooks before becoming too set in our ways, so I’m already heeding that advice! I’d love the fancy blocking board described in this chapter, but for now I’m managing ok with my DIY effort – a kids kickboard and bamboo cooking skewers ๐Ÿ™‚ I have never heard of the T-pins detailed here – certainly they are more pleasing to the eye than my skewers! Something else for my ever-growing crochet wish list…

Chapter Three is all about tension. I was most encouraged to read that one’s tension can be adjusted, it is not a style set in stone! I struggle with too tight tension in more intricate stitch patterns and I am already managing to loosen it by adjusting how deep onto the hook I pull the yarn. Focusing on the minute maneuvers that make all the difference – for example swiveling the hook so it points down – has neatened my starting chains too.

Hand health is also covered here, such an important topic for the addicts amongst us. Having been forced to go crochet cold turkey for a few months recently due to RSI, it’s a topic I will cover in more depth in another post. However, right now I’m returning to Chapter Four, Fundamental Techniques. There are a fair few very interesting looking swatch patterns in this section, which I hope to be able to share with you very soon ๐Ÿ™‚

You can purchase The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop from all good online bookstores. I always buy from Book Depository, so that’s where I link to. I am not affiliated with the author or publisher in any way. I do receive a small commission from Book Depository for any sales resulting from this post. I put it towards more lovely crochet books ๐Ÿ™‚

Wip Wednesday – Sophie’s Garden

This week I’ve both started and finished (!?) a project – an infinity scarf in Caron Cakes which I’m delighted with, and will share later in the week. I also decided to increase the size of my block blanket, so that’s going to be a wip into next week now. I promised myself I wouldn’t start anything else major until the blanket was finished. However! I just couldn’t wait any longer to begin Sophie’s Garden!

Sophie’s Garden became Sophie’s Universe, which I now know without doubt will be my next big project because I’m just loving hooking this!! I’ll be working the Universe in dk – I’m currently eagerly and most impatiently awaiting my first delivery of Stylecraft Special DK!! – but my Garden is in fingering (Moda Vera Gelato and Patons Regal 4ply Cotton) with a 3mm hook.

It is such a beautiful, clever and intricate pattern, with the most amazingly detailed, helpful instructions. I am in awe of the amount of effort and loving care that clearly went into its creation. Concentration and focus is required and it’s not something that can be done when I’m tired or in the company of small children – a little limiting given I’m a stay at home mum to a preschooler plus one school age! But I’ve found my Sophie window in the hour after my daughters go to bed, and I will patiently hook (and frog haha) a little Sophie love each and every evening, for as long as it happily takes โ˜บ