Monday, 22 December 2014

Mine Craft Creeper Blanket Progress

 The journey on this blanket started almost a year ago. We were "up home" visiting family for Christmas and my Sister-In-Law and her family were staying with us. I offered to make her 3 boys something crochet. They were 12, 10 and 7. I was met with faint looks of worried horror, and a "No thanks, Auntie Angie". I persisted, however, and managed to drag them through to my Mother-In-Law's office where I gained permission to jump onto her computer and browse on Ravelry.

Now, Nephew 1 is the eldest. He was casting furtive panicked looks around the room, trying to think of an out without upsetting me (they are REALLY sweet boys). I asked him what was his favourite thing. "Minecraft" he said. So I put it into the Ravelry search engine, and was promptly rewarded with gasps as the boys clustered around me. "Wow, a diamond sword!" "Oh, look at that hat!" Suddenly, crochet was cool with these boys. Giggle.

Then I scrolled down further, and Nephew 1 got a bit more excited. "What is that???" He pointed at the screen. I opened the pattern page, and we had a good gawp at this:

He could hardly contain himself. "Please Auntie Angie, could you make me that?" Well, yes, I can. ;)

And so began my effort. Now, this is a knitted blanket, but I wanted to do a crochet one. The one thing that I really liked about this was the solidness of the squares. In may crochet squares, the corners have chains and it creates a slight gap. As the blanket comes together, these gaps form diagonal lines. Now, given that this is a dot-matrix style picture to start with, the formation of these lines was going to cause me some considerable problems. So, I began a pattern hunt for a solid granny square. Now, I'm not saying that there aren't any out there, but I didn't start finding any until well after I had given up and designed my own. 

The next, and of course, the most vital step - yarn! I went to my local Spotlight and browsed the shelves, and then there they were! 100% pure wool in all the shades that I wanted. I was a bit unsure about the scratchy effect of the yarn, but I hope to try some softening techniques on the finished blanket before I hand it over. They weren't on sale, and by my calculations, I was going to need a LOT. Let's just say this, even given the size of the blanket, I know I couldn't sell it for the price of the yarn. People just won't pay that much. Never mind the construction time. ;) I love my nephews, this is a work of love.

I was now armed with yarn, and I had perfected my pattern, and the mad hooking began.
You can find my pattern here on the blog, but the Ravelry link (because I'd love to see what you make with it) is here:

I watched some tutorials by various people on JAYG (join as you go) methods, and I was off and running. The squares, once I got the pattern memorised, didn't take much attention at all, and I found I could make them while watching tv, cooking dinner, waiting at the doctors' surgery and waiting at the school pick-up for the bell to ring. The balls were 50grams each, and so small enough to tuck into a zip lock sandwich bag along with the hook and a small pair of scissors, so it was very portable indeed. 

I quickly realised that I had to come up with some sort of pattern idea for the colours, because my colours were similar but not the same as the original knit blanket, and I'd been able to get my hands on loads of the lime, cream and olive colours, but the bottle green, grey and mustard were much fewer in number. I would have to work out how to stretch my yarn to the utmost to get the variety I wanted. So, given that with the black yarn (at least I knew how many squares for that), I could make 2 squares per ball using the JAYG method and just shy of a third, I started planning out where everything went.

I drew up a simple chart in paint, using a close approximation of the colours, and started joining like mad. It really was great encouragement to see it coming together as a shape so quickly. I hooked away at every chance I got, which was not as often as you might think.

You need to keep in mind that I'm a mother of two young boys, a clergy wife and I run a group on Facebook which currently has over 35 thousand members. I have a team of admins, but it is still a lot of work. I also have makes for family and friends, the odd order, and I've run several CAL's this year.

It was at this point, however, that the wheels really fell off. The JAYG method I was using left a ridge on the front side, and I just didn't like how it was working up, so it was time to frog the outer round of almost every square, and finish them off as separate squares. It was VERY disheartening, but I'm so glad I did it.

So, now I was using little golden safety pins to hold the squares together at the corners. I couldn't work out how many squares to make, until I had seen the blanket as a whole, and sometimes things that looked fine on the graph I made, did not look so fine when put together in the blanket. Take the picture below, to the left of the nose is an olive square, and diagonal up from that another. Wherever possible, I wanted to avoid having the same colour immediately adjacent.

Avoiding having colours too closely together wasn't my only bugbear. On my chart, the colours were similar, but not true, so the olive was a light colour - I tried to avoid having three light colours in a row like the three in the bottom left. Now, you will see that my face is different to the knit one. That's because I really looked at the original game screen shot and noted that it was dark colours that were under the square at either end of the mouth, not black, and the same for the eyes. They weren't four pixels of black, but one of black and three around it that were darker colours. I think it makes mine look a little less menacing - remember, this is going to be a bedspread, even if he isn't a little one. :P

Anyway, I finally got the basic face sorted. This is what it looked like before I started playing with colours, lol. 

To help keep up motivation, I started making random colours, and then finding where it would fit on the next part and pinning it on. It meant the blanket took on a bit of a wobbly look, but it made it fun and interesting for me. 

This was a very exciting moment for me. After laying the blanket across my son's bed (which is the same size as Nephew 1's) I discovered that the width had to be ten squares to provide a little drape over the size (which will be added to with a border). Otherwise, when Nephew 1 hops into bed, the blanket will no longer reach the edges. ;)
So, here I am, having completed the first two rows across that is the full width. Woohoo! Now THAT was a great motivation point. :D

I'm still doing that now. I've got 25 squares to go, which equates to two whole rows and a square here and there in the top and bottom two rows. 

It's funny too, how it would look ok on the floor, but when I looked at the photo, I could see bits that annoyed me, so it was time fora  massive colour play. I unpinned every single square, sat with them all in piles beside me, and started building again. This is now my new colour chart lol. I've taken a note of how many squares I need to fulfill this arrangement, and I'm working through them colour by colour. I think I might have played with those colours either side of the mouth just one more time :P

So, here we are at the final progress shot, well, the most up to date one. I have started to join it together, just the mouth and a couple of squares around it (of course I would start in the middle, the more stupidly complex, the better, right? :P ). I'm gradually migrating to the edge, and then I will work across the rows below. 

Some of the gaps here have now been filled, and those squares lying across the mouth have been pinned into their proper places. I just can't wait to get it done, and I have until the 29th.

Now, I hear you ask, what did the other two brothers ask for? Well, I didn't get them done for Christmas, so they will get alternative presents and get theirs for their birthdays in the middle of next year. Although I've bought most of the yarn for them now, and I've started planning and researching one (the other is a straightforward pattern). But, they are for another post. <3

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Finally Finished

I've been working on lots of bits and pieces throughout the year, and I'm madly working on finishing up the final lots. How many of you are up to "stupid-o-clock-in-the-morning" finishing stuff too? :P

I've still got quite a bit to do, but I've just cleared off one item in the wee hours of this morning, and I should clear off a second item later today. Coincidentally, both are in triplicate.

The first is a set of three "Hungry Caterpillar" cocoon and hat sets from the paid pattern by Elizabeth Peck found here: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Crochet Pattern
I'm quite pleased with how they came up. They are for a friend of a friend who has three pregnant friends. It is a very straightforward pattern, although I did have trouble working out how to attach the antennae, I think they came out nice. I'll put some notes in my Ravelry project page which you can find here: Rhaysha's Hungry Caterpillars x 3

So, what do you think? I hope I get to see some pictures of some little cuties in these. ;) If not these, well, I'm making a fourth as a gift for a friend who does baby photography, so here's hoping, right?

The other item is gifts for my elder son's Kindergarten teachers. He started school this year, and during the year he changed classes. The first class had one teacher, but the second class was a large class and had two teachers - so, three teacher gifts it is. ;)

This pattern is by Moogly, and I think it's a fantastic idea! Happy Handle Coffee Cozy is the pattern I used, and I just tried it on my hand with the mugs I bought for the teachers as well - it feels fantastic and warm, and that's with the mugs empty! I sat and watched a movie with the family while I made it, and the first one was well and truly done by the time the movie had finished. Fast, easy, and a great gift for teachers. ;)

You can follow my progress for the three of them here: Rhaysha's Kindy Teacher Christmas Gift x 3

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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Soft As A Hug Mohair Baby Wrap

I have a friend who, along with her husband, is a photographer. They mostly do weddings, but they also do maternity and baby shots too. I've made a few things for her over time as photo props, and occasionally we'll go yarn shopping together and she will show me what she wants to use in her photos and then we'll come home and try and find an appropriate pattern together. It's a great girly bonding day. ;)

However, sometimes when we get home, we just can't find what we want, so I make something up. In this case, another friend saw it and wanted the pattern too, so here we are with a nice little patter that's really going to be one of the simplest you have ever attempted.

I've given a gauge for this, but it really isn't important. You can use whatever yarn and hook you like, and the finished size is up to you too. Please note, I do recommend going back to row one and inserting a row of SC every six rows. It helps to keep structure in the fabric and keeps a bit of a rein on your tension. You are of course free to skip it and repeat row 2 until you are done. ;)

I made this is a thin stole like garment, that could be wrapped around a snuggled baby a bit like you would see seaweed wrapped around sushi lol. (Well, they are cute enough to gobble up right? :P ) A full blanket to would require the baby to be moved to swaddle in, and the point of it done the way it was, was that the baby could be left still and asleep and a nice effect still achieved. I hope you like it as much as my friend likes hers. <3

Don't forget to set up a Ravelry project page here

Yarn: Lace weight mohair (2ply)

Hook: 12mm

Gauge: 6 stitches and 8 rows = 4 inches in Gauge is not important for this pattern


Chain 81
Row 1: Single Crochet into second chain from hook and every following stitch to end (80 stitches)

Row 2: Chain 2. Half Double Crochet into first single crochet stitch and every following stitch

Rows 3-6: Repeat row 2

Repeat rows 1-6 until blanket is desired length

Final row: slip stitch into first and every following half double crochet stitch.
Finish off and cut yarn, Weave ends in.