As I mentioned in Part 3 of the series, over the course of about two years I grew to be more interested in patterns that helped me learn and develop in my ability to crochet.
Throughout these first steps my sister was a key encourager as I worked through various projects, unsure of their outcome. Therefore, it was a real privilege to make a blanket for her first baby. However, it also led to a huge amount of anxiety as I wanted to do well for her, my brother-in-law and my nephew. To be honest, this was part of a perfectionist attitude, which I’d long tried to shed, but remained stubbornly persistent. This meant that although I had decided what to make, bought the pattern and even the yarn, I struggled to start; adding additional time pressure that I obviously didn’t need. I made the decision to overcome this feeling through support from my friends and family and made a start on the pattern.
As I’ve explained previously, I love bright colours and so I chose to make a tweak to the base colours in my Zoo Blanket to a vivid red and green – I’ve linked the original here. I had also read that babies are drawn to contrasting colours and wanted to play a little with this.
I needed a wide array of colours for the blanket so reviewed two options for yarn: Stylecraft and Deramores. I found the Deramores Studio DK had a green which was closest to the base colour I had in mind, therefore my choice was made. The yarn was lovely to work with once I began.
The base of the blanket is fairly simple, 6 large squares, made out of rows of half double crochet (hdc US). Due to an extremely busy time at work, crocheting the squares was a real blessing; a time to relax and unwind. However, I am prone to boredom in monotony and this was no exception! 😉 Thankfully, I just completed the squares before this was completely set in and began to work on the appliques.
The appliques required a completely different approach to the squares; without concentration it was easy to make a mistake and therefore I did a lot of ‘frogging’ (a crochet term that means that you pull stitches out to rectify a mistake – ‘rip it, rip it’ back). However, when I was focussed, the pattern was easy to follow. Each applique is made from several pieces, with various colours. At the start I often found the yarns hopelessly tangled, so began to sort each applique in its own food bag – a tip I found online.
Each applique was constructed by combining the individual pieces following precise instructions within the pattern. The appliques (which now resembled an animal’s sillouette each) were then sewn on to a base square. Unfortunately, I hadn’t yet come across Teri Heathcote’s guide about to do this, so the back ended up very messy. I also had the challenge of joining the squares to each other – not something I enjoy.
I actually finished this blanket (without the backing or border) at my sister’s house.
However, I found that the anxiety I had felt at the beginning returned full force. So much so, that when I walked downstairs to show my sister the blanket, I almost ran out of the room after handing it over! The only thing that stopped me was my husband’s hand on my back. Despite my fears, the blanket was received extremely well- I think it was then I was first encouraged to consider making crochet a business venture. 😃
I added the backing fabric (a beautiful elephant themed cotton) and a simple edging in the next few weeks and I finally discovered blocking! This involves using steam to relax the stitches and also allows crisp edges to be achieved by shaping the piece.
All in all this is was the most (emotionally) difficult and most precious piece I’ve made so far. I am proud of overcoming fears and anxiety to complete it. I’m sure you’ll agree it turned out well 😄
Over the last couple of years I’ve continued on Sophie’s Universe and had some small projects. However, the biggest piece I’ve completed recently was extremely precious. It was the first commission I’d taken on and was a real celebration. I’ll talk about this project in the next part of the series.
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