Today I am so happy to be sharing my no-so-secret secret crochet project- the baby blanket I’ve been working on since September. Anyone with even the slightest interest in video games is likely to recognise the pixel heart from the Zelda games.
This blanket is made of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. I used 19 balls of yarn and had almost none left over at the end. That is pretty much 1.5 MILES of yarn.
This yarn is extremely well reviewed on Ravelry. I wanted something soft enough for a newborn’s skin, but also suitable for everyday use- i.e. washable and durable. This is an item that I hope will be used. The final row of the crochet edge is made of acrylic, partly for added durability and partly because I couldn’t face ordering another ball of yarn.
Speaking of the crocheted edge, it really turns seventy-two somewhat wonky granny squares into a cohesive whole. It took three hours in total, but check out how neat this corner looks now.
There were several reasons I went with the heart design, other than cuteness. At Cayleigh and Dave’s wedding, we bridesmaids had pixellated hearts for our fascinators. Here I am modelling mine.
Are you sensing a bit of a motif?
Trigger warning: Readers who are sensitive to sentimentality should look away now.
Cayleigh and I have been best friends since we were about thirteen years old and our friendship has weathered many storms, including my short-lived emigration to Jamaica, going out with the same guy (not simultaneously!) in our late teens, and the usual buttload of teenage angst. We have the kind of relationship where we might not see each other for a few months (I live in London while she stayed down on the coast in and around Portsmouth after she went to University) but whenever we meet up, it’s like no time has passed and we always find something extremely silly to laugh about.
For many reasons, I am not an effusive person. Most people who know me also know that if I hang out with you, that means you’re okay. I’m not amazing at giving or receiving compliments, or communicating my innermost thoughts. Making things and giving them away is a really important way for me to express how I feel. This blanket is comprised of seventy-two granny squares. Each one took about half an hour to make, and then sewing them up took many more hours on top of that (GIF here).
Each square comprises about 250 double crochet stitches, plus the chain stitches linking them. I’m not saying this to emphasise the ‘work’ of craft. For me, making is a Zen-like experience that gives me a bit of space where my conscious mind is semi-occupied and my unconscious is more active. In the process of hooking a loop of yarn through another loop of yarn repetitively, thousands of times, I reflected on my relationship with Cayleigh and how important it has been in my life. She and Dave are a truly lovely couple and I remember their wedding day with unfading fondness, and happiness at being a part of it.
As a child psychologist, I regularly come up against the sad fact that many babies and children are not wanted, or those around them lack the resources- financial, physical, psychological, social- to give them what they need. This child- whom I will call Little Bear- was loved before he even existed, and I believe that Cayleigh and Dave will be there for him unconditionally. That is not an easy thing, and I salute them.
Well Little Bear, someone else who will love you is your mad auntie Monique. And she made you a massive heart so that you can be wrapped up in love from the day you’re born.
I’m a little bit sad that I’m posting about my crocheted Zelda heart blanket as a Work in Progress rather than a Finished Object. Here I am presenting it to the baby mama in its slightly tragic UFO state.
It’s definitely a case of the best laid plans o’ mice and men ganging aft agley as I started work on this project in September and was brimming with (over)confidence about finishing on schedule for my friend’s baby’s entry into the world. A couple of errors in the planning stage came back to bite me in the arse.
Firstly, I calculated how much yarn I would need by making a test square, unravelling it, and measuring how much yarn each granny square consumed. Sensible, right? Well yes, apart from the fact that I used a different kind of yarn that works up very differently to Baby Cashmerino, meaning that I didn’t get enough yarn to begin with.
I then ordered the wrong colour yarn. The seller was really kind and agreed to exchange it but a senior moment (I call these craft moments, i.e. can’t remember a fucking thing) meant that I didn’t get the yarn before I had to go to Gloucester for a week. Long story medium length, despite pulling an all
knitter nighter, it was impossible to get the blanket finished in time.
This is the spreadsheet I used.
I am absolutely thrilled with the way this project came out, especially since it is my first ever crochet project and first ever blanket. The 8 bit design looks really effective with the granny squares and it’s really a very simple make.
You just need a lot of patience when it comes to the sewing up. My blanket is 16×16 squares. Making the 256 granny squares was incredibly easy and pretty enjoyable. By the end, each square took under ten minutes to make, so this was an ideal project to take on public transport.
The other great thing is the price. Normally I’m a real advocate for natural fibres, the more expensive the better (to the delight of the moths in my local area). However, this is a gift for my sister who is starting University this autumn. It really needs to be hard-wearing and machine washable. I paid less than £15 for all ten balls of yarn including delivery. Add in the cost of my fancy crochet hook and we’re still talking under £20 for something pretty amazing.
This won’t be a true how- to as there is already a wonderful Instructable that goes through the process step-by-step with loads of clear pictures. It’s more a document of how I made my own blankie.
1. Plan your project
Decide which character you want to make and how large your granny squares will be. Boo is a square design and the sprite I chose was 16×16 pixels. I crocheted a couple of granny squares to get an idea of the size they would be with three or four rounds. Crocheting a square and then undoing it also allows you to calculate how much yarn you need to buy. The Instructable has a really helpful spreadsheet template that helps you do all the calculations. Here’s mine.
My practice square, with a 1m tail to aid with sewing up, used 10m of yarn, which allowed me to work out how many balls of each colour to get. I probably could have got away with one blue, but I thought two colours would look effective so I got two blue balls. Hee hee, blue balls.
As a note, for future projects I will most likely pick designs that are no more than 10×10 pixels and make each square larger. 256 squares = 512 ends to sew in = misery.
2. Buy yarn
Thanks to eBay, I didn’t need to leave my house. Sweet.
I recommend getting all the colours from the same brand, so it’s more likely that the gauge of each colour will be the same.
3. Crochet granny squares
This stage went really quickly for me. I used the spreadsheet to keep track of how many squares I’d done and I stored them in bundles of specific numbers (e.g. I needed 88 white squares, so I stored 8 bundles of 11 squares each) to double check.
One thing to note is that if you’re not used to crochet, your gauge will probably change as you improve. I made my grey squares first and you can see here how tight my tension was when I started.
I considered re-crocheting them but couldn’t face it. Fortunately crochet’s quite forgiving so I don’t think you would really notice this in the finished object.
4. Sew each row together, then sew the rows together
I think the Instructable recommends sewing all the rows together first, before sewing them to one another. I went one row at a time, which felt more manageable to me. To sew two squares together, you lay the right sides together, then whip stitch along the edge.
I left long tails on each square and used these for all the sewing, which worked well.
Here’s how Boo grew. Check out my Tumblr for an animated version.
5. Sew in ends
7. Sew in more ends
There were SO MANY.
8. Look on in disbelief when you realise you’ve sewn in all those crazy ends
That’s the ends-less WS. This also illustrates that this blanket is basically reversible, I think it looks good on either side.
9. Crochet border
The Instructable recommends a single crochet in each stitch, then a half-double crochet in each single crochet. No, I don’t really understand that sentence but I did it. Be careful of the corners. I messed mine up the first time by not reading the pattern fully.
10. Add vanity tag
I embroidered this freehand at Crafternoon Cabaret Club, which is why it’s a bit wonky.
11. Revel in the joy of completed craft. You deserve it.
For non-crazy knitters, FO=Finished Object and not other, ruder, things that might have the initials FO. Anyway, last night I finally finished sewing the ends into my blanket! Here’s a picture of the WS to prove it.
After weeks of feeling like I was never going to get this done, the end came surprisingly quickly. I looked at my blanket properly for the first time yesterday and suddenly there was only a handful of loose ends remaining. Then, I looked again as I watched Seinfeld and it was over!
Full post coming soon, I just need to decide how I’m going to attach the label to it.