Monday, 21 October 2013

A Blanket in Progress


While it was fun to look back over all that Mollie Makes creativity (and thank you for all your kind comments) I am really enjoying a more long and leisurely sort of project at the moment. I feel like I've got that challenge out of my system now and this blanket is a no pressure, no deadline sort of project. It's a slow burner, where the act of making is as important as the finished item.

It is in my nature to be productive; I am busy and organised(ish), a starter and a finisher. I'm task focused, a list writer, and like to feel a sense of achievement at the end of my day. I'm also a "joiner", one of those trying-to-be-helpful people who volunteer for everything then regret it afterwards, but that's another story.


So I thought I would share my progress so far with you. The pattern is from here and calls for 196 granny squares in total. I have to say that I am loving everything about this blanket so far; the colours are rich, the yarn (Rowan Pure Wool DK) is smooth, and the pattern offers enough variety to stop it being dull but is easy to memorise. So far I've made 39 squares and this is what 35 of them look like laid out, to give you an idea of the pattern.


But the thing is, I'm not very good at being random. Getting the balance of colour right for these squares was bothering me so I attacked it from a very logical and boring perspective. I am working with 16 colours and so I made ten first rounds in each colour, giving me 160 tiny circles. I know it's not enough for the whole blanket but it seemed more manageable to do it that way. And you see, crocheting all those little first rounds at once stops me backing out of the project and saying, oh, you know what, I've made 39...I'll just make...a cushion! It means I've invested my time in it, and done the fiddly bit, and I'm committed now. The blanket will be a blanket, not a cushion or scarf or small throw.

Then I took each of those little circles and matched them with a different colour for their second round, so that no two were the same and the colours were contrasting and varied. So that's 160 slightly bigger circles I've made so far - 39 of them have had their third and fourth round added. The remaining 121 look like this:


But I can't just have this crazy mess of circles in a bag, ready to dip my hand in and randomly grab one ready to crochet the third round. No! The lack of control there would probably kill me! Which colour would I use? What if I used one colour too much? What if I ran out of a favourite colour? How would I carry it all around with me? These things bother me. 

So, what I did was sort these circles into piles based on the colour of the second round  - surely programmes like Downton Abbey are made for times like these? Then I chose the colour for my third round (purple in this case) and took one circle from each pile, like this, so I had my colours chosen and ready to go.


Then I threaded the ball of yarn with a needle...


...and threaded each little circle directly onto the yarn. 


I pushed them all far down the thread, so that they wouldn't fall off if the yarn unraveled, and I wound the yarn tightly round all those little circles. I know this seems like madness but what I have now is a portable project, and my sanity. I have 16 little bundles of yarn in 16 different colours that look just like this one, and when I have a moment to do a bit of mindlessly enjoyable hooking in front of the television, or in the car, or at the school disco, or in the A&E waiting room where I was with Angus last night because he stuck a tiny plastic bead right up his nose...well, I just grab one of those balls and my 4 mm hook and I'm ready to go. 



Then I'll add the fourth and final round (in white yarn) and darn in the ends as I go. If this all goes to plan I'll eventually have 160 finished squares. I know this isn't enough, so for the remaining ones, I might be really naughty and choose the colours I like best and just work with those. I'll ignore the forest green, tan, rust and pillar box red - the colours I don't particularly like but included because they balance out the others and add depth and variety - and play favourites with the heather-purple, olive green and dusky pink. And hopefully, I'll have a nice blanket at the end of it, too, in about four years from now.

And the other thing I'll have is a lot of these - yarn ends. My friend Rachel told me that you can turn wool yarn ends into felt balls. I've never done this before but I'm dying to find out if it's true, once I've sorted the millions of threads into separate colours...


So, am I alone in my controlling ways? How do you approach larger projects like this one? Do you like to impose order over those unruly colours or embrace a more spontaneous, carefree approach? And what do you think it says about us? I'd love to know your thoughts.



60 comments:

Karen said...

Haha this made me laugh as it reminded me of me! I always admire those random blankets and think I would like to make one. Instead I spend hours making sure that there are no two the same and that similar squares are no where near each other! I guess that some people can be random and others decidedly can not! Beautiful blanket in the making, looking forward to updates x

Just pootling said...

Hi Gillian
Love this post ! I completely understand where you're coming from with the not being able to be random - that's absolutely me too !
All your little ways of organising are inspired - makes my heart sing ( is that a little sad !? )
Enjoy..
Kate x

Jennifer said...

I love your approach. I have a very hard time with random colors. When I've made them, I usually ended up thinking ten stripes or squares ahead, just trying to keep all the colors used evenly. I've actually dreamed about it while I've been in the process. Dreaming about crochet and yarn is fine, but not if you're getting stressed out in your sleep over a leisure-time project! I love the colors you're using and I know this will be a beautiful blanket. I think that the way you're doing this is genius.

Dinki Dots said...

I am loving your method here! I am the same, I can't do random! I had to create a sudoku method for one blanket I made - http://dinkidots.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/blanket-squares-get-random-look-sudoku.html - it's an illness! ;) I'm currently making a stripy blanket with "random" stripes which have been carefully planned out and detailed in a spreadsheet!!
Your blanket is going to look lovely!
Maria x
Maria x

Joanne Retzler said...

Oh my goodness, Gillian, you had me giggling reading your post, and I am, by the way, a first time visitor. I am working on a pink, white, and turquoise baby blanket, and your piles looked like mine. I don't have as many, but I did have to decide how to manage this project. So I did all the centers first, then all the next row, etc., etc. I don't have as many colors, but love your blanket and would like to make one somewhat like it. I have made some previously with that many colors, and it was fun!! Yours is gorgeous. Can't wait to see the finished project, four years from now. lol. I know it won't take you that long. But I am the opposite of you. I am a starter, and not a very disciplined finisher. I love looking for the next project, which is a big mistake, cause then I want to start it, and before you know it, I have eight projects going, like I have now. Anyway, I'm going right up to the top of your site and join, cause I love the way you work, and I think I'm going to like you. Thank you for the inspiration. xxoo. JO

mylittlecorner said...

I think that your way of dealing with this massive, beautiful project is brilliant. I love it. I agree that it kind of commits you to finish a blanket and not make it into a cushion ( something I tend to do !! ) I am looking forward to the updates on this projects, so far it looks amazing. Well done.

mylittlecorner said...

Hope that Little Angus is ok ... bead up the nose is a clasic isnt it ?

Cheryl mylittlepieceofengland said...

Oh no, poor Angus (and mum), Imogen did this when she was 3 and was told afterwards to scream and run if she came within a metre of a bead again :) I try so hard to be random, so hard that I end up with graphs and patterns drawn out to follow... sigh... :) xx

tangled_web said...

I love it :-D I take a similar approach to blanket making-I'll often divide the colour combinations up so that I have a balance of each-it's hard to describe but it does have a lot in common with your approach (except I make notes and have piles of squares EVERYWHERE)
Can't wait to see the finished result!

FunkySteph said...

I loved reading this post, because it could be me here... Trying to sort out those things in a methodology... But where i cannot relate is that I am not able to start such a project, or rather, I could start it, but would not finish it, and I am not good at yarn at all! Being kitting or crocheting. I can't wait to see this blanket as the beginning looks rather promising.

steph said...

the most spontaneous I ever get is grabbing a ball of yarn from the bag....then I very carefully deciding what to match it up with. :( your blanket is going to be gorgeous.....and it looks very spontaneous!!!

Amy at love made my home said...

I love the idea of random, but I'm not sure that I could manage it. The way you have worked out so that they are "random" is great! Love the colours that you have chosen too, and the big pile of little circles, as you say, a great way to motivate you to continue. Hope that Angus and you are OK after your little A&E visit. I swallowed a tiddly wink once when I was a child, but I didn't tell anyone, I wonder if it is still going round inside me!! Hope you have a great week. xx

Attic24 said...

Very interesting reading!!!! I am the complete, absolute opposite and the idea of all that planning makes me want to run away and hide! Random all the way for me :o)
GORGEOUS colours...I still love love my big blanket made with rowan pure wool, its really warm too. happy hooky!xxxxxxxxxxx

Lauren said...

Never commented before, but was inspired to because I'm in the middle of doing the exact same thing! With a much smaller 60 square throw, but still. Five colors, 12 of each center round, then three of each other color on each different center, then one remaining round so that all my squares will be different! Love it. Makes it so much easier once I sorted them out and paired them with the correct yarn balls too.

Ladybird Diaries said...

That blanket is going to be fabulous, and very interesting to read your approach to making it! I tend to be a bit more random, but tend to usually work with certain colour palettes...so maybe not so random after all!
Marianne x

Julie said...

I'm with you on this one. I have a chart and tick sheet for mine so that I can make sure I have one square of every combination. interestingly though, I've been making a miniature quilt and have been much more random with that one. What does that say about me? I'm confused! x

Jo said...

I have similar characteristics in that I am busy, I am a task master, I get IT done but I never have that sort of yarn choice so I am always playing wool roulette whether I am knitting and wondering if I have enough for long or short sleeves half way through the project or if I am randomly putting a blanket together with whatever stash I have, maybe I don't even know how big it will be! I like to live on the edge!! However, I love the blanket and that sort of planning can only lead to success. Jo x

Chrissie said...

Oh kindred spirit! Organised randomness, that's me all the way...but my have you taken it to a new plateau! The circles sewn to the yarn ball - that should be featured in the next Simply Crochet, honestly, your whole system is genius! I do like my Waiting Room Crochet Projects... Chrissie x

amanda peters said...

I like the look and colour of wool you are using. I would like to be random some times when I am making a blanket, but in the end it grates me the disorder and I end up working in order.
Having said that I have sewn together projects I have started and not finished into one big blanket.. We call it the "sick blanket" as it comes out when someone feels ill, all the bright colours and patterns make you feel better.

Barbara said...

Your blanket is gorgeous!!!
To me there's random and (organised) random! I have lists and charts to tick, organised piles in various stages and, like you, work the colours in groups. I drive myself and family potty arranging the different squares on the floor - another chart for that!
I'm new to crocheting and love the whole process of blanket making, currently planning my 4th to start in the New Year after I've finished the Christmas knitting.

forgetmenots blue said...

The blanket is looking beautiful! I must be more organised. The wool your using looks great xx

Pés de Lã said...

Congratulations you have a beautiful blog!! I will come back with more time to appreciate your newest posts..! This blancket has such a delicious colours :) See you, Andreia

sweetpea family said...

Beautiful blanket can't wait to see it grow, I do try to be random but often fall short as it causes me stress to think colours will clash or god forbid two squares of the same colour could be found nestling next to each other- the trials and tribulations of being creative! I love your sense of order and love your current methodology x

Grayseasailor said...

While my kids avoided Angus's bead trauma, they came up with their own versions of trauma. I'm impressed that you were organized with a project to take along while waiting for things to get sorted out. I lean toward organization rather than randomness but I am not as gifted in organizing organizational details as you, Gillian:) Thanks for sharing your organizational process for planning your beautiful blanket project!
Blessings to you and yours,
Gracie xx

Coal Valley View said...

Oh Gillian, I love you! You are so organised. I'm generally of the random, spontaneous and disorganised group but I completely understand the way your mind works and for a project like this I would most definitely have a plan like this. To get the randomness of a granny square rug to look pleasing is quite a task, I couldn't risk winging such a time consuming project. You had me smiling the whole way through your Post - I couldn't handle just picking out any random colour circle from a bag either. Your rug is looking brilliant! Mel x

Trudy said...

Hi Gillian. I don't do random. Couldn't if I tried. Some would say I have obsessive compulsive tendencies!! I like to think I just like things how I like things!!! ; -) Your blanket is looking gorgeous. Love that first photo of all the colours, but that one with all the ends to thread in ... sheesh, that's messing with my head!!

Taciana Simmons said...

I'm excited and amazed how you were able to get this so very organized ... I have never been able to make a nice colorful blanket... If u see the one I just made for my nice and her husband ....so I love the thought process and how u organized it.
Have fun and enjoy the process :)

CJ said...

It's looking great Gillian. I'm thinking of knitting a blanket at the moment - something about this time of year makes me want to do woolly things.

Ruby Lu said...

You really made me chuckle. I struggle to do "random" too. Your blanket is looking good - you have a real eye for colour. You have inspired me to start a big blanket project and I'm going to head out to the wool shop today. I may use some of your tips for randomness! Many thanks Gillian x

Xelenacrochets said...

I am always struggling with colours, but I prefer to join squares together as I go. So at times I sit pondering over my squares to figure out what colours come next. This slows down the process a lot.
The colour of the yarn on the picture with the needle is .... wow! ;-) Love it.

Fiona said...

So me, random has to be planned otherwise it looks all wrong, when I do it anyway. I am not a tidy person but your method of dividing it all up into "quick-to-work" dollops makes it all so much quicker, as you say you use all those silly spare minutes that can add up to a whole blanket if one isn't fortunate enough to be a lady of leisure!! Gorgeous colour combos, can't wait to see the finished blanket. Fiona

millefeuilles said...

Dear Gillian,

I too completely enjoyed your post, both in written content and those glorious pictures! What a beautiful blanket you are making. I'm a little mixture of random and organised. I was only commenting yesterday that I never make written lists anymore. I'm not sure why but I do know that I'm very instinctive in my work and spend hours dreaming up colour schemes and themes. It's blissful.

Perhaps, if you haven't already, you might like to look at Jodi's penultimate post on Che and Fidel? It's about a mother's need for creativity.

Stephanie

Jo said...

It's going to be a beautiful blanket. I think I can be random when I want to be, but my organised ways aren't nearly as organised as yours are but it does make sense to divide the project up in to easy to do parts. I've got a project on the go at the moment which is quite similar, I'll blog about it soon.

Sarah Edgar said...

Gillian you are so organised....I am very impressed and wishing it were me, I have so many works in progress at the moment, Your colours are just gorgeous for the blanket and I can not wait to it finished. Sarah xo

Anonymous said...

Wow that looks lovely. I can sympathise with you about the small plastic bead. My son stuck Ron Weasley's head (Lego!) up his nose last week. Fortunately not too far up it came out without going to A+E!
Best Wishes
Sam

SaraJ said...

I love the idea of random, and the finished object - but I am an control freak, and I just have to accept it! I am working on a large throw for the "playroom" (not really a playroom when my son is 16, but no idea what to call the room now! - study / den?) - I digress! - and I used a random generator and am working form an excel spreadsheet! So not very random at all. x

Rachel Jaques said...

Oh this made me laugh, I am the same, and approach tasks of 'randomness' with the same methodical mind. Glad I'm not alone....look forward to seeing the finished project x

Di said...

I love your method of arranging your colours. I wish I could be that organised. I am usually in so much of a hurry to get started on a project, I just plough straight in and then regret it afterwards.

Julie Elliott said...

Oh my God Gillian - this almost exactly how I organize my own randomness for blankets!! It's so reassuring to find I'm not the only complete nutcase! I think your blanket will be absolutely gorgeous when its finished and I look forward to seeing it when the time comes. Long live organized randomness!

Helene said...

So organised! Sounds like a time consuming task but then it makes your life a lot easier in the long run, so all worth it. It looks very promising anyway, I love the colours and I love the pile of small circles, so soft and colourful.
Poor little Angus, that must have been scary, I hope he's OK!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Maria, I love your idea of the sudoko method and definitely will try it.
In the meantime, some time ago I came across a random stripe generator which works wonderfully. Here’s the link: http://www.biscuitsandjam.com/stripe_maker.php

Charmaine said...

ha! this post made me laugh, you are very organised! I agonise over colour combinations too, so I know how you feel. I'm very impressed by the fact that you can actually crochet. I spent 3 hours trying to figure it out yesterday and I just can't get the hang of it! great progress so far! x

Heldasland said...

so organised, I'm impressed .Colour combinations for me have to be written down and ticked off as I go , all squares are then laid out and honestly it can take me days before I decide on placement .This is then photograghed and looked at from every angle. I cant wait for the finished item. Your colours look yummy.

rachel said...

Ha ha this is exactly how I am doing my blanket for P. The colour choices stressed me out for a while bits break helped.


Love your colours and envy your productivity!

Pink Milk said...

Oh I do so love how methodical you are Gillian - I always start with good intentions but it's not long before random takes over. The thought of you and your little crochet parcel of readiness delights me!

Poor old Angus and poor old you. Hopefully he'll never do it again - once bitten, twice shy and all that!

Hxx

Mereknits said...

I am the same way, there has to be a plan! Love your fun circles. You can also put the yarn ends outside for the birds to us in their nests.
hugs and good luck,
Meredith

Marion Ogden said...

Hi! I'm a fan of your blog. The photos always look amazing! Your blanket already looks beautiful, wonderful colours!

pandchintz said...

Your blanket is gorgeous!! That's way too controlled for me, but oh so sensible!! It's going to be fabulous. Hope Angus' nose recovers from its bead invasion!

Joyful said...

I was laughing through this as I read it because I saw a little bit of my approach in the one you are using. I've never made a big blanket before and I've used a similar approach (not quite the same but similar) in the throw I am making :-) Your blanket is looking very nice.

Hannapat said...

A infertile post Gillian that I am sure most of us relate to oh do well. I too am a joiner, starter and most certainly finisher and I need methodology in a great deal I do. I'm a list writer to the point where I often wonder whether its healthy, but I don't allow myself to ponder that question for too long. Now may I say that your approach dear is genius. I've had a similar where I neatly stacked squares with a particular colour, but threading that's most if us inspired now. I love the look of this blanket and the 35 squares you've done looks wonderful. A great post Gillian xoxo

RachelEden said...

It is looking gorgeous and will be finished before you know it! I wish I had such discipline to plan and organise...I can see from this how much more enjoyable it makes the project.....and I was just imagining John sitting next to you while you were arranging them in piles, having a little laugh at you (but loving you just the way you are of course!) Well done!

Mitzi said...

I'm with you Gillian. I'm working on a an Afghan too but I have 100 squares working with 10 colours of Autumn. I'm at the stage of putting the edging colour to each square. I think I have completed about 15 so far but as with most of us I have more than one project on the go at anyone time so I work on how the mood takes me. Although I have some projects that need to be completed before December so that Afghan may have to go on the back burner for a while. Oh how I remember the hours spent sitting in A & E usually on either a Friday or Saturday night when the most savory of folk tend to join you there. My daughter who is now in her late teens also had that fascination of sticking something up her nose a small magnet from memory. Aren't kids great shame they have to grow up really.

Laura Tyler said...

Wow I am in awe of your organisation of this project. The squares look fantastic. I hope your little boy is okay now x

A little bit Country said...

What is it with beads up noses. I have rescued a few in my time. The blanket is looking amazing. I love the white surround. xo

Penny said...

Your organisation puts me to shame Gillian, I think i am half way between you and disorganised! I have taken heed of your very clever idea about a mobile project and love that you are assured that you will get the colour combination you so desire :o) xxx Stunning colours and some serious eye yarn candy x thanks x Penny

Julia said...

Your blanket is going to be so gorgeous! And I hope your little guy is ok!

Chelsey said...

I'm excited to see the finished product, it's going to look great!

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

How did I miss this post! That said, it's not a problem I would ever have ... what I do have is tremendous admiration for anyone who would tackle a project like this.

I use yarn ends as stuffing sometimes :)

Deb tollis said...

Hi Maria,
I never thought of it being Sudoku, but that is how I have been doing my baby blankets as well :D
My brain just wont seem to let me just be random, as hard as I try, there is always a method to the layout. Charts have been drawn, snap lock bags have sets of 6 granny squares in them, squares are layed out and played with until no line has the same colour/pattern twice.
I am really wanting to try the join as you go method - but I will need to draw up a plan the layout of my colours first - I know it would do my head in other wise lol

Vintage Sheet Addict said...

Just catching up with your delicious blog, I must say Gillian, I really could dive into these images....well I could just dive into your blog, that's of course if you don't mind! Love this one, it's gonna be a stunner! :) x