Thursday, 11 January 2018

Making a blanket; or how I cope with the long winter nights.

I don't do so well in Winter! I really do try to appreciate it, and try to not let the season get me too down but I struggle a lot, especially as it gets darker in the evenings and some of the days never seem to get very light. I think it is all about the light. On the days where it is grey and raining I am often glum, bright and crisp days - no matter how cold - seem to make me much perkier.

This year I decided to set myself some Winter challenges - first, to follow a pattern and make a crochet blanket. I like making things up as I go usually and am not a huge planner for my crochet projects. I do believe concentrating on something new to learn helps to pass the time when I am not feeling so great, and crochet has helped me through my darkest times. Remember when I was really poorly while pregnant and made a huge blanket... 

I know I use crochet in my business, added to shelves and bedside tables, but I also still crochet for fun, just for me. It is a passion, so it isn't at all like a busman's holiday! I am quite a slow crochet-er, a large blanket would take me sixty or seventy hours to do. That is quite freeing really as there is no way that I could sell the blankets, even to make minimum wage, so I know that these will only ever be for gifts or for myself and that takes a little bit of the pressure off.

Why did I choose to make a blanket as my first Winter challenge? There were a few reasons that all came together really...

The challenge of following a pattern - actually starting and finishing a project that I haven't made up, which means I don't have to make any decisions at all. I'd never followed such a large pattern before, and I'd never made anything in the colours suggested! I always amended, and have green bears and pink monkeys to prove it!

I met Lucy from Attic24, who is a super lovely crochet blogger, and one of the amazing people behind Yarndale. Lucy blogs to people all over the world from Skipton - which is my nearest town. She is very lovely - despite being an international award-winning crochet superstar, she is down to earth albeit super talented. Here is a picture of the two of us at Yarndale.






Lucy is a blanket designer, among other things and I really liked her blankets. They come in packs from Wool Warehouse, which cost £26. It's a good price and I decided this was a lovely and affordable Winter Challenge. I actually treated myself to a new crochet hook too - so the total cost was £31. 




Here is the start of my blanket. The start is always the hardest, as you don't have the feel of the pattern and it also can look a bit strange. It's quite bobbly (is that even a proper word), but I trusted that in time it would all work out for the best. That's kind of my life motto really! 



Here is a close up. I actually made a yarn buddy, Hi Margo!, and we sent each other pictures as we were both making the same blanket. It was such a lovely and slow, but pressure free way to get to know someone, I can heartily recommend it. 


This blanket is called The Moorland Blanket, and is supposed to reflect the colours of the moors. Now as someone who grew up very close to the moors and who still sees them regularly, I can say, it is exact. This pattern and the colours above show the earthy ness of the moors, browns and greens with the odd flash of purple heather. I think the shapes tell of the way the land is springy underfoot when you walk on the Moors. 






I always knew I wouldn't keep this blanket and that is was a gift. It was for a friend who was struggling, as she watched one of her close friends die. I couldn't do anything to help her, no one could really but I could make her something to hug her when she needed it. 

I am very lucky to have some really special friends, who are always there for me, who are unconditionally supportive and who just make my life so much better. She is one of those friends who is really lovely and, which is crucial, she appreciates hand made things. Not everyone does as I have learned and I would not want to make something that took a very long time without knowing it would be cherished. 




It got colder and darker as the blanket grew and the warmth was much appreciated. More shades of purple were used to represent the swathes of heather. 



I really liked the way that counting stiches helped me to feel  relaxed and that the pattern here was something that I could do while the toddler played, it was something I could pick up and work on for twenty minutes or so and then leave for a few hours or days. 



It was around this time that I started to really look into the concept of 'hygge', which is a Danish word which translates to a feeling of cosyness, of being content in the moment, and as a way to survive bleak winters. Understanding this felt amazing. It's that feeling of not being alone, not being the odd one out. Other people struggle with this too - in fact almost a whole country does and they have found ways to cope. Hot drinks, candles, blankets. Easy things that make the darkness more bearable. 

I hope that this could be my salvation. 




This picture of me with the blanket represents row 89. That is about 45 hours of work! This was a real moment for me, hence the quite cheesy grin! Row 89 was Duck Egg, and this meant I had reached the sky in the blanket. I love Summer skies and blue is my favourite colour.





Look at these wonderful shades of blue glinting in the sunshine. This made me feel really happy. 





And then it was done! It's taller than me, so I made husband pose with the finished article. It's been a good challenge.

I feel proud to have finished this. My friend seems very pleased with her gift. I started another blanket almost straightaway as this may be one of the ways I start to learn to cope well with darkness. 

I've also found my next challenge and will post about that at some point too. 

5 comments:

  1. I, too, have finished my Moorland blanket. I usually give things away but decided to keep my Moorland for myself. It's beautiful and cozy. I love your descriptions as you progressed and that you appreciated the beauty of the colors. I have begun Lucy's Woodland blanket. Thank you for this article!

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    1. I'm making another Moorland just for me, only this time in blues and greens. Enjoy your snuggles x

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    Replies
    1. Awesome blanket designs and are really useful for the winter. I really like the types and how they have been made to suit the needs of the season. I also read about Weighted Blankets
      and I think they are also the best for winter though designs can be different.

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