March’s Makes

March was a bit of a weird month. I was looking back through my photos and it doesn’t look like I’ve done as much crocheting as in previous months. I spent about 2-3 weeks asleep and not feeling great which seriously hampered my crocheting speed. But I actually had the most successful week in terms of sales in March as well! Here’s what I made:

The shamrock pins I made last month were selling pretty well so I added some key rings to my shop, which also did well.

I had a custom order for a Fox. This was pretty interesting to make because I was given a picture to work off and I didn’t have a pattern. Usually when I make animals, I have free rein so can imagine the design myself, so it was a (good) challenge to work in a slightly different way. I was happy with the result 🙂

I was asked to make an otter for a birthday present. It was a bit tricky to work out how he should be positioned because otters spend a lot of time swimming! I went for he swimming on his back look in the end.

One of my night time blankets was this heart stitch baby blanket. I learnt heart stitch for Valentine’s Day and decided it was cute and would look good as a baby blanket.

I started crocheting clothes for preemie babies. You can read why I started doing this in this blog post. Here are a few more:

I also made some preemie and micro preemie hats and booties:

All of my preemie baby items will have a contribution made to Bliss or The Sick Children’s Trust as part of the listing.

Another charity thing I did was make some boobs for an infant feeding team.

Bit of a random make, but they help new mums out.

I learnt tulip stitch for Mother’s Day originally and then decided to design my own baby blanket using it and block colours. I also published the pattern on Ravelry (crochet and knitting pattern site) last week and it’s already had 50 downloads.

Mother’s Day, Spring and Easter mean I’ve sold a fair few daffodil badges and bunches of daffodils.

And also a few creme egg chick covers, although not as many as I thought I would!

I lost my coin purse of about 10 years and was pretty annoyed with myself. Until I realise I could take the opportunity to design my own!

I put that pattern on ravelry too. And that’s what I made in March! In April, I plan to think about some more accessories and gift ideas, because even though I love sunshine, there is absolutely no need for handmade, crocheted warm weather clothes!

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Temperature Scarf: February

I decided at new year to make a temperature scarf, which is a woolly record of the daily top temperature for an entire year. You can read my January update here .

This is the colour chart I’m working from:

January was pretty mild, February was pretty much the same temperature the whole time. Here’s what February looked like overall:

Pretty much royal blue, 6-9 degrees the whole time with the odd dip into the navy blue and a lighter blue. I was desperate for some purple, which is the coldest on my blanket! Finally, in the last couple of days, we had some cold temperatures. And snow. I was a bit reluctant to use white yesterday rather than purple, but as I woke up and there were already flakes floating about and snow on the ground, I thought I better document it. Today, on the other hand, there was just a smattering of yesterday’s snow. So I went back to purple today! Plus I felt a top temperature of -1 definitely deserved purple!

I opted to change stitch so that I could see where it changed from January to February. Instead of just normal single crochet, I single crocheted through the back loop, which gives it a bit of a ridge. With hindsight, this only really works properly if you do the same colour for a couple of rows because some of the colours get ‘lost’, but I quite liked the stitch and it means it looks slightly different on each side.

I hate weaving in ends. But they were getting a bit ridiculous. So I decided to weave them in now rather than having 365 days worth.

This then highlighted how wonky my crocheting is before my tablets kick in! Half the reason I do the temperature scarf in the morning is because I have a period of time where I have to sit still and do nothing while I’m waiting for my medications to start working. Otherwise I’m a walking disaster. Except it’s clearly obvious that my coordination and skill aren’t great at this time of the morning when you see how dodgy the raw edges of this scarf are:

It’s terrible! I can crochet straight lines, I promise! Look, here’s a blanket I made which is neat!

It didn’t help that the change in stitch also changed the tension, and I’m also pretty sure that I forgot which size hook I was using at some point. I think I’ll go back to straight single crochet for March. Here’s a comparison shot for January and February temperatures:

In theory, I should be using more light blue from now on as we get into spring. But, this is the U.K. and we’ve had heat waves in March and snow in May before, so we shall see!

What I Made in February

I had a pretty busy month in January, both in terms of creating things and orders wise. In February, I had a similar amount of orders but I didn’t feel too spritely for 3 weeks or so, so I kind of slacked off coming up with new ideas slightly. Nevertheless, I don’t think I did too badly!

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I finished 2 blankets and started a third during February, all baby blankets. This one was a custom order:

I loved the colour scheme of it. So much so, I decided to buy some more wool and do a slight variation with sunshine yellow as the main colour. Not for anyone in particular, just for my Etsy shop!

The third blanket, which I’m still working on, is a heart stitch blanket.

I learnt heart stitch after thinking ‘it’s Valentine’s Day, I should crochet something with hearts!’ and decided to make this hair wrap/Band:

Then I got a bit obsessed by colour changes and different stitches so designed and made a baby cocoon and matching hat with a bow detail.

Somewhere in the back of my brain, it registered that the Six Nations Rugby had started and St Patrick’s day is coming up in March. So I decided to add to the daffodil and red rose badges I already made in January and include a shamrock:

And a thistle:

For Ireland and Scottish fans, respectively. No one can say I wasn’t being impartial!

These were actually more popular than I thought and I sold a few! So I started experimenting with some other shapes. Being a music lover, a treble clef made sense:

As did a quaver

Then the weather forecast started saying it was due to get cold again and suddenly people started buying hats! So I made some more to replace the stock I’d sold out.

I also got a custom order request for a super soft bunny ears hat. The request was based on a hat she’d bought previously, which was knitted rather than crocheted. So I had the opportunity to get my knitting needles out again!

I’m definitely a lot slower knitting than I am crocheting though. But the hat was quite cute so I decided to make a crocheted version for babies too.

Creme eggs are back in the shops again, except I can’t eat any which is traumatic! But it occurred to me that Easter is pretty soon ish and creme egg or chocolate egg covers tend to sell quite well according to other crocheters and are popular novelty gifts. So I made a chick version

And that sums up my February crocheting/knitting escapades! I did enjoy learning heart stitch and experimenting with using it and other stitches in projects, but I think my favourite thing about February was using the super soft polyester yarn for the bunny ears hat. I’d not worked with it before so it made a change. I also enjoyed experimenting with different colours more this month, like in the baby blankets, as I was given a bit more free reign about colour choices with custom orders.

What I Crocheted in January

I’d been making snowflakes and elves and other Christmas related gifts and items since about September, so when the Christmas orders ended, I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands! January is always a quiet month for any business, because no one has any money to spend, but I was pleasantly surprised that I still was quite busy!

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Two custom make blankets completed, some charity daffodils and twiddle muffs, some hair slides sold from stock, and, possibly the most random request I’ve had, marmalade sandwiches and a jar of marmalade for my friend. Which turned out to be really fun to make!

Part of the thing I love about crocheting is being able to be a bit creative, since that’s what I miss most about having stopped working and playing music. So I used the time in January to try out some new designs and play around with ideas.

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I made my husband some fluffy dice for christmas as a joke, and then one of my friends pointed out that love heart fluffy dice might be good for Valentine’s Day. So I gave it a go, and was quite pleased with the result! I think they can be a pretty good all year round decoration, not just Valentine’s Day.

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Then I decided that people might like hanging decorations in general and personalisation with initials is always a big hit with most people. So I made a mock up so that I could put some in my Etsy shop. I was having a bit of a slow day when I made this- I actually was intending to make a ‘J’ as in the first initial of my niece’s name, Jenna, but I’m apparently not too great at my letters because I sewed it on the wrong way and it looks like an ‘L’. Which coincidentally works because my nephew is called Luke. So that’s the story I’ve been telling people anyway 😉

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I sold Poppies for the British Legion in November, and they proved really popular. I thought people would stop buying them after poppy season ended, but I’m still selling some. I thought about what other flowers people might like and opted for a coiled rose badge or brooch which people might buy for Mother’s Day.

Then my friend (the same one as before) suggested making crocheted rose bouquets for Valentine’s Day. Brilliant idea! I thought about it a bit and decided that a green pipe cleaner would be easier to post and display rather than a green cocktail skewer, which is what other people seemed to use. A bit of experimenting with the glue gun and a trip to Hobbycraft resulted in this:

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I thought they were cool so now we have some in a vase in our living room. A few Welsh friends mentioned that they’d like daffodil badges for St David’s Day in March, so I had a go at those too:

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And also some bouquets of daffodils- they’re a nice, Spring flower, and they might be good gifts for Mother’s Day.

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I decided to make the daffodil badges with a charity donation in mind as well. It’s also the symbol of Marie Curie, but St David’s Day celebrations in Wales are a big thing, and there’s a race and fundraising weekend in Cardiff to support Welsh charities. One of those charities this year is Cancer Research Wales. So when people decide to buy a daffodil badge, they can choose which charity the donation goes to, and then I donate to those charities at the end of each month. I haven’t sold as many as the poppies, but it is still January after all!

Another charity donation item I added to my shop is a pair of twiddle muff wrist warmers. Brenda, one of my followers on Facebook, suggested that the wrist warmers I made for myself at Christmas could also be used as twiddle muffs. I did a bit more research and thought about how I wanted to design them and produced these:

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I made the charity link Alzheimer’s Society UK because my Grandma had Alzheimer’s for 10 years before she died last year, but the mittens would be good for any condition or individual who feels comforted by having something sensory to fiddle with. These ones sold super quickly- I think they’d only been live in the shop for 3 hours before they were sold! I plan on making more though.

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At Christmas, I made snowman coasters which proved really popular so thought the same might be the case for Valentine’s Day. I saw a pattern for a Granny Square style love heart and thought that would be easily adapted to make coasters, and it was!

I then used the same pattern to make Valentine’s Day cards.

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You can remove the heart and sew it to other things or use it to accessorise bags or scarves or coats. It’s something a bit different to a normal card. Plus I haven’t written any really sappy messages inside – you can do that yourself if that’s your thing! 😉 (it’s not my style!)

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I made this love bug hanging decoration one day for a bit of fun. It looked cute and I needed cheering up, so he served his purpose!

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I like to make blankets in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. Blankets are good because they’re repetitive, take very little concentration and you can pick them up and put them down easily. This one doesn’t have an intended recipient, I just liked the stitch pattern when I was looking through pinterest one day so decided to make a baby blanket in blue! It hasn’t been blocked yet, that’s why it’s slightly wobbly on the border.

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I didn’t make this in January alone, but I did finish it in January. I made it as a playmat/blanket gift for my friends’ new baby. I wrote a post about it here.

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I didn’t know the gender of the baby until it was born, so made a pink sparkly penguin when I found out she was a girl. I love this wool!

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Booties and baby hat sets have been on my list for a while for things to make but I haven’t had the time to experiment with designs properly. January was that time! I’d never made booties before, but they weren’t as hard as I thought they’d be. The problem I had was that I didn’t like the way they were turning out e.g. the shape was funny or the cuff wasn’t right. So a few adaptions later and some animal features, I managed to make some I was happy with.

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Someone told me Easter was early this year, so I thought I should experiment with some Easter gift ideas before I got potentially more busy with Valentine’s day and Mother’s Day orders. I thought these baskets were pretty cute. And they can hold chocolate eggs!

I also had 2 custom orders for blankets this month- one baby size and one single bed-kind-of-size length.

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I love the colours in both- I was quite sad to see them leave me!

I’ve still got a fair few things on my list of ‘things I want to try to make’ so I’ll hopefully get round to trying some more ideas in February! I think the thing I’m most proud of having made this month is the animal blanket for my friends- it was a challenge but pretty fun at the same time.

If you’ve seen something which you like the look of, you can message me for a custom order, find me on facebook/twitter/instagram as @okthenwhatsnext or have a look at my Etsy shop here: Visit my OkThenWhatsNextCraft Etsy shop 

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Credit for patterns used:

Easter Baskets: Hello Yellow Yarn
Bear Booties/Hat: my design
Coiled rose: Attic 24
Granny Square Heart: Crochet Tea Party/some adaptations
Daffodils: Attic 24
Twiddle Muff Wrist Warmers: my own design
Baby Blue Blanket: Arcade Stitch, Wool and the Gang
Pink Penguin: Amigurumi Today
Love Bug: Lily Sugar n Cream
Marmalade Sandwiches/Jar: My design
Neat Ripple Blanket: Attic 24
Love Heart Hanging Dice/decorations: adapted from Bella Dia’s tutorial

Temperature Scarf: January

I decided that I’d make a temperature scarf for 2018 and wrote a blog post about it here. The gist of it is you crochet or knit a row with a colour which corresponds to whatever the temperature is for that day. Here the the colours and temperatures I worked out:

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I changed it slightly because we actually had two days of snow, and I wanted something to represent that! So I added white in for snow days. I’m a bit sad I haven’t got to use purple yet, but I quite like how it looks so far:

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We’ve had a pretty mild January! Mostly between 6-9 degrees, but we also had a couple of days where it was 13 degrees because I *nearly* had to get the light light blue out. But not quite.

Aside from it looking pretty and it giving me something to do while I’m waiting for my cup of tea to cool down enough to drink, it’s actually proving quite interesting. I wonder what February will look like!

Making an Animal Blanket

Or more of a play-mat type thing I guess. My friend got pregnant and I wanted to make her and her husband something a bit different for their baby. They chose not to find out the gender of the baby, so I opened Pinterest for inspiration and saw a zookeeper blanket, which was (unsurprisingly) a blanket with lots of zoo animals. Then I thought about making it a granny square blanket and sewing an animal on for each letter of the alphabet. I wanted it to be bright, but not knowing the gender of the baby meant I couldn’t do the typical blues for a boy or pinks for a girl, but part of the reason I liked the animal idea was because the blanket itself could be quite plain but the animals could be colourful.

So I dragged my husband to Hobbycraft and chose grey and white wool for the main squares. I missed out learning how to make granny squares when I first started to crochet, because I originally started so I could make animals for my charity blog so it was also a bit of a challenge for me. Some of the squares aren’t perfectly shaped, but I don’t think their baby will mind 😉 I decided on 4 squares along and 7 squares down, which left me with 2 squares spare, which I put the letters A and Z on.

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Thinking of animals is actually quite hard for every letter of the alphabet, and it probably took just as long thinking of the animals as it did making the blanket! Especially because I had to be able to crochet them as well. I’ve done a lot of 3D animals, but appliqué animals was new to me, so some didn’t work as well as others and I relied heavily on other people’s patterns rather than being able to make up my own like I can with 3D animals now. I also wasn’t convinced I’d be very good at sewing the granny squares together, but actually that proved quite easy thanks to a really good Attic 24 tutorial. I’ve written where I got the pattern from for each animal as well.

Here’s my alphabet animal blanket!

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A- Alligator: Repeat Crafter Me

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B- Bear: Didn’t Anyone Tell Me

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C- Cat: Trifles n Treasures

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D- Dog: Repeat Crafter Me

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E- Elephant: I haven’t written this one down, so can’t give credit sorry :\

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F- Fish: My Crochet Projects

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G- Giraffe: Repeat Crafter Me

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H- Hedgehog: Repeat Crafter Me

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I- Iguana: Repeat Crafter Me

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J- Jellyfish: Damn It Janet Let’s Crochet

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K- Kangaroo: Repeat Crafter Me

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L- Lion: I made this one up myself

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M- Manta Ray: I also made this one up myself

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N- Nightingale: Repeat Crafter Me

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O- Owl: Repeat Crafter Me

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P- Penguin: Repeat Crafter Me

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Q- Queen Bee: Repeat Crafter Me

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R- Rabbit: Repeat Crafter Me

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S-Squirrel: Maria’s Blue Crayon

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T- Turtle: Repeat Crafter Me

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U- Unicorn: Fave Crafts

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V- Viper: Repeat Crafter Me

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W- Whale: Repeat Crafter Me

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X- X- Ray Fish: Repeat Crafter Me

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Y- Yak: Repeat Crafter Me

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Z- Zebra: Repeat Crafter Me

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I decided a pink and green border wasn’t too girly or boy-y either way. I made the error of sewing the squares together first and then sewing the animals on afterwards. This made it really awkward, but I was having issues visualising it all in my head. I did actually change some of the animals and colours once I realised where they were all going so it did help in that respect. I quite enjoyed making the different animals and watching it grow from one lonely alligator all the way down to zebra!

A Year Ago Today…

… I made my first Out With Animals animal! Well, it wasn’t officially for Out With Animals (yet), but my Facebook ‘On This Day’ thing tells me this:

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I’d been knitting animals for my nephew for Christmas. And I saw a koala pattern and thought ‘that’s cute, I’ll make that’. Mostly for something to do! This was before I learnt about Pinterest’s existence, so maybe I specifically liked the idea of a koala, rather than just coming across it. Either way, a year ago today I made Kenny the Koala!

I remember my husband coming home from work and asking why I’d made a Koala and me saying ‘why not? maybe I’ll post them to the Postpals kids’.

The next day, so tomorrow a year ago, I was lounging around in my pyjamas trying to get something a bit more concrete with the idea of posting animals. You can read about my thought process here. My husband came home from work and I told him about the progress in my idea. So he asked what I was going to make next. Pass, I said.

On the 12th January, I finished Eric the Elephant.

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I’d told a friend about my idea and she liked the sound of it and said that Coventry’s animal was an elephant. So if I made an elephant, she would take it on an adventure during her lunch break for me. Great!

I can’t quite remember why I decided to make an owl as the next animal, but I have a feeling I’d told another friend about my plan and she’d said how she was going to see the Harry Potter play and how an owl might be a good animal to take. So I made Olivia the Owl later that week.

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I wanted to test out how it would work, so my husband and I took Kenny the Koala to Leamington Spa for the day. His adventure involved a walk around the park, a trip to Nandos, a nap and a trip the cinema. Accompanied by the grumblings of my husband as he tried to take photos of this tiny animal without it getting wet, muddy or lost. But by the end of it, he was surprisingly enthusiastic (as much enthusiasm as my husband shows anyway!) and was telling me that my photos weren’t good enough and finding different things for Kenny to be photographed with.

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I didn’t get around to writing Kenny the Koala’s story until I’d set up my blog, and his story was first published on the 6th February. So that’s when Out With Animals’s official anniversary shall be! I feel like I should have some kind of online celebration or something for it- there’ve been a lot of animals and volunteers in the space of a year! Maybe something will come to me while I lounge around in my PJs like it did last year, but in the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions as to how to make the occasion online then let me know!

 

 

New Year, New Project: Temperature Scarf

I was flicking through Instagram and saw a post by Repeat Crafter Me about how they’d always liked the idea of a temperature blanket as a year long project. How cool! The gist of it is, every day you crochet based on the temperature for that day. Some people do granny squares, others stripes. It doesn’t really matter how you do it. But investing in wool for a blanket would be really expensive, and also a bit daunting- what if I missed a day? Then I’d never catch up. Then I saw someone on Pinterest doing the same thing with a scarf (yes, I spend most of my day stalking crochet people on social media!). A scarf is doable, isn’t much in terms of yarn and it wouldn’t take that long to catch up if I missed a day because I was busy. Or let’s face it- the most likely reason I’d miss a day would be because I was in hospital!

Here’s a photo of the scarf idea I found, from Repeat Crafter Me.

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So I had a look at the temperatures and decided to re-think them for our climate here in Coventry, UK. We very rarely have temperatures below -6 and above 32, but we do have a lot of temperatures falling into the blue shades. Which might get a bit boring if it’s the same colour blue for every day. I came up with these as my temperatures.

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I gave it to my husband to check to make sure I hadn’t done anything stupid. Either he’s as stupid as I am, or he really doesn’t pay much attention to any of my crochet ventures (probably the latter), because he declared it was fine. Except it wasn’t- I’d written 7-13 for the 4th colour from the right, which obviously wouldn’t work. Thankfully I noticed this on day 3, so could just redo the 3 days of the year so far. It’s a good job I noticed early on and not in March or something!

I told my husband about his lack of observation skills and he kind of did his eye roll thing (meaning- ‘jesus, you’re showing me crochet stuff I don’t care about). Then he asked ‘how will you decide what the temperature is though?’

Good point! Some people do it based on the temperature at the time they sit down to do it, some people do it based on the top temperature for the day. I decided that my time for doing the scarf would be immediately after breakfast, when I have to sit still for at least half an hour and not move until my tablets and food have all kicked in. Which is a great way of making sure I do it every day, but it does mean that the temperatures would all be the same for a lot of the stripes. My mum bought my husband a google box thing for christmas, which if I say ‘good morning’ to it when I come downstairs, it turns on the lights and tells me the weather. Including the top temperature! Bingo. That’s how I’ll do it then. And google knows everything!

So I’ve been doing it for about 7 days, today is the 8th day and I’ve had a nice spectrum of all the blues so far.

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If it snows again I might do a white row. For now, I’ve just been doing 50 single crochet every day, but I saw someone else do a different stitch for each month, so you could differentiate between them, so I might experiment. I’m quite enjoying it so far! I shall keep you posted 🙂

Crocheting Blankets

Weirdly, I love crocheting big projects like blankets but hate knitting similar things like scarves. Knitting isn’t as quick and takes a lot more wool to get a similar length, or maybe it’s because most long knitted things don’t have enough variation in the pattern of each row, I don’t know. But I really enjoy crocheting blankets.

Most beginner crocheters start with granny squares which can be turned into a blanket or go ahead with a blanket itself. I didn’t because I wanted to make animals for my other blog, Out With Animals. So it’s actually taken me until this current blanket to be able to feel like I can do it without having to rip out loads when I’ve gone wrong in the pattern.

I always planned to make my niece a blanket for when she was born, but then she arrived 11 weeks early so I had to get a wiggle on quicker than I thought I needed to! I made her this granny stripe blanket from Attic 24’s pattern:

I chose pinks, purples, greens and blues because I didn’t want to just assume she’d be a girly girl and like pink. As it turns out, she does seem to like pink a lot! I didn’t do it in a regular repeating pattern because I wanted it to look a bit random.

It was a pretty steep learning curve doing it though. I realised I hadn’t really learnt how to chain properly, since most animals are made of circular shapes so I got very good at magic circles, but had no idea how to chain. So doing the foundation chain was interesting! I also kept adding or losing stitches at the end of rows, mostly because I didn’t really know what a stitch looked like properly- again, it’s easier to see the stitches when making animals. And far less to count! I fixed this by using stitch markers (well, safety pins) to help keep track.

The most ridiculous thing I did when making this was to get the foundation end and the bit I was working on end mixed up when I came back to it after putting it down, because they both were pink at this point. So instead of ripping out the pink bit I’d just worked but added lots of stitches to by accident, I actually ended up pulling out the foundation chain. Which is a massive problem because then everything just unravels! I didn’t actually realise I’d done it until I started working on my next blanket, so goodness knows how I managed to fix it! I remember being really confused, but since I used to make pretty big errors knitting, I threaded the stitches to secure them with a piece of pink wool and then carried on working. You can only see where I did it if you really look hard or know where it is, so I’m happy with that in the end. Plus my niece doesn’t seem to mind!

It’s pretty big for a baby blanket, especially as she’s particularly tiny so I’ll probably make it smaller if I make another baby blanket. It took me a week to make.

The next blanket I did was also by Attic 24 called the neat wave (I think anyway). I spend a lot of days on the sofa under a blanket so decided that I’d mind less about being ill if I had a nice colourful blanket. I picked the colours because we have a striped chair in the living room with similar ones. And this time I followed a colour order, because the wave pattern makes more sense if the colours repeat regularly too. Again, I wasn’t very good at chaining and the pattern took a bit of getting used to. I put stitch markers every 25 stitches along the foundation chain, which also had the added bonus of meaning I couldn’t accidentally rip out the foundation chain! I did a practice swatch first, like the author recommended, so that I could get used to the pattern, but I still found it pretty difficult to work out what the different stitches looked like, so spent a lot of time counting or getting to the end of the row and realising I’d gone wrong. What I learnt from this blanket is that a lot of the time when you’ve gone wrong, it’s usually because you’ve made a mistake in the row below but hadn’t noticed until you tried to make the next row of pattern fit.

It’s pretty big but I like being able to fit under it without my feet poking out. I made it in summer though, which meant I couldn’t really work on it during the day because it was too hot with it on my lap! So this one took me about 6 weeks but I made other things at the same time.

My current blanket is also Attic 24 and is a ripple blanket. The pattern is slightly easier but also I now know what the different stitches look like so don’t just have to pull it out to the start of the row, I can actually tell where I’ve made a mistake! And also I know about the error in the row below thing, so check that too. I’m much better at chaining, and, although I seem to have lost one stitch at one end, both edges are currently really straight. I’m only making this one at night time when I can’t sleep, so progress varies on how well I’m sleeping! So far I’ve been doing it for about 2 and a half weeks.

This one is to keep me warm when I go out in the wheelchair over winter. It’s really, really cold sitting because you’re obviously not walking which is what warms most people up. I’m aiming for it to be longer than it is wide, so that I can double it over on my lap or pull it up to my ears if its particularly cold! I picked the colours partly through practical reasons and partly because I just liked them. From a practical view, the blanket is going to be outside so likely to be dropped on the floor or rained on. So dark colours show dirt less!

I like having a blanket to do at night time because the repetitiveness of it helps me switch off. Now that I know what I’m doing and don’t make as many mistakes! Once I’ve finished this one, I shall have to find someone else to make a blanket for!

Crochet & Mindfulness

I started knitting when I had to have a long time off work because my asthma was really unstable. I couldn’t walk around my house without numerous doses of ventolin and steroids a day, let alone teach music. But my brain was fine. It wasn’t like feeling poorly where all you want to do is watch daytime tv and snooze on the sofa. I was slowly being driven mad and getting really bored.

So I taught myself to knit so I had something to do while watching hours of daytime tv. And now, I also crochet. Difference being is my brain isn’t as ok now- now I have brain fog and concentration issues but I work around that. Crocheting also has the added bonus that I can do it while lying down!

One of the big things with my Adrenal Insufficiency is that I can get incredibly anxious over not a lot. And then I can’t sleep, which feeds the anxiety…. so I find crocheting gives me something to slow my anxious brain but isn’t too taxing, as long as I pick the right project. It means I have lots of things on the go constantly because then I can pick and choose.

Like I said, usually I crochet with the tv on. But more recently I’ve been trying something new. I’ve been practising mindfulness and meditation to help my anxiety anyway, but I thought why not combine two things I love doing?

Nowadays, we don’t really approach many things mindfully. We constantly have our phones out, or listen to music while walking or eat and watch TV. We don’t actually really ever settle to do one task and get absorbed fully in it. Our brains are constantly thinking of the next thing, and we don’t really enjoy being in the moment.

So crocheting mindfully means not doing it with the tv on. I’ve been doing it two ways: one way is where I approach it like meditation, where I concentrate solely on what I’m doing (more on that in a minute), or the other is where I want to give myself space to think about something specific but without getting emotionally involved in it e.g. My hands are busy which lets me see the facts rather than the emotion attached to the facts, which is what makes me anxious. If I feel overwhelmed, I switch to just the mindfulness option.

What does it actually mean though? It’s:

– paying attention to each stitch. If there’s a pattern or rhythm to it, I say the stitches in my head like Dec, single crochet, double crochet… it helps if it’s repetitive and I don’t have to consult a pattern

– looking at the colours. I love the blanket I’m working on (they’re best for mindfulness practice). So I like looking at the colours blending.

– I also like the feel of my current yarn. It’s really soft but chunky so it’s easy to hold but really tactile.

– I sometimes put on calming music from my Calm meditation app or definitely have my white noise machine on. So I tune into those sounds

– I try to match my breathing to what I’m doing. It kind of makes it musical if you’ve got a steady rhythm going and get your breathing to coordinate

– it’s about not getting frustrated if you make a mistake and have to rip it out. I’m not doing it to make progress in my project (well I kind of am too), I’m doing it because I love crocheting

– it doesn’t matter if I finish in the middle of a row. Another reason why blankets are good because you can pick them up and put them down again easily. It’s about removing the need to set targets and time limits, and just ‘being’.

There’s something a bit hypnotic about it. Some days I’m better at keeping my mind on the task, others my mind keeps wandering and I keep having to bring myself back. But that’s ok, because I’m recognising my mind wandering, which is almost as important as staying focussed is. I still like crocheting in front of the tv, but I also quite like the time I get to just crochet because I want to enjoy that specific time.