Winter Blanket CAL progress update

I started on my CAL blanket yesterday afternoon.   I made one ‘solid’ granny in 2 colours – Teal and Fern.   But I didn’t like the effect at all, so I frogged immediately.

My mistake was lack of colour planning!   I had already decided that Teal, Fern, Mint and Aqua would be my ‘background’ colours and that one should feature in each motif – but I now know that 2 didn’t work.   A quick re-think and I decided to use all 4 of Daffodil, Melon, Zing and Rose, followed by Fern.

So Tip number 1 – do some good colour planning!

Progress was good – I have completed my first ‘solid’ granny and done 4 rounds of the other 7.

Solid granny progress
Solid granny progress

The last 4 rounds are in Fern and finishing them will be a good project for knitgroup (Tip number 2 – never take anything complicated to knitgroup, there is too much natter, laughter and other distractions such as coffee and cake!).

I have been good and sewn my ends as I go, making the finishing much more straightforward.

Tip number 3 – sew your ends as you go.

When doing my sample blanket I used different yarn and I used my favourite Clover Amour crochet hook.  I have a LOT of crochet hooks but by far my best ones are Clover Amour and  Hamanaka Raku Raku, they are the ones that fit best in my hand – size, weight and touch are perfect for me.  If you look at the photo you will see I’m using the Hamanaka Raku Raku hooks for the CAL blanket, and my yarn is different.  Interestingly, the size of these squares is coming out larger – about 21cm square, which I think is a combination of different yarn and different hook.  The amount of yarn seems about the same, so I’m not at all bothered by this as I know I have plenty of yarn.  But I will keep my scales handy and keep a check on my yarn as I work through the CAL, just to keep track of how much yarn I’ve used and to ensure I have sufficient left for the rest.

Tip number 4 – use a hook you are comfortable with

Tip number 5 – check your tension after the first square and work out how much yarn you’ve used, change hook size if necessary and keep a notebook handy to record yarn used.

That’s all on progress so far.

Incidentally, the Hamanaka Raku Raku crochet hooks are lovely and would be a fabulous addition to your Christmas present list!   They are available as a set from Janie Crow, who also stock Clover Amour.

Happy crocheting xxx

Here we go……..

Welcome to the Winter CAL 2015.   Today I’m introducing the CAL, providing information on requirements and the pattern for the first square motif, a ‘solid’ granny which should be pretty familiar and which will help you estimate your own requirements if you aren’t using the same yarn.

This post is rather long, so make a cuppa and settle down for a long read !

YARN

First let’s talk about yarn.  I’m using a double knit (DK) yarn and I’m making 2 blankets.

My first is a ‘sample’ blanket using 6 bright colours which cheer up winter and the second is also a bright colour palate but will be structured differently. I’m using the second colour set to crochet along with you.

Sample yarn:  John Arbon, Knit by Numbers DK, 100% merino, 100g/250m per skein.  2 skeins each of Blue (039), Pink (063), Yellow (052), Green (071) and Purple (029)  and 1 skein of Orange (015).  This is sufficient for a blanket 7 motifs square, so a total of 49 motifs and a small border.

John Arbon Knit by Numbers
John Arbon Knit by Numbers

CAL yarn: Stylecraft Life DK, 75% acrylic/25% wool, 100g/298m per ball.  I’m using 2 balls each of Teal (2416), Mint (2342), Aqua (2357) and Fern (2311) and 1 ball each of Daffodil (2394), Rose (2301), Melon (2359) and Zing (2356).    The blanket will be 7 motifs square also, the same as the sample, but I will put a larger border on this.

Stylecraft Life DK
Stylecraft Life DK

HOOK

I am using a 4mm crochet hook (US G/6)

MOTIF/TENSION

The motifs are square and each motif is approx. 19cm (just under 8in) square after blocking, using the ‘sample’ yarn.

ADAPTABILITY

You can use any yarn you like, as long as you use a suitable hook size.  And you can make it to any size you like.  It is a perfect stash buster.  Later in this blog I show you how to you estimate your yarn requirements.

COLOUR SCHEME

Some of the motifs in this design work well in just one colour, others work well in up to 5 colours.  So whatever you choose, I recommend you have at least 5 colours of yarn.  I used 6 colours in my sample blanket and I’m using 8 colours in my CAL blanket.

MOTIF DESIGNS AND TIMINGS

There are 8 motif designs, and you can use as many or as few as you like.    The first 2 designs are free and will be published on this blog, so you could use just these 2. The first design is published today, the second design will be published on 26th December.

The other 6 will be published weekly thereafter and will be included in a comprehensive pattern which will be available to buy on Ravelry, it will be published initially on 26th December and updated as each motif is released. Photos of the new motifs will appear on this blog, along with my progress updates.

SIZE

You can make the blanket any size you like.   The lap blanket I am making will be 7 motifs square – a total of 49 motifs.  It will be just over 1.3m/52in square with a small border.

HOW TO WORK OUT YARN REQUIREMENTS

This is an approximate way to work out your yarn requirement.

First make the motif in this blog.  I worked out it uses an average amount of yarn for all the 8 motifs, so is a good guide as to how much each motif will use.

Then measure your motif.  Using this measurement work out how big you want your blanket to be – so if the motif is 20cm and you want a blanket 120cm square then it will need to be 6 motifs square – that’s 36 motifs.

I prefer my blankets to have an odd number along each side, as visually I find odd numbers more appealing.  So you may prefer to aim for 7 by 7 (49 motifs), or 5 by 5 (25 motifs) or even 9 by 9 (81 motifs).

Whatever you decide, let’s just say the number of motifs you want is N

Now weigh your motif – it doesn’t matter if you weigh in grams or ounces.   Let’s just say that weight is W

For the motifs you need yarn with a total weight of N times W, but you need to add a margin for joining, colour matching/changing and a border.  I recommend a minimum of 10% (which works for a small border and if you are careful with colour matching) or 20% (which works well with a larger border) or 25% (if you aren’t confident about colour matching and/or don’t really know what you want to do for a border).

So take N by W, add 10%,  20% or 25% and then divide by the size (weight) of skeins/balls for the yarn you are using.

For my bright sample I had 49 motifs, each weighing an average of 20g – so 49 by 20 plus 10% is  1078g and the skeins come in 100g, so I need 10.78 – or 11.

The estimating works if you are using all the same yarn, if you use different brands of yarn then you should look carefully on the ball band to find out how many m or yd are in each brand – they vary quite a lot.  If yours vary, then you’ll have to do some more maths to work out your requirements.  Essentially you need to work out the meterage or yardage of your motif, rather than just the weight.  I’ll provide information on this in my Ravelry group here if you want it – so just join in the discussion and ask!

Now onto the pattern:

This is the first motif.  It is similar to one I used last year but this has more rounds in total, it’s a ‘solid’ granny square.

ABBREVIATIONS:

The pattern is written in English crochet terms.
St = stitch
Ch = chain
Tr = treble (US dc)
Ss = slip stitch
Sp = space
Ch-sp =chain space

Solid motif
Solid motif

I made 8 of these in a variety of colours:

Foundation:  Make a 4ch foundation ch and join into a ring with a ss

Round 1: 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), (3tr, 2ch) 3 times into the ring, 2tr into the ring, join to 3rd st of first 5ch with a ss.

Round 2: ss into 2ch-sp, (note for this and each subsequent round: this ss is to position the start of the round in the right place) 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), 2tr into the same 2ch-sp, 1tr into each tr along each side and (2tr, 2ch, 2tr) in each 2ch-sp on the corner, finish with 1tr in the first 2ch-sp where you started the round and join to 3rd ch from start with a ss. You should have 7tr along each side and 2ch in each corner of your motif.

Rounds 3 to 8: Repeat Round 2.  Each round the number of tr along each side will increase by 4, so at the end of Round 8 you should have 31tr along each side and 2ch in each corner of your motif.

Break yarn and fasten off leaving a long tail about 3m long for sewing or crocheting together later.

COLOUR

In my sample blanket I made 8 of these motifs in just one colour each.   But you can use up to 8 colours, just by changing colour at the start of each round.  I will start my CAL blanket later today and I’m planning on using at least 2 colours on each of my 8 motifs.  I’ll post progress photos tomorrow.

LAYOUT

The ‘solid’ motifs can be positioned anywhere in the blanket but I thought it would help to give structure to the blanket if I positioned them around the edge of it.  So here is where I put them in my blanket (shown as 1):

Solid motif locations
Solid motif locations

If you want to chat about this, there is a discussion thread on my Ravelry forum here.

Or you could just comment on this post.

I’m looking forward to seeing what yarns you choose 🙂

Until tomorrow…..

Happy crocheting xxx