Monday, June 1, 2015

Becoming my mother, one stitch at a time

So a few weeks ago I was feeling down.  Stressed about money and food and the things that stress out women my age, and above, and below. 

I'm not sure what made me think of it, but I decided I wanted to learn to crochet or knit.  My mom used to do it.  I have very vivid memories of crocheted blankets on the couch and my mother often sitting with her basket of yarn and her fingers working the needle so fast.  She tried to teach me, at least once, or probably twice growing up- but it didn't take.  I never got past the second row.  Tension problems and I would get frustrated and give up. 

My mother of course can crank out a blanket in a day.  To be honest, it may be TWO days, but it felt like a day.  I was always kind of in awe of that.

I have a blanket that my mother made for me when I was younger.  She made blankets for all of us kids.  I don't know if she ever actually finished mine, but when I moved out- I took it with me.  It's lots of colored squares.  Maybe 3x3.  Probably took forever to make.  The center is 4 squares, surrounded by a different color squares, surrounded by different color.... around and around.  It's huge, and very warm and very colorful.  I think it's missing half a side of the final color, but you couldn't tell cause there's so much color.  It's always been special to me, because she made it.  For me. 

I remember now.  My daughter graduated from college last month, and she will get getting a job and her own apartment soon.  I wanted to give her something for her new place.  Something special from me.  I purchased some yarn for my first project, which I decided would be a blanket for SR, and I set out to you tube to find what I wanted to make. 

I found this blanket on Pinterest, and the webpage had the pattern, which is really really easy.  Single crochets forever.  I started and then stopped and unraveled, because I didn't know what a single stitch WAS apparently, then I started again.  I used black, purple and white.  I ran into a few snags, no pun intended.  For one, I made it incredible wide.  Measuring the first chain is not an accurate idea of what it will be once you get the first few rows on.  So I turned it and instead of working top to bottom, I was working sideways.  Also, it's incredibly easy to add stitches on the ends, or drop them off.  If you look at the finished blanket, I'd say the 8 rows, you can see that it started even wider than it ended up.  the "width" issue turned out to be ok, because that width is perfect to wrap completely around SR's shoulders. 

I'm not a huge fan of the granny squares with the flowers.  Nor do I like a lot of holes in the blankets because your toes get stuck.  Nice thick blankets, that's what I like. 

A great thing about this pattern is that it's pretty forgiving.  If there are mistakes within, you can't really see them because with the colors, there's a lot going on.   This is how it turned out. 


Not bad huh???

I have started the blanket for my daughter.  That one also had a few stops and starts for various reasons.  I'm back on it now, and I have learned a few lessons for myself.

1.  Have enough yarn when you start.  The store, or a FEW stores may not have the yarn or the color when you go back.  And if you DO have to go back for more, make sure you know the color or have a piece with you.  What looks like the same shade of blue, may not be- trust me. 

2. Buy it on sale.  Its not TERRIBLY expensive, but the blanket above used 15 skeins of yarn.  Purchased with coupons it was only about $2 per skein, but without it would have been closer to $3.

3.  For me, single strands of yarn and a small hook does not build your fabric very fast.  If you are an "instant gratification" person, using 3 strands of yarn, or thicker yarn makes it go much faster.  Also the larger crochet hooks are easy for me to use. 

4. Learn the lingo.  There are a TON of free patterns out there, not just on you tube, but one websites for the yarn companies as well as the people who make the stuff.  So being able to read a pattern is helpful.

5. Practice.  A lot of the YouTube videos will walk you through it.  Seriously, "Now finish this row and meet me back here" so you pause the video- finish your row- hit play, and move along.  YouTube is really a great thing.  Work on the first few rows again and again.  Tension is a bitch- a really vengeful and pretty unforgiving bitch.  Look back on every row and if it's too tight or too loose, unravel and do it again.   

I am not jinxing anything by posting any pictures of the new blanket I started for my daughter.  It's been a crazy start and stop and start again process and in the end I was.... resentful... of the blanket and frustrated by my mistakes.  I really want to make it with love and all that.  I didn't want to pour frustration in every stitch, I feel like she would KNOW.  So I started something new that I'm pleased with.  I'm taking my time and really enjoying the process.

And yes, I will be making blankets for each of my kids.  I want them to have something special that I made for them.  Like my mom did for me. 

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