As the UK starts its sixth week of lockdown, I thought it might be a good time to write about what I have been up to and share my ideas for getting through this tough time. Since we entered this isolated period, many people like me have turned to their crafts to keep themselves happy and busy, but others have struggled to find things to spark that urge to create. I’m not normally one for monogamous crafting and usually have quite a few things on the go, but I have started so many things over these past few weeks. If you are struggling to find that spark, I hope this post will give you an idea or two! Just to let you know, there are no affiliate links except the one to Bluprint. The others are just to Ravelry for the projects and to Wool Warehouse and Lincoln Woolpack for some yarn ideas. Now, this is a long one, so maybe grab a cuppa and let’s go!
Most of my projects are quite in-depth and complex, as these really help me to lose myself for a few hours. Many of my friends have gone the other way though; they are enjoying working on simple patterns with a repetitive stitch pattern, which they are finding very calming. The most popular project on my feeds that falls in to this category is the aptly named virus shawl and its sister, the virus blanket. This crochet pattern has a four round repeat and can be as big as you like. It’s also quite a yarn-eater, if you need to shrink that stash. I’d be tempted to start a blanket in either a variegated or a colour changing yarn for those nights in front of the TV.
The other popular pattern is of course the granny square blanket. Is there anything more calming, than the granny square? It’s so simple, and again can be made in any type of yarn, to any size you like. You can start in the centre and work outwards, or work in rows.
If these seem just a bit too repetitive for you, why not combine the two stitches, and make this blanket? It has rows of the virus pattern, then rows of granny square stitches. I think this would still make a great TV project.
My main project at the minute is the Baby Henry blanket, which I am doing in the voyage colourway in Scheepjes Catona; a beautiful cotton yarn. This pattern is made from three other patterns, two of which are paid; the Mandala no. 6 by CAROcreated and the Dandelion Border by Lilla Bjorn. The third part is one close to my heart and is the squaring up used in Sophie’s Universe. It’s just stunning. I’ve just completed part 5, so I still have a good way to go, but this project is one that requires all my concentration and a lot of counting. If you want to start this blanket, my tip is to read all the information, read each part before you start to make sure you are connecting your yarn in the correct stitch and count.
My second big project is the Karoo Vintage Mal which I have had on my wish list for ages. I’m a huge fan of Jen’s and she has so many beautiful, complex designs. For my Karoo, I wanted to use some colours I wouldn’t necessarily choose and I came across this vintage palette which looks so calming. I’m currently working on part 2 of this blanket and I am really enjoying the challenge.
The last big project in my rotation is all Instagram’s fault. This project was flooding my feed and I couldn’t resist. It’s a crochet-along, it’s weekly squares, it has travel connections, it’s perfect! I’m talking about the Vibrant Vintage Blanket by Cypress Textiles. Every week, two new squares are released, which are named after cities. In the blog posts are little facts about those places, which is such a lovely touch. I’m using my Catona minis for this too, so I will end up with a beautiful rainbow blanket. I did have to buy 14 skeins of the joining colour, but shhhhh, let’s not mention that. The squares are between 6 and 7 rounds each so don’t take too long to make. The weekly release means you make 7 squares; two each of the city squares and 3 simple granny squares. There’s also videos to help you if you are new to crochet, so this really is a great project for anyone.
Before we move on to something for you knitters out there, I just have to mention my smaller projects, both in size and scale. I always like to have a really complicated doily on the go, and this time I have picked Frida by Grace Fearon. I’m using Scheepjes Sugar Rush in Chrystaline; a beautiful icy blue-green.
I also have the Spice Market on the go, in the rosewater and cinnamon colourway using Sugar Rush threads again. This project is a nice in-between as it isn’t too complicated to work, but it’s not one with too many repetitive stitches. The designer, Mark, has also given other colour choices in different yarn sizes, so if you aren’t too keen on threads, or you like working with chunkier yarns, then there’s some ideas there for you too.
Right, let’s have a look at some ideas for you knitters, then we can talk a bit about things for our Tunisian crochet fans before looking at some different craft ideas.
My knitting friends are also split like the crocheters – some are throwing themselves into beautifully complex patterns while others are enjoying the simple pleasures of garter stitch. I’m sat in the middle. My current knitting project – and yes, I only have one going properly at the minute – is the Bollenstreek shawl, which has some simple stitches and some mosaic knitting with beads thrown in. I am using this beautifully soft Drops yarn in navy and ice blue and these size six beads from Jencel. I love this shawl, even if it does take me ages to add the beads and get across a row. It’s not a project I can do while watching anything or listening to podcasts though, as I then forget the yarn overs and having to tink this one is not so easy.
If you are wanting something easier to work on, then this blanket, which is just garter stitch might be for you. It can be used to finish off all those scraps, but remember, you will have ends to sew in!
If you aren’t feeling the increases in that blanket, how about knitting’s answer to the granny square? This ten-stitch blanket might suit you more and if you are unsure about how to get this started, Very Pink’s Staci has a fab tutorial just here. If you don’t want to knit in shapes, then Staci also has this lovely Log Cabin blanket which might tick the box.
I do have my eye on a couple of other patterns, but I need to up my colour game a little first. I just love the squares in the Sheiling pattern. They are just beautiful. I’m half Scottish and the thistle design just makes me happy and think of those summer spent in Scotland at my grandparents place.
This next design is breathtaking, it’s huge, it has steeks and needs about £200 worth of wool, so don’t say I didn’t warn you, but, if you are wanting a big project with a lot of colourwork, then this one might be right up there. Here is the Indian Nights Blanket. This is the blanket I am aiming for. It will be my knitted version of Sophie. My knitting go-to, Staci, also has a handy video for anyone wanting to learn about colourwork, but as I knit Portuguese style, I will be re-watching my courses in my Bluprint subscription.
I just wanted to chat a little about Tunisian crochet before we move on from yarn as I was gifted a lovely pattern by my friend Bruna. It’s a Tunisian crochet shawl and you can find the pattern on Ravelry. The Diamond River shawl has a lovely 10 row repeat and is fairly straightforward, once you know where your yarn overs are to work into! This took me a while, but as you are crocheting two together, the yarn over is diagonal, rather than straight down. Even though the repeats are 10 rows long, you can really get in the flow and this is one project I do like to do while listening to a podcast. I am using Drops Fabel in Deep Ocean and although it is not as soft as the Alpaca yarns, it has a nice variegation to show off the pattern. I will give it a good soak in conditioner though!
I will be adding another Tunisian project to my rotation soon though, as I also want to learn about colourwork in these patterns. There is a CAL called Aztec Dreams which uses two colours. I have a stack of aran yarn in a teal and a grey, so I think I will use those to have a go at this piece.
So after all that, what if nothing is taking your fancy and you are at a loose end? Let’s bead! I know I have written a post before about beading and you can read that here, so I won’t repeat myself too much. With beading, you can either weave, loom, or embroider and projects can be small or very complex. If you are reading this because you still can find anything yarny to entertain you, I’m going to presume you want to try something new. I really enjoyed making this herringbone stitch bracelet, following a tutorial by Jill Wiseman. If you want to use the same colours as me, then you can find them here, but both Stitch ‘n’ Craft and Jencel (my two main shops) have plenty of colours to choose from.
I have recently bought this beading loom too as I want to have a go at weaving on a loom and I like how this one is so wide. I have ordered some Toho beads to use though as the ones that come with this don’t look like enough to complete the pattern included – maybe there are, but I didn’t want to get most of the way done and have to use different beads. I also like Toho as they are quite uniform in size. If you are just wanting to weave a bracelet though, there are plenty for that in the pack and also some design paper to help you plan your pattern.
I’m also currently participating in a bead embroidery class which is a lot of fun. Unfortunately that class is full, but you can find a wealth of information on YouTube such as these by Manie Martinez or books on Amazon, like this one by Sherry Serafini. The possibilities with embroidery are endless, so I am not going to write much about that here now as it definitely needs a post to itself!
I hope this has been helpful and given you some new project ideas to try and if not, I hope you have enjoyed just reading and passing the time with me.
Stay happy and healthy and until next time,