I have lots of hobbies, one of which is crocheting. I don’t do a lot of it, mostly only when the weather is cool, and most of the things I have made over the years have been baby blankets for our children. I am FAR from being great at crocheting, but I keep plucking away at it, and little by little I improve. Several years ago, my mom had told me that she missed having a crocheted afghan around the house, and had suggested that perhaps someday I could make one for her. As I said, my skills are not anything to brag about, so I hesitated to get started. I told her that if she found a design she liked and let me know what kinds of colors she would like, I could make her one eventually.
It took her until about a year ago to find something that she liked well enough to point out. Both she and I feel a little particular about crocheted items. If I’m going to be honest, I would prefer to knit, but I’m just not very good at that, and I haven’t taken the time to improve on it yet. I’ve figured out that it is of course, all about your design, the stitches you use, and the colors…those factors will make or break a project. Around the same time, she and I both came across some images of crocheted plaid on Pinterest. It really stuck out to us as being a unique crocheting project, but something that is kind of timeless. The pattern she showed me was called MacKenzie, and this is the color palette she chose.
It took me several months to even start to think about actually getting started on her blanket. I was finishing off the blanket I had made for E, and if I was going to do a plaid, I needed some practice before I felt comfortable committing to such a big project. With the left over yarn from E’s blanket, I made a little sample blanket that I sometimes stick into his car seat with him. My sample didn’t take terribly long, and I got the gist of what I needed to do. I was able to find a pattern for how to crochet a plaid blanket here, but I used it more as a basic guideline and ended up figuring out what I would need to do to make the specific pattern that I wanted.
If you aren’t familiar with true plaid, the Scottish have their tartans that represent their clans. Each tartan has a specific pattern that it uses, along with a specific set of colors. As I said before the pattern was called MacKenzie, which would be the clan that the specific pattern represented, but I chose to swap out the colors they used for the ones in the palette my mom picked out.
It took me about 6 months to make the whole blanket for my mom, which sort of sounds like a lot, and it is, but I really only worked on it at night for an hour or two at a time, and not every single night. There were many, many, many hours put into the blanket, and a whole lot of yarn. I know a lot of people who say they have never been fond of crocheted items because the yarn was scratchy or because there are big holes in the piece that they remember most. I felt the same way too, but nowadays the synthetics are easy to find in a really soft form. Usually the yarn has “soft” somewhere in the product name which is a dead giveaway (if you were wondering). As for the large holes, it all depends on what kinds of stitching you do. My projects are usually very tight, and therefore warm and heavy…I’ll do a single or a half-double crochet, but that’s about it. The plaid afghan starts as a mesh base with lots of holes, but then you weave chains into the work, filling the gaps. Could your fingers or toes still get caught? Sure, but it’s not like when there are really large holes.
I tried finishing the blanket for Christmas, but we had so many other things to get done that I had to put it off. She has a February birthday, and well over a week ahead of time I was able to get the blanket done (which is a pretty big deal for me)! I was really excited to give it to her and also really nervous. The colors of yarn I ended up picking up were not exact to what she had in her sample, but pretty close. I wanted to go with that dustier look, but I could only find their slightly brighter counterparts, and it worked with some of the colors my dad likes, so I figured I would be alright.
I’m happy to say that she really liked the end results. I admit that while I was creating the mesh “fabric” of the blanket, I was extremely nervous. The mesh is just a series of rows, and I knew that the colors I had picked would look better woven together than just on their own, but that set of rows didn’t look great to me. As I started to weave in the chains, it started to come together nicely, and my fears disappeared.
The only issue I ran into while making the blanket is that for my first few rows of mesh, I didn’t line up my stitches exactly right because I hadn’t understood the pattern I was referencing, so my stitches were off a little and where the chains weave in that section, they get a little wavy. I also ended up with a few too many mesh holes in those spaces, so I had to occasionally skip a space, but it’s not terribly noticeable.
If you look in the background, you can see that the blanket is close in size to the love-seat, and the pillow on the floor is about an 18″x 18″ pillow. I wanted it to be large enough to really cover up with. The blanket could have been square, but I made the mesh base longer than it needed to be, so the pattern started to reverse itself at some point. There is a thin light purple line that runs through the middle of the blanket horizontally, and another one offset to the right of the picture. Where the two meet is the “middle” of my pattern, if that makes any sense. When I made the blanket, I didn’t follow the pattern I linked above, but used it as a guide, so I had to guess at how big I wanted it to be, and hope that I was close to right on how much the pattern would present itself in the end product. I was looking for one full, complete block of the pattern, and I figured possibly another half of the block in one direction. I was pretty close to that block and a half. If you are interested in knowing more of the specifics how I made the blanket, feel free to ask, and I can send you more of a “pattern” for it.
It was fun to be able to make a blanket for my mom for once. She’s a quilter, so she makes blankets for all of her children, grandchildren, for her house, and for lots and lots of other people. She tells me that her blanket is nice and warm, and just the right size for snuggling up with…not too big at all 🙂 Scott was glad when I was finished with the blanket because during the process of making all of those chains for weaving, I had to count to 290 every single time (I think there are something like 200 chains woven into the blanket), and if I lost count, I had to go back and count my stitches. I could not talk while doing the counting. We could only watch TV or movies that didn’t require my full attention.
I’m working on a very different crocheted blanket for myself right now, and at some point I think I want to make a gingham blanket using this same weaving concept, and Scott says I’ll have to make one for him pretty soon because he’s the only one in our house I haven’t made one for yet (well, me too, but I’m working on one for me)!
Do any of you crochet? Have you tried the plaid crochet yet? Or are you more of a knitter or a quilter?