So there is a lovely lady called Sue who asks people to send her 6″ x 6″ knitted or crocheted squares. She then takes a stack of 25 squares and crochets them together into a blanket, which is then donated to an elderly person in need of protection from the cold. This is all done under the banner of SIBOL or “Sunshine International Blankets of Love”.
Anyway, she sets up challenges for people to submit squares fulfilling a certain description, and one of her latest ones is a “Your Local Landscape” challenge, intended for submission at the Jersey Textile Showcase 2012 where it will be auctioned off in aid of Mencap.
I eventually decided I’d give it a go last Tuesday, after it seemed like there weren’t many people going for this challenge. Looking through photos from the past year, the one Rob took below struck me as a good one to turn into a square:
Not too complicated, and also using colours I have quite a lot of in my stash (if you ever wondered what my favourite colour is, well, now you know, although I really love it combined with blue as well). It’s from when Rob and I went to our friends’ combined hen and stag camping party, based at Rocks East Woodland in Ashwicke near Bath. On the morning after, we all went on a walk in the woods nearby which are full of interesting sculptures, follies, ponds and glades, and that’s where the photo was taken.
Next step, work out how many stitches and rows I’d need. I decided to use two strands of double knit weight acrylic (dark green and white) to represent the wild garlic in flower. I chained until I reached 6″ (25 stitches) and then did 6 rows of double crochet, basically until I thought I would need to start changing colours. This created a 6″ x 1.5″ rectangle, so I surmised that 24 rows would be needed.
Following that, I needed to work out how to represent the bridge and the different areas of green. Using Excel, I made up the stitch chart shown below:
The eagle eyed among you will notice that there are 25 rows charted instead of 24. That’s because when I measured the square after completing the 24th row, it was about 5.75″, so one more row was required.
Finally, to bring in all the different yarn colours required to make the different shades along one row, I looked up “colour work crochet” and learnt about something called “tapestry crochet“. This basically involves carrying unused yarns inside the row until they’re needed, crocheting over them to hide them. If I was doing this properly, I’d have carried all my yarns, but because I was using two strands of different coloured yarn at a time there were so many yarns required I ended up ejecting some yarns out the side of the row when they were no longer needed, and then picking them back up from the next row as required. This had the undesirable effect of covering over some of the stitches at the colour change boundary, but I managed to offset this when darning in the yarn ends. I think next time I’ll just use single strands of variegated yarn to get a dappled effect!
Five different yarns were used, as seen below. And yes, those are all attached to that on bit of crochet in the middle, some of them twice (I cut off a few long pieces of yarn so I could have two sections of that colour in different positions without carrying them across the whole row, notably with the grey when doing the bridge supports as it was a much darker colour and liable to show between stitches when carried).
Although the photo shows them all looking very neatly laid out, that’s because I’d spent the previous 10 minutes untangling them whilst on the phone to my Mum. Every time you get to a new row, you turn the crochet around, and this results in a horrible mess after a few rows. The next photo shows a strand of white yarn being carried inside a row of double crochet.
So, after spending two evenings crocheting (around food shopping, cooking epic meals and accompanying a choir practise) I had the following thing by 2am on Friday morning:
Rotated by 90 degrees, it somewhat resembles the flying spaghetti monster. SO. MANY. ENDS.
I then spent all of my lunch break, plus the odd 5 mins here and there when getting cups of tea etc. darning in all those ends. 24 in total. TWENTY FOUR! It took ages! However, once darned, it was deemed complete! So, to the square! Wrong side first.
And then it toddled off in the post to Sue at SIBOL, who received it on Friday afternoon and wrote a lovely blog post about it here. :) I’m really chuffed with my square. Ok, it’s far from perfect, but I think it’s grand for a first attempt. I’ve also joined a “Block-A-Month Crochet-A-Long” group on Ravelry where people try to make a block a month to a supplied 12″ or 6″ pattern, so hopefully I’ll get more practise at squares over the coming year. The plan is to keep the 12″ ones for myself, and send the 6″ ones to SIBOL. I might have a blanket to show you in a year’s time! :D