Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Mum's Birthday Blanket

When Mum moved from SW Scotland to Aberdeenshire to live near me four years ago, I made her this shawl as a moving in gift. It's the Half Hansel Hap by Gudrun Johnston, knitted in light, but snuggly, alpaca.
Looks like Mum and I are in a contest to see who's wearing most of my knitting! She's winning with both a neck warmer and cardy made by me, as well as the hap.  I'm merely sporting one of my favourite shawls.  After Mum broke her hip in March, I came in one spring day to find her with the shawl over her knees for extra warmth - but a triangle, which is perfect around your shoulders, is a poor shape to wrap your legs in!  The seed for a lap blanket was sown - and I'd complete it in time for her Boxing Day birthday. 

I'd recently attended a mosaic crochet class taught by lovely, patient Fiona Meade at  Baa wool shop in Stonehaven and made this pencil case.  I even sewed in a lining (gasp!)
Pattern is Mosaic Purse by Tinna Thorudottir Thorvaldsdottir
So I was hopeful that the pattern for the Stained Glass Lantern by Tatsiana Kupryianchyk wasn't beyond my capabilities.  First I'd a practise with scrap yarn to master the stitches with help from the  pattern's clear photos.  I discovered that black was too dominant an edging for me, preferring to outline the colours with Stormy Grey from West Yorkshire Spinners instead.
The crocheted square really does resemble a stained glass window!  Stained glass also gave me inspiration for my colour choices.  I'd remembered taking a photo of this lovely panel at Blairs College Museum on a visit with Mum in 2018.

And I see this beautiful window at Meldrum Church each Sunday sitting beside Mum.  
Vivid emerald greens, rich royal blues, purplish pinks and vibrant lime and gold outlined in a dark neutral were in my mind.  Now to source those colours.
I had some treasured single skeins of double knit merino purchased at various yarn shows and pop-up events.  This golden lime from Nic of  Cheshire based Yarns From The Plain is right up my street as you can probably tell by my outfit!  So are the greens from Claire at Cookston Crafts and Naomi of Knit Me Sane, both skilled Scottish hand dyers whose yarns I know and love.

Previous blog posts feature my friend Helen of Ripples Crafts.  I'd leftover yarn of Helen's from a wine coloured cardigan I made in 2016 and the blue Channa sweater I made last spring, probably my favourite knitted jumper.
The pink lace is also yarn dyed by Helen which I made into this cowl, together with some luscious variegated Hedgehog Fibres I bought at Knit With Attitude on a trip to London a while back.  But the cowl wasn't really me, I never wore it so I ripped it out and freed up two more beautiful skeins to use in Mum's blanket.
Armed with the seven colours I needed for the different rounds, I started to crochet in July last year.  Recognising my crafting strengths (and weaknesses!) was going to be key to the squares becoming a finished blanket by Mum's birthday or an ignored pile of reproachful pieces.  I admire crocheters and knitters who complete gargantuan afghans where the pattern states after square one 'now complete 127 more' or suchlike.  I know this isn't me.  I'd make a few and lose interest at the distance I'd feel away from the finished blanket, no matter how much I loved it in the first place.  I needed to set myself an achievable goal - and that was to make two squares every month.  
So I stuck with my plan and crocheted two squares each month in July, August and September.  I even managed three the following month.  I varied the order in which I used the colours making each square different from its neighbour.  This progress shot, featuring my matchy-matchy slippers, is from the end of October by which time I'd just three squares to go, feeling a 3 x 4 blanket would be large enough to cover Mum's knees without being too heavy.
To maintain my crochet motivation, I also joined a CAL.  What?  A CAL.  Short for Crochet A-Long.  The wider world of crochet, and making of all kinds, accessible through social media, is largely a welcoming, sharing space.  Marta, of the Martushka Knits Podcast, established a make-a-long for crocheted blankets last April.  In her words 'Crocheting a blanket can be a long, lonely journey but it doesn’t need to be' so she established Crochet From Your Heart online through Instagram and Ravelry (a web based community for those of us who enjoy fibre crafts).  I enjoyed sharing my progress and seeing everyone else's blankets, cheering others on and being cheered on myself.  I was even lucky enough to win this prize in a 'Crochet From Your Heart 'giveaway!
By mid December, all the squares were complete and I was crocheting them together and finishing off the border.  I added a few more rounds than the pattern stated as I liked the effect the edge stitch created, especially in the multicoloured Hedgehog Fibres Dragonfly yarn.
And it was all wrapped and ready, in good time for Boxing Day.

Makes me so happy to see the blanket in use, along with the shawl, keeping Mum cosy, wrapped up in my hand made presents.



  1. The blanket you made for your Mum is stunning! I didn't realise how big the squares were until I reached the end of your post! You are an amazing knitter and crocheter. I really enjoy following your blog! Axx

  2. Just beautiful. A blanket to warm the heart as well as the knees! Beautiful colour choices as always Claire x


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