Playing 

These unruly piles of crochet blocks have grown without a real plan. I selected a bag of leftover balls of Stylecraft DK and started to play with stripes and blocks of colours. I would love to buy a few of these colours again, to carry on with a proper plan in mind but this would be against the rules. I have full balls of DK, chunky, sock and 4 ply yarns of various quality yarns, after they’re used up I want to go back to only buying specific yarn,for specific projects. I didn’t go to any wool shows or festivals this year, because simply put: I don’t need anymore yarn.

This week I’m listening to A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon. I’m enjoying the concept of keeping only one hundred personal items and discarding the rest. It’s an interesting way of structuring the story, while revealing more about the main characters, as Gina sorts through boxes of her possessions following a life changing event.

I’m joining Ginny’s Yarn Along once again.

Save

The Unnamed Ripple

 I’m picking this up every now and then, to add a row or so. It’s undemanding and relaxing crochet. I think this is why I like ripple blankets so much; they’re easy and there aren’t a crazy number of ends, like you get with multi-coloured motifs.  

To choose the colours I laid out a selection of swatches I’ve made up. I chose mainly greys, purples, blues, pinks and a couple of greens. I don’t follow rules or use a colour wheel; I just instinctively choose what I like and discard what doesn’t work. Sometimes advice about selecting colours can make it sound like a dry and humourless business, though I appreciate everyone’s approach will be different. 

The process took me about 3 minutes. I wondered about adding 2 other colours over the weekend, but have decided against them.  

Stylecraft Special DK:

1.plum

2.parma violet

3.emperor

4.grey

5.silver

6.sage

7.lavender

8.grape 

I still can’t think of the right name for this blanket. I’ve just asked for suggestions here and had “Benjamin”. Brian the V Stitch scarf was one thing, but this is not going to be called Benjamin! 

Spice of Life Blanket II



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are very Wintery low light levels at the moment, which means the photos are a little muted; so you need to imagine this blanket as even brighter!

It is finished! We’ve celebrated late-Christmas with my cousin and family this weekend and she loves the blanket. I’m so pleased.

So yes, the colours; you definitely won’t have seen this combination together here before, though I have used them all in other makes.

  
My cousin loves Emma Bridgewater china and these are the designs she wanted me to use as a basis for colour selection, but with the specific proviso that there be ‘Space Hopper’ orange because she loves it. Plus cream, lavender and a bright yellow. Eek! This was really out of my colour comfort zone, but actually as the blanket came together they seemed to work together more, the Mister says it’s quite Aztec-y. I’ll take his word for it.

Pattern links and details about how to make a Spice of Life blanket are here on the designer Sandra Paul’s Cherry Heart blog.

Hooks: I used 4mm, 4.5mm and 3mm again, see my first blanket post for information.

Starting chain: 195, stitch count 193

Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK

  1. Meadow 2. Emperor 3. Lavender 4. Saffron 5. Spice 6. Cream 7. Plum (used for the border too)

Weighs: 675g

Size: 3′ 6″ or 42″. This one’s smaller than my first blanket, it’s more of a lap blanket. 

I’m glad it’s done, the multi-stitch blankets are interesting to crochet and the variety of stitches make them really pretty, but oh all the ends!

And now I’m on to a little bit of knitting…more about that tomorrow.

 

2015

It’s that time again; the last day of another year. Are they flying past, or is it just me?

I can’t believe that today is my blog’s fourth birthday! I didn’t have a long-term plan when I started this; it was simply to record my makes as I learnt to crochet. I haven’t had to make myself carry on, or set up a blogging timetable, it’s just happened organically. Admittedly joining in more regularly with the weekly Yarn Along and Taking Stock posts, every month, has helped to keep to keep the ball rolling lately; as I’ve had little new to show, with bigger projects taking time to complete.

2015 really did turn into the Year of the Blankets, despite the fact I’m sure I’d resolved not to make many. I wanted to learn some new skills, make some small things and get my sewing machine out again. I can see a 16 for 2016 list happening…

Here are some of my favourite makes and highlights of the year:

I’ve just had a little look at my previous end of year galleries in 2012 2013 and 2014. 2012 was a busy year for the country with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics. Looking back has reminded me of my 200 Blocks CAL. I was still very much a novice crocheter and learnt much more through organising and taking part in the CAL. If you’re fairly new to crochet then I’d really recommend working through a book of crochet blocks. It gave lots of us a really good grounding in reading patterns, trying new stitches and experimenting with colour combinations.

Thank you for reading and for your comments over the last year. Have a very Happy New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, wherever you are in the world.

Spice of Life CAL blanket finished!

   

    Two finished items in a week feels good! One more to go…

I sat and crocheted the rest of the border yesterday, darned the two ends (hurrah for a single colour border!) and did a happy dance. It’s a simple little border which I think is perfect for such a busy blanket. 

It’s not completely ruler straight, but actually the sides are not half as wiggly as I feared; the border really seems to sort it out. I expected a serious blocking session, but there’s really no need.

I’ve just realised I didn’t post my Stylecraft Special Dk colour choices for part 5, so I’ll do that now and for my repeats as I choose to make a larger blanket. Here are the pattern posts by Sandra of Cherry Heart blog in case you now fancy crocheting a Spice of Life blanket too.

Part 5 – repeating some rows

Stacked Grannies: stone, clematis, raspberry, silver

Trebles: Storm blue

Big Zipper: parchment, denim 

Trebles: Parma violet

Stacked Shells: grape, grey x2, sage x2, lavender x2, stone, silver

Fill the Gap: clematis, grey,raspberry,silver,denim,sage x2

Tulips: (I accidentally missed row 1- trebles) grape, stone, parma violet

Trebles: parchment

Waves: storm blue, raspberry

Trebles: grey

Puffs: silver, lavender, clematis, stone

Trebles: (remember no row 8 for repeats in pattern) grape, denim x2

Grannies: sage, silver and repeat

Trebles: lavender, stone, raspberry, grey, storm blue

My choice of repeats

Stacked Grannies: silver, grape and repeat 

Trebles: Parma violet x2

Big Zipper: clematis x2, parchment x2

Trebles: grape x2

Border: (design as written in the pattern) silver 

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Yarn: One of each of Stylecraft Special DK: parchment, clematis, grey, denim, silver (2 as it’s also for the border), lime, storm blue, stone, grape, sage, parma violet, lavender, raspberry 

Hook sizes: I swapped to 4.5 mm for stacked shells and the DC rows. You’ll have to experiment and see how your tension is coming out for the tighter stitches. I always used a 4mm for treble rows. For the border set up row I used a 3mm as I just found it easier to use when crocheting into the middle of the stitches. I aimed to pick up 2 strands on my hook, leaving 1 behind. It looks fair less gappy than crocheting over the end stitch, though it is a fiddle.

Starting chain: 217 (a multiple of 12 + 1) I aimed for a square 4’x4′ blanket for snuggling in on cold evenings.

Size: 4′ X 4′ before border. Border is approx an inch.

Weight: 850g approx

~~~~

 And now onwards with another blanket which is half finished. It was requested by my cousin for Christmas. That’s one never-seen-here-before colour combination, just you wait…

Spice of Life CAL part 4

   
    
 
This was my favourite week so far, in terms of the pattern, but I might have said that last week? If I did then it’s no bad thing; as it obviously means my enjoyment is increasing, not waning!

My colours:

Fill the gap: parchment, storm blue (love it!) denim, grape

Trebles: grey, silver 

Tulips: sage x2, clematis, stone

Trebles: raspberry x2

Waves: Parma violet, lavender, grey

Puffs: Storm blue, grape, denim, sage

Trebles: silver, grape x2, parchment  

There have been so many ‘I’m really glad the puffs are done’ and ‘I hated the puffs’ comments on the Facebook group page that even I was feeling a bit apprehensive about them. And I don’t usually get in a state about crochet. I haven’t done any puff stitches for ages, but actually they’re fine! As with lots of the stitches I thought might need to be looser, I used my 4.5mm hook. I ended up quite enjoying them, but have to say that they are definitely yarn eaters. 

I’m tempted to crop the second photo so you can’t see the ends that crept into the frame, but I’ll fess up here and now that I haven’t darned a single one yet. My excuse reason is that I’ll probably need to steam block again, when the blanket’s finished, and  don’t want my neatly darned threads popping out when it’s pinned out.

Phew now that’s off my chest I shall sleep easier. Ha! 

Spice of Life CAL part 3

   
    
 It took me a while to get around to part 3 of the pattern (actually part 2; as part 1 was initial info on the CAL. I do think it would have made it easier all round to call that week 0, but there we are) as I developed a stonking cold last week. I’m still coughing and rattling around, but at least my brain is working again. 

I really enjoyed doing this week’s pattern, there was a good variety of stitches.  The rows of V stitch are so preety!

I know there’s at least one person copying my colour choices so here are last week’s:

Stacked Grannies: storm blue, parchment and repeat once again

Trebles: grape x2

Big Zipper: parma violet x2, grey x2

Trebles: denim x2

Stacked Shells: silver, stone, sage, clematis

Trebles:parma violet, lavender    

2 minutes after publishing: Oh dear I don’t think my brain is working that well after all since I’ve forgotten to say that I’m in the process of steam blocking the ends! I’ve left it pinned on the ironing board to dry while I write. My tension must have been a little tighter than the rest after the shell rows. I know others in the Spice of Life  Facebook group (now with over 4K members!) have found the same, so it’s one of those things with this type of row. It’s harder than than you realise to crochet a lot looser than usual.  

6 hours after publishing: Working on the next part today I’ve gone up a hook size from 4mm to 4.5mm for some of the tighter rows. It’s sorted the tension issue and so there will be no more steam blocking each week …hurrah! Just trying to crochet looser would be hard to do. I think it might well result in inconsistent stitches overall. By changing hooks back and forth I think I’ve cracked it. 

Progress being made

  In a way I’m quite pleased the temperatures have dropped to a more typical Springtime coolness. I’ve been quite content to snuggle in my poncho and listen to my current audio book; the very enjoyable ‘Various Pets Alive and Dead’ by Marina Lewycka (stories about a commune called Solidarity Hall up in the North in the late 1960s, read by the excellent Sian Thomas? Oh yes please!) and darn more of my JAYGO ends.

And also in these chillier evenings some more bright striping…

   With some blogs you could be shown a series of photos, without knowing whose they are, and you would instantly know. So many people have favourite colour combos that they use again and again, which are especially recognisable now I’ve followed them for the last 4 – 5 years. But look at these 3 and would you guess it’s me? Admittedly the motif blanket’s colours have been chosen by another, but I’ve realised that since I’ve learnt to crochet I’ve used all kinds of combos and single shades without settling for one over and over again….yet…

What does this (bank holiday) weekend offer?

Throw another one in the basket

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Friday night’s been G&T time for a long, long time but nowadays Friday night is cocktail night. This week it was mojitos. Mmmmm. I might do a cocktail post of my faves, with recipes sometime. I keep sorely trying someone’s patience while I photograph them before drinking commences!

Fresh juicy cherries and crochet go well.

My Japanese steel snips are incredibly sharp; I have to take care around these. So much faster than grappling for scissors can be, they slide into a plastic cover when not in use. It’s a good job as even the ends are razor-sharp. They were a gift from a posh shop which sells household goods.

I can’t believe how many half completed motifs I’ve done, already. I edge a diddy little middle with a second round and throw it into the basket I rescued from a friend’s jumble sale bag. One (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure.

It’s nearly time to edge some with the third row and join while crocheting the fourth. I’m looking forward to placing the colours and seeing how the overall effect works. It’s definitely a different sort of palate for me.

….Oh and oh yes…the ends. Well I just read Heather’s thoughts about darning, rather than crocheting over them, and realised she’s a kindred spirit in this respect. I groan about them a bit and resolve to tackle the ends as I go but rarely do; getting absorbed in the act of creating. Select the colour, crochet the round, snip the tail, throw the motif into the basket and onto the next. Usually I darn them listening to an audio book, or semi watching a film and find it a soothing activity in itself. This weekend’s film was one I seem to have missed at the time. I really enjoyed the undemanding, sweet, sometimes funny, little story.

What are you up to at the moment?

Lots of pretties

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Choosing a range of Stylecraft colours for my next make – a crochet blanket. The colour scheme needs to complement some William Morris fabric. I’m enjoying selecting them as they’re a new combination. You might be able to see my light ticks on the colour chart if you look closely, or enlarge the pic.
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A lovely post-Sunday lunch was spent in this garden yesterday, sitting in the sun flicking through magazines and chatting. We make the most of the weather when it’s sunny. The cottage garden style border is poised to break into an abundance of colour.

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Twinkling and sparkling this huge sign is pretty, it’s on the front of the Selfridges store, London. Many were taking photos with themselves in front. I enjoy having strangers hand me their iPhone so I can take their photo. It happens a lot. A lot. I must look so trustworthy (or maybe like I’m not going to be running anywhere fast), this always amuses me.

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My beautiful bouquet of flowers. Stocks and freesias scent the air.

If you fancy a very slow, beautifully shot film, directed by Jane Campion, which features Love, sewing, fancy dresses and bonnets, Love and plenty of romantic poetry from the young Love struck Keats then watch Bright Star. Even the slight twang of antipodean accents at times (aiming for English) can be forgiven.

Soothing Granny Squares

After a really really frustrating week, craft wise, with faulty knitting needles, the wrong size cables for my new KnitPro Symfonie interchangeable needle set (bought with my crochet commission ) and a pattern I can’t seem to get to grips with (does it work for lefties???? Is it me???? I’ve turned to the designer for help and will hopefully see what’s the issue next week) I’ve turned to my soothing easy-to-do-with-your-eyes-closed (I’ve tried) huge granny squares.

I’ve just arrived at a hotel and am in the room waiting for my weekend with the girls to begin. Roll on wine, chocolate etc as well as some longish bracing seaside walks, we hope! Meanwhile I thought I’d show you how my huge Granny Squares are going along. Last night I crocheted the rest of the squares’ centres as it feels downhill from there if you know you have all the pieces in progress. It works for me anyway.

I like these cheery squares but have to admit that I feel I’ve used this combination of colours enough now; which is why I wanted to use up my leftovers and move on to others in the future.

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20131129-151103.jpgThe number of times I’ve changed the title of this post is laughable – Granny love – sounds a bit dodgy to me today, Granny therapy – err no, Soothing Huge Grannies – hmmmm not! Think I might need the clarity a glass or two of wine will bring…

Have a fun weekend all. See you on the other side!

Besides the blocks

I’m busy crocheting a stripe or two at a sitting in the evenings on Rainbow Granny Stripe blanket #2 at the moment for Sunflower-head’s 6th birthday in December.

The first Rainbow Granny Stripe has been on red spotty sunflower-head’s bed, along with the Blooming Flower cushion, since they were given to her for her 4th birthday at the end of August.


I had a really sweet surprise parcel in the post yesterday, from New Hampshire in the USA. It was my first crochet murder mystery (!) and lots of bookmarks, labels, crochet and knitting patterns. Nice post is always, always, wecome!
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::No sunflowers were exactly harmed in the making of this blog post, although sawn off, the heads are being carefully dried and the seeds kept for next summer.

WAtchThiS spACE foR aNOthER FINisheD BLANkeT soON!

Week 2: CAL Blocks #4 #5 #6 #169(!)

#4 Bobble Diamond
I’m pleased that I found bobbles so easy after my concern that I’d struggle. They are a piece of cake! As I said before; I checked The Harmony Guide and did a chain after each bobble to secure them.

So easy in fact that I made another! (They curl a bit at the top right and bottom left corners so I pinned them to the carpet to photograph. Anyone else have curly bobble diamond blocks?!

#5 Twin Stripes
It’s crucial to get the very end stitches of the foundation row right otherwise row 1 is completely off-kilter!

#6 Textured Bluebells
I like this one a lot, I think the DBBC colour fits the name and pattern perfectly.

And uh-hum *cough cough*

#169 Interlocking Stripes
I just wanted to see how my Debbie Bliss colours, well 8/9 of them anyway, look together. I decided there’s something missing and bought number 10 yesterday. All will be revealed soon!

A word for the future – this is a ‘darn heavy’ block (whichever method you prefer, mine’s sewing at the end of the block.)

Have you noticed that I’ve stuck to my CAL Resolution? So far so good anyway…..

I’m going for a little wander round blogland now to see how others are getting on, there are also some fab pictures on Ravelry and more being being added to the group’s projects page all the time.

This is fun! Week 3 here we come. :-D

Naughty wool shopping

Tuesday: I’m a terrible shopper, a classic browser who can spend hours in shops looking, touching and picking things up, even restacking and neatening displays, but I’m not actually any good at buying most of the time. Often when I go clothes shoppping I return home with multi-packs of socks. At least now they’re stripey or spotty colourful socks; not the terminal black packs I always, always bought during my non-craft decade.

This afternoon I deliberately left my yarn shopping at Mason’s till the last ten minutes before the shop closed so I would be forced to make a decision under serious time pressure. Well technically it was that, and leaving home late due to the fact that I wanted to finish last month’s Mollie Makes in the bath before moving on to the new issue. The first of my year’s birthday subscription plopped onto the doormat this morning. Ya-hoo! I know I’m very easily pleased: Mollie Makes, a hook and some socks and I’m happy.

There is a LOT more wool/yarn than this, plus fabrics and haberdashery (and two more shops in the town) but I still take very surreptitious photos in shops. It is a tad embarrassing but I thought some of you might want to see what the shop looks like since I know they send international orders.

So what I’m leading up to is that I’ve bought yarn. Better than that I’ve bought wool, proper grown up sophisticated posh wool, Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino. If it’s good enough for the Queen of Crochet Blogs (you know….) then it’s more than good enough for me. I’ve really only ever crocheted with 100% acrylic. I am a fan of the Stylecraft Special DK but seriously wanted to try something different.

It is pricey but it’s gorgeous. I adore the range of colours. I want to put it on my face and leave it there it’s so soft. I also think it’s going to produce a nice sized block for my CAL though unlike serious, sensible crocheters I haven’t been swatching. My approach is to crochet and accept whatever block appears. I’m definitely not working out yarn quantities ahead either, yikes that could end up being scary given I’ve spent lots of pennies. “Look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves” I’m choosing to think about the pennies and not the pounds in this case.

I’ve chosen a starter range of colours for my initial blocks that are inspired by my memories of our cottage garden style flower beds which were in my childhood garden here in England. I remember red-hot pokers, lupins and delphiniams, plus marigolds, little flowers called pinks, moon-daisies and iris and….

I might add some light pink and maybe a splash of yellow, but I know that I want oranges, purples, some deep dark and bright colours. So that’s everything I suppose, but no neutrals.

I’ve started putting a Cottage Garden board together on Pinterest if you need any pretty pictures to look at for inspiration. It’s a work in progress as I’m still finding my way round the site.

Thursday: I could say I’ve done a swatch, deciding to make a sample and be a sensible crocheter, or I could say I couldn’t wait and I crocheted the first two blocks. (More about that later.) Either way I’ve made a decision about the yarn I’m going to use….

…Any ideas for what I can make with softer than clouds DB baby cashmerino?

DoNT sAy a BlaNKet!!!

Prachi’s bag

Backdated crochet post for good reason, it was a surprise for Prachi:

In the first week of July, or so, I made this little crocheted bag using Planet Penny cotton because I have a contact, Prachi, who is a trainee lawyer. She had recently moved to a remote, tribal district in Gujarat, India as part of a new job. The place she moved to lacks basic facilities (apparently running water is a luxury) and it’s very different from the city life to which she is used. Prachi had found a small, cosy place in which to live but was feeling very lonely. She was trying to make her new accommodation a home and really likes handmade items; and so I offered to crochet something of her choice.

After having a look at some of my crochet here she asked for a bag with a few specific requests:

::Could it be ‘holey look’ crochet

::A bag about the size of a kindle would be perfect

::Something she could sling across her on walks

::A bag to carry her wallet, mobile phone and keys (so not too holey then, I thought!)

::A bright stripey bag

I looked around at patterns but none were quite what she described. I decided to make my own design. My first ever off-the-cuff crocheted item. It’s pretty basic and was easy as anything to make in a granny stripe of clusters of trebles (I’ve really come on with this crochet lark I realise, I’ve definitely got the basics now!) but it’s still my work.

Here it is:

I toyed with the idea of lining it, but frankly I’m so unconfident about that kind of sewing that I decided it would be ok without. It’s sturdy and doesn’t have that much ‘give’ being cotton and is a fairly dense material as I used a 3.5 hook, so should be ok and not saggy.

To make the (very pink!) strap I made a lengthy chain, then double crocheted back along the row – very, very fiddly stuff. For strength I crocheted one end of the strap to the bag, then double crocheted all along the strap again until it could be crocheted to the other end.I have some nice buttons in my collection but decided that it might spoil the look of the front and the flap’s heavy enough to stay flapped over. A button can always be added. I’m happy to post a little chain for the loop.

But here’s the thing: I posted this on 9th July. I’ve waited and waited to hear from Prachi and just know she’d be super fast in getting in touch to say she’s received it. There’s maybe still time for it to arrive I guess. I’ll be sooo disappointed if it never turns up in India and am beginning to feel it might not, so have written this blog post so at least Prachi can see her bag, know she was thought of and the promise was promptly kept.

Fingers crossed it arrives please! :-D

Colourful

A work in progress which I laid out last night to decide the number of squares left to crochet, so please don’t judge me by the number of yellows clumped together! They were edged while I watched tv. The answer to the how many more question is probably LOTS since there’s no one who needs a baby blanket at the moment.
I don’t really need another blanket myself with the Yorkshire blanket, which I already snuggle under, and the Rhubarb Ripple which I’m taking away to finish in August (19 stripes left! Woo hoo!) So don’t really know what to do with the alternative granny square/target square one when it’s completed…..

And I’ve photographed fly fishing flies; some home-made, some new which have just arrived by post because I like looking at the intricate workmanship of them, plus it’s a celebration since I’m enjoying having trout for dinner. I always think you could make some pretty earrings out of the more feathery colourful flies!

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Practice

I wanted to crochet something quick and bright using the recent Let’s Get Crafting Knitting & Crochet yarn the other evening, so I dug out an older edition and made this bag. This was the -almost- finished version with two identical sides double crocheted together. (I obviously also did another row compared to the pattern.)

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It was good to practise because all the the stitches are double trebles, which I haven’t really used since making the chunky seashell scarf, and a few for the garland (which I’m told is now hanging in baby Alice May’s bedroom along with one of the crocheted birds, see 14th January post – sorry but the linking thingy here is not working today.)

It was fun to use the bright colours and practise ‘that’ stitch again, which incidentally is dead easy, but I baulked at actually crocheting a handle and making it up. Recently I’ve been thinking about what to do with what I make much more. I started the 100 ch then frogged it. The ‘bag’ is now a bunch of small balls of brightly coloured yarn on the bed in here; The Little Room.

I told you it was practise. ;-p

EDT: I realise that my widgets have slipped – oh the horror! – but I’m waiting for WordPress Support to get back to me on the issue. I think I have gremlins!

Crochet by the sea

A little cheeky crochet before going out to see some Jubilee celebrations, sightseeing and shopping near the sea!
I haven’t done any alternative granny squares for a long time and it’s very nice to crochet something different after lots of rippling and circles in squares!
I’ve come to a pause with the Rhubarb Ripple at the moment….I’ve run out of plum! I sense another Deramores order is about to happen.

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Have a happy (Jubilee bank holiday) weekend!

Of course you can’t walk on the carpet!

I’m afraid it’s been undone again…I just can’t seem to decide the colour combination. Nothing seems to fit quite right. I’ve taken out all the squares with red in them and just kept the dark pink pomegranate colour.

On a positive note all the ends are now darned in!

I think the secret might be to carry on crocheting squares (and darning!) but without making any decisions about the final joining together of the squares.
This blanket is not going to be as random and easy as I thought it would
be; but maybe the finished product will be more satisfying because of all the thought that went into it?!

We can only hope!

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