I have been making some good progress with my current knitting and crochet projects since I last wrote about them (here and here), so I thought I would share a few pictures.
I really enjoyed making this mandala. I should have put something in the photo to give it a sense of scale, but it is about 40cm in diameter. It also still needs to be blocked, but I think you can get a good-enough idea of the finished result. It helped me to learn a number of new crochet skills and techniques and used up some of my yarn stash – a win-win! The pattern was very easy to follow and I have lots of plans to make more in due course.
I’ll be using it as the centrepiece of a set of place mats and have started on the first of the individual mats. As you can see, this is not proceeding quite as well…..
The wavy edge is, I think, caused by too many stitches in the outer rings, compared with the number in the central parts (even though I have definitely followed the pattern). As some point, I will give it another go with a larger crochet hook, although if any of you fellow crocheters have different advice please do let me know.
Meanwhile, I have also been able to progress my Hourglass throw. This is another really engaging pattern to follow, with just the right mixture of challenge and repetition. I very much like the stitch definition which is now starting to come through after a couple of repeats.
And finally, I could not resist starting my mystical lanterns blanket…
The best aspect of this pattern is the colour selecting process. I had originally thought that I would adopt an approach similar to that used for my Japanese flower shawl. In that case, I worked out a relatively easy way of making sure all ten colours of yarn were used evenly, while also avoiding any duplications of colour combinations across the flowers.
The lanterns present a slightly more difficult challenge, however. This pattern uses 12 colours, with four in each motif, thus increasing exponentially the brainwork to keep track of everything. Perhaps more importantly, though, was the fact that I could feel even with the first couple of test motifs a massive bias on my part towards the shades I preferred. I like the palette as a whole but there are inevitably some colours I like more than others.
All these issues were swept away by the designer’s very clever recommended colour-selecting process. Like all good ideas, it is the very simplest in method, but it works brilliantly. You put all the balls of yarn in one bag and pick out single balls completely randomly for each part of the motif, before placing that yarn in a second bag. You continue to work like this through all the yarn in the first bag and then start again. In this way it makes sure that all colours are used equally. In addition, it generates colour combinations that might well not have been obvious when trying to pick one’s own.
I have, on occasion, discarded my first pick of yarn in favour of a second selection in a misguided attempt to avoid elements of duplication. However, I can see in the photo above, for example, that I have two motifs towards the left-hand side with yellow for the third round. If I had noticed this before completing the second motif, I might well have been tempted to make a change of colour. But I can see from this photo that it really doesn’t matter, not least because the colours take on a different look depending on the varied combinations of shades. It is the overall effect which is the most important, and this will be enhanced by the random colour selections.
It is such a delight to be working on something where you don’t know for sure how it will turn out. Obviously you need to keep faith that it will all be ok in the end but this is a refreshing change from my usual approach with colour-work, where everything has to be meticulously planned from the outset.
So onwards and upwards as they say! 🙂