Crochet Blankets: the January Craft-Along

Over the next twelve months we are going to start a crafting journey together and each month will cover a different theme.
To kick off the new year we are starting with Crochet Blankets, the perfect task to not only keep you occupied on dark nights but also keeps you warm while to make them.
I first learned to crochet when I was seventeen years old. My mother taught me a basic granny square pattern and then left me alone with a bag of bits of wool and I made my first granny square crochet blanket. I remember laying out the hundreds of squares on the floor and arranging them in a pattern before i sewed them together. It was the first time I hand crafted anything. And I donated this blanket to Oxfam. Since that first blanket I must have crochet at least thirty more blankets. Some still using the simple granny square technique, others in stripes or large squares, circles and zig zag stripes to name just a few. And of all the blankets I have made I have only kept one (because my boyfriend likes it) I don’t need to have lots of blankets in my house to keep me warm I make them because its relaxing.
Throughout this article I am going to explore some of the crochet techniques I have used in the past and show you some of my favourite crocheters Facebook or Instagram pages, and there are some fabulous people working out there to inspire you.
Before we get started if you are not familiar with crochet this is a great link to help teach yourself the basics.

Granny Squares

granny square large

Granny Square

This is the pattern that most people will learn first, its worked in the round and contains a simple repetition of three trbl and a slst, (thats abbreviation of treble and slip stitch). The pattern can be worked in one colour or you can change colour as many times as you wish and the size of your granny square is totally up to you. For a gage though, if I was making a blanket from squares crochet in 5 rounds I would need at least a 12 x 12 blanket to make it a large size which is 124 squares.
The Blogger Little Tin Bird has a wonderful pattern on her Blog which not only can you use to teach yourself crochet, but she has created a wonderfully bright a sunny granny square blanket.
Once you have master the granny square you can do large granny squares or use different stitches to create different looks for your granny squares. One popular technique is to create block colour by using single trbl stitches, as seen in Attic 24‘s work.
granny square

Single trbl granny square

Once you have made your square you can attach them to one another either by sewing them with a wool darning needle and using an invisible stitch or by crocheting them together with single crochet stitches. Either way works, its just about which look you prefer. The crochet method leaves a raised bump on one side of your blanket, this is the method I use for all my blankets and I think it adds to the charm.


straight stripe

Straight stitch row blanket sample

Crochet in rows is even more simple than creating squares, once you know how to create a trbl stitch you can create this blanket. You start by creating many chains on your hook. For a gage if you were using a six 4mm hook and some basic double knit wool you might want to do anywhere between 150 and 200 ch. Each ch will become a stitch and bear in mind when deciding on how wide to create your blanket that the size become slightly wider as you work due to the tension you work with.
Once you have created your chains you then start working your trbl stitches into each of the ch, starting with the third ch from the hook, work along the row of stitches and when you get to your las stitch, make a little ch and turn your work.
Attic 24 has some inspired crochet ideas, and one project she has undertaken on her blog is to create a crochet-along blog, where she has made a striped blanked using the granny square technique in stripes. Her blog and Instagram account it a treasure of yummyness.

Zig Zag/Ripple


The cat wrapped up in a zig zag blanket

Once you have mastered making blankets in rows rather than squares you can have a look at zig zag patterns.
There are two different way to create a zig zag blanket, but bother are created with rows rather than squares. You can either create the blanket using the straight stitch or the granny stitch. There are patterns for both and both look equally effective.The fabulous The Stitching Mommy has a wonderful pattern on her blog for creating the straight stitch blanket, but if you want to make the granny version, then check out this brilliant and easy to follow you tube video from Bella Coco below.

Crochet Blanket Inspiration

Some of my favourite places to go to gather inspiration for new projects is other crafters websites or their Instagram accounts. So here is a list and links to a few of my favourite;

  • Lazy Daisy Jones : check out the fabulous Pic and Mix blanket.
  • redagape_styleanddesign: Creator Mandy O’Sullivan has some wonderful creations.
  • Poppyandbliss: Michelle Robinson delights with her Instagram account
  • Crochetgirl99: One of my first crochet crushes on Instagram
  • Attic 24: Not only does she make the most wonderful sunshine blankets but the wreaths are pieces of artwork.
  • Mollie Makes: For more inspiration on what to do with those granny squares.

Enjoy making your blankets and share your designs with us on our Facebook page.

Make with Annie: The Felt Creation

Make with Annie has been in business since September 2015, and I have to admit that a year ago I did not think that I would be creating for a living, and living in Cornwall.
Apple Logo
Around 18 months ago, I began to get severe and odd pains in my left foot and ankle and about a year ago I was diagnosed with Arthritis. I was only 34 at the time and it devastated me. I couldn’t enjoy the things I used to, like talking long walks with Mr H (the other half) and dancing. I loved, still love, a night out dancing. So what was I supposed to do at weekends now?
I have always enjoyed crafting, ever since I was a child making amazing Barbie houses from cardboard boxes, to learning to crochet at 20 from my mother, but now it became something more. I wanted to try every craft that I could.
That was how I found myself swapping my Friday nights out on the town with cups of tea and craft.
I have now learnt the following craft, knitting, sewing, pottery, toy making, card making, embroidery, cross stitch, and finally working with felt.
Felt is an amazing material to work with, its thicker and softer than fabric which gives you rigidity that you don’t get from fabric (without interfacing the backside off your material and making it really stiff). The first things I made with Felt were just a year ago. During a weekend visit back to my family in Lincoln for some Christmas festivities, myself, my big sister and my niece sat at my mums house and made some felt christmas decorations for our trees, and I loved it. It was so easy, quick and so pleasurable and I wanted to see what else i could make from Felt.
Then flash forward to July 2015 and I had just had an arthroscopy and some bone removed from my left ankle which left me in pain and stuck in the house for a few weeks, but it gave me the time to play once again with felt.
I had seen some really fun red riding hood brooches on Pintrest which gave me the idea for a whole disney range of little brooches. So I set about designing my own Alice in Wonderland and Snow White. There are no pictures of these because they were dreadful. They were complicated and fiddly and one thing small pieces of felt likes to do is fall apart! But all crafts men and women learn from their mistake and so I went back to my drawing board and thought about it from a different angle.
It was then that I made the first felt brooch that I have turned into a kit, the Apple. Inspired by the story of snow white, and then the tea cup from the Mad Hatters Tea Party and the Mushroom that makes Alice grow bigger and smaller. And i loved it so much i kept making them, birds, tea pots, little girls heads, animal paws (inspired by my beautiful cat Buster), superhero emblems and more.
It became a bit of an obsession, as many of my new crafts do, and I made things for family and friends and was so passionate about it, I even sold some when I got back to work. People really liked them and kept asking me to make more,  but there comes a point when I get bored of making something, I think its about 4 or 5 times. So I stopped!
About a month later I had to leave my job, Mr H had gotten an amazing job offer in Cornwall and we had decided to make the move from our city living in Nottingham to the country, 300 miles away. When I knew that I wouldn’t have a job I thought that this would be the best time to start trying to do something for me. And so I turned my four favourite brooches in craft kits.
The Apple, The Mushroom, The Teacup and The Paw.All 4
I had to learn many new skills in the creation of the kits including the use of graphics programs. Until that point all my patterns had been hand drawn and now they needed to look good and the lines needed to be clear or even straight. So I scanned my hand drawing into the computer and downloaded a free graphics package called inkscape and I looked at it and realised that I had no idea what I was doing or how to use it. But after a quick tutorial from Mr H I was on my way and created all my own patterns. It was a steep learning curve but well worth the time put into it because now the patterns look professional and much easier to use.
I ordered supplies of felt, bags, thread, needles, brooch pins, packing labels, and when each of them arrived I was practically giddy with excitement. I created booklets with photos and full step by step instructions, so that each kit would have everything it needed to ensure that whoever received the kit would have a pleasurable experience making their own felt brooch.
The kits come in a brown paper bag with labels showing what your end product will look like and what you can expect to find inside your kit. Inside the kit is kept safe with tissue paper and a sticker which thanks the purchaser for buying hand made. Once you remove the packaging you will find coloured felt, coloured thread, a brooch pin, a needle and any decorative embellishments that you might want to use, such as buttons. The kit also comes with a full 5 page instruction booklet with pictures and step by step instructions on how to make the brooches, including how to stitch it together with the recommended stitches.
Its a labour of love and now I am out and about at Craft Stalls and on Etsy and Folksy trying to see if I can entice others to love felt and love making their own things just as much as I do.

Upcoming places to see Make with Annie:

28th November 2015 – Redruth, Murdoch House, Cornwall
5th December 2015 – Camborne, The Donald Thomas Centre, Cornwall
11th, 12th December 2015, – Falmouth, The Curious Hall, Magic Art Fair, Cornwall
19th December – Camborne, The Donald Thomas Centre, Cornwall