For some reason that I still don't quite understand I got a yearning (or a yarning, hah!) to learn a practical craft over Christmas. I spend far too much time in front of a computer (mostly for work, but it spreads into the rest of my life) and while I love messing about on it, and I just wanted something creative to do with my hands that might help me relax away from the screen. Then I happened upon the Babette Blanket and it was love at first sight. It's a crochet pattern, and I haven't crocheted since I was about 6 years old (I think my Granny taught me), so I had to learn it again.
Learning something (anything) is one of my favourite things, so I bought a great beginner's book on Crochet, Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker1, a couple of hooks and some yarn, and started practicing. It's quite tough trying to pick up a manual skill from written instructions and pictures, so there was a certain amount of unravelling and redoing before I understood how the stitches worked, how they look together and — the hardest part of crochet for me — where the heck you put your hook next.
I think it's safe to say that I'm addicted. I find the process both relaxing and absorbing at the same time, and you can produce something practical at the end of it. I can knit (very simple patterns, anyway), but I find that having a hook in one hand and the yarn in the other is much easier than trying to juggle two long needles and the yarn with only two hands.
I made a hat (a bobbleless, beanie type hat) in an afternoon, which astounded me. It was even the shape of a hat and fitted my head, which was inconceivable. I had some yarn left over in the same colours (soft grey and dark green, Rowan Cashsoft yarn I got half price in a sale), so I made a really long, narrow scarf. Both are lovely to wear — warm and very soft because of the cashmere in the yarn. I didn't quite keep the number of stitches straight for the scarf, so one end has a bit of a slope to it, but I'm going to maintain that it just gives it a wonky, handmade charm.
Next, I'm going to tackle the Babette blanket. I went with cheaper yarn than they specify in the pattern, and fewer colours, otherwise it would cost a fortune, but I'm having a wonderful time putting the colours combinations together. It's also a great project for little chunks of time, because each square (of which you need to produce billions) is quite quick to crochet, so you can finish one in 15 minutes or so in front of the TV of an evening. There are different sizes, and so many different colour combinations that I don't think I'll get bored with it.
In a few moments searching around on the web for more patterns (yes, I know, get away from the computer...), I stumbled across a blog called Attic24, and was blown away by the gorgeous colour combinations. Lucy has an incredible colour sense, and I feel really inspired to let rip with loads of wonderful shades. I can see that I'm going to be haunting the knitting shop a fair bit from now on, but first, I have a blanket to finish...
1 Ignore the slightly naff title: it's a good book, written in a very clear, informative and witty way. It also has some great patterns for a variety of things that you can't imagine your Granny wearing. ↑