“All tedious research is worth one inspired moment.”
– Uta Hagen
Elephants are cute. I’m not for the circus kind, but I do enjoy imaginative works that inspire a child to learn and to care.
I began working on my first graphghan mid-February, finished in about 2 weeks, except for the end weaving. I set the blanket aside and didn’t tidy it up until mid-March.
Now I had been avoiding such projects because they appeared tedious and repetitive. The lack of stitch variation had me worried about my tension and my attention span.
The opportunity to dive into such a project presented itself when my aunt asked if I could make something for her first grandchild.
The challenge: maintaining patience and enjoyment throughout the making process whilst focusing enough to not make stupid mistakes.
The pattern is called “Stargazer,” by Elena Balyuk. 162 stitches wide, 198 rows with a respectable amount of color changes.
I was tired of counting before I hit the elephant’s feet! My stitch markers(aka little scraps of yarn) helped only a little. I placed them every ten stitches and moved them up as needed to help me get comfortable reading the chart.
A lot of not so fun end weaving was to be expected, but not to be concerned about. Later, I tell myself, when the gratification of completion is a bit closer.
I learned quickly that subdivision is my friend. I darkened the graph’s lines between every ten stitches so I could tell at a glance how many stitches to do.
I began the blanket with the hope of taming my impatience and relaxing my tension. It seemed a good technical challenge that would make me a better hooker and a better person. What I didn’t expect was to enjoy it- which I totally did. The OCD in me really loved counting and checking and stitching and checking. It’s very satisfying matching my stitches with a little chart and knowing I’m doing something just right.
The color changes were the most fun part. By carrying the colors vertically, I avoided unwanted bulkiness and opposing colors peeking through the work.
Here’s a little glimpse into the color change technique.
On the final blue stitch here, I begin the sc as usual- insert hook into last blue st, YO, draw up a loop. Then I drop the blue on the back side of the work, YO with the yellow strand that was dropped in the previous row, and draw the yellow through both blue loops on the hook.
Then, leaving the blue behind to catch on the next row, I continue with the yellow strand for the amount of stitches indicated.
When it’s time to switch colors again, I did the same thing, always leaving the last color on the back side of the work.
I was very surprised at how quickly the blanket worked up.
After getting all the ends worked in and sewing the tail on, I added a border of 3 rows of sc to help the corners stop curling.
Now the corners do something else that doesn’t please me, so it may not have been wise to add the border. I may take it out. We’ll see….
And that was that! I am certain to use vertical yarn carrying in my own designs down the road.
This baby blanket was an enjoyable learning experience for me, but really not my style. I love stitch variations, and I love creating shapes and textures. I don’t like to follow a strict color plan either- I prefer improvised color placement within a planned palette.
When it comes down to it, this technique is like painting by number with yarn. It’s simple these days to plug an image into a computer, pixelate it, and make a chart to crochet from. I can really appreciate now the work that goes into the crocheting aspect of it.
Is it worth it? Not for me. I just see a fuzzy image, almost like I colored quite sloppily outside the lines… with so much effort having gone into changing colors exactly where they are meant to be changed. It’s cute, but it doesn’t look special to me. Well, at least I am certain this style is not where my own creativity lies.
While I am immensely grateful for the experience, I don’t fancy making another graphghan in the foreseeable future(unless I am bribed with ridiculous amounts of money). 😅