Finally, an FO to show! I actually finished this almost a month ago but kept forgetting to bring it to work with me to mail it off and I didn't want to post until I'd sent it out. Now that Gleek has received the blanket (and even put her own awesome picture of it in her Flickr stream) it's finally time for the FO post.
And when I say finally, I really mean "FINALLY!" I started this blanket is the summer of 2007 folks! 3 years ago. Why the heck did I let it languish for so long almost finished? I totally love it! I always liked this pattern from the beginning, but initially I refused to even consider making it because of all those damn ends that need to be sewn in, never mind all the seaming involved. At the time I was still working at String and, as a side effect of working in a LYS, I was thinking of all projects in terms of how much work they would be to support the customer as the most important factor in any design . . . and this project is probably the ultimate bad project in those terms. When I think of it now, this is a perfect example of how working in a knitting store corrupted my love for knitting/crochet: instead of seeing a gorgeous, unique design, all I could see was how much of a pain it would be to support someone who was making this. Isn't that sad?
Anyway, what changed my mind way back then was that one of my favorite customers started making the blanket using her scrap Koigu stash and she showed me the cute squares in person. They were adorable, but I still didn't even want to THINK about all those ends . . . and yet I couldn't stop thinking about the blanket itself. I kept stalking Babettes online and thinking about color combos. Then one day at work I pulled out that awesome shade of bright pink Filatura di Crosa, a color that has been calling my name since it arrived, and started putting a color palette together. The next thing I knew I had started the blanket, and in one day I made the first 3 sections. My custofriend (I think I made up that term, but I may have stolen it from someone, forgive me if that someone was you), Emily, the one who had brought her own Koigu Babette in, gave me a hard time and made fun of me for starting after all my kvetching, and with good reason. I'm pretty sure I thanked her for pushing me over the edge to make this, but if I didn't: Thank you Emily! If it weren't for you I probably would never have started this pattern!
And it's obvious how much I love it since I'm making a second one right now . . .
Pattern: Babette Blanket, originally in Spring '06 Interweave Crochet, now available as a single pattern here
Yarn: Filatura di Crosa Zara
Hook: size D
Started: July 2007 (OMG!)
Finished: April 2010
This picture is already outdated as I'm currently almost done with section 8 of Babette, but here's how it looked after joining section 7. I'm loving it more and more as it comes together! This weekend I went out and bought a second skein of the four "main" colors (fuchsia, chocolate, off-white, and light gray) and I believe that I'll have enough to finish the whole blanket with just those second skeins. Which would mean only 15 skeins total for this project! Even with paying Purl's price of $7.50 per skein that's a really good deal for a whole blanket's worth. If you compare that to knitting the original out of Koigu, it's about 50% cheaper! And you end up with a much larger blanket too since the gauge is much bigger.
I'm working on a post (or possibly 3 posts) explaining all the modifications I've done to Babette, including how to work it up in way fewer colors, how to crochet the squares like I did (meaning with the rounds starting at a corner instead of the middle of one side), and joining as you go with crochet. I'm thinking of calling the posts "Optimizing the Babette Blanket Pattern" . . . but I'm worried that it sounds too business-speak for the needlecraft world?
On another note, check out my new bag!
This bag isn't really knitting-related, but it would be a good knitting bag (no zipper or Velcro to ruin your yarn!) so I wanted to share it with all of you. It just arrived last week and I'm already totally in love with it. Most people who know me IRL know I have a weakness of purses and bags, especially LARGE ones. I've been trying to downsize lately because I keep finding myself carrying around more stuff than I'm willing to admit, but when I saw this big, almost briefcase-like bag at Pansy Maiden, I had to have it. Their bags are completely handmade and the workmanship is impeccable. The amount of thought that went into the design is abundantly evident as well. Just look at all the pockets:
(clearly, I didn't clean up the contents to take this shot)
There are two pockets on each side, plus a key hook (SO useful!), plus the big pouch on the front (holding my umbrella in the first picture). The pockets are super deep and a nice width so plenty of stuff fits in there. As an iPhone person I often have problems with the inside pockets of bags, which are sizes for traditional cell phones and therefore don't fit an iPhone, but this bag doesn't have that problem at all!
My favorite pocket on the bag is probably this one though:
Just a simple zip pocket on the back of the bag, but it's a pocket that almost never exists on any bag, regardless of how big. I use this pocket for the important papers I'm always carrying around. I love a good pocket!
Oh, and you see the d-ring on the bag? It came with a long strap so the bag can be carried like a messenger bag instead of a shoulder bag! It's definitely a nice extra touch. The strap, like the rest of the bag, is incredibly well constructed. I literally marvel at the design, workmanship, and finish on this bag. I'm proud to be carrying it around with me on a daily basis and I hope more people buy from this vendor so we can keep her making beautiful bags for years to come.
So here's the updated colors for my Cascade 220 Babette. As you can see the greens really brighten everything up! I was worried that the greens and pinks might end up being too "Lily Pulitzer" but once I started working up some squares I decided that even if it did evoke something she'd do, that I still loved it! In fact, I love it so much I spent most of last weekend working on it. Right now I'm working on section 7 . . . and yes, there are only 10 sections in all!
Here's section 7 in progress:
And here's sections 1-6, awaiting joining of section 7:
As you can see I'm doing the join-as-you-go technique I used on the first Babette. I've been thinking about doing a post about this but it's not exactly a new concept so I'm not sure how useful it will be. It seems to me that anyone who's an intermediate crocheter knows how to join squares this way without thinking about it, but judging by the Ravelry projects it appears that most of the people making Babette are actually knitters, not crocheters. And since the instructions tell you to sew the thing together, it seems like everyone's doing just that! So maybe a tutorial on crocheting squares together will be useful for the knitters who are tackling this project . . . what do you think?
After working the first 3 sections of Babette with my new Cascade colorway I took a step back and had to admit that the whole thing was GROSS. There's something about yellow and brown in crochet that just screams 70's, and not in a good way. Sometimes you can't tell if you're going to like something until you start putting it together for real . . . the stack of colors looked marvelous together but the actual squares were not at all cute when worked up.
So back to Purl I went, with the intent to swap out both yellows and the lighter brown. I wasn't sure what I would switch them for but I knew I wanted to have more contrast between color tones and I wanted brighter colors in general for a more graphic effect. I also had already planned to re-organize the colors that I was keeping to make the whole blanket lighter/brighter than it was turning out. After elbowing my way through a VERY crowded Purl (it turned out they were having a customer appreciation party, I had no idea) I found two shades of green and an additional shade of pink and came straight home to start re-planning the blanket. Since I had no plans this weekend I pretty much just worked on the blanket . . . I have sections 1-6 finished already! That's half the blanket! Pictures next time . . .
For now I'll leave you with this, the first peony of the season!
Remember the Babette blanket I started, oh, almost 3 years ago? No? Yeah I don't blame you! I recently decided I loved it too much to just let it languish and dug it out to finish it. Unfortunately I realized I don't have enough yarn to make it as large as I'd like, and my gauge has changed drastically! So I decided to make the best of the situation and finish it off as a baby blanket. What you see above is sections 1-7 plus 4 rows of DC's for the border. It still needs to be blocked and has a few more ends to weave in, but otherwise it's done. It's the perfect size for a baby blanket and will hopefully make some little girl very happy. Of course at the moment I don't know anyone having a little girl, but I'm sure someone will at some point in the future . . .
I still love this color combo and want my own full-size Babette so I'm planning to make another one in Cascade 220. I may add a few more shades of each color once I see the color options in real life and find just the right shade of pink. Planning a new project is always so much fun, too bad I have way too many WIPs to even consider starting another one anytime soon!