Monday, 28 May 2012

Wavy Baby Blanket - Free Pattern


Wavy Baby Car Seat Blanket Pattern

A free pattern by Fiona Sloss, Crafting a Lifetime

free baby blanket pattern

Background Story

While I was pregnant, I picked up a crochet hook for the first time since I was 6 years old and made my own baby a brightly coloured double crochet stripy blanket to keep him warm through the winter months ahead. Not only has it kept him warm, but the bright colours have entertained him on long car journeys and whenever he needed a little distraction.

When a friend recently had a baby, I decided to make her little boy a brightly coloured blanket too, but once it was finished, I wasn’t overly happy with it. I hadn’t so much as designed it, as stumbled through it, while I taught myself new crochet stitches and played with different yarns and colours.

Thanks to some great feedback from fellow crocheters and knitters, I made some changes to the draft version and have finally finished it. I promised to have a go at writing the pattern and here it is. I’ve never written a pattern before and so can only hope that what you get when you follow the instructions below works out as you would like.

This is a free pattern. I would welcome, but not expect, a token charitable donation via my dad’s Just Giving page. In 2010, while competing in the London Triathlon and raising money for charity, he got into trouble during the swim, despite being an exceptional swimmer, and died 2 days later. My brother suggested that I do a run if I wanted to raise some money for charity, but I think my running days are over (if they were ever here!) and that one should stick to one’s knitting, so to speak. So, if you are using this pattern, and feel so inclined, then do please make a small, anonymous (if you prefer) donation at http://www.justgiving.com/ian-sloss

I would welcome any feedback on this pattern, especially corrections, and will gladly provide any assistance I can while you are making it. You can reach me via my blog or the forum. If you would like a word copy of this document, please ask and I will gladly email you a copy.



The Pattern

Use a 3.5mm or 4mm hook, depending on how loosely you crochet and a selection of soft, but hard-wearing DK yarns to make this blanket to keep baby warm in his or her car seat. The approximate size is 53 cm by 65 cm. The pattern is written in UK terminology; US makers should read dc as sc and tr as dc.

Chain 111 in your main colour – I used white King Cole Cottonsoft DK

Top detail stitch sampler

Row 1 (Right side):  Dc in 2nd ch from hook and in each ch across: 110 stitches, turn
Row 2 (Wrong side): Ch 3 (counts as 1 tr); work 1 tr in each st to end: 110 stitches, turn
Row 3: Ch 1; work 1 dc into each st to end: 110 stitches, turn
Row 4: Ch 4 (equals 3 ch for turning chain and 1 as part of the first treble cluster pattern); *make one 3-trcl across the next 3 stitches, ch 2, repeat from * until last 5 stitches, make one 3-trcl, chain 1, 1 tr (that should give you 36 cluster stitches across): 110 stitches, turn
Row 5: Ch 3; work 1 tr into 1-ch sp, *work 1 tr into top of cluster stitch from previous row, work 2 tr into 2-ch sp, repeat from * until last cluster stitch from previous row, work 1 tr into top of last cluster stitch from previous row, work 1 tr into last chain space: 110 stitches, turn
Row 6 & 7: Ch 3;  *skip next st, 1 tr in next 3 st, yo, with hook in front of work, go back and insert hook from front to back into skipped st before the 3-tr group; loosely draw through a lp and bring it up to the height of the 3-tr group; yo and complete tr (Cable stitch ); rep from * to last stitch, 1 tr in last st.: 110 stitches (27 Cable stitches worked over 4 stitches), turn
Row 8: Ch 3 (counts as 1 tr); work 1 tr in each st to end: 110 stitches, turn
Row 9: Ch 4 (equals 3 ch for turning chain and 1 as part of the first treble cluster pattern), skip 1 st, then *make one 3-trcl into next st, ch 2, skip 2 st, repeat from * to last 3 st, make one 3-trcl into next stitch, ch 1, 1 tr: 110 stitches (36 cluster stitches), turn
Row 10:  Ch 3 (counts as 1 treble), work 1 tr in each of next 14 st, work 2 tr in next st (to increase 1 st), * work 1 tr in next 27 st, work 2 tr in next st (to increase 1 st), repeat from * twice, work 1 tr in next 14 st: 114 stitches, turn

Wave pattern

Row 11 (using your main colour – white in my case): Ch 3 (counts as 1 tr), *work 3 tr in next st, work 1 tr into each of next 3 st, work 3 tr tog twice, work 1 tr into each of next 3 st, work 3 tr into next st, repeat from * to last st, 1 tr: 114 stitches (8 complete waves), turn
Row 12 (using one of your secondary colours): work as Row 11, turn
Rows 13 -53: work as Rows 11 and 12, alternating between your main colour and your secondary colours

Bottom detail

Row 54: Ch 1, 1 dc, *1 dc in next 2 st, 1 htr in next 3 st, 1 tr in next 4 st, 1 htr in next 3st, 1 dc in next 2 st, repeat from * until last st, 1 dc: 114 stitches, turn
Row 55: Ch 3 (equals 3 ch for turning chain), skip 1 st, then *make one 3-trcl into next st, ch 2, skip 2 st, repeat from * to last 3 st, make one 3-trcl into next stitch,  1 ch, 1 tr in last st: 113 stitches (37 cluster stitches), turn

Border

Turn your work as per Row 55 instruction and begin working the border as if it was Row 56 as follows:
  • Ch 1; work 1 dc into 1-ch sp, *work 1 dc into top of cluster stitch from previous row, work 2 dc into 2-ch sp, repeat from * until last cluster stitch from previous row, work 1 dc into top of last cluster stitch from previous row, work 3 dc into last chain space to form the first corner
  • Continue down the length of the blanket by placing 1 dc st at regular intervals (roughly 2 stitches where there is a tr and 1 st where there is a dc – I ended up with 108 st) until you reach the bottom, work 3 dc in the last stitch to form the second corner. (It is slightly fiddly to do, but I worked over the loose thread ends on this round to save me sewing them all in individually. I don’t know if that is the correct way to do it, but it seems to have worked!)
  • Work 1 dc into each of your original chains all the way across until the last st, work 3 dc in the last st to form the third corner
  • Continue up the length of the blanket by placing 1 dc st at regular intervals (roughly 2 stitches where there is a tr and 1 st where there is a dc) until you reach the top, work 3 dc in the last stitch to form the final corner, sl st in the first dc you made for the border, turn
  • Ch 1; work 1 dc into each st all the way round, remembering to place 3 dc into each of the 4 corner stitches to create the corners, sl st in the first dc of that row, turn
  • Ch 2; work 1 extended dc into each st all the way round, remembering to place 3 extended dc into each of the 4 corners, sl st in the first extended dc of that row, turn 
  • Ch 1; work 1 dc into each st all the way round, remembering the corners as before, sl st in the first dc of that row, fasten off


To Finish

Sew in any remaining loose ends
I washed mine and shaped it on a towel as it was drying to get a good final shape


There is also a beginner's blanket pattern here.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Still fun, but a little less gaudy

The only problem is, W now has blanket envy ... every time we walk past it, he's arching his neck to have another look! Seems like his simple stripes are just not quite the ticket anymore. I guess that might go a tiny little way to answering the question of whether babies prefer brights or pastels ... at least mine does. Maybe taste is genetically determined somehow?

Thanks to everyone who left comments for me, either here or on the Knitting Paradise forum. I'm certainly happier with my wavy baby car seat blanket now. I do kind of miss the red border, but I think it looks better without it ....

... maybe I'll just try a red border out before I decide ...

crochet baby blanket

In case you were trying to remember how it was before ...



... and if you would like to try it out for yourself, the pattern is here

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Fun or Ghastly?

I made this baby car seat blanket for a friend, but I can't decide whether to send it or start again ...

what do you think? fun or ghastly? or will it not matter once it's covered in baby sick? and anyway, isn't it the thought that counts?

Would you be pleased or horrified to receive it? go on, be honest!

crochet baby blanket


In the end, I reworked it as you can see here and eventually wrote out the pattern, which is available for free here

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

90th Anniversary of RAF Halton Apprentice Scheme at the National Memorial Arboretum

ian sloss


Dad had been a volunteer gardener at the Halton grove garden at the National Memorial Arboretum and had been part of the team that took what was described as a rough piece of wasteland and turned it into the tranquil and thoughtfully designed space that it now is. The stone above has been laid in his memory and the information board which was partly funded by his old employer, LSC, in his memory was unveiled on Saturday 12th May 2012. 

Halton Grove Information Board


This was also the day chosen for a service at the Halton Grove garden to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of "Trenchard's brats", also known as the RAF Halton Apprentice Scheme. As Dad had been due to take over as Chairman of the Halton Apprentice Association shortly before he died, we were honored to be guests at the event.

W made his first formal appearance as a VIP. We managed to get through most of the "Golden Oldies" pipe and drum numbers before he got a bit grizzly and we made a speedy exit to the public area outside the garden before Lord Trenchard started to speak. Try as I might, I couldn't get W to look up at the Hurricane doing a fly-past, but I did manage to get W into the Air Cadets!!

Although we'd had to take him along because we couldn't get a babysitter, I'm pleased we did. He behaved himself wonderfully and brought many smiles to those present. Most importantly, he was a cheerful reminder to us as we sat in the Arboretum Marquee, where we had last been for dad's wake, that life and death are part of one great miraculous cycle. I'm just sad he's missing some of my best bits.

Ian Sloss memorial


For more details on the Halton Grove and how it has come into being, visit http://223halton.hosting.idnet.net/arboretum.htm



Sunday, 13 May 2012

Love in the air

Shortly after the fly past over the Halton Grove memorial garden at the National Arboretum, as Lord Trenchard was speaking about RAF Halton and the apprentices and unveiling the information board in memory of dad, this heart appeared in the sky


heart shaped cloud

Thursday, 10 May 2012

10 things no-one ever thought they would hear me say

1) What a lovely baby
2) Could you just hold him please while I wipe the poo off my face
3) This little piggy went to market, baa baa black sheep, row row row your boat, etc etc etc
4) Come on now mr windypops, where are you hiding?
5) These Huggies are terrible, I'm going back to Pampers
6) Do you think his tongue is too big for his mouth?
7) Has anyone got a spare muslin?
8) Love to see you for lunch - if we meet at 12 we'll have almost 2 hours before his next bottle
9) No thanks (to the wine), I'll have a soda and lime
10) No thanks (to the sex), I'd rather have a sleep

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Any more ragged nailed, hairy badgers out there?

I'm not saying that I've let myself go exactly, but just how do you keep up with your own grooming when you're up to your eyeballs in baby stuff?

I've resorted to cutting my nails rather than filing them and I've had a few highlights put in my hair to hopefully distract people just a little from the grey spreading down from my parting. Apparently, I look a bit like a badger - harsh, but fair!

Finally, body hair - ewwww .... but it stopped growing when I was pregnant, which was marvellous as I couldn't really reach anyway. Now it seems like it's making up for lost time. When I'm in the bath though, W is usually sat in his little bouncy chair next to me and it doesn't seem right to be shaving my legs in front of him, even though he has no idea of what I'm up to. And if he isn't in the bathroom with me, if I have some rare bathroom time alone, I really just want to chill rather than drag a sharp piece of metal across my skin. My other half, bless him, has only threatened to leave me once for body hair mismanagement and to be honest, I'd probably leave me too.

Whatever happened to manicures, pedicures, visits to the hairdressers and some professional waxing?

A baby.

Seriously, I've got to get a grip, or I'll be wearing socks and sandals before I know it ... actually, come to think of it, that sounds really quite comfy ...

What a difference a baby makes - an apology to my mum friends everywhere

At 40 years of age, I had left it quite late to have my first child. I don't want to say that he wasn't planned, because I happen to think that he was always going to be born, I just didn't know when. I've been surrounded by friends and family with babies all my life and what I realise now is that I was really quite scared of them. Babies that is, not my friends and family.

It was easier to leave the cooing and holding and nappy changing to my sister, who seemed to have a natural talent with both babies and small fury animals. I must have come across as aloof and disinterested, but actually I was terrified of not holding them properly, not changing a nappy properly, not feeding them properly, etc etc ad perfectionist infinitum.

I focused on my career. I got irritated with work colleagues on maternity leave or working less hours to accommodate family life. I partied. I bought a nice house. I had long lunches and danced into the early hours. I worked even harder, often because I was covering for colleagues on maternity leave in a small business, and yes, I'm still a bit annoyed about that.

As more of my friends started to have babies, I found new friends with no interest in having children. I still spoke to old friends, but I wasn't the friend I could have been if I hadn't been so scared and, as a consequence, disinterested and unsympathetic.

So far, W has been a very easy baby. He has had no health problems apart from a little cradle cap, he eats well, he has slept through the night from about 11 weeks and he smiles and laughs a lot. We know how lucky we are. And still, our easy baby is really really really hard work.

I wish now that I had been there as a support for friends whether their babies were easy or tricky. To ask the right questions, invite their ranting and listen properly as they just talked about how hard it really is to have children. I'm not giving myself a really hard time about this by the way, although I do wonder whether I might have really let some new mums down. The fact is, that as human beings, we naturally tend to identify more with those that we have a lot in common with. When friends move into different lifestages at different times, it can be tricky to find the common ground that keeps you close. I notice the same thing happening with mum, whose social time is increasingly spent with her single friends from the gym, rather than the friends she had as a couple with dad. I think it's one of those harsh realities that people can often not identify with a situation and truly empathise until it has happened to them.

So, I am sorry for not being there sometimes when I might have been able to help. Here are 20 things (in no particular order) that I have learned in the last 4 months that I would have already known if I had been there to listen:

1) The never-ending feeling of responsibility
2) It really does take forever to get out of the house and yes you really do need all that stuff
3) Babies are expensive, even when you have lots of second hand stuff
4) It is tempting to stick them in front of the TV for 5 minutes just to get some peace
5) Looking after a baby is the hardest job with the longest hours that I've ever done
6) You need some time off for you every week - that doesn't mean you don't love your child or you're a bad mother
7) It is amazing watching them learn new things, feeling them touch your face or hold your hand
8) Ditch the black wardrobe in favour of milk sick coloured items and just deal with the poo
9) You will not always agree with your other half on how to raise your child
10) Sex can be hard to get back into, may not feel the same, is disrupted by a baby monitor with the sound up, and is really important for maintaining intimacy in your relationship
11) Don't stress too much about your baby's routine when he's having a lovely day out with the grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins/sisters .... just let them get on with it
12) Give them plenty of cuddles now because the time is gone so quickly and it's really hard (apparently) to spoil a baby up to the age of 6 months
13) On the whole, babies up to 3 months cry for a reason
14) Don't stress it if you don't get on with breast feeding
15) You are the centre of their world; they think you're amazing; enjoy it while you can!
16) Always smile at your baby, no matter how you're feeling
17) Get out and about so they can hang out with other babies
18) Accept all offers of assistance
19) Ask for help when you need it
20) Keep talking to your other half, get some time alone, be kind to each other even when you don't feel like it, agree expectations, make love

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Crochet Happy!

Can happiness be found through crafting? Can crafting, in particular knitting and crochet improve well-being? A group of psychologists has been exploring whether crafts such as knitting (including crochet) and cross-stitch can help with pain management and recovery from depression. Much of the evidence so far appears to be anecdotal, but studies are underway that hope to demonstrate the physical and psychological benefits of these crafts.

If you're interested in knowing more about crochet and knitting and how they may be used to manage pain and recover from depression, have a look at Stitchlinks, which is run by Betsan Corkhill. This is the opening text from the Welcome Page, which sums up what they are doing far better than I ever could:

"Stitchlinks is pioneering an exciting approach to healthcare which could have global implications and a massive, positive impact on wellbeing.

We are at the core of groundbreaking research, and a movement which utilises crafts, in particular knitting, to improve wellbeing. Stitchlinks is the central hub of this innovative work where you'll find a direct link to the researchers and accurate, up-to-date information.

Our mission is to use knitting and other activities to improve wellbeing generally, but also to complement medical treatments in the self-management of long-term illness. We are working closely with academics and clinicians, and as a direct result, therapeutic knitting and therapeutic knitting groups are being formally acknowledged by leading clinicians and academics for their benefits in mainstream healthcare."

I'm going to keep posting on this subject when more information is available, simply because I instinctively believe there is a connection, based on my own experiences. There is great value in doing something to take your mind off whatever might be bothering you. And why not create something beautiful (or not, it doesn't matter!!) at the same time.

Girl's crochet cardigan

girl's crochet cardigan

This crochet cardigan for a 3-4 year old has been lovely to make. I used the crochet pattern - Cardigan and Sweater from King Cole 3033 in King Cole Smooth DK. The colour is violet (King Cole Smooth DK 888).

You'll also need a 4mm and a 3mm crochet hook. It's a lot easier to make than it might look. The biggest challenge was getting the tension right with the 3mm crochet hook for the front bands and collar.

Have fun!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Head to toe bedroom moment

I'm giving W his bedtime bottle. All is calm, although he is eating rather greedily as he has been to his grandparents today.

So whose gurgle was that? Mine or W's?

If I knew the answer to that question, I probably wouldn't be sitting here covered in sick, from head to toe ... and I'm wearing all black ... again ...

But seriously, when I'm holding him, I can't tell whose stomach it is that is gurgling. When his is going off, it somehow feels like it's mine. Does anyone else think that they still feel some physiological links with their baby? If so, how long does it go on for I wonder ... when is the connection finally lost. Maybe for some it never is, which might account for that sixth sense that some mothers seem to have when their children, even as adults, are in trouble somehow.

I'm not sure we will ever know the answer to that question, so I shall focus on what I can do something about, which is to swap all my black clothes for white/cream until W's on solids!

I've been having the strangest fantasies ...

Recently, I've been having the strangest fantasies ...

1) A life-size cardboard cut out of myself with a tape recording of my voice cooing, chatting nonsense and singing nursery ryhmes (painful listening to anyone but W - actually come to think of it, maybe it's not good listening experience for him either!)
2) A hologram like the one on Star Wars that R2D2 has in his memory banks of Princess Leia, although I'll need a new script for that one and I'm not sure about that hair do either
3) Time travel - possibly a little far-fetched even for fantasy and I'm not sure where the science has got to since I read that Einstein's Theory of Relativity has come in for some stick recently

Now that he's a bit older and has worked out that he isn't going to starve, he's looking for ongoing entertainment. It's like watching a real life experiment on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs! So, how on earth do you satisfy a 4 month old's needs for social engagement, learning and development whilst preserving your own sanity and getting some work done? Can you teach babies to entertain themselves or is that a character trait that they are born with? Don't get me wrong, I'm not wanting to abandon him to his own devices all day every day, but how do you teach children to play happily on their own as well as with others? If I can nail that, then I will be able to stop dreaming about 1), 2) and 3) above and get some more work done!




Tuesday, 1 May 2012

WorkMad - brilliant positive psychology at work

For anyone interested in how organisations might best motivate and engage their professional workforce during times of change, WorkMad provides a suite of consulting, coaching and training services designed to improve employee well-being and resilience, particularly when the going gets tough. I can think of a whole host of my old clients that would benefit from adopting a strengths-based approach!

The site also has a useful introduction to Positive Psychology generally, highlighting the key ideas without drowning the reader. It's run by Bridget Grenville-Cleave. Bridget has an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology at the University of East London – the first qualification of its kind in Europe. The specialises in the well-being of organisations and professionals. Bridget is also a founder member of the International Positive Psychology Association and writes a regular column for the online journal, Positive Psychology News Daily. She is also a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, MBA (Open), and a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Pathway to feeling good

Can it be found through crafting? A group of psychologists has been exploring whether crafts such as knitting (including crochet) and cross-stitch can help with pain management and recovery from depression. Much of the evidence so far appears to be anecdotal, but studies are underway that hope to demonstrate the physical and psychological benefits of these crafts.

In the meantime Stitchlinks, which is run by Betsan Corkhill. This is the opening text from the Welcome Page, which sums up what they are doing far better than I ever could:

"Stitchlinks is pioneering an exciting approach to healthcare which could have global implications and a massive, positive impact on wellbeing.

We are at the core of groundbreaking research, and a movement which utilises crafts, in particular knitting, to improve wellbeing. Stitchlinks is the central hub of this innovative work where you'll find a direct link to the researchers and accurate, up-to-date information.

Our mission is to use knitting and other activities to improve wellbeing generally, but also to complement medical treatments in the self-management of long-term illness. We are working closely with academics and clinicians, and as a direct result, therapeutic knitting and therapeutic knitting groups are being formally acknowledged by leading clinicians and academics for their benefits in mainstream healthcare."