Every year, I make a blanket for my father for Xmas. This past Xmas, I wanted to make something that was special, that would outshine the other blankets that I’ve made him. Given how many I’ve made, that was a daunting task!
But I found this cross stitch pattern and I knew that it was what I was looking for.
It is just a standard cross stitch pattern. I photo copied it so that I could use a high lighter to mark off the stitches that I had completed. Makes it easier to keep track of where you are in the pattern. The idea is pretty simple. For each color in the cross stitch pattern, you pick a color of yarn. Then each square of the pattern becomes a single crochet in the blanket. Working the pattern is the same idea as working it for cross stitch. You just have to change which direction you are working along the pattern each time you flip the project over!
But there were a few unexpected challenges…
The first challenge is that you use all the yarn colors at the same time and you are not cutting the yarn strands as you go along. It becomes essential that you have a method for keeping your yarn organized so that the tangles don’t get too far ahead of you and so that you can easily pull from any of the colors as you go. The box was a simple idea (thank you, Monkey) that really made things a lot easier. Even as the skeins got thin, they stayed up and the yarn drew from them easily. Without this kind of setup, I never would have finished the project.
But there is still the reality that you have to flip the project back and forth as you go along. Leaving the yarn strands connected means that they are going to get tangled. There really is no way to get around this. It just means that every 5-10 rows you have to stop and untangle the thing so that you can keep working. Stopping often keeps it from becoming knots and helps keep the yarn pulling smoothly which is important for the tension. This was the most frustrating part of the project. But as I worked along, I found better and better ways to manage it. (Good thing).
So, the next thing that is really important for this kind of project is being sure that you can switch between the colors smoothly. Part of that is working the active yarn strand beneath the other stitches so that you aren’t cutting the yarn every few stitches. Here, you can see that there are 2 stitches of white. If you cut the yarn when you changed colors, you would have a hard time anchoring the white into the project. But if you keep the yarn connected and work the other colored stitches over it, you don’t have to worry about the anchoring. Be careful how you work the stitches or the color beneath the stitches will show through and that looks like crap. It took me a while to figure out a good way to do this. Essentially, it comes down to pulling the yarn you are hiding taunt while you work loose stitches over the top of it. This gets much more difficult when you are hiding several strands of yarn. Doing this also uses up more yarn then it would if you cut the yarn with each color change. Additionally, doing it this way increases the number of active strands which makes the tangling problem worse.
In the end, I was proud of the project. It isn’t perfect, but I think that it is the best blanket that I have made thus far. It is the most difficult project that I had ever done and I learned a lot from doing it. I will be using cross stitch patterns in the future!
And the most important part? Dad really liked it! That’s what makes all the work worth it. There is nothing like seeing a person’s reaction to a project I made and knowing that they love it.