Some of you may remember me beginning my sea-ripple blanket back at the end of August / beginning of September last year, inspired by the constantly shifting colours of the sea that had struck me while by the coast, in Dorset, earlier in the summer. It all began swimmingly and I took, what I thought was a lot of care in sorting out the array of colours and arranging them in an order which I thought would work. It's a big blanket, (or will be), so, of course, it's yarn-hungry. I had chosen to use Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino primarily because, although it's expensive, it comes in the most wonderful range of nuanced colours and this is what I was after - the pale silver and white of a cresting wave or breaking ripples slipping onto sand, the eau de nil and translucent pale greens of shallow water, the deeper teals and turquoises of mid-depth lagoons and the whole range of blues, through to violets of the open sea in its different moods. Of course a lot of these colours I had to buy, but some I already had left over from other projects and in the cause of thriftiness, (or at least in opposition to downright profligacy!), I wanted to be as economical possible by using any colours already in my stash that seemed to fit the overall palette. With hindsight, this was, at least partially, a mistake.
To begin with, all went well and I fairly quickly hooked up the first run of stripes, two rows of each of the twenty seven colours and had even begun the first few stripes of the second run. My sea-ripple then became becalmed like the Sargasso Sea and not a breeze or breath of wind disturbed its hooky surface! I told myself that it was a "WIP" and that the reason it was not progressing was that I was "busy with other projects over the autumn". To some extent this was true as I was making a number of things as Christmas presents to give away and there are only so many hours in the day, free from work, in which Mrs T can hook away, but "being busy with other projects over the autumn" was not the real reason it had become becalmed.
I got it out again a couple of weeks ago, after months with nary a ripple disturbing its surface. Fortunately there were no eels in its sea-weedy folds, unlike the real Sargasso Sea, or mercifully any other livestock for that matter(!) but the depressing truth hit me that the real reason that it had become becalmed was that the Colours Were Not Working and on closer inspection there were specific colours that were playing out of tune with the rest. And yes, you've guessed it, the rogue colours were principally those ones that I had already had in my stash and thought I could eke out the new ones with. The worst offender was a soft heathery purple which I had had a slight reservation about originally but which I had suppressed. Unfortunately this colour had come early on in the run of stripes which meant that in order to remove it I would have to frog virtually the entire thing. Eeek!
But once I had seen the purple for what it was - a cuckoo in the nest - there was nothing for it. So frog it I did, much to the chagrin of Duck, my crochet mascot, who regards frogging as a dirty word and an even dirtier concept! He has a particular penchant for blankets and when he realised what I'd done to what he thought was a blanket almost a third of the way through, he was most upset, as you can see and did all he could to stop me frogging any more!
Here he is nursing what remained of the blanket at the end of the frogging, i.e. not a lot!
In the process of frogging my hours of work, I discovered that the purple was not the only "cuckoo" - the pale sandy colour, "String", also had to go and two greens that had, like the purple, come from my pre-existing stash had too much red in them and were jarring painfully with the blue tones of the rest of the colours.
|Before frogging out the "cuckoos"|
1 It is not always easy to predict in advance how colours will work together in a large scale piece like a blanket just from seeing the colours in the skein or ball, even when set out in the order in which they will appear.
2 Even colours that do seem to work together, play differently and sometimes unexpectedly in an overall run of repeated stripes.
3 If a project gets becalmed, it's probably because something fundamental has gone awry and it's worth fixing it rather than just ploughing on and not loving it. Having frogged out the "cuckoos", progress is now flowing again and much more easily and enjoyably. I like to have several projects on the go at any one time - small things as well as a bigger thing - but if the bigger project never gets picked up, something's gone wrong!
4 Thrift is a virtue which most of us are conscious of the need to cultivate but it needs to be deployed carefully. The waste of money, if I had simply never finished or enjoyed the sea-ripple, as it started out, would have been shocking. Better to bite on the bullet of the artistic requirements of a project and save up, if necessary, for what it needs, than spoil it, by cutting corners for parsimony's sake.
5 If your instinct tells you a colour is not quite right, it probably isn't!
6 Lucy of Attic 24, in her interview in Simply Crochet, a while back, which you can read about in her post here, made the point that for any crochet project - and I guess especially for a big one such as a blanket, - it matters that everything about it should make the heart sing - the colours, the yarn, the pattern. She is so right. If those things are not making the heart sing, the Sargasso eels may have the last word!
7 Frogging is not the end of the world. It cost a pang to undo so much but it hasn't taken nearly so long to make good again as I thought and not a scrap of yarn has been wasted. The yarn that failed to sing in the sea-ripple will sing elsewhere, I am sure, and everything else has simply been recrocheted back in place. So if your fingers are hovering over something that you think in your heart of hearts needs frogging, I'd say, "Plunge in and get the awful sense of unravelling over so that you can begin again!"
|After recrocheting and omitting the "cuckoos"|
Penelope however, being a wise and canny lady, with no flies on her, in order to buy herself time, promised she would choose one of them when she'd finished her weaving. The suitors accepted this but what they did not realise was that every evening, by torchlight, Penelope frogged all the work she had done during the day thereby ensuring the weaving would never reach completion! Every evening for three years, unravelling the whole day's work - can you imagine?!
You might think the suitors would have noticed that the cloth never grew but luckily they were so befuddled with drinking the wine from Odysseus' cellar and making merry in his great hall that for three years she got away with it and they were only alerted to her ruse when one of her maids gave her away.
Fortunately for all concerned, at this point Odysseus does come back and the suitors' game is up. I like to think that in the peaceful aftermath of his return, as Odysseus sat by the olive-wood fire in his own hearth, drinking the dark wine from his Ithacan vines, out of his two-handled golden cup that Antinous, one of Penelope's suitors, had once rashly dared to appropriate, but never in the end drank from, he told the magical stories of his adventuring journey back from Troy and Penelope went back to her weaving. And instead of making a future shroud for her father-in-law, Laertes, which was the original purpose of her work, she perhaps turned it into a tapestry incorporating scenes and pictures of what she heard and she never unravelled a single stitch! And when Odysseus' storytelling finally came to a close, the tapestry was finished and was hung beside the great bed Odysseus had made himself, with a living olive tree acting as one of the bedposts, a glorious and triumphant riot of artistry and workmanship attesting that frogging never has the last word!
Anyway, now that progress is advancing happily on my blanket, I find I have more than made up for lost time. It is now again almost a third of the way through, although I may have to do more than my expected three runs of each set of stripes - taking out four colours from the original scheme in total means the blanket will be about 12"shorter than anticipated if I don't add some additional repeats.
But never mind! My Sargasso Sea-Ripple is no longer becalmed! And my frogging pales into insignificance beside Penelope's!
I am also happy because, inspired by Kat at Needles & Natter who has made lovely colourful handles for her crochet hooks - red and blue ones spotted with cheerful white polka dots and a fabulous stripy rainbow one too - and armed with her instructions as to how to go about it, I have turned my boring old grey aluminium crochet hook into a more sprightly, daisied version using some oddments of blue, white and yellow Fimo polymer clay. To be strictly truthful I think I should have made the handle slightly longer down the hook but the supply of available Fimo in the house was restricted to what H had left behind from a modelling fest a while back and I had to make do with what there was. It felt a bit strange using it for the first couple of rows but now it feels very comfortable in the hand and I just love the look of it!
Happy Weekend Everyone!