NOTE: There is a lot of technical crochet talk in this post, but there is also a pretty clear description of my creative process of A to Z, so maybe you will find that interesting, you non-crocheters. Also, an N hook is 9mm in diameter, and almost as big as my pinkie finger, whereas the hooks I normally use are 1.4mm in diameter.
Meet the Toast Blanket. This blanket has been a long time in progress labor of love. Here is its story.
Once upon a time, I made the daffodil blanket. It is crochet, out of acrylic Red Heart. Each flower was made, trumpet first and then petals, and then sewn onto the hexagon. I had the pleasure of making it for a friend with vision whom, when I showed her the pattern in a book and lamented that I would never get to make it because no one I knew would ever be cool enough to want it, rose to the occasion.
This blanket, crocheted in 2006, is related to the toast blanket in a round-about way, and demonstrates my dedication to structural crochet on a massive scale.
My friend Crystal and I were discussing the as yet unrealized "Under the Sea" blanket that I’m plotting at the behest Katie, the recipient of the Daffodil Blanket. Crystal proposed a breakfast blanket, with the same basic form as the Daffodil Blanket, in which each hexagon was a plate of breakfast. I thought the idea sounded interesting but too time consuming. I did not, however, veto it completely because I do happen to have a pattern book of crocheted food. When I mentioned this to Katie (a visionary), she suggested that instead of a bunch of little meals, the concept should be one giant piece of toast with a giant fried egg, and two giant strips of bacon. She said she would harness my grandma skills and suggested that I make this as a surprise for Crystal. Basically tell me to make someone a surprise and I’m hooked. All I had to go on was this proposal drawing.
There is Katie in the background of her lovely sketch.
I didn’t even really consider it at the time, but this project turned out to be a big challenge in terms of scale. I started with the egg white. I found a pattern on the lion brand yarn website for the Kew Gardens Afghan and whipped up a circle in no time flat. I knew I wanted to make the toast a ripple blanket. A quick on-line search turned up many different versions of the ripple pattern and I selected one that was a little softer in the ripple, not quite so pointed. Unfortunately, this was long enough ago that I’ve lost that link, but there really are lots. I did free form increases at the top of the afghan to try to mimic the rounded top of a piece of toast. Then I went around the thing for about six rows with dark brown, doing front post crochet stitches every 6 or so stitches to give it a little bit of stiffness. The scale became a problem because every reference piece of crocheted toast that I looked at (and there are more than you would think) was designed to be actual toast size or smaller. After I had finished the toast, I layed out the nearly completed white... and I was sooo disappointed! In the upper left part of the white you can see where I was trying to make the shape of the white more amorphous. It was just failing on so many levels. Add to that the fact that even though I had bought two skeins of white Red Heart, just the same at the same time, of course they were different! You can see in the photo, it looks like they are differing thicknesses or something. So annoying! (And this is not the first time this has happened Red Heart, I mean dye lots are one thing, but thickness lots?) I started work on the yolk, just trying to push on with the project. At this point, it was early November, and I knew I wanted to deliver the gift during my Thanksgiving sojourn home. I had slated a whole weekend to spend with the blanket. I knew, at that point, that I just had to go with my heart. I took the whole white apart and remade it as a doily. This had always been an idea floating around in the back of my mind, but in the interests of verisimilitude, I had packed it to the back. Perhaps it was all the delicious posts that have been turning up recently of beautiful knit doilies on big needles with worsted yarn. (Here is one of my favorite patterns from Brooklyn Tweed.) Anyway, I stuck with what I know, my great love being thread crochet, and dug out The Ultimate Doily Book (because I am the kind of person who sees titles like that in the store and says “oh, well, if it is ultimate, is my library really complete without it?”) I worked up a large copy of “Summer Nights” with my trust N hook and worsted white, and then I sewed that puppy to the blanket at every point I could. I did this all, by the way, while watching hilarious melodramas with titles like A Rage to Live and By Loved Possessed. I’ll tell you there is nothing like trying to see through the tears you are shedding for the tragedy of a life poorly lived by Suzanne Pleshette so you can make sure you are not sewing your blanket to the carpet.
Anyway, I digress and this post is getting way too long. I will just say that the bacon was worked length wise, with the trusty N and three colors of worsted. I did one row of straight single crochets and then started doing little increase patterns, 2 single crochets, 2 half double crochets, 2 double crochets, 2 half triple crochets, 3 triples, and then back down again. That way the work would bubble a little bit like bacon. And then the last row of fat was just an old fashioned ruffle. They were pretty quick and I could do one in the time it takes for Robert Redford to get cornered in the town dump in The Chase. I sewed them down just like I did the doily. A lot of thought went into their placement and curvature, and I owe a debt to my patient husband, who understands that the curve of a giant piece of bacon matters, it matters a lot.
I made a pillow insert for the yolk, just some yellow fabric and fiber fill, and then crocheted a circle to go around it, increasing and then decreasing to surround the pillow. The yolk snaps on, because it is a removable pillow. That’s right, get right out of town, a removable pillow!
Check out that yolk, wandering where it pleases.
Well, that is everything about the blanket. Oh, except that Crystal had the best reaction ever!