Under the Christmas tree one parcel loomed larger than the rest; enticingly squishy, like a cloud dressed up in reindeer wrapping paper. I had a pretty good idea what it was; after all, it’s hard to disguise 15 balls of yarn neatly tied up in a pretty bag that’s exactly the same size and shape as the big squishy birthday present the childen gave me last summer, and the big squishy Christmas present they gave me a couple of years ago. Those presents are now part of a blanket and a blanket respectively, and every inch of puritanical work ethic in me had screamed that there should only be one crochet blanket kit on the go at any one time and that I should absolutely definitely finish Hydrangea before I started unsubtly leaving Wool Warehouse pages open on the computer. There are times when my inner puritan is right, but happily for all of us the colour magpie running through my soul won out. The page was left open, the family are well trained in the taking of hints when it comes to yarn, and my soft and squishy parcel was the yarn for this year’s Attic 24 Crochet-a-long.
Lucy of Attic 24 needs no introduction to anyone who has ever encountered the tiniest longing towards making a crochet blanket or immersed themselves in Yarndale; she has a joyfully whimsical colour sense that takes inspiration from the brightest and best of nature all around her, and I’ve yet to see one of her blanket designs that doesn’t just cheer up a morning. My one finished blanket, the Cottage Ripple, is a firm family favourite, and though I may have temporarily abandoned it in favour of the Christmas knitting, Hydrangea is a walk back into the summers of my childhood where they grow quite enormous in the sandy soil and soft salty air.
The 2018 CAL theme is Woodland; all the shades of Hembury Woods in the Autumn half term holidays; where greens and golds cling to the trees and every delicious shade of russet orange crunches under foot, and while to open up this yarny paintbox under the shade of the Christmas tree felt a little bit like doing the seasons in reverse, it’s enough that there is not a single colour in this pack that I didn’t love on sight.
The pattern is a return to the ripple, though not the same gentle ripple as my Cottage blanket, it’s more similar to an old shale or feather and fan knitting pattern, with narrower rows that curve through the pattern like vines up a tree trunk.
The CAL started on 5 January and I cleared my evening of all plans to sit down and get stuck into the swatch and the interminable cast on. I’ll admit when I saw the plans for each week my eyes popped out on stalks a little bit; 18 colours a week (so 36 rows in total) is a lot of crocheting at my speed, and I always knew I’d never keep up with the pace. I did try, I really really tried, and I finished week 1 on the day after Week 2 was posted, which I thought was pretty good going.
My wrist disagreed. Ever since my left wrist and elbow were jarred in a car crash two summers ago they’ve just not been as strong as they once were. That initial bout of tendonitis took an age to recover from and I’ve been lucky to avoid more than the occasional flare up since. If I look after myself I can knit and sew and quilt and write without any problems, and I’d never had problems with crochet before but the issues with my wrist, the way I crochet and a week of marathon crocheting was clearly a perfect storm.
It took a considerable amount of effort to put down my blanket and walk away for a couple of weeks and I’ve spent the time watching videos of crochet, collecting an array of different and hopefully more ergonomic crochet hooks and trying to rest and strengthen my wrist and I think I’m just about ready to pick it back up again. Slowly. very slowly.
I’m not sure whether that means that I’m still technically joining in the CAL (I’m on week 2, the super speedy crocheters are just starting week 4!); if I’m lucky my Woodland blanket will be finished in the autumn, which is probably just as it should be.
In the meantime if you have any top tips for keeping hands and wrists happy while crocheting, please do let me know.