Last summer, shortly after I started to crochet, I came across Frank O’Randle‘s work on Ravelry. At the time he was in the process of getting his new pattern, Rings of Change tested. Although it was far beyond my ability, I was fascinated by the pattern and followed the test with interest. Frank also started designing a new blanket, which he called Depths of Change. I’d really like RoC, but the new blanket just took my breath away. From the very start, I have been mesmerised by the changing shapes in it; the spider’s web at the centre, that is suddenly transformed into a diamond, that develops voluptuous curves, then metamorphoses into a square. Every update Frank posted just drew me further in.
When Frank asked for volunteers to test DoC last autumn, I didn’t feel I had nearly enough experience or ability to put myself forwards, but I followed the test avidly. I couldn’t wait for the pattern to be published. Then disaster struck. Frank wasn’t happy with the way his design was making up in testing and he cancelled the test. I could have cried! If there was one pattern I wanted to have a go at, more than anything else, it was this one. All was not lost. While Frank wasn’t happy with his initial pattern, he didn’t want to give up on this blanket. He tweaked it and changed it, whilst also working on other new designs, until he felt it was ready for testing again.
This time, I felt I could offer my services as a tester. I’d learned a lot in the last few months, plus I’ve completed several big projects; I knew that a project of this size wasn’t beyond me. I was thrilled when Frank accepted my offer and not a little anxious! I had done small, complex projects and large, simple projects, this was going to be a large, complex piece of work. Would I be able to manage it? First, I had to choose my yarn. That was easy, Stylecraft Special Aran. It was my first time using their aran weight, but I’ve used a lot of their DK and I love it. It’s cheap, the colours are gorgeous, it feels lovely and soft and is nice to work with. The colour range is a little more limited in the aran, but still good. I already had 2 possible schemes picked out. The first was blues and greys, the second was brown tones, both chosen to give a gradient effect. I opted for the browns, than changed it at the last minute. I was worried that the orange I’d picked would look too bright so swapped it for Burgundy. Not a true gradient in terms of browns, but I would still have the dark to light effect.
When my yarn arrived, I realised that I had 3 dark colours and 3 light ones. I’m using the burgundy, gold, copper and camel in DK in another blanket (along with a dozen or so other colours!) and knew that the burgundy looked particularly good with the gold and the camel went very well with the copper so I decided to to a dark/light arrangement: copper, camel, dark brown, cream, burgundy, gold. I had 3 months to complete my blanket and hoped that it would be enough.
I needn’t have worried. Once I started, I realised that although complex, the pattern isn’t actually very difficult. You do have to concentrate, some rounds demand a lot of counting, and you have to pay attention to what you’re doing but there’s nothing in it that’s outrageously, technically difficult. There are a few sections that use post stitches (just 3, I think) and extended stitches are used extensively throughout but neither of those things are hard to do and if they are new to you, a quick Google search opens up dozens of tutorial videos on YouTube.
I found that as long as I made sure to get the first round in any pattern section right, then there was a logical progression of the pattern through the rounds. Any errors showed up very quickly. There was only one occasion that I had to rip back a whole round, not bad going for a pattern with 97 rounds in it. I enjoyed every moment of this pattern. It was interesting and varied. Some sections were complex, but they’re always followed by a simpler section. I found I could hardly bear to put this project down. As each section unfolded before my eyes, I wanted to get to the next section.
My dark/light colour arrangement worked well although I think it would be impossible to make an ugly blanket with this pattern. I am thrilled with the end result – a 7’x7′ blanket that feels soft and thick. My only regret is that as we have a really warm house, I don’t actually need a thick, heavy blanket. As it is, we only use a summer weight duvet all year round. So, as much as I love it, this blanket will be going to a friend. It matches the colours in her living room and it will have a home on her 4-seater sofa. I am so pleased that this blanket will be used.
Unusually, this blanket caught the eye of my husband. David doesn’t normally pay a lot of attention to what I’m making, but he really liked this. When I was pondering what to do with it, he suggested using it as a wall hanging. It weighs almost 6lb, so is much too heavy but we do have a large space on on the end wall in our bedroom so I’m to make one in 4-ply. That should result in one that’s a much more manageable size and weight to hang on the wall. I was discussing the idea at my quilting class the other day and the class tutor seemed to think it was feasible, especially if it was sewn on to a piece of backing fabric to stop it sagging. Watch this space!