A Pastel Dream!

Posted by Eleanor Burke on

Over a year ago I saw a story on Mahliqa Jewellery's instagram stories which featured a group of people at her stall at a fibre festival. They were all smiling and the sort of dishevelled that only a yarn festival can cause. One of the subjects was wearing the most beautiful granny square jumper in the entire world. I literally gasped and took a screen shot straight away - but I needn't have because the image is still absolutely in my mind. So gorgeous. 

It was made of simple granny squares, crocheted in shades of creams/beiges with rounds of deep reds, russets, army greens and navies for pops of colour. Almost certainly a using-up-bits-and-bobs sweater. There was a cream edging. Long sleeves. The deep V, which was what really caught my eye, was created by the granny squares being placed like diamonds. So there was one in the middle, at the front of the chest and then the neck was created by the simple placement of granny squares in rows and columns from there. Are you ready for some beautiful artwork?

A crude drawing of diamonds laid out to form a 'V neck' shape. The diamonds are outlined in green and the V is denoted in red.

I can't share the original image - first because it's not mine, second because I don't know the people in the image and third because I smashed my phone and could never recover the stuff off it (I find that quite liberating actually, but I genuinely miss this photo). 

I didn't start anything straight away - I left it percolating. I couldn't work out if I wanted to use scraps or start something new. I've not actually got that many scraps any more since I did a lot of minimalising in 2018 and I try to do projects to use them up as I go now or pass them on. 

I'm not sure what the catalyst for starting it off was, because I can't actually remember starting it, and I'm not sure why I chose the colours that I did either but I chose the gorgeous Finesse DK in four pastel shades - a lemon, a mint, a turquoise and a peach with cream in Cottonsoft for the edging. The Cottonsoft in Ecru is like the literal nicest cream in the entire world - can you believe I'm saying that? I do know that I was early on in the process when me and Dr Chris went camping last year to a place just outside of Lincoln. I remember it really because there was no electricity - or plumbing... so I took this to be my 'mindful, sitting-in-a forest crochet'. Writing this sent me on a rabbit hole to try and find a photo but it looks like I never shared them anywhere and they would have been on my old phone also, so my beautiful yurt, compost toilet and market garden photos will never reach the light of day. Scratch that!!!  I remembered I sent a photo of the compost toilet and some sort of woodworking set up to my mum so I'll show you those: 

A slightly ramshackle looking hut in the middle of a forest. You can't tell but it is a compost toilet. A soggy looking forest with a large wooden structure in the foreground. It's delicate looking, there's not a lot of wood but they're long pieces fashioned together with string. I think it makes some sort of turning effect so that wood can be shaped. There are ramshackle huts in the background.

I remember very clearly being a passenger in the car, listening to a podcast on the way to our weekend away. I am forever grateful that I do not get carsick. The squares that I crocheted on that weekend though - and I crocheted a whole lot because it rained all the time - were too stiff. I think I used a 3.5mm hook which actually works quite nicely with the Finesse Cotton as it's a little on the fine side and the squares felt lovely. But when I started to crochet them together, months later, it was obvious quite early that I hadn't got the tension right. I wanted this jumper to be loose and sloppy and it just wasn't. I also used my 'patented' (not at all patented) method of crocheting things together which is wonderful for a blanket - solid and attractive, not too ridgey and stretches at the same rate as crochet - but it all added to the bulk of the thing. 

Four, floral granny sqaures in shades of beige, blue and cream crocheted together with beige.

So I put the whole thing away in a bag. For months and months and months. 

It only came out of the bag when I needed a nice easy project at some point, again, no idea when really. But I used a much bigger crochet hook - either a 4.5mm or a 5mm (actually, I think I used a combo of both because you can really tell the difference in size and tension between some of the squares...) - and made bigger squares, mostly crocheting straight from the previously crocheted squares and trying my best to be clever about which square I took the yarn from so I wouldn't have to break the yarn any more than I already had. So if the colour I wanted to use was previously used as an outside layer, I would try not to use it on an inside layer for example because that obviously takes less yarn and so I'd be adding a break. Because I was reusing the yarn I had already sewn in most of the ends and because the new squares were bigger than the old ones I also had to make more joins anyway and because for both projects each layer was a different colour this was a. very. endy. project. I have never sewn so many ends in. But I did it diligently and ~mostly~ as I went along for the second go round. (Read: I panicked when I saw how many ends there would be after about half of the squares were done and started sewing in the ends of two squares for every one square finished plus a few more if I was in the mood). 

A pile of crochet on a lap. It's granny squares in pastels but not obvious what it is. There are lots of ends.

Of course I didn't go as far as making any plans at all really so I had no idea how many squares I needed when I started or restarted. I made enough to make a couple of strips and then I started crocheting them together and held them up to myself. Then I made a few scribbled plans in my bujo and a photo of some squares laid out on top of each other (which I referred to a lot but have apparently deleted).

An open journal held up by a white hand. The page is cream and there are scribbled drawings of a patch work jumper in pink and black biro. There are also scribbled notes, numbers and codes but I have no idea what they are now.

By this time I had completed this jumper and the designer has a beautiful way of putting those squares together which was much more open and fitted in with the sloppy style I wanted. 

Four granny squares in shades of blue, cream and beige crocheted together with a dark blue colour in a slightly open way.

It was all going very well but the pure amount of ends meant I didn't naturally reach for it on an every day basis, so when I went to Sweden I took it with me knowing I would have the time to devote to it and by gum, I finished it whilst I was there! The second jumper finish of that holiday!! 

Two jumpers laid out on a wooden table. The front is crocheted in pastel colours, not finished and with a lot of ends!! The back is knitted, in fairisle, is beige, navy and purple.

The crocheting together, once I'd got into the flow of it was so weird, it felt like an Escher painting. I'd start crocheting from the bottom of one strip, it would take me over the shoulder and before I know it I'm at an armpit, down the arm and crocheting back up and over the total other side of the jumper. It was a magical mystery tour of seaming and not one I think I could reinterpret myself which is why I'll never be writing this up!!

The original jumper I was inspired by had a zig zaggy bottom, created by just leaving the edges of the squares free (maybe with an edging) but I knew I wanted a straight bottom so I made little half squares. And this is the finished piece: 

Eleanor, a fat white woman with short brown hair poses for the camera wearing black shorts and an oversized, crochet jumper in pastel shades. The shop behind her is a mess.

I love it!!! I actually wasn't convinced when I first tried it on. It's a bit all-over-too-big for me, I often do oversized but I usually have shorter, tighter sleeves or a shorter body. I wore it anyway on the first day after it was washed and blocked and I loved loved loved wearing it! The problem is, it doesn't really go with any of my clothes - colour wise it's fine, even though it's out of my norm - but it feels too baggy for the majority of my clothes. I imagined it with a couple of my York Pinafores (made by Steph and gratefully received when she shrank out of them!) but it feels too clunky because it's too over all baggy. It only really feels good with this tight black skirt and tights. Which is fine, but I really want to style it with other things.

Also scratch that (the joy of writing a blog and then forgetting about it...) - I bought these black shorts yesterday and I think it looks great with them! I know you all think, because I suppose I say it, that I'm totally body confidence all the time but I feel weird in these shorts even though I show the same amount or more leg in my skirts quite often, it feels weird because I'm not used to trousers. I've got a top tip for wearing stuff out of your comfort zone though - imagine, with all of your being, that people are really appreciating how you look in it. Because they probably are - I look too cute not to! 

I often find this with finished garments. I'll finish them, like them (or sometimes not... and then they go away for a while, for fresh eyes) but it will take me some time to work out my wardrobe to suit. I don't have a huge amount of clothes - more than some I'm sure but I limit my clothes to one smallish cupboard and a small wardrobe. I regularly send things off to friends or the charity shop - even handmade things - I enjoy the idea that somebody, especially somebody fat, will get a piece that I lovingly made and hopefully they'll love and cherish it too. So my wardrobe evolves quite a lot but there's a fair bit of movement in and out - so maybe something will occur which will make me see it in a new light. 

It's just struck me that this would make a lovely cover up after a day on the beach actually. I can imagine wearing it over a bikini as the sun goes down and then just adding a pair of cycling shorts or loose trousers as we pack up and wander to find some fish and chips. 

Gosh. Summer is coming (it's here!). I don't love it but I do love the chance to be beside the seaside! 

Love Eleanor. xxx

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