Hello and welcome to Patchwork House . . . . .
my little corner of the world in England, where you will find me addicted to colour and playing with yarn!

28 January 2018

The Black Forest Blanket

This beautiful colour recipe began years ago,
 with an order for a customer. As I worked with these
 fabulous shades of Stylecraft Special DK
 it conjured up images of chocolate cake and berries
 and so the name Black Forest, from the gateaux, was born!

The colour recipe has attracted so much attention from my followers.
You need 1 each of
 walnut mocha stone cream plum grape pale rose
 and 4 parchment for joining.
You can buy this yarn

I've used the colour pack for many creations and it always looks fabulous.

If you are a beginner a simple granny square is the place to start.
You can follow the instructions for

A cushion is a quick simple project.
You can follow my 
Wrap Around Cushion Cover tutorial

Recently I've added a custom order slot to my Etsy shop,
 so that people can order a hot water bottle at any time of year
 and have it made in their own choice of colours and design.
 The black forest hot water bottle was born
 and is proving to be a popular request!
You can visit my Etsy shop

So it seemed a good idea to use this colour pack for a new blanket.
I have made many of these over the years
 but they have all been given away,
 so at last its time to have one here at Patchwork House.

The pattern I have used is the Starburst Flower by Jane Brocket.
It is in the book called
The Gentle Art of Knitting (it contains some crochet too!)
and was also in issue 2 of Mollie Makes magazine.
You can buy the book HERE from just £3.44

There are also many free patterns available,
you can try a search for starburst flower and its also called sunburst granny. 
You will find patterns on Ravelry, Pinterest and You Tube.

Planning with this pattern is easy
 as each square measures approx 10cm when I use a 4mm hook.
I have made 144 flowers which I arranged in 12 rows of 12,
this has made a blanket 120cm square.
 You could also do 10x14 or 11x13 if you prefer a rectangular throw.

Before you start you need to the maths.
I need 144 middles and have 7 colours.
so if I make 20 of each colour I will then need 4 more to make 144.

So the production line began making 20 of round 1 in each colour.
I love to work as a production line. You brain and fingers remember
 the stitch and if you make 20 from the same ball of yarn
 you are not wasting time changing colours.
When each middle is finished I make a reef knot with the 2 tails. 
This will not show but will ensure that your work will never come undone.
 Leave tails of about 4 inches / 10cm.

I like to keep my work organised on a tray
then I can see at a glance where I am up to and nothing gets lost!

Next its time to plan round 2 and this is where my fun starts!
 I absolutely love this stage of planning the colour combinations!
 If you follow this system, its really easy to make sure
 all 144 flowers are unique and that you have no repeats.

Lay out your 7 balls.
Take 1 set of middles, here I am using plum.
Share out the middles so that there are 3 on some and 4 on others.
So you can see here there will be 4 plum middles with a cream round 2, 
3 with a walnut round 2 and of course there are none by the plum.

Take the next colour, here I have grape and again share them out
 so there are 3 on some and 4 on others.
I try to keep an equal number to ensure the finished blanket will look balanced

Keep on doing this with all your middles until you have 20 lined up by each ball,
 then add the 4 extras,1 on each of any 4 colours.

If you have children or pets, you will now need to put each ball of yarn
 with their 20 or 21 middles, in a small plastic bag to keep them safe! 
This also makes your work portable
 and easy to grab when you want to take your crochet out.

That little bit of planning now makes it easy for you to work efficiently on round 2.
Sitting down with a cuppa (in a matching mug of course),
 I can now quickly make 20 round 2 from the same colour
 and have the satisfaction of a pile done in no time!
I love the starburst flower pattern as each round is a different stitch,
 which adds lovely variety to your work. So again working
 in batches helps your fingers and brain to pick up the rhythm
 of the pattern quickly and before you know it you've got another pile done!

Now something I'm always asked about is what do I do with the ends.
 Some of you seem to hate them,but I never worry about these.
 If you want colour you have ends, that's just part of the process.
 In this pattern its easy as the stitches are very close,
 you can hold the ends from round 1 and 2 at the back of your work
 and crochet over them. Then when you've finished round 2 simply cut off any remaining tails from round 1.

A few days later all the round 2 is complete
 and now its time to plan round 3 in exactly the same way as you did before.
 Make sure as you plan that you never repeat a colour in any flower,
 it should have 3 different colours. Again sort them,
 so that you have 20 on each ball and the 4 extras can go on any. 

I find great pleasure in seeing the flowers accumulating in my basket.
You can see here the small balls wound from the leftover yarn. So you have used nearly all of the colour pack making 144 flowers. If you want to make a larger blanker simply order 2 packs.

This tray looks so edible doesn't it!
Cookies, macaroons or chocolate cake,
 whatever is your fancy! Working with this pack
 is sure to make you want to indulge in some lovely hooky snacks!

Finally its time to join and the fun now is laying out the 144 flowers in 12 rows of 12.
I try to keep the layout balanced by having roughly the same number of each outer colour in each row. It takes some time and several  rethinks but is a really worthwhile activity.

When I have arrived at my final plan I label each row
then stack up the rows in my basket for safe keeping.
 Even though we have no pets or small children,
 I'm not risking my layout being disturbed!

The next stage is to make the circles into squares.
In the pattern this is round 4.
 If you do make round 4, you would then be ready to join your squares
 either by sewing or crocheting them together.
 I have 2 tutorials that would be helpful here

However my preferred way of joining for this blanket
 is using the continuous join as you go method.
 This way the whole blanket is joined in 1 go, with no cutting of the yarn.
 This means a huge saving of time
 as there are 288 ends less by not making each square!
 Wow think about that!
Learn this method and you will never go back!

If you have never done this before
 start by reading my original tutorial,
 for joining squares using the continuous join as you go.
 This will teach you the direction in which to work
 and how to join 1 row and then add the 2nd and the 3rd and so on.

Once you understand the direction to work in
the only difference is for how to add circles instead of squares.
You will need to read the new tutorial for this

So you join the circles in row 1

then add row 2

row 3 and 4
 and before you know it its starting to feel more like
 a blanket than a scarf!

I was delighted to realise that this black forest colour recipe
 goes perfectly with my lovely chair!
 I like to work here in the mornings
 as the daylight is very good here with 2 windows behind me. 
So this is where the blanket is going to live!

The continuous join as you go method,
 produces a lovely texture to the blanket, adding an extra dimension I think.

Finally when all your rows are added
 and the joining is complete, its time for edging the blanket.
As you can see here in this picture below, the edge is not quite straight.
So to begin with I always add a foundation row before making the edging,
 to level this out.

I simply made 1 round of dc, (UK crochet terms)
 1 in each stitch and 3 in the corners,
 but where my hook is pointing we need to level out the dip.
 So at this point I used trebles as a taller stitch is needed.
You are going to treble 2 together.
In the corner of the right square make half a treble
 and leave it on the hook (2 loops),
 then in the corner of the left square make half a treble, (4 loops)
now pull the yarn through all 4 creating 1 stitch. 
Continue around the whole blanket
 and finish the round with a slip stitch into the first dc.

For round 2 I made a very simple edging.
Chain 3, dc in the same stitch.
Miss a stitch.
Slip stitch in next stitch,
This edging will nicely go around the corners
 and finishes off the blanket well.

If you would rather add a deep border
 simply order 1 extra ball of parchment and you will then be able to do that.

It has been a pleasure to share this lovely colour pack with you.
Please remember to share your photos of your work in the
 I'd love to see your work in these colours.

Writing tutorials about my crochet is my work. Unpaid work.
 To produce this blog post has taken weeks of crochet,
 hours of photography, editing of photographs
 and days spent writing at my computer.
It is my pleasure to share my work and to encourage others to have a go.
 Crochet brings me such joy and satisfaction
 and if I can pass this on to others who may also suffer with chronic illness,
 then I have job satisfaction. The rhythmic action of crochet
 and the concentration required takes me to a better place
 and I hope it will help you too.

If you have enjoyed this blog post
 please consider making a donation via Paypal
 to help support my work here at The Patchwork Heart.
You can donate using the app
 on the sidebar of the blog when viewed on a computer.

I hope you have many happy hours with your hook
enjoy the crochet therapy
x x x


Anonymous said...

Another exquisite blanket and tutorial, Heather. I am determined to learn the join as you go method for this one. Thank you so much for all you do.

Trish Stevens said...

Thanks Heather! I love this colour recipe and think it works particularly well with the sunburst pattern. And thank you for theJAYG circles tutorial. I always enjoy your FB, insta and blog posts_keep up the good work! I hope you are recovering from last week's exertions. Will be making a donation. xxx

Haley said...

Thank you SO much for sharing all of your tips and tricks. You have inspired me to make a bedspread from this gorgeous sunburst pattern and I've learned so much from your tutorials. I love your work!

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