The Moorland Blanket Crochet-A-Long by Lucy of the Attic24 blog is a lot of fun and a lot of color! Now that I’m 65 rows in, I thought I’d share a few words of advice for my earlier self, or for those who are just embarking on the journey.
- Join the (unofficial) Facebook group and/or Ravelry group to share pictures and add to the fun.
Not only do you get some great eye candy, you also get to ask questions if you need help and you’ll get an answer almost immediately since there are members from across all the globe’s timezones. Don’t forget to Like the Attic24 Facebook page as well and share your pics there. Add your project to Ravelry too and link it to the Moorland pattern page so the designer, Lucy, gets more visibility.
- Even if you’re not in the UK, buy your yarn pack from WoolWarehouse.co.uk.
Their prices are the best (mine was under $30 USD shipped), their delivery is fast and inexpensive, even internationally, and their customer service is top rate. Plus, Lucy gets a small commission for each yarn pack sold which is a small way to thank her for all the work she put into this free CAL.
- Do the swatch!
I know swatching is boring, and I usually skip them for blankets, but listen to Lucy here. If I had gone with what worked for her, a 5 mm hook, my fabric would have been much too loose and I might have run out of yarn from the yarn pack. I know I am a loose crocheter, so I swatched with my trusty 4 mm hook and my gauge was right on. But swatching will not only help you choose the right size hook, it will help you learn the Neat Wave pattern.
- Consider using Foundation Double Crochet (US Foundation Single Crochet) for the foundation row.
I find this makes a neater first row. Here’s a video from Alexis Middleton of Persia Lou with more on why and how to do this:
If you don’t use this kind of foundation row, you may want to go up at least half a hook size if you know you chain tightly to be sure your bottom edge isn’t narrower than your top edge.
- Expect to rip out rows at the beginning, but persevere.
The Neat Wave pattern is deceptively simple, just pairs of three simple stitches in a repeat of 10, but over the course of 180 or more stitches in a row, it’s easy to put a stitch in the wrong place or to forget/add a stitch or two. It’s simple to tell if you’re off when you get to the end of a row (because you’ll either end on a full repeat or a half repeat of the pattern sequence), but I didn’t expect to make as many errors as I did and it was frustrating. Many crafters more experienced than I complained about this often on the Facebook group, so I know it is not just me. But it will click! Minimize distractions in the beginning (Netflix will wait), because this isn’t a good multitasking project at the start. Even now, in Week 4, I found that I had to rip out an entire row because I brought the project to crochet group and was chatting too much rather than counting. (Sigh.)
- Count to 10.
Speaking of counting, I’ve found the best way to keep on track is just to think 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 as I’m stitching. Once you do this enough times, you just know that 5-6 are the trebles (US dc) and 9-10 are doubles (US sc), etc. This was particularly helpful to avoid my most common mistake — forgetting to put the 1-2 pair of doubles (US sc) after the 9-10 pair. Some people count 2-2-2-4 or some other pattern — whatever works for you, just count! Personally, I don’t like to use stitch markers (I resent the time it takes to move them up every few rows), but some swear by them every 10, 20, or 30 stitches to keep them on track.
- Learn what the stitches look like and be able to go quickly back to the last pair of trebles (US doubles) to make sure you’re on track.
If you put your work down and need to start in the middle of a row, the easiest way to tell where you are is to go back to the last pair of trebles (US doubles) and start counting 5-6-7-8… from there. Especially in the beginning weeks, every few sequences of 10, I would go back two or three waves and start counting from the trebles. This helped me find mistakes much earlier. (Now that I am comfortable with the pattern, I rarely do this unless I suspect I am off.)
- Look at a stitch chart to get a feel for how things should line up across rows.
The 10-stitch chart from Lucy’s Neat Wave pattern page is useful for visualizing the repeat, but Sarah Bilsborough from the Facebook group created a multi-row chart that is fabulous, especially for seeing how the beginning and ending of rows work. Join the Facebook group and you’ll find this in the Files section.
After a while, you get an intuitive sense of what stitch 3 (for example) feels like relative to the stitch you’re going into from the row below; It’s going into the top of another half treble (US hdc), which has a “third loop” that you have to go above, so it just feels different than going into the top of a treble. You also get used to how the stitches fill in (first row of color) or build up (“return pass”) the stitches from the row below. When you’re working back and forth in rows, the hole where your hook goes in for the next stitch is a bit to the left of the corresponding stitch from the row below (if you’re right handed). It’s helpful to train yourself to recognize the treble pairs from the row below and to make sure your treble pairs from the “return pass” (the second row of the same color) are on top of the treble pairs from below.
- The Magic Knot join is, well, magic! Tail ends?! We don’t need no stinkin’ tail ends!
Here’s Helen Shrimpton from Crystals and Crochet with the best video tutorial I’ve found for the Magic Knot at the end of rows. She shows you how to get the knot in just the right place.
The magic knot technique isn’t for everyone (some are no-knot purists and some just can’t bring themselves to trust knots), but I’ve used it in several well loved (and washed) blankets with no issues.
If you aren’t comfortable with the Magic Knot join, try Jo’s No Needle Needed method that Dedri recommended in her Lazy Waves Blanket pattern. It uses the crochet hook to work the tail end into the first five or six stitches, which you then crochet over with the new color.
- Starting trebles (US doubles) eliminate gaps on the edges.
If I chain 3 in place of a treble at the start of a row, or even chain 2, I end up with ugly gaps. Tamara Kelly from Moogly has a wonderful video for an alternative to turning chains:I also find that my edges are neater if I chain 1 and don’t skip the first stitch at the base of the chain for the rows that start with a double (US single). But your mileage may vary on this one.
- Keep helpful notes.
This isn’t a pattern that’s easy to fudge, and a common problem is starting the row off at the wrong part of the repeat. Paula keeps track of the color sequence and the starting chain length in a notebook, and checks them off as she finishes them.
I keep my notes in my Ravelry project page including the list of colors that I delete as I finish them. I don’t bother with noting the starting chain length because I just look at the previous color to see whether it is thick or thin at the ends and do the opposite, but you can write down whatever information you find helpful.
- Don’t let being behind bother you.
Particularly with this blanket, it’s about the journey as much as the destination. There are plenty of new people starting all the time and many of us don’t have as much time to crochet as we’d like because of work or family (or both!) so we’re behind. Lucy just posted on her Facebook page that there will be a “catch up” week before the border as well. I’ll get to the end eventually, and when I do, I know I’ll be sad to see this end.
Most importantly, enjoy the gorgeous colors, create, and have fun!!