Saturday, 30 November 2013

Union Jack Designs

I was flicking through my photos the other day and saw the photos I'd taken during the creation of this project and thought I'd document it. In the 18 months I've been crocheting, it is by far my most proud achievement. I came up with the idea for a blanket for my friend who was expecting a baby. I knew she was mad on Union Jacks, they even featured in her wedding back in May 2011, so I wanted to make a Union Jack blanket for her and her baby. But I couldn't find a pattern! A few knitted ones but I feel more comfortable with crochet, but I didn't feel comfortable in my ability to create a pattern, as I'd never attempted anything like this before. Then I discovered graphghans. A graphghan is a way of charting out a pattern, using squared paper (or in my case, an excel spreadsheet!). One square equates to one stitch, so you just work out the number of stitches you need to achieve the size you want the project to be, and chart it out. There are even websites you can use which will convert an image for you (usually designed for cross stitch or knitting but can also be used for crochet, the principle is the same). 

So, I found my image, got it converted, tweaked it a bit here and there and began... 

When I started making the blanket, I was cutting and joining in the new yarn at each colour change, which was resulting in having a thousand ends to sew in and was terribly time consuming. In my nervousness about tackling a project like this, I had procrastinated about starting. And then my friend had some issues with her pregnancy and her little boy was born in May, at 32 weeks! Luckily, after a short stay in hospital, they were home by Father's Day, which was wonderful. But it also meant that I needed to get a wriggle on. So the cutting and joining and sewing in of the ends was not helping. Then my lovely nan, who is a knitter-extraordinaire, suggested I adopt the method used in intarsia knitting, where each section of colour has it's own ball. You twist the old and new together at each colour change, leaving the old behind so it's there for you to pick up when you come back the other way. Once I got the hang of juggling so many balls, it really helped speed up the process. As long as I was careful to keep them as untangled as possible (hence the chocolate tin, which prevented them from bouncing around the room), I was able to make real progress. 

Halfway point :)

I chose the grey colours as I wanted a subtle palette for this blanket, rather than the more in-your-face patriotic red, white and blue. I used Stylecraft Special DK yarn, a lovely and soft 100% acrylic. With it being a baby blanket, I wanted to use something that could be chucked in the washing machine (and I have since heard that it has been washed on several occasions and is still looking as good as new, which has pleased me no end :) )

So nearly done! At this point I was starting to think of the border, and how to finish off the blanket. I haven't made many blankets yet but I really think a good border can really make a blanket and I couldn't decide what to do. I knew I wanted to keep it simple, and let the design speak for itself so I finally decided on three rows of each colour...

And here it is!! 

I feel like I took as much care with the presentation of the blanket as I did in the creation of it. I love giving gifts, and was very much looking forward to my friend seeing this for the first time. The original plan was to give it to her when we were both staying in the village where our parents live (well, my parents and her mother in law), as we actually live about 50 miles from each other and generally only see each other when we are at a social gathering back home, but I wasn't able to get it finished on time to coincide with such a gathering, so in the end I had to mail it to her. But the message I got when it was opened was well worth it. I have since seen many lovely pictures of her little boy snuggled up in it and it really is one of my most favourite items I have made so far. 

I vowed when I finished that I wasn't going to attempt another graphghan project as it was just too complicated, but of course that lasted about a week and ever since then I have been planning an even more ambitious design, which I am soon to start. So watch this space... :)


  1. Awesome job. I'm manning up to tackle my first tapestry crochet as well.

  2. This is a beautiful blanket! Would you mind sharing what size crochet hook you used and the finished dimensions?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Camille!

      Thanks for your comments! I used a 5mm hook and the finished blanket was roughly 75cm by 105cm. I used 450g of Stylecraft Special DK yarn. Hope that helps!


  3. How do I make a graphghan of the union jack pattern?