Jenna Rose used some gorgeous light airy colors for her granny squares (above).
I love natural colors of wool and using Canadian or hand spun yarns, so for my project I used up some hand spun Manos del Uruguay left over from an old project and purchased some Briggs and Little yarn while on christmas vacation in Nova Scotia. I love Briggs and Little because it's a Canadian company and is very inexpensive for pure Canadian wool, which they buy direct from the producer. It makes an ideal yarn for natural dyeing as well as for large projects like blankets.
I started by dyeing some of the wool with onion skins, one of the easiest and most rewarding natural dyes to work with. After saving up my onion skins until i had enough to fill a pot, I dyed two balls of natural white "Heritage" (2 ply) yarn from the Briggs and Little line. I boiled the onion skins 'til the water was full of their dark rust color, then I filtered them out and placed the water back on to boil. I dyed one skein first which soaked up the strong darker yellow right away - the ball in the back of the picture below. Then I dyed the second skein in the remaining water - this is called an exhaust bath. The water is not as potent with dye but this second round will produce a softer, often more beautiful, shade of yellow.
To go with the natural yellows, I picked up some Heritage yarns in shades of grey and started making the granny squares that Courtney had taught me. The stitch was surprisingly simple. Starting with a small circle made with a few chain stitches and then working outwards with little "shells" of three double-crochet stitches followed by a few chain stitches you eventually get a square. There are many great books and videos on making granny squares and tons of variations of patterns but I thought I'd stick to the simple square, mixing up my colors to make every square just a little bit different from the last. Soon enough (and thanks to a couple seasons of "Mad Men" that I definitely needed to catch up on...) I had a big pile of granny squares ready to be stitched together into a blanket.
As I made up the squares I added in some bright fun bits of left over wool in my stash to fill out the blanket and add some different colors!
Using the same basic pattern of three double crochet stitches I edged each square, and stitched them together by picking up the edge of the previous square as I went. When I was all done I edged the whole blanket with a gradation of grey to black yarns to frame the whole thing making the lighter grays and yellows pop in the middle of the blanket.
And just in time for summer weather, voila! the perfect picnic blanket for Bay Front Park!
I think I'll spend my whole summer right here.
photos by Jenna Rose and Anna Taylor