• The Zookeeper's Blanket by Justine Walley

    I am a knitter!  

    Not a weaver or a crocheter or a spinner ... 
    although I sometimes dabble in those other crafts.

    Sometimes non-knitting projects grab me ... and won't let me go until I have done them.

    Crochet is one of those non-knitting project offenders.  The first project was called The Island Playset and here is the link to that project.  I owned the pattern for a year before I had a special little boy (a grand nephew born in 2017) that I could make it for.  When I started it I had to relearn crochet.  I had to put ice on my left thumb to stop the pain.  I had to have this project so I pushed on.

    This year a second project caught my eye called The Zookeeper's Blanket.  My eyes said "Ohhh.  You must do this."  My thumb said "Hell, no.  I am warning you."

    This is the Zookeeper's Blanket as created by the designer.
    I have already identified 3 animals that I will not make
     because I think I can find better ideas.
    But the blanket, even as shown, is darling.

    "Caught my eye" is really downplaying its impact on me.  I purchased it right away.  No thought.  Must have!  Must make.  Must set my knitting aside (did I just say that??).  And a worthy recipient, my darling grand daughter, was already on hand.  Is this Kismet or WHAT!

    Now here is what I objectively think about crochet ...
    • Love the look
    • Not good at it.
    • Hurts my left thumb.
    • Struggle with the instructions.
    • Not relaxing.
    • Hurts my left thumb.  
    • Able to make designs/shapes not easily made in knitting
    • Great for toys and blankets
    • Not so good for wearables.
    • Hurts my left thumb.
    But I wanted this Zookeeper's Blanket -  I pulled out my hooks and my crochet cheat sheet and plunged in.  Low and behold - I found I was enjoying the process.  Actually excited about the blocks that were developing from my hands ... now I am looking for yarns to use that would add color and texture ... and ... pushing myself to develop some animals that weren't part of the original pattern just because I think I can.

    My lobster block.

    Feels like the Crochet Fairy dropped in and sprinkled me with her fairy dust!

    My bear block.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures of my progress and where I am going with this blanket in the future.

    My octopus block.

    The down side of this project is there are lots of colors and shapes.  Lots and lots of ends to weave in.  Lots of sewing.  A very fiddly pattern.  I usually hate all that, but because of the fairy dust - I am not having a problem.  As others who completed this pattern noted:  The pattern has a lot of ends to weave in - but it is worth it.  I agree.

    My cat block.

    The blocks are so darn cute, when I finish one I can't wait to start another one.

    Sample of another's interpretation of the project using all sheep and one dog.
    So darn cute.

    And what I love most of all is seeing the originality of others who have done this pattern.  Some used one theme - many sheep and one dog.  Very cute.

    The sample the crocheter made up some of her own animals
    not used in the original.

    Some alternated animal blocks with plain blocks.  That is my choice because I don't care for some of the animals in the original pattern.  So unless I can find some replacements (which I have), the blanket would be too small.  And alternating with plain blocks allows for less ends to weave in - and a focus on the cutest animals.

    My grand daughter's room is done in green.  My plain blocks are green.
    This picture gives a sense of how I will put my blocks together.

    Some crocheters suggest putting a backing on this blanket since one side is cute and the other side is - well, not cute.  I am actually considering that!!  Crazy but I always hated extra steps that didn't involve knitting - like linings and extra sewing.  That darn crochet fairy dust is powerful stuff.

    An original design, a butterfly, created by a crocheter.
    Hoping to copy this one.

     And my thumb??  I think the fairy dust has healed it.

    I wonder if there is fairy dust for cleaning your house.  Or fairy dust for cooking dinner night after night after night!!  Or can I send that fairy off to my exercise classes for me - and bring back the benefits while I sit making this blanket??

    If you think you have the answers to these question (and they involve common sense) don't bother saying them out loud.  Fairy dust has blocked any reality checks!

    My deadline: - Christmas.

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