PONY’S JOURNAL ...from the stu­dio

What started as a sim­ple idea turned into a mas­sive project that took on a (sea) life of its own, as Pony McTate ex­plains…

Simply Crochet - - NORDIC JUMPER -

Be­ing a cro­cheter is pretty handy. There’s no prob­lem it can’t solve. Cold? Just whip up a scarf. Bored? Fill the void with rows of med­i­ta­tive stitches. Lo­cal park benches look­ing a bit drab? Yarn­bomb your way to ur­ban re­newal. So, when a friend an­nounced she was hap­pily preg­nant, I knew what to do. Thought­ful and heart­felt, a cro­cheted baby gift would tick all the boxes.

IN THE BEGINNING

That was how my A-B-Sea blan­ket started out. Just a sim­ple cro­chet make, I thought. I would be good and use only the yarn I had in my stash. It would be some­thing use­ful made of joined squares, per­haps with a nice lit­tle fish stitched on the cor­ner. That idea per­co­lated away for a while un­til one night – ping! – I sat bolt up­right in bed with the plan for an al­pha­bet­i­cal sea crea­ture blan­ket. I was so ex­cited. It would be ac­cu­rate, ed­u­ca­tional and awe­some. With wig­gly bits to fid­dle with. I would forgo the ob­vi­ous in favour of the odd. That meant good­bye dull dol­phin and hello deep sea an­gler. A por­cu­pine puffer for ‘P’! And for the let­ter ‘I’? Maybe a... hmm... well, I’m sure I’d work it out later. (Much, much later, as it turned out. You would not be­lieve how few sea crea­tures start with ‘i’, let alone cro­chetable ones).

A WHIRLPOOL OF ACTIVITY

I got a bit car­ried away. You know that mag­i­cal feel­ing, when undi­luted cre­ative en­ergy is singing through your veins? Oh, it was glo­ri­ous. Mid­night ses­sions with en­cy­clo­pe­dias and strange for­ays into the ob­scure world of hard­core fish fanciers. Hours spent per­fect­ing a pec­toral fin. The project took on a life of its own in the most won­der­ful way. I learnt much about the mat­ing rit­u­als of manta rays, among other things. I worked on one crea­ture at a time, from anemone through to zoo­plank­ton.

I would spend a few days on re­search, Googling im­ages and se­lect­ing colours. Then I’d hun­ker down with my hook and see what worked. There was a lot of frog­ging and re­work­ing but that was all part of the cre­ative process. It was a real sense of achieve­ment see­ing it coming to­gether.

All in all, it took me about four months.

FROM PROTOTYPE TO PAT­TERN

When I posted pics of the blan­ket on­line, other peo­ple loved it too. Righto, I thought, I’ll pub­lish a pat­tern to share with ev­ery­one. I would have to make the blan­ket all over again but my en­thu­si­asm was still high. I’ve al­ways en­joyed the nitty-gritty of pat­terns – find­ing ways to com­press com­plex in­for­ma­tion into a con­cise, read­able set of in­struc­tions. Ones that make sense not just to me, but to who­ever picks it up.

What I hadn’t reck­oned on was the over­all scale of the project. One lit­tle pat­tern is easy to write and dis­trib­ute; 26 pat­terns, with com­pre­hen­sive in­struc­tions and step-by-step pho­tos, is quite a dif­fer­ent beast and re­quired a whole new set of skills. What be­gan as a sim­ple pat­tern mor­phed into a full and fab­u­lous book. The tech­ni­cal side of things was a chal­lenge. There were some steep learn­ing curves and a fair bit of colour­ful yarn (and lan­guage) di­rected at my lap­top (and hus­band, poor thing).

But I sur­vived, and so did my mar­riage.

One un­ex­pected de­light is how ver­sa­tile these pat­terns are. If you’re up for a big project you can make the whole blan­ket. Or, less am­bi­tiously, you can pick and choose your favourite squares to make into a cush­ion. Or play around with the crea­ture ap­pliqués – they make nifty gifts as brooches or patches. My favourite square is the Zoo­plank­ton one, though the In­ex­pli­ca­ble Shrimp­goby will al­ways have a spe­cial place in my heart. What makes it in­ex­pli­ca­ble? Find out in my book!

Cro­chet A-B-Sea: An Ex­traor­di­nary Un­der­wa­ter Al­pha­bet by Pony McTate is avail­able world­wide in print on Ama­zon and in dig­i­tal for­mat from Ama­zon, iBooks and Kobo. For more ideas, see her web­site at www.ponym­c­tate.com and turn the page to make an octopus brooch, adapted from her pat­tern!

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