If you are on Instagram or Facebook, then since January the first it has been hard to avoid seeing pictures of hundreds of beautiful blankets being gradually and thoughtfully pieced together daily or weekly in accordance with the maker’s mood at the time. We have seen gorgeous granny squares and stripes, puff flowers, highly decorated multi media squares, those who make diary entries to correspond with each square and many, many more. Here, we talk to the woman who started the craze, Stacey Wentford-Hall. We have been following the progress of her simple but gorgeous colourblock granny blanket with interest on Instagram throughout January.
Hi Stacey, thank you for taking the time to chat with us, it is lovely to know that the Crochet Mood Blanket started right here in the UK and has spread like wildfire around the globe!
Please tell us a bit about yourself...
I’m a stay at home mum of two busy girls who I call Big Pip and Little Pip. I’m a lover of photography, baking, colour, yarn and of course crochet! I think of myself as a rather creative person. I live in London with my Hubbie, two girls and rabbit Harry. I dream of living in a cosy cottage by the sea where I can crochet the day away by a blazing fire and big mug of tea.
Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been crocheting?
I actually taught myself using YouTube videos. It took me some time to grasp it as I’m left handed, dyslexic and didn’t realise there’s both UK and US terms! It felt like I was fighting the odds for a while but luckily I was rather determined to learn the craft so kept at it.I met some lovely crafty people on Instagram who were very encouraging and inspiring. That was about 2 years ago now, I’ve basically had a hook in hand ever since!
How did you get into textiles? Have you any qualifications in art/textiles?
I have a degree in Applied Arts (3D design), but I never ventured into textiles whilst on the course. My final year was based on manipulating ready mades to change their function. For example I used broomstick heads as pencil/pen storage, sounds strange, right? It was!
Though I enjoyed this, it never excited me as much as crochet does now. My interest in textiles only developed after having our first daughter. We were very lucky to have had many handmade blankets and some clothing made for her which I fell in love with. I wanted to learn how to crochet myself but didn’t actually start to learn till I was pregnant with our second daughter. It came in very handy when I was suffering with pregnancy insomnia as it kept me busy in the early hours of the morning!
What inspires your work? Is making something for your children often a starting point?
The Pips were definitely my initial inspiration. I wanted to make them objects from the heart that they’d be able to keep and treasure for years to come. I now hope to one day pass on my passion for the craft and my skills to them.
I get my inspiration from many forms now. Colour in a whole range of contests influences my work. Often my yarn itself is inspiration enough for my projects to come to life! My love of making things homely is definitely another. I’m also one of those people who walk around thinking ‘could I cover that in crochet?’ Or ‘If I added a bit of crochet to this, would it brighten it up?’ and sometimes I think ‘oh that would look good crocheted.’ So as you can probably tell, I have crochet on my mind, a lot!
What is your favourite product that you have made?
I find that my favourite makes are the ones that are gratefully received by whoever I’ve made them for! At the moment I would say it’s the blanket I’m currently making for the eldest daughter (she’s three). Whenever I show her the progress I’ve made on it (which is rather slow as other projects often take priority as they have deadlines), she always says ‘I can have it on my bed now because it’s finished!’ I’ve started to let her use it as I only have the border to go. The way she smiles when snuggling into it melts my heart! At the moment you’ll mostly find me crocheting baby blankets as I have quite a few friends and family are having babies. In fact one of my best friends only had her baby last week!
What is the Crochet Mood Blanket Project 2014?
It's basically a way to record your mood throughout 2014, a bit like a diary in 3D form. It's a very relaxed project where you crochet a block or stripe each day (365) or one a week (52), using a colour that depicts your mood throughout that day/week. Everything else is up to the creator. The colours used, size and pattern all depend on what you want it to be, It's that simple!
What made you start the crochet mood blanket project?
I started following Georgia Brizuela’s blog Documenting Delight when I was pregnant with Big Pip and felt totally inspired by her 365 photography projects she does of her gorgeous children. Sadly I have tried and failed to do the same on numerous occasions.
Now that family life is starting to settle down a bit, I decided I would like to try a similar project using crochet. Whilst doing some research on the net, I came across a Facebook group called For the Love of Yarnigans, where people were creating mini mood crochet projects. It just all seemed to click into place; a crochet mood blanket throughout 2014, perfect! That felt achievable as I crochet daily anyway!
There are many different approaches to the blanket – how are you doing yours?
For my project I am making a single coloured granny square with a cream border, which I’m joining as I go. This was the best option for me as it means I won’t be taking up too much time each day on the project. I’ve been tempted many times to go for a more complex block, but I’ve given myself a talking to as this just wouldn’t work for me, time can be very tight! Also it means I can still get on with other projects.
The blocks will be 18 squares across and 20 square down which will fit our king sized bed perfectly.
What yarn are you using?
At the moment I’m using 11 different shades of Stylecraft Special DK, but I may add more colours when I see fit. Originally I was going to use a chart with moods assigned to colours. In the end I decided against it as my moods varied more than I anticipated. Now I’m picking the colour I am most drawn to each day, so far that has worked rather well for me. It was a bit of a challenge the other day when I realised I was going to have two blocks that were the same shade of blue next to each other! The control freak inside of me told me to alter my choice, but I managed to resist the temptation!
Why do you think the Crochet Mood Blanket has been such a success?
To be honest, I had absolutely no idea that this would happen! I popped a post up on Instagram to see if any of my crafting friends would like to join me with this project. The only reason I did this was because I thought if there was say ten of us doing it, we’d be able to spur each other on. I wasn’t expecting so many people to jump on board! It’s so overwhelming!
I’ve always seen the internet as being an enormous source of inspiration for projects, but I now also see it as being place where an amazing crafting community has been formed because of the mood blanket. Both the Facebook group and Instagram hashtag have a lovely warm and friendly vibe to them where people feel free to talk about their projects and ask for support when needed. I’ve seen many people attempt to crochet for the first time through the mood blanket project and others helping them through those first few tricky steps. It’s wonderful! There are also a lot of people who have been crocheting for years, but had fallen out of love with the craft, yet felt that love grow again through the project and inspiration through the net. How amazing is that!
So the reason three main reasons I think the mood blanket is a success is firstly the freedom of it. Secondly the amazing community that has formed because of it and lastly because it’s a project that has real personal emotion literally stitched into it.
I’m not exactly sure, but there’s something like 3,500 people taking part spread over thirty plus countries! I just can’t get my head around that. It’s totally mind blowing thinking that there are all these people participating in the same project around the world! I love it!
Any favourite blankets/approaches you have seen so far?
Oh there are so so many! I wish I could name them all! But there is one particular blanket that I swoon over each time I see it! Annmarie Fieldgrove (aka @knittinggirl71 on Instagram) has made these absolutely stunning blocks (above). What I love is how she’s used different crafts to create her squares. So far she’s used crochet, knitting and even felting to create these little works of art to express her moods. Each block has a little object or symbol on it, so clever. I think my favourite so far is the umbrella with a felted background and French knot raindrops! You can really see her love of colour in her work. She’s an incredible crafter, a real inspiration!
Why do you think crochet is becoming so popular and where do you see the trend going?
On a personal note, one of the reasons I started to crochet was due to the recession, therefore not being able to afford to go out as much as I did before. That and the fact I now have a family of course! Maybe that’s the same for other people too? I think people are seeing value in living a simpler live and seek pleasure in crafting activities.
I’ve seen a lot of people in the crochet community talk about how crochet is a sort of therapy! I can totally vouch for that! If I’ve had a tough day with the Pips, or just generally draining or stressful day, I pick up my hook and crochet my worries away (the rhyme wasn’t intentional!) I think keeping your mind and fingers busy does wonders to keep you feeling happy! I think my Hubbie can vouch for that!
What advice would you give to people just starting out in textiles?
I think one really good way of getting started is to get yourself involved in a crochet/craft community, be that joining a workshop, getting involved in a crafting group or even over the internet. I personally haven’t been able to do join a class physically due to family commitments, but I’ve found the internet to be an incredible source of information and friendship. People love sharing the highs and lows that come with being creative and also supporting others through those tricky times with complicated patterns or unusual stitches. The crochet mood blanket 2014 groups on facebook facebook.com/groups/crochetmoodblanket2014 is a perfect example of this! Everyone is so welcoming to the newbies, sharing useful tips, sharing great websites and books to buy. You just can’t go wrong.
What are you working on right now?
I am focusing on my mood blanket at the moment but I’m planning a number of projects which will be linked to us moving house. I’m going to create bits and pieces to make our new place feel all cosy and homely, I can’t wait! There will be bunting, cushions, wall art, you name it, I’ll be doing it!
What are your future ideas/ambitions?
I would love to make a career out of my craft, I haven’t decided which direction I’ll take it yet. I’m just going to continue playing with yarn and colour for now and see where it leads me! I have just set up a blog frofunky.blogspot.com and I’m enjoying talking/writing about my work, and how it connects to me as person. I’ll going to start selling my work, selling patterns, and I’m hoping to start pushing at the art/craft boundaries and see where that takes me! Basically I’m seeing this as a career change and will be welcoming whatever comes my way with open arms!
If you could give one top tip to all crocheters, what would it be?
My tip would be to share what you’ve been making and of course your skills with whoever you can! It will surprise you who you may inspire and you may also find new inspiration yourself from doing so.
Thanks Stacey! If you are inspired to make your own crochet mood blanket, follow the CrochetMoodBlanket2014 hashtag on Instagram for inspiration or follow Stacey herself.
You can find her as @frofunky on Instagram, or follow the facebook group
Or her brand new blog at frofunky.blogspot.com
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