February 15, 2017

DIY "Pixel Pansy" Granny Square Blanket (plus free pattern!)

DIY Granny Square Blanket via www.whatmandyloves.com
One thing I can never have is too many blankets.  I'm always cold and swap out my style so much that I like having so many options available to me to be cozy and colorful in my home.  Since I started learning crochet, there has been one project I've wanted to start and that's a simple blanket I can customize.

One Pinterst browsing session a few years ago sparked my interest in a possible blanket idea.  I set up my own pattern spreadsheet and used a few techniques along the way that turned this idea into a two year blanket project I recently finished.  The blanket itself cost more than I usually pay for a blanket because of all the yarn I had to get to finish it (underestimating is one of my unfortunate specialties), but it turned out looking SO GOOD and was so much fun to make that I consider the cost well worth it.  Each granny square based on my pattern took about 20 minutes to make, and each completed row took at least an hour to join, so that's why it took me two years on and off to finish this bad boy.

If you're up for a blanket project that's custom to your style and skill level, I hope this DIY is inspirational to you.  Here's how I made this pixel pansy flower granny square blanket:

1) Decide on a pattern / design, based on the size you want your blanket to be.  With this solid square granny style, there are so many possibilities all over the interwebs to setting up a design!  Look out for cross stitch patterns and pixel art outside of crochet or knitting patterns to broaden your search and inspiration.  I wanted a flower blanket, so I searched for "pansy flower cross stitch pattern" and found this image from a German blog (they have full credit on this one, I did not make this pattern myself).

Click to download the free Pixel Pansy Crochet Granny Square pattern via www.whatmandyloves.com

Choose the yarn and crochet hook that creates the best square size.  Once you find the right size squares to the right pattern you want (math in involved, I'm sorry to say), it helps to set it all up in a pattern to reference as you go.  If you want to try mine, click the download image above to view the spreadsheet I created using cell background colors together on the left and stats on the right.  For multi-colored squares (my way of saving white yarn on the left and right edges), I added mini-patterns below the main blanket pattern.  (Cross stitch software would work fine for this pixel-base pattern as well.)  I took me about an hour to fill this in, but it saved me time and headaches along the way.

2) Crochet your granny squares one at a time.  This blanket will take a VERY long time to create, so be sure to not burn yourself out by overwhelming yourself with how many squares are needed.  When I set my squares up, I went one color at at time to be sure I had enough yarn available and set smaller number goals incrementally.  If you're fine with the yarn supply you have, it may be useful for you to go by rows to see your progress that way.  

What Mandy Loves: Image of my granny squares stacked up via www.whatmandyloves.com
TIP: You'll have a bunch of squares lying around with this project, so I suggest blocking your square to store them easier and keep them flat.  I found this blog post on the subject the most helpful.

3) Join your squares from top to bottom in rows.  Pile up each row and join each square one at a time, then either join each row as you go or join all rows first then all the rows together.  Once I was done with all 580 (yikes) squares sorted by color, I piled them up organized left to right by row in the pattern.  My blocking board was too small for the amount of rows I had, so I used extra skewers from the blocking board technique to skewer each row pile in the center of each square and labeled each skewer by the row number with a post-it flag at the end.  If I could do this over again I would do my blocking by row on a larger foam board so the rows were all ready for me sooner.

What Mandy Loves: Image of my blanket in the joining process via www.whatmandyloves.com
Every chance he got, Jimmy stole a spot on my blanket.  He was ready for it to be done just as much as I was.

4) Add an edge to seel the whole thing together.  I did a single crochet row in white around the entire thing, but there are fancier ways to do this with colors or stitches that work best for your pattern and your style.   If you left your yarn ends to deal with at the end like I did, do that after the edge is on so you can sew in the ends more effectively.  

What Mandy Loves: Image of my completed blanket via www.whatmandyloves.com
The final product, Jimmy approved.

Wa-la!  I'm so happy with how it turned out.  It coordinates with the colors I use in my bedroom decor, it's super cozy warm, and it was 100% made by ME!  Let me know in the comments how you like it and/or what kind of DIY blanket projects you've made.

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