I've wanted to make a snowflake afghan with no matching snowflakes ever since I was about 16 years old. I always assumed the snowflakes would be on a blue background because that's what color I see when I go out in the snow.
When The Lizard took me cross-country skiing for the first time eight years ago, the colors of the shadows on the snow affirmed my afghan would be blue and white.
I could never find just the right blue hues for what I could see in my head, until last year when I began more earnestly dyeing my yarn. Colors began to pop. Specifically, blue colors.
The afghan began taking more shape in my head, and then, caution was thrown to the wind. I wound off 12 25-yard balls of PFD (prepared for dyeing) worsted yarn and dropped three each in one of four recycled spaghetti sauce jars with various blue concoctions. My idea was for the center of the snowflakes to be white, graduating to powder, medium and robust blue toward the outer edges of each motif.
I hadn't designed a motif yet, but I thought 25 yards would be sufficient for whatever I wound up designing. First mistake.
Second mistakes was the ball-dyeing process. It produced spectacular color gradation with unpredictable but highly desirable (by me) degrees of mottle. But I hadn't clearly thought out how I was going to get the balls of yarn adequately rinsed, dried or into usable center-pull cakes.
Detangling the gloved-handed, quickly hanked and inadequately tied mini skiens after the drying process made me want to walk away from my Winter Dreams forever. Fortunately, the yarn turned out pretty enough that I couldn't stay away too long.
Not all of the dyed yarn had white ends, so I decided to make the snowflakes from undyed yarn, then bind off and make the background with the dyed yarn. Perfect solution to an unforseen dilemma.
However, making the snowflakes from white meant bigger rounds for the background colors, and I soon discovered 25 yards was not enough to complete each motif.
I fashioned 12 beautiful motifs, and every single one of them needed about three to four more yards of dyed yarn. Dyed yarn that matched. Dyed yarn that matched the outer round of each motif.
Four weeks turned into six weeks as I attempted to mix blues again after not having written down any notes. Some of the new colors turned out so well, I decided the afghan could be a little bigger. I'd incorporate the new colors, too. Which meant making more snowflakes. Different snowflakes.
All the snowflakes needed to be roughly 3 inches, which I wasn't sure I could continue making completely unique until I made Jelly Yarn snowflake key chains for each of the 22 girls at camp last summer with no patterns and no diagrams for inspiration. The key chains, when done, weren't all entirely unique, but I got enough variety to boost my confidence that Winter Dreams really could come true.
Once I finished more snowflakes, I needed more graduated yarn. I wasn't about to do the ball-dye again. Ever. I wondered if blanks would work, sort of like plain potholders, partially dipped and allowed to soak up the dye, with gravity forming my natural gradation.
I made a bunch of blanks, this time, incorporating 30 yards of yarn each. I didn't want to run out again on the final round of each motif! This meant I had a few tiny little balls of yarn left over at the end of the entire project. Stabbed with toothpick knitting needles, they make awesome Christmas ornaments.
My first blank thought, of course, was to knit the blanks. I couldn't find a single pair of size 8 knitting needles anywhere in the house. I have them. Somewhere. Probably stuffed in PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks), full of stitches. And the knitting machine still isn't up and running yet.
So I crocheted my blanks.
I expected unraveling the blanks could result in a wee bit of heartache, but the "singles" did just fine. At one point, I decided it would be more time-efficient if I made three-strand blanks. Three-strand blanks were much faster to create, but unraveling and winding into three separate balls without balls running haywire across the floor and without getting tangled was the anticipated heartache times three. I learned from experience it's worth the time it takes to create three blanks for each color.
With all the motifs made but lacking the joining round, afghan assembly was a snap and took place in just two nights. All I had to do was randomly arrange the motifs, then join away as I finished all the final rounds. The majority of ends had been woven in as I worked (as occurs in all my multi-color projects), so the final end for each motif was all I had to weave in, and I did each one as I went.
I finished the last motif and had only that one end to weave in, and voila!
My Winter Dream finally came true! It has been a long process, but the reward is the final project. This is my favorite of all the afghans I've ever made! This project was worth all the time and tribulation it entailed. I love to look at it. I love to take pictures of it. I love to wrap up in it.
The pattern? You bet. It will be one of the awesome highlights in my next MS-150 fundraising snowflake pattern booklet, due to be released next Monday. (WOOHOO!!!) Just working on the final touches...