Gwenny’s Blanket

If you’ve seen me for any length of time in the past year or two, particularly if it was a situation which involved sitting, chances are you’ve seen me working on it, either plotting and scheming with a notebook full of squares and trees, or actually crocheting the little beastie.

The notion was to make a baby blanket, hopefully as a shower gift for Rachel, but the shower(s) came and went, and the baby made her debut long before the blanket did. About a year and a half before, as it happens. But it’s done now! (Well, actually a few weeks ago, but I didn’t want to show it to the internet before showing it to its new owner, and then when that happened I forgot to get a picture, and since I finally did, work has just been using up all my time and brain juice, so there’s been none left for blogging!) Anyways…

The Idea

I’m a nerd and a bit of a crochet rebel, and I knew this kid was bound to be awesome, so when trying to decide what to do design-wise, I knew I wasn’t going to be following anybody else’s pastel baby blanket pattern. It occurred to me that Fibonacci squares would make for a pretty neat blanket. You know, like this:

Each unit would be a single crochet stitch, so I’d start with a 1 (which was actually a tiny little square of 4 single crochets around, so I’d have something with a little substance, but still a side with 1 stitch to start with. Into one side of that, I’d make another little square of side length 1. I’d turn it, and on what was the side of the stack, crochet into those two stitches to start a square with side length 2.

Turn it 90 degrees counterclockwise, and I’d have 3 stitches on which to crochet a square of 3 rows of 3.

 

 

 

Another counterclockwise turn and a 5×5 square:

 

 

 

 

 

Turn, 8×8 square.

 

 

Turn, 13 square. Turn, 21. Turn, 34. And so on, working outward from the center, following the Fibonacci sequence until the blanket was big enough!

The Actual Blanket

Rachel already knew what crib set she was getting, and it was clear why – freakin awesome hippos.

So I found the yarn to match – the two shades of green, soft brown, buttery yellow, pale sort of sand/stone color, white, and I threw in a nice dusty purple to add a little slightly-more-girly twist… and off I went!

The first few squares were each a solid color, but I didn’t want to do just giant squares of solid colors, so I decided to make them striped. And to up the nerd ante, I decided each stripe had to be a Fibonacci number as well. I’d do a “random” looking assortment of stripe widths (either 2, 3, 5, 8, or 13 rows), but they had to add up to the right number for that square’s total! So it kind of turned into a puzzle for me as I made it, and I ended up with this (plotted out on graph paper and then MS Paint!:

The crocheting up to that point went pretty quickly, comparatively. I mean, it was a large area all in tiny single crochet, but except for the first row of each square (which took a bit of concentration since I was working into the side of previous rows) and remembering to change colors every so-many rows, it was all just long rows of single crochet – requiring abosolutely no concentration. So I’d just tote it around to work on while listening in church, chatting with a friend, watching tv, sitting in a cafe, whatever. And thus, good progress was made.

When I’d finished crocheting that chart – up through the 89 square, it’s long side was a pretty good width for a little kid’s blanket, so adding one more square (144) would make the blanket big enough, give or take a border around the whole thing, maybe.

However, a square of 144×144 single crochet, even striped, was just too boring for this blanket…

So I decided to put a tree in it!

…uh, sure, why not?

So I spent the better part of the next year trying to draw the tree I saw in my mind. Eventually, I came up with a decent sketch, and gradually shrunk, converted, re-colored, pixel-by-pixel adjusted, begged, pleaded, and beat it into a 144 pixel by 144 pixel square (one pixel per stitch) in MS Paint – a rather elaborate 8-bit tree, with the two shades of green strewn among the leaves – and in a fit of lunacy, even arranged the striping non-pattern pattern to continue as the backdrop, trying not to the greens or browns muck around too much with the visibility of the tree:

Frankly, at that point, I was pretty darn proud of myself! …Until I got a few rows into crocheting the leaves (working top down, since I obviously wanted the tree upright, and decided the smaller squares should be the top of the blanket). I still just kept toting it around everywhere I went, but now also had to tote a giant, taped-together, blown-up printout of the chart, and mark each tiny little square so I knew what came next!

It was a little absurd, but by this point its intended recipient was almost a year old, completely adorable and funny and sweet and smart and absolutely worth it. So I didn’t mind at all. 🙂 And then I finished it! Wove in a thousand little yarn ends, added a border, gave it a good wash so it’d be nice and soft, and gave it to lovely Gwenny!

The Finished Product

Gwenny inspects her new blanket

Gwenny dances on her new blanket

Its funny, the design is actually more fitting than I realized (until it was very nearly done. Gwenny’s full name is Gwendolyn Shiloh which means “beautiful peace” – and so does this blanket, in a quirky, nerdy sort of way! To me, and I’m sure I’m not alone, trees represent both stability and growth. They’re sturdy and strong, full of life, and calming. They represent peace.

They’re also beautiful. But part of what makes them beautiful, visually, along with so much of nature, is – oddly enough – directly related to the Fibonacci sequence and that arrangement of squares!

The way a tree’s branches divide and where they are placed around the trunk, how the leaves are arrayed, flower petals, a sunflower’s seeds, the spiral of a snails shell or a hurricane, even the relative lengths of the bones in your finger, all of these patterns can be described by the golden ratio (the ratio between to adjacent numbers in the Fibonacci sequence – or the length and width of this blanket) and/or the spiral formed by the squares. So much of nature, and so much of beauty, shares this pattern. It’s beautiful. The tree is peaceful. It works. 🙂

The End. 🙂

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