The Secret Language of Hexagons

Once in a while, there’s something in a movie or TV show which will catch my eye. I secretly love when crafting is referenced in pop culture, even in jest.

Heck, I even get excited when really nice handmades gets used as set dressing or costumes (Juno had some awesome sweater vests).

Most recently I noticed this amazing crocheted hexagon blanket while re-watching Wayne’s World for the first time in a loooong time.

I’m sure the average set dresser saw this as the usual ugly granny square blanket that would live in the typical basement rec room. But these be some truly bodacious granny hexagons!

There’s also this wonderful scrappy hexagon quilt used in the movie About Time.

It’s hard to tell from this picture that the fabric here is more than the usual printed cottons. There are some velvets used as well which makes me think this was probably built from old clothing scraps. Oh and nice hexagons too right?

What’s the big deal with hexagons you ask?

Current piece

Well, back in 2009 is when I first became enamoured with the shape. It began with the Jelly Bean Afghan early in the year and continued with the Hexagonal Quilt sometime over the summer.

Little did I know the effect these projects would have on me.

You see hexagons are kind of spectacular. They are one of three regular polygons that can be used to make regular tilings, but somehow don’t seem to be used that much. Or so I thought.

Once I started working with the shape, I began to notice it everywhere. And they are truly EVERYWHERE once you start noticing them. Those who know me in real life have likely noticed me whisper “hexagon” to myself, and perhaps take a picture of something random with no further explanation. Or even with too much explanation. It’s become my own meme of sorts.

At some point I started collecting the results of my personal hexagon scavenger hunt over on Pinterest. Many of the images are snapshots taken while travelling. I’ve had friends and coworkers forward me links to projects, products, articles and images based on their use of hexagons. It’s that kind of thing.

Most often I come across a wonderful old hexagon tiled floor. But strangely enough, hexagons also get used in futuristic settings too. Used in Amazing Spider-Man films (I haven’t seen 2 yet, but it shows up in search results).

Hooked on crochet

It seems to be rather fashionable of late to be all about crochet. And this time I’m firmly a part of the trend. I can’t get enough of the hook. I’ve got it so bad that I’ve been working on crochet blocks while eating my breakfast in the morning. I can often be found with a hook and project crumpled up in my bag walking around Montreal. I don’t necessarily work on the project when I’m out and about, but it’s comforting to know that it’s there.

The Hexagonal Blanket is not enough for me. I need MORE crochet projects! I have to crochet ALL the time! More more MORE!

So, uh, I joined a swap.

And I started a bag.

And yeah. Hopefully that should keep the craving satisfied. At least until I get a chance to cut out all those hexagons.

There’s a hex on me

I have a new love affair. Hexagons. They are my shape of the moment. Hex hex hex. I heart the hex. I’m LOVING the simple awesomeness of the Hexagonal Blanket I’m working on. Working with a repeat number of twelve and increases the stitch grouping to make the circle, then alternate a corner with a straight side and wham bam you’ve got a hex!

A hex on me, originally uploaded by bunnieprops.

1. patchwork detail , 2. Hexagons, 3. 37, 4. Hexagons!, 5. hexagon update, 6. Quilt blocks, 7. My Grannys quilt, 8. Close Up, 9. 8two8 February – Tine’s block, 10. Hexagon Doll Quilt, 11. paper piecing grows, 12. Hexagon Patchwork, 13. working on the flower garden, 14. WIP, 15. Hex’s, 16. Tablemat, 17. the hexagons are growing…, 18. HPIM5876, 19. hexagons, 20. 11,239

I REALLY want to take my current hex love to the point of obsession. I have in mind to make a hand stitched mini hexagon quilt as recently blogged by Jane Brocket. I found a tutorial on English piecing through Flickr and want to start right away but cutting out a million hexes from my deck of quilter’s quarters acquired a few years ago.

I really like the waving lines idea built from the hexagons rather than the more usual hex flowers. Maybe I’ll go for more of a random hexagon strategy. Who knows at this point. But I should definitely start cutting out the many many paper templates.

The Hexagonal Crochet Equation

I’m crazy. Or to be more specific, I can tend towards obsessive compulsion when it comes to some crafty projects. Like back when I was obsessed with making little paper stars and cut up the equivalent of a ream of paper and over months and months made thousands in every colour of paper I could find. So it should really be no surprise that I developed a rather complicated production line technique for working on this blanket.

As I was working on the first couple of blocks randomly picking colours for each round I started to think about how many colour combinations I could come up with from all the colours I was using. And if I had paid more attention during grade 12 math, I would have calculated all the permutations and combinations. Instead I decided to start working on the blanket with that methodology.

I grabbed a colour and started making little circles completing rounds one and two of the patterns. I even worked in the ends on each little disc as I worked with the added bonus of not having a million ends to deal with at the end of the project. I made enough discs in each colour to complete the next round with every other colour with my current group of colours. I had 10 colours total, so I made 9 little discs for each one (that’s the only thing I remember from math class, one less than total number).

Next I dealt out all the discs into stacks for the rest round, one of each colour for each stack for the round 2 colour and continued on with the crochet factory. More crocheting and then re-dealing for the next round, etc. etc. until all the rounds (and blocks) are completed. Then BOOM 90 blocks are done!

The other cool thing about this blanket is that it’s pretty much made with leftover yarn. It started off with the plentiful leftovers from the Jelly Bean Scarf and I spent some time raiding my stash for suitable colour substitutions as the original jelly bean palette runs out. I did spend some time this weekend replenishing the palette with some fresh jelly bean flavours at Effiloché but for the most part it’s leftovers.

But the one wrinkle with my insane methodology is that this pattern connects the blocks in the final round. So now I have a whole stack of finished blocks not connected to each other. My preferred look for this blanket is when the blocks sit right next to each other. I did spend some time making a couple rows of connected blocks but it kind of smells having to take out the final round of every other block to connect it to it’s neighbors.

Instead of being even MORE crazy and redoing my work, I think I’m going to move forward with the next batch of blocks and connect them to the old blocks when I get to the final round. That was I’ll also be able to distribute the original colours with their replacements more evenly over the final blanket.

ETA: I later came across instructions for this hexagon block over here on Attic24.

Jelly Bean Afghan

After finishing the Jelly Bean Scarf I found myself with quite the stack of leftover balls of super yummy squishy alpaca goodness in a lovely palette of jelly bean colours. I thought I’d make another version of the scarf for someone else, but then Mr. Peabody and Mr. Pare suggested a jelly bean afghan. Brilliant!

I was super excited about the idea that I grabbed my hook and my favourite granny square pattern and started hooking away.

Pattern: Willow by Jan Eaton from 200 Crochet Blocks

I created some simple rules about how to go about making this blanket. I’m a big fan of creating simple almost computer program logical algorithms when I’m working with leftovers or don’t have a specific idea in mind for the finished product. Yes, I’m a dork, but who isn’t really?

I really like the effect of this square in one solid colour. Using one colour draws more attention to texture created by the arrangement of stitches which I really like. So my rules were to make as many solid blocks as possible with any given yarn. And then when I couldn’t complete an entire block, I’d leave the last complete round and then start a new block and go as far as possible until all the yarn ran out.

1. Popsicle Pink + Raspberry, 2. Burgundy + Raspberry, 3. Blue + Raspberry

After working through 2 balls of yarn, I had a whole stack of blocks to evaluate.

I started laying them out and really wasn’t a fan of how it was going to turn out. So I thought maybe I’d divide them into two blankets, one of the solids and then one of the leftover-multi-bits. But after pondering for a week or so I decided I really didn’t like the idea.

Though I really like the Willow block, I don’t like it as much when it’s multicoloured. But with the gauge of yarn I was using, the blocks are too small to really get a sense of the texture created in each block. Really I was trying to recreate my lovely Ginormo Granny Square blanket with a substitute set of yarn that was available and in my price range but the heart wants what it wants.

I went on the search (Ravelry and Flickr) for another suitable crochet blanket pattern that suits fun bright jelly bean colours and came up with this:

Pattern: Hexagon Blanket by Kazekobo (???) (reverse crocheted from Flickr photos)

I have no experience hunting those fantastic Japanese craftbooks and a search for the ISBN yielded nothing so I set about reverse-crocheting from Flickr photos instead. Judging by the date of other people’s version of this blanket I figured it would be quite hard to come by anyways. I think I’ve come quite close though and have been happily crocheting away.

And yes, the dork in me has been having fun too. After working up a couple of blocks where I randomly picked the next colour, I started with a whole mass production, permutations and combinations style thing with all the colours. But more on that later.