Crochet · homemaking

Day 101: Swimming back up or Making mermaid tails

So, it’s been a while. I’ve been away making this:img_20170111_092037141

Now that he’s well on his way to being a fully formed individual, I find myself breaking through to the surface after what was a long 100 days of darkness. The last 4 months have been a blur. In fact, tomorrow will be exactly 4 months since I dove under. And that’s what it feels like – swimming around in the darkness (much of it does actually happen in the middle of the night, so that makes sense), trying to figure out how to breathe. Now that things have settled, as much as life with a toddler and a new baby can settle, I’m finding space to think of other things outside of babies and sleep and no sleep and no sleep and…well, maybe the quest for sleep does still take up a big part of my thoughts. Maybe definitely.

So what actually happened these past four months? Well, I made four of these huge, scaly mermaid blankets. Why on earth would I take on such a task right after having a baby? That’s the question of the year, my friend. Gold star. Being that I’m an over-functioner, I took on an order for four adult-sized blankets near the end of my pregnancy. Now, to be perfectly honest, it was never my intention to complete four of these in 2 months. I have them listed in my Etsy shop with a very clear explanation that these are handmade, individually, one at a time, and take 4-6 weeks each to complete – I don’t want anyone to be disappointed by not receiving their order in time for a birthday or for Christmas. However, not everyone reads the 12 point print, and these four mermaid tail blankets were expected to be completed, shipped and delivered within 8 weeks. I could have said sorry, no dice, but that’s just not how I roll.  img_20161129_143959243-2

Already 2 weeks past my expected baby delivery date, I was able to complete two and a half of the mermaid tails. Babe arrived in early November, and a week later I was back to crocheting. At this point I knew that I couldn’t possibly finish another tail and a half by the end of the month, so it’s a good thing my baby daddy can also crochet. Between diapers and feedings and some pretty decent sleeping (it started off so well!), we managed to get all four done before the end of November.

Now, the pattern…

I had a mish mash of patterns to work from, but not a complete pattern that would get me the result I was looking for. I haven’t yet written down my complete pattern, but once I get around to that I may post it in my Etsy shop. If you are interested in learning how to make something similar, this shell stitch mermaid tail blanket pattern from Yarnutopia is available for free online. Wanting to go a step further and make individual scales like mine? This scaled mermaid tail blanket pattern is also available online at Ravelry . I must warn you, though, the pattern isn’t incredibly well written, and even though it has a video tutorial to go with it, it will take some time to decipher what the original creator is trying to describe. Perhaps I’ll offer a workshop on how to create these mermaid tails – it’s always so much easier to figure out when someone is working by your side.

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I first used this soft, shiny yarn last summer when I made myself a congratulatory you’ve-finished-all-of-your-orders shawl. It looks fancy and lovely, but it’s just a common Red Heart Boutique yarn. Still lovely, but it does stick to itself. If you make a mistake and have to unravel your work, do it slowly. You’ll likely have to give it a good tug here and there to unhook stitches that have stuck together, but it doesn’t break easily. I haven’t yet broken the yarn by tugging to separate it. That being said, the yarn does separate with frustrating ease if you use it for sewing on the tail. I do use the tail yarn ends to attach it to the blanket, and it consistently unwinds itself and pulls apart. I’m not sure how to remedy this other than rewinding the yarn as I sew, before it starts to come apart.

The mermaid tails pictured are full adult sized tails and use about 10 balls of yarn to complete. This is one of the reasons that these tails have a higher price point than the basic mermaid tails in my Etsy shop. img_20161129_143845250The other reason that these tails are more of a specialty item, is that they easily take four times as long to make as the basic tails. Why do they take so much longer? Each row of scales is made up of two rounds of crocheting. First, you have to crochet the foundation row, which is basically like bars to which you will attach the scales. Second, you have to crochet each of the scales onto the bars of the foundation row. Each scale is made up of 10 crochet stitches, so for your very first row you’re already creating 60 double crochet stitches. And that’s in addition to the foundation row. It’s time consuming since you’re only gaining one row of scales for every two rows of crocheting. But they are beautiful. And they are shiny.

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There are lots of different styles of mermaid tail blankets out there, but I think that this scaled style is the most stunning. They also end up being quite heavy and warm – a cozy way to cuddle up on cool evenings. These tails are available through custom order in my Etsy shop in several different colourways, and now that I’ve floated back up to the top, I’m ready to dive back into some serious crochet projects.img_20161129_144529770

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