Cloister Blanket

comments: 77


Thank you! Y'all are so nice. So nice. More expressive than the feline set, certainly, though I will say that Violet has not left the ripple blanket in, what, three days now, so that's cat-ified appreciation for ya. It occurred to me early last night as I clambered into my ripply nest again with a huge, exhausted sigh (it's been a tough week, I have to say) that I might actually love the blanket enough for all of us combined. But thank you, as ever, for all the ripple love. I'm very flattered that it would inspire anyone else. I hope that everyone learns to crochet, I really do.

I learned to crochet about six years ago from the book Crocheting for Dummies and the first thing I made was one little granny square. I was in my late 20s before I even tried to knit or crochet; I did neither as a child. I'd had to "learn" to knit several times over several years before I could finally do it, and I'm still just a beginner. I was certainly not a natural. But I picked up crochet in one night, for some reason. It just felt right to me, especially after my knitting issues.

Nevertheless, whenever I teach people to crochet, I am careful to not over-emphasize how "easy" it supposedly is. A lot of people start knitting or crocheting when they have real need to relax, or do something fun, or whatever — I've noticed that there are often life-circumstances that precipitate learning to knit or crochet. And when it turns out that you don't pick up this "easy" thing that everyone on earth seems to be able to do in five minutes, or that you're all thumbs, or that you are the worst in the whole class (and with knitting I definitely was), you can get kind of double stressed-out, because you're really not in the mood to add more challenges to your life, or feel incompetent, or hear about how much fun everyone else is having with it.

So I always try to encourage people to not worry. To slow down, look at the directions again, keep trying. It takes practice. No matter how naturally it comes, it takes practice before you develop any kind of muscle-memory. And at some point there will be a "moment" where you "get" it — much like riding a bike. For quite a while you will be stuck in the technical stuff — balancing, pedaling, turning, moving uncomfortably through the motions, possibly wiping out, stopping to fetch a Band-Aid. But then there will be that small, smooth, bright moment when you are not conscious of every movement and the wheels are still turning, and you're moving forward, down the block, toward the park. There's the park! You're thinking about the park, and still vertical. . . . Aw, you've got it now.

The benefits — well, the benefits of dinking around with a ball of yarn are extraordinary. One of the best cures in the world. Worth every scraped knee, don't you think?


The ripple blanket is like candy. Yummy yummy snuggly candy. And look at you go on the granny squares! Amazing! I have "craochet for kids" (or something like that) so I figure if a kid can learn from that book so can I.

Thanks for the encouragement. I've had learn to crochet books lying around here for over a year and haven't had the nerve to try since knitting has proven to be sort of a challenge for me. I always feel like everyone understands the patterns but me. Maybe it's my math handicap or something. Anyway, I feel all galvanized and stuff now. Maybe I CAN do this! I hope it doesn't turn out like learning to ride a bike -- my dad let go and didn't tell me, so I drove right into a hedgerow in front of all the neighborhood kids. Guess it couldn't be worse than that, right?
You're always an inspiration, Alicia!

I knit but I really want to learn to crochet although I am not crazy about the look of a lot of crocheted items. Maybe this is my crochet wakeup call!

I know exactly what you mean about the "easy" part of it being frustrating. I taught my husband to knit and he started a scarf that I found less than half finished a while ago. His stitches are beautiful and even, it really is gorgeous work, but he refuses to finish it claiming that learning and just getting that far was so stressful and non-relaxing that he doesn't want to continue. I can't convince him that it gets easier and you eventually just find this place of zen (unless you are knitting something more complicated and threaten to throw it across the room like I do every few minutes!).

So here I am finishing the scarf which is fine by me because its in a gorgeous shade of manos de uruguay but still, maybe one day he will see the knitting light.

"Fetching a Band-Aid".. you make every thing so pretty.

I like that feeling after I've been crocheting for a while, getting into the motions. And then throughout the day, I may have these little ghost sensations where my hands crochet something in the air. The hooking hand certainly does dance, doesn't she :)

Worth every scraped knee indeed. I feel similarly about crochet - i took to it in a way that I never have with knitting (though I love to do both). I find that it's easier for me to be fearless with crochet - i experiment all the time and riff off others patterns with abandon. I am much more conservative with knitting. Anyway, I second, third, fourth your encouragement to anyone thinking about learning to crochet.

"one of the best cures in the world"

Yes indeedy. A friend taught me all about granny squares in the late '70s. I'd go over to her house a few afternoons a week & we'd watch Guiding Light, crochet, & talk. It was the most fun. I made 12 afghans in 6 to 8 months. I gave them all away. Crocheting saved my life. I wonder about those afghans & I wonder about my friend.

The blanket is fantastic. And it's amazing that you've inspired so many people! You must be super fast, too. You really pumped that blanket out, and those granny squares too! Well done, Alicia!

your ripple blanket is delicious!! really really cute. I've been crocheting and knitting for several years but never tried one of these blankets. I want to but there's always something stopping me; lack of time, hesitation, naps hehe... thanks for the encouragement!

Thanks for the encouragement - I love to knit but I tried to learn crochet from a book and felt really dumb cause i couldn't get my head round it - i'm gonna ask my mum to show me - i learn better in 3d! Thanks!

I've been a knitter forever,it seems, and tried to crochet when I was quite young and didn't get it at all -- So I had this "crochet hangup" for a long time ( I would look at crochet books and always sigh...) until finally, last year on a holiday, because of a very big desire to make crochet flowers, I brought a hook and yarn with me and tried it again..and I finally figured it out exactly as you said...all of a sudden, it just clicked!

Now, I love crocheting mostly, I think, because it allows you do to little things like flowers and dolls (doll-making was this year's holiday project) in a more fluid and faster way than knitting does. I don't know if I'll ever go back to knitting...

By the way, your squares are awfully good-looking...

I have been reading your blog for awhile. This is my first comment, directed toward your other readers who would like to learn crocheting. There are several DVDs that teach crocheting. My favorite one is Leisure Arts Art of Knitting/Crochet 2. I took a crochet class in January at a knit shop, and I was the student who could not figure it out. I think I frustrated the teacher, because she kept taking my work out of my hands and doing it for me! It didn't really click for me until I watched the DVD. Also, after starting with yarn, only to have it split and confuse me, I decided to crochet using nylon cord, which does not split, and that helped a lot. I quickly made a purse out of the nylon cord, and now I have moved onto projects with yarns. I am "hooked" on crochet!

Love the granny squares! I grew up with granny-squared everything -- even Xmas stockings and Xmas tree skirt -- and I still love the
sweet warm look of them.

so pretty! i really want to make one of these, but totally forgot how to make a granny square. ugh!

Ah, you and I must share knitting genes, Alicia. I've crocheted since about '73, but knitting? I "learned" to knit over and over, until I finally told myself last year that this repeated "learning" was ridiculous — I learned to crochet from a book and I can learn to knit from one, too. So now I've gotten basic knitting fairly well down but have much, much more to learn. Only, watching you ripple away has made me yearn for my hooks again and I've taken a hiatus from knitting to dip back into crochet. It's fun. It's fast. And it can be gorgeous, as your blankets prove. I'm excited to see your granny start up. This is gonna be interesting...

i swear i thought you had written "The benefits — well, the benefits of DRINKING around with a ball of yarn are extraordinary. One of the best cures in the world."

it certainly cures what ails me...

Crochet? Knit? That, I can do. Ride a bike? Not really. My roommates and all the people on one floor of the dorms tried to teach me in sophmore year of college, and to their credit, I finally got it enough to balance and go in a straight line. But, I couldn't stop. And I couldn't turn. And I had to pedal at all times, would fall the moment I tried to coast (I really got up to some high speeds, terrified to stop pedalling, but scared to death of everything whizzing past me, too!). And I was never, in any way, relaxed. I *did* enjoy the feeling of the wind, and just being able to balance, but... I think I'll definitely stick to knitting and crocheting. Especially if it means I'll have something as beautiful as your blanket and squares!

on the topic of "getting it" when it comes to learning crochet or knitting, or really anything else: i always categorize that light-bulb-esque moment as the one where one finally "SEES". you are looking at your stitches, and suddenly there's this awareness..."oh, that's where the hook goes! thats how the stitch is being made!" and a paradigm has been shifted, a new horizon has opened up.

amazing, amazing moment. those moments of realization are a gift.

Well maybe, just maybe, you've convinced me to try crochet. I'm one of those people that gets frustrated if they can't do something well though so I'll have to "chill out" a bit about it!

Your blanket is sooo lovely! I am trying to learn crochet and find the stitches are easy-BUT making something is hard! I have trouble keeping the edges straight! Maybe I'll try the book you mentioned Crochet for Dummies. Thanks! Becky:)

The beauty of your recent crochet projects is unsurpassed. I am currently planning my own ripple blanket. And I now love these granny squares so much too. The second afghan I made was a ripple. It's definitely a destress type project.

i love to knit and do it precisely because it relaxes me and helps me forget the stress of the day just lived. but looking at your AMAZING blanket makes me want to learn to crochet. just like that. i'm already surfing websites for crochet hooks. i sense a new addiction coming :)

I visit quite often but don't I am breaking routine:) You are so inspiring, you keep me on my toes, stretching and growing. Thanks!! I know what you mean about starting a big project that at first seems beyond your grasp...I have had a few of those moments lately...I decided to draw my own Damask pattern...never thought I could do it...and I did. Keep up the good work, I'll let you know when I have finally decided to take the knitting plunge:)

And I'm the opposite--learned to knit instantly (and at age 8) but farmed out crochet borders for years until I finally made myself sit down and learn a few very simple patterns. I think I need to take the time to get comfortable with crochet, especially given that when I flip through an afghan or sweater pattern book lately, it's for crochet. It's never a bad thing to have another skill in one's bag of tricks!

The granny squares are gorgeous. You are erasing the memory of my own dear grandmother's "why wasn't the entire past in black and white?" afghans!

I wrote a response a few posts back about your ripple blanket inspiring me to learn to crochet. I borrowed a crocheting for kids book from the library and have made two scarves to date and am working on a hat. I had to start over numerous times, but once I got it, I got. Thank you again for the inspiration.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at