Isn’t it wonderful how children’s story books are able to teach life lessons in such a fun way? A favorite book of my family is Elmer by David McKee. The copyright is 1968, and the story still holds its worth today. It is the tale of a patchwork colored elephant who doesn’t like being different than all of the other elephants. He tries to change by acting and looking like everyone else, but he learns along the way that everyone loves him for who he is, and that it is always best to be yourself. Such a simple, touching story.
I wanted to make a special blanket for my daughter’s 18th birthday, for her to take to college next year. We had been looking at lots of different styles together, but once we had the idea for an Elmer blanket, that was it, the decision was made. I took out our copy of the book and kept it nearby, for nostalgic reasons. It surprises me how even still, every stage of parenthood is such a gift. I could write so many things to describe how wonderful my daughter is, and how much we love her. I won’t do that, though! 🙂 I will simply share that she is someone who has always been comfortable being herself.
So this is the story of my creating our own Elmer blanket. I was lucky to have LOADS of colors to use (21 different colors, actually). I have no idea where I had all of that yarn stashed (read: hidden)! I’ve learned from previous projects that it is best to use the same type of yarn throughout a project. My yarn of choice here was Caron Simply Soft.
The crochet squares are five rounds, which is somewhat large, but a very simple pattern. The center of the square is comprised of a pattern of 4 double crochet to 3 chain stitches, with each round after that increasing by 4, the final row having 20 double crochet to 3 chain stitches. There are 150 squares, which comfortably covers a single bed. I crocheted them together using a technique that doesn’t show the stitches on the front. I’d never done this before, so the Little Tin Bird’s tutorial was quite helpful.
I used gray as the first border color to connect it to our elephant story. Although Elmer would have been patchwork, I crocheted two gray elephants for two corners, again to connect it to our story. The elephant pattern was fantastically easy, as written by Repeat Crafter Me. The purple border is because my daughter’s favorite color is purple.
The final piece of the blanket is the ball fringe. I wanted this blanket to be extra special so I went through many, many crochet books, and online sites, looking for the perfect finish.
I wasn’t sure about the “balls”, and the first one I made was too big. But with a little tweaking, I figured out a size my daughter would be happy with. We also decided not to have them at the top/bottom as they might get in the way with sleeping! There are 80 balls, 40 on each length of the blanket. The ball fringe pattern can be found in Nicky Epstein’s “Crocheting on the Edge” book.
What an amazing experience it was making this blanket. I loved working with all of those gorgeous colors! The balls were new to me, and fun and easy to make. Best of all, my daughter loved it start to finish (I consulted with her all along the way). It was truly a labor of love!
We could all use a reminder of Elmer’s lesson now and again – it is always best to be yourself!