I present the Italian Square Afghan:
This blanket, stitched for my mother's Xmas gift, was intended to mimic an Italian style stained glass window, because I felt that also reflected the motif itself (named by The Harmony Guides, not me, as the Italian Square).
After I made the first square:
I tessellated it and played around in PhotoShop and I discovered that I was love with the overall relief pattern created from the tiling of the squares. That 13 x 13 square blanket was going to use A LOT of yarn. I'd made the first square with some Berroco Comfort that I had on hand and I really like the drape that this soft and sorta floppy yarn yielded. These squares have a lot of bobbles, and those can add stiffness and bulk to a completed piece and I wanted this blanket to be cuddly and soft... and washable! So I decided to go with the Berroco Comfort (and a 5.0 mm hook), and I am glad I did. As is my custom, I washed the blanket before wrapping it up to give it away and on gentle wash/low dry it came out beautifully and even softer than it went in. No pilling or fuzzing of note, and no re-blocking needed.
The next step was to choose colors from the available palette of the Berroco Comfort, and then play around with tiling ideas in PhotoShop. The result was the following:
After I decided on colors, I ordered up my needs. The color palette make me SO happy:
And I needed to make 169 of those! And weave in all those ends! And join them all together! Whew. But it was my special project for being stuck in bed, post thyroidectomy. A motif project was just the thing, because each piece was quick to stitch up, and I wouldn't have to deal with a large project until the very end. Wanna know what 169 squares looks like? I was so proud I had to take a pic:
The next step was to join them all together. Originally I had thought I would hide the outer tail in the join, but I later decided to weave in the end before joining a square to the whole piece.
I used a join I call a "ric-rac" join. I love this join for many reasons. First, it's a flat join so it doesn't make the fabric any thicker or change the drape in any way. Second, it's REALLY sturdy and can handle the tugs and pulls a large blanket must endure. Third, it lines up the squares perfectly, always matching the edges of the stitches just right - so that the overall pattern is consistent and apparent.
With the working end of the yarn held behind/under the blanket-in-progress, I slip stitch into the corner of the square I am adding, then I slip stitch to the corner of the square I am joining to. Then I slip stitch over one on the same square, then I slip stitch to the next unworked stitch on the square I am adding, and so on. Here's a graphic:
If you love this motif, you can find it by purchasing the Interweave Press Harmony Guide: 250 Crochet Motifs. Click the pic of the cover to see the Amazon information page. I can't recommend this, or the other Harmony Guide editions, enough. While I can't say I am the designer of the blanket, I was able to take a component provided by the book and make it completely my own through use of color, tiling, join, etc. The Harmony Guides are great launching places for fabulous ideas.