Holly and Simon's wedding blanket
Back in 2004, I spent my gap year volunteering at a school in very, very rural KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. It was undoubtedly one of the best things I've ever done, and part of that is because of Holly. We volunteered through a charity and we weren't even 'matched' as a pair - my original placement in Cape Town had a multitude of issues, so the charity withdrew, and I ended up in KZN with Holly. Our experiences are too numerous for this one blog post, but needless to say, we began as strangers and finished as the very closest of friends.
Since arriving back in the UK over eleven years ago, we've stayed in touch. Sometimes it will be months between visits, but when we do meet up, it's as though we've never been apart. The first two hours will be spent reminiscing about the same stories we reminisced about last time we saw each other, then we'll catch up on news, and work, and other such stuff. I'm so pleased we've stayed in touch - out of all the other people we know who volunteered with the same charity, most are only Facebook friends with their partner and many aren't even that - which makes me even more pleased our friendship has remained. It's great that I have someone who fully understands how brilliant my gap year was!
A few years ago, we went on holiday to Slovenia - in December, it was pretty cold, but also very pretty. Travelling with her again was great, and we keep saying we must go to another country beginning with S!
|Lake Bled, Slovenia|
We were planning to return to South Africa in 2014, a decade after our placement, but my lack of a job meant it wasn't feasible. We definitely plan to return at some point though, it is a place that means so much to us both and it would be very weird if one of us went back without the other. In fact, I think we may have forbidden this!
Last summer, Holly announced her engagement and I set about crocheting a blanket for her as a wedding present (as I've done for close friends previously). She chose pink, cream and navy and I wanted to go with a pattern using stripes, as I didn't fancy sewing lots of little pieces together. I went with a ripple pattern from 100 Colourful Ripple Stitches to Crochet and got going.
I'm glad I had over a year to make this, as was a bit arduous in places. After a while it did get repetitive. Towards the end, I was working on it at a friend's house and she asked why I'd suddenly changed the order - she had spotted I'd missed out a navy section. I clearly couldn't leave it like that, so I had to pull out about eight rows to sort it out. Whoops! Each row took me about 25 minutes. But it was eventually done, with not many days to spare!
The washing line was the only place I could take a photo of it all. It just about hangs over the edges of our king size bed, so it's quite a big size.
Ripples ripples ripples.
I didn't do a border, I don't think ripple blankets need one. Also, I was cutting it very close to the deadline and didn't fancy crocheting round the entire thing.
It was soon folded and tied with a ribbon.
I sensibly included a care label and some spare yarn, just in case. I possibly don't win any awards for presentation for this last bit!
The starting chain was a massive 342 stitches - that's the downside of making large blankets in rows! The colours are Stylecraft Special's Midnight, Pale Rose and Cream. I couldn't tell you how much of each colour I used, I intended to make notes as I went along, but I didn't. I do, however, have a lot of cream yarn now, left over from this blanket and the one I made for a friend in the summer. So I probably over-ordered the cream, but that's not very helpful in terms of how much I did actually use!
The day of her wedding was utterly gorgeous, and Ben and I had a great time helping her and Simon to celebrate. There is something so special about seeing one of your closest friends marry the person they love, who loves them back. Simon's speech was emotional, and I got a mention in her dad's speech when he was recounting all the great things she's done - I was pleased to be included!
I didn't fancy taking their blanket to the wedding, so I took it with me when Ben and I went to theirs for dinner a few weeks ago - and they love it! I even got a thank you postcard a few days later. It's lovely to think that something I made is really being appreciated.
To Holly and Simon, I wish you all the very, very best for your future together - may it be bright and wonderful!