This blanket is for a lovely couple, Dan and Jess, who live in the Boston area. I knew it needed to be warm and classic and casual and big because this was another "tall groom" situation.
I took my inspiration for this blanket from the wedding site. The couple got married on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, at the same site where my husband and I got married five years ago. It is a beautiful verdant location with ferns and pines and birch trees. I really felt like I wanted to make a blanket evocative of the place.
I started out with a pattern from an amazing 1968 Bernat pattern book of my mother's. I may have fallen prey to the wonderfully kitschy styling in the photo shoot. It should have been a dream, worked on large needles, yarn held doubled. But goodness, I just didn't like the pattern. It seemed to take ages to get one row finished, and I couldn't keep the tension even between the two strands of yarn.
So I said phooey! I put the blanket aside, made the several blankets you have seen recently on this blog, and a few pairs of socks beside. But I always knew I would need to come back to this blanket and this yarn and make something beautiful.
At some point between giving up on the Bernat pattern, and actually starting to re-knit, I found a pattern I really liked. The Serenity pattern looked fun to knit, and warm, and lovely. It was written for worsted weight yarn, which is what I had. The only catch was that it was written as a baby blanket size. I mentally prepared to have to figure out how to expand the size. Behold my surprise when I finally went to (re)start the blanket, and found that an intrepid Raveler before me had already worked out the graphs to expand the blanket, and the designer had linked to those graphs from the project homepage. It was like a Christmas present in July.
I worked an applied border, mostly because I really wanted to have a cable go all the way around, and i didn't want to knit it separately and sew it on, because that way lies madness. Because the cable isn't as stretchy as a garter stitch border, it did result in a slight ripple to the edge, but who knows, maybe it's charming? I think the ripple does add to the overall lusciousness of the blanket.
And, a bonus project:
A birthday gift for my supervisor. I think the bluebird of happiness is a potent symbol and this pattern was a fun knit, one piece with short rows for shaping. An improvised party hat is the cherry on top.
I've got quite a few finished projects to talk about!
And the weddings are all wed, so I can get to talking.
The first finished, and almost the last given, is this lovely square throw. Photo maybe not the best, but listen people, you run out of ways to photograph a blanket and you want to mix it up a little, and sometimes you don't hit it out of the park, but I think you can get the idea!
I chose traditional wedding ivory and used a wool/acrylic blend so the happy couple won't need to worry about washing instructions, or finding a place to dry a blanket in their Brooklyn apartment with curious cats. This blanket was a breeze from start to finish, so enjoyable to knit that I made a second one, which has already appeared in an earlier post here. I went in a totally different direction with the second iteration, making it in grey and giving it a striped border. I love that one, but I also love the simplicity of this one. Both have the central motif that suggests a compass rose to me, which seems an auspicious symbol for a newly married couple. Also I love the bobbles, and the simplicity of the eyelet rows for the border that give the blanket a vintage feel. Yay for Steve and Fran and I wish we could have been at what was, from all accounts, a most lovely wedding full of thoughtful touches.
And since I'm attempting to feature these wedding blankets, but also play catch up, thrown in at the bottom is this little guy:
He's from the Anna Hrachovec's book Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi. Her patterns are great go-tos for quick cute knits, and he was a birthday present for a friend of mine who just turned 4! Congrats Graham! There really isn't anything to indicated scale in this photo, but lets just say he's as big as a large grape. Like, one of the big dark purple dusty grapes that are full of seeds.
I'm so excited to share this project with you because it has been finished since March!
The more I knit, the more comfortable I am altering patterns. I mostly find my patterns on Ravelery, and when I find a pattern I like, I scroll through other people's projects to get a feel for common improvements. I hardly ever do a test run (a swatch). I usually just cast-on for the project and if it is coming out terribly I take it apart, and then again, and then again. I love to jump into a project and then I like to look at the item as it develops and respond to inspiration as it strikes.
At any rate, the net result of plowing ahead is sometimes ending up with a shopping bag full of kinky yarn when you pull the whole thing out. I think it is important to emphasize how many times I take things apart. I know a lot of people view un-knitting as the end, but to me it is just a step towards a project that I will find really satisfying. When I ask someone what they think of a questionable project in progress and they say "yeah, that's fine, you won't notice when you're finished," that drives me nuts, because I will notice, and I don't want to spend hours on a project that is fine! On the other hand, I love the line "no one will notice that from a galloping horse." and I hypocritically give this advice to people all the time. You know if you'll care later, and if you will, rip it out!
This blanket is mostly from a free Lion Brand pattern. For this project, the main divergence from the pattern was doing a wide moss stitch border instead of the more fussy leaf shaped border in the pattern. Deciding about the thickness of the border was one of the reasons I had to take this blanket apart so many times. I also framed out each section of design with stocking stitch and moss stitch sections. These changes made the blanket slightly larger than written, a plus in this case as the groom of this couple (as all the grooms this summer seem to be) is quite tall, and I think the framing of each section made the whole blanket design more modern without losing the heirloom quality.
I made this pattern because I fell in love with the intertwined trees. They are such a perfect wedding symbol, especially for this couple who has grown, both individually and together, through the years. The flower panels were another story, and there was much ripping back, much searching of Ravelry, much testing of different techniques, and much uncertainty. Ultimately I do like the way the floral sections balance the arboreal sections, though I'm curious to hear in a year if there is a problem with snagging .
This blanket is knit with 100% wool, Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool which is an amazing bargain, and so blocking was a must. For the blocking process I took a cue from my recent experience blocking shawls, and wove crochet thread along each edge. That gave me a firm, sturdy string to pull tight to make the edges straight. I did this instead of trying to pin out all the edges strait. So instead of using a gazillion pins I used about 20. I also recently read that the first time blocking is the most important, because it teaches the wool its new shape, and that treatment after subsequent washing doesn't need to be as labored. That makes me feel slightly less guilty about giving 100% wool items. (I can't find that link now though, so don't quote me!)
I love the final result and I hope the happy couple can love it for years to come.
It has become clear to me, (and possibly to you), that I would rather knit than write about it, but then at the same time, I love talking about fiber craft because it is something I love to do, and it is also something I feel like I really understand. I have a friend who is an architect and she can explain how a building is built based on looking at the outside. I find that amazing, and it makes me proud to think that I can do the same thing with a knitted object. I've been reading a lot of Elizabeth Zimmerman (knitting sage) and she has a blanket pattern where she intentionally goes out of her way to make it a puzzle for other knitters to understand how it was assembled. I find this idea delightful for the same reason I like cast-offs that look like cast-ons and seamless construction.
Speaking of Elizabeth Zimmerman, I finally got a chance to try out one of her most iconic designs, the Baby Surprise Jacket. The surprise is all for the knitter because the whole jacket it knit in one flat, misshapen piece and then with two seams at the tops of the arms, it becomes a jacket. My cousin and his wife had a beautiful baby girl at the beginning of the year and I was so pleased to make this for her.
I wanted to do a whole outfit, and so I found this free cute little hat pattern on Ravelry.
And since her name is Iris, I found a free Lion Brand pattern for an Iris and sized it down using smaller yarn and a smaller crochet hook.
For my mom's birthday, I knew I wanted to make a pair of socks, and I wanted to make some that would fit. She wanted some more subdued socks she could wear to work, which isn't usually the direction I go in for her. She loves the Skew pattern from Knitty, and after an abortive attempt with another pattern that came out looking like a Viking boot, I adapted the Skew pattern with eyelets so that the skew is still visible, but without using self striping yarn.
It is great to make things that people have asked for. My brother in law requested a knit necktie, which sounded like a fun challenge. I lined the skinny part by the neck with a piece of grosgrain ribbon. Knitting a long skinny strip of moss stitch takes a lot longer than you would think. This is a modified free Lion Brand pattern.
I love Kate Davies' designs. Her photography is beautiful and her designs are historic and modern at the same time. I bought her book, and the design that captivated me immediately was the Puffin Sweater. Did you know Puffins live in Scotland? I didn't, and I love this fact.
This was a quick anniversary gift for my husband. He loves the TV show Adventure Time and this is a character, Jake the Dog, from that show. I had to do it all at work and sneak the car at one point to go buy the yarn, so all of that is more exciting than the actual project, which was fairly simple. The eyes are regular craft eyes you can buy at the store and then I used whiteout to color in Jake's distinctive pupils. The pattern is on Ravelry.
This summer for the most part I've been working on Wedding Blankets. We have so many dear friends that are getting married and we don't have the wherewithal to get to most of the weddings. Only one of the weddings has happened so far, so I'll only post one of the blankets. The pattern is one I bought from Bernat and is worked from the center and I used a slightly obscure Elizabeth Zimmerman cast-off from The Knitters Almanac around the edge with a variegated yarn.
When we were having colder weather, and before I got moving on these wedding blankets, I was slaving away on this monster, a dream sweater for my husband from an out of print Dale of Norway book. I love it and I can't wait to start working on it again in the fall.
I spent the weekend attempting to give order to my massive yarn collection (more on this and what I found later.) Of course, the main thing I found was that I have a lot of yarn that I can’t really imagine using. That isn’t to say that I can’t imagine needing this yarn for something, but just looking at it isn’t an inspirational activity. My husband thought it looked warm and fuzzy all laid out on the floor. To me it looked like waist deep mud that I would have to wade through for some kind of craft basic training. It’s back in tubs now, labeled into general categories: “acrylic worsted” and “natural worsted,” for example.
I also found some “science experiment” knitting poking around, little swatches and tests. One that’s been around for a year is the answer to the question “What if I made this bigger?”
I thought I was going to make a thread bedspread at some point, which, still might happen in my lifetime. Of course, the pattern I chose was time consuming and thread consuming, and even popped up as the subject of some justified mockery on a well known knitting blog.
I would need to make a gazillion, and I’ve made around 10. Also, I can only imagine that this bedspread, once completed, would probably weigh so much that people laying beneath it could not move.
At some point, I wanted to see what would happen if this fiddly little square was done in worsted?
Again, the result eats up a lot of yarn, the brown part used almost a whole skein, but I love the effect. Looking at all my acrylic worsted weight yarn, I’ve been thinking, I should finish this project. It seems like a great way to get rid of yarn and end up with a lacy extravagant blanket. I was thinking maybe 9 squares, maybe 12. I’m going to shoot for one a month and see where that gets me. Though I just realized I have no idea what size hook I used for the big one. Hmm.
Whenever anyone tells me "Hey, I like your blog," I feel compelled to say: "I don't post enough! But I just like crafting more than I like writing about it." As a result, a lot of projects never make it onto the blog because they were finished so long ago that by the time I get it together to write a post, I'm onto something totally new. But I've done a lot of projects recently that I like, so I'm just going to overwhelm you with a big smorgasbord of finished projects. Dig in!
Here is the finished Under the Sea blanket. Though I am pleased, and my friend who received it is pleased, it somehow never lived up to my elaborate conception, (which was much more sculpture than blanket). All of the items button on with toggle buttons, and so they can be re-arranged and moved around.
More socks for my mom. They are both from patterns that you've seen here before and that just work particularly well. I liked the Sidewinders pattern so much, that I knew I wanted to make a pair for my mom. I used some Felici self striping yarn and it ended up coming out so perfectly! The last pair of Skew socks got rave reviews for fit, so I thought I would make another pair. This time around I used an acrylic blend so that they won't be quite so warm as wool. A summer sock.
More socks! This time socks for my husband, who, you may have noticed, doesn't get a lot of stuff. The items in the cue for him are long and varied and he is very patient about it, so I got the lead out and actually finished something for him. These were designed by the witty little knitter, and the pattern is here. I was worried about tightness in the ankles, so I did the all of the white accents on the leg in duplicate stitch. I hadn't really ever given a lot of though to the technique of duplicate stitch, but thankfully and serendipitously, smartygirl at the filmcraft blog posted a link to a Watermelish tutorial on duplicate stitch which was awesome! And everything came out much neater than my original attempt.
Tiny seahorse is finished! I put it off for so long because I was worried I wouldn't be able to pick up the stitches for the belly. I hadn't even considered how absurdly small the back fin would be. So tiny! This is, once again, a Hansi Singh pattern. I didn't have to change the pattern at all, just used smaller needles and yarn. People's main reaction has been, "how do you make it so tiny," and my only answer is "tiny needles." The stick supporting the seahorse in this photo is actually one of the needles used to knit it. They are size 0/6 and I got them from BagLady, where I also got 0/4 and 0/5. They don't sell 0/8, thank goodness, or I would probably be blind.
And I know I'm kind of burying the lead here, but ta-da! Tiny chameleon. He was inspired by a little guy you may have seen in the news a little while ago:
One new chameleon was found on Nosy Hara, an islet off the coast of Madagascar. Named Brookesia micra, it is the smallest of the four species. Juveniles are small enough to stand on the head of a match.
Well, I didn't quite get it that small, but pretty close! Also, chameleons are incredibly fun to look at! When ever I'm doing a project where I'm trying to match something in nature, I do a lot of image searches first, and that was how I learned the super fun fact that baby chameleons ride around on their mom's faces. So, then, of course, I knew what I had to do.
Both mom and baby are Hansi Singh patterns. The mom was knit with sock weight yarn and using 0/4 needles. The hardest part by far was the tail, but it wasn't impossible. The legs are knit separately, but the head and eyes are knit with picked up stitches. There are wires inside the legs so that they are positionable.
Ah the knitter’s stash and stash-busting. For the uninitiated, the stash is what knitters call their hoard of yarn. Stash busting is using yarn from the stash, thereby making the stash a tiny bit smaller.
The title of this post is really only figurative, because while my stash occupies a large portion of my closet, it has also spread to sections of my book shelf, and, horror of horrors, the terribly yarn-un-friendly location of the garage.
Lori, Lori, quite aquisitory, how does your stash grow?
Well, I am guilty of what I will call “whole project buying”. I see a pattern, I love it, I buy all the yarn needed for it, and then I squirrel it away because I certainly don’t have time to start a new project, I have several projects going already! Sometimes, three years later, I start these projects, sometimes, I don’t.
Sometimes you need a tiny bit of black acrylic for the ends of the eye stalks of some hermit crab, and so you buy a giant ball of red heart, which never, ever, ends, all the while taking up a lot of cubic inches of stash real estate.
A lot of the time, you know that it takes 100g of sock yarn to make a pair of socks, so you buy 1000g of sock yarn, 100g at a time, with the expectation that some day you will make ten pairs of socks. Not an unlikely expectation at all.
The only problem is that then, the new knitting magazines show up on your door step, or you spend a night browsing on Ravelry, or someone you can’t refuse says, I found this pattern, please make it for me, and then you find yourself buying more yarn. And at the end of these projects, there is always a little yarn left over, and so the stash grows a little, even though yarn is leaving the house.
But then, none of this is really complaining, because gazing at your stash is a satisfying sort of activity in it’s own right.
But so is stash busting.
I’m working on two stash busting projects right now. One is a sweet sweater I started about one year ago. I’m re-starting it really. The little dutch sweater dress that will some day be a reality.
I’ve got miles to knit before I sleep on this one, but the pattern keeps it entertaining, imagining what little dutch people would say while they were waiting for their heads to be knit. Instead of just making the original vintage pattern larger, I’m using the general pattern suggestions for the Global Warming sweater, I’m looking forward to doing the sleeves! I had a brief conniption last night because, while I’ve known I will need to order more of the white yarn for a while, I’ve been putting it off. The white is a nice thick sport weight from Knitpicks called Telemark. Well, "they" have discontinued Telemark, and it seems, replaced it with Wool of the Andes, which I don't have a particular gripe with, except that WotA has about 30 yds more per 50g ball, which means it is not as thick and sturdy. I was imagining all kinds of tragic looking outcomes to this situation, but this morning I found 6 balls of the yarn hanging out in the UK, and that should be enough to finish the project. Hurrah!
But even while I have this project that is so sweet and tons of fun, and even has some technical planning aspects to keep me engaged, I’ve been just pining to crochet. So much so that I made this a few nights ago:
I was pouring over my doily books, almost drooling, wondering where I could get size 30 cotton thread. However, I am well aware that clearly I don’t need more thread, and really, more doilies. So, the part of my mind that wasn’t overtaken with feverish doily planning remembered a box of yarn from 2009 that was in the garage that was waiting to become a ripple afghan. Ta-da:
Not that we need blankets either, but I dream of a day when I’ve got a lovely purple ruffle afghan on the back of one chair, and a beautiful mustard Girasole over the back of the couch. I haven’t bought the yarn for the Girasole...yet.
I would love to say that I've been knitting up a storm instead of posting here, but that isn't quite the case. I've also been baking pies and cleaning the living room and watching TV. In the midst of a few un-ending UFOs, my passion has been flagging a little.
Which isn't to say of course that I haven't finished anything since July when I last posted. August was actually a productive month, knitting wise. It just didn't definitely feel that way. Though I could question the health of it, what I love is to have a project going that I think about all the time. Something I plan out aspects of during down time at work and can't wait to get home to. How I felt about the sideways socks and my tiny hermit crab.
But I also think I will find that project somewhere in my massive horde of projects waiting to be started. Last weekend I made it though the left and right front of a sweater and part of the way up the back before I lost oomph over concerns about the tightness of the arm holes and running out of yarn. Is it better to know you don't have enough yarn to finish a project, or to always think you might not have enough yarn to finish a project? If you know the answer to this puzzle, please let me know in the comments.
Alright, enough musing and down to brass tacks. What exactly have I been up to since July? Well...
Atomic Fireball Socks for my Father-in-law
Lots of cables for large men's feet. They took me quite a while, but they have a lot of small touches that I like. The heel is the extra long, good for men's socks, Fleegle's short-row heel. It used up more yarn than I think a heel flap heel would have, but I also think a well fitting heel is half the battle in good sock fit. I used the Interlock Bindoff, which I really like a lot. It is possibly the most ridiculous and complicated sewn bindoff, but the results are fantastic, very stretchy, but also attractive.
Java Socks for my Dad
These were my first two-at-a-time socks. Though of course each row takes twice as long, it is wonderful to cast off and be totally finished with a project. The second sock is always the bane of my existence. Very much like sleeves, my brain just doesn't want to do the same thing it just did, AGAIN. I like the Java pattern because it is so stretchy. The sad truth is that the more ornate a handmade sock is, the more it is like a tiny wool foot blanket, no give, no stretch, very thick. So, though I love them, I think I am finished with Fair Isle socks because they just don't work for 80% of feet.
These photos really don't do it the color or the dimensions justice. I blocked in haste and didn't think to snap a photo then, and these are pre-blocking. The blanket ended up double bed sized, but that may only be because a double bed is the largest surface in my home that I have to block on. The color is more of a natural cream. It took FOREVER, but the result is beautiful and well worth it for a wedding gift.
Baby Wonton Wrapper
I made this for the arrival of my brand new little 1st cousin once removed. She is beautiful and lovely. I knew she was coming, but I didn't know her gender. I figured yellow and teal would be good bright gender neutral colors. The blanket is 100% cotton. The main yellow part is Lion Brand, and then I had to delve into fancy yarn store territory for the teal because it would seem that there are no good true mass-market teals commercially available. This baby's birth was conveniently timed during a trip East, and so I had a chance, the night before going to see her, to whip up some little coral colored star embellishments. I didn't invent this star pattern. Actually I scoured the internet for a free star pattern, only to discover that the best one, and I mean, really, the best crocheted stars in all history and time, would cost me $4.95. I hemmed and hawed for a day, and finally my husband agreed to split the cost with me so that I could stop agonizing. They are totally worth it. The blanket has a little triangle sewn onto the front of one of the corners to act as a baby hood. I love the texture of seed stitch, so I alternated squares of that with squares of straight knitting. The boarder is a broken rib, so it doesn't shrink up but still has the texture of a rib. Also, a baby blanket takes a lot less time than a wedding blanket with cables!
Pre-stars and pre-weaving in the ends. Also, the colors that an overcast sky affords the photographer. Trust me, the teal is awesome.
Baby Duck Booties
Tucked inside the blanket are some booties that I finished within a month of finding out about the pregnancy, but that I haven't posted, just to cover my gifts are supposed to be surprises bases. The pattern is a field trip into the mind of a master knitter and I loved making them, and actually plan to make another pair very soon for a friend's baby.
Well, thanks for making it through the poorly lit photos and the rambling prose. Though it gets hot here before it gets cool, I think Fall always brings good knitting.
There is Katie in the background of her lovely sketch.
Check out that yolk, wandering where it pleases.
So much to write about! I know it has been ages since my last post, and actually I've been quite busy. Oldest projects come first I guess.
Here is a photo of a sweater I made for my mom. A very sweet friend chose to de-stash and gave me the proceeds. This fuchsia mohair was just screaming my mom's name, so I dug around a little and found this pattern. I have to say I was surprised how hard it was to find a reasonable mohair pattern. I mean, I know all the arguments against it, it can be scratchy, and too warm, and sheds, but come on. This was the only modern pattern I could find for worsted weight mohair. All other patterns are either from the 80s or the 60s, and in either case most closely resemble ottoman covers. Like I said, I get why mohair isn’t popular any more, but I also don’t get it. This was truly a weekend long project, knit on size 11 needles. It went so quickly, and after blocking, it has a very nice drape. It has been reported to me that it was a success on its maiden outing.
Next are some more little mice. These little mice, commissioned by my mom for a gift, are the country mouse and the city mouse. I used the same pattern I've been using from Fuzzy Mitten and then used guess work to create some little clothes for them. The country mouse wears a little hooded cape. I did try to make an apron for her first, but these little mouse bodies are not really set up for clothes that cover the waist down. The city mouse wears a little fancy hat.
I'm going to crow about the flower on her hat for a second. It was done with sewing thread and a 0.75mm crochet hook. I'm quite proud of it. The city mouse also wears a string of glass beads. These little mice represent my favorite type of project, riffing on an established pattern by making changes in yarn and embellishment.
Next on the agenda for sharing are some repair jobs I did. Both projects were completed for the same friend about five years ago when I was still pretty inexperienced. I recently took them back to fix them after being unable to withstand the guilt of turning out lousy product any longer. As I tell everyone, my projects are guaranteed. If they fall apart, send them back. I’ll fix them or make something else.
First, pictured above are the ill effects of whip stitching a granny square blanket together that was made from soft acrylic yarn. The effects are quite ill. The poor thing was washed once or twice and went all to pieces.
Now here is my repair job. I took the whole blanket apart and single crocheted the squares together using a yellow that was pretty close to the original yellow. I think it looks better than before and I kind of want my own now.
The second "repair" was blocking this poor scarf. This is really my first successful knitted garment. I chose the pattern and the boarder pattern from a book of 500 (or some such number) knitting patterns. I didn't know doodly-squat about blocking when I made this poor scarf though, and as a result, for the last few years it has existed as a kind of thick neck sock, all rolled up upon itself.
The blocking was really pleasant because I got to see the lace pattern open up. Due to the fact that the pattern is knit all the way to the edges though, I'm afraid it will always roll up a little, but it is much improved. The yarn is a cotton silk blend and was lovely to handle again.
Here is a quilt update photo. I’ve gotten a little farther than this, but not by much.
And finally, here is one of my kitties reminding me that if it is crocheted, no matter how small it is, it will be sat upon and kneaded by one cat or another. How could I have forgotten that?