Posts Tagged ‘blanket’

Blanket Blocking

January 25, 2018

When I first started knitting — several decades ago now — projects were done when they came off the needles. If pieces needed to be stitched together, they were seamed and done. But more recently, I’ve become a blocking convert.

Blocking – the process of using water and shaping to truly “finish” the piece — is now the final step in my knitting projects. I first experienced the transformative power of blocking with my first lace shawl. And while the difference isn’t as dramatic in every project, blocking gives your finished work a more even, professional look.

After I’d woven in all the ends on the Siman Blanket, I spread it on the floor to admire its size and pattern — and its fluffy “waves.”

Siman-blanket-fluffy

Some knitters will debate the merits of steam blocking with an iron versus the full-immersion method. I’m firmly in the full-immersion camp, preferring to plop the entire project into a sink or bath of warm water, swishing it about with some gentle soap, and rinsing.  Given all the places my knitting travels and the dribbles of tea or wine or crumbs of graham crackers amidst the stitches, I figure that a good wash is needed anyway. Warm water and a cap of Euclan swished about and then into the bath.

Siman-blanket-bath

After a good hour of soaking and a gentle wash, I drained the soapy water and refilled with clear water for a rinse. After draining, the water-soaked blanket was heavy!

Siman-blanket-wet

Trying not to twist, I squeezed out as much water as I could, and then wrapped and rolled it into a few bath towels. A blanket burrito of sorts!

Siman-blanket wrapped

Then I spread the whole, significantly larger blanket onto a bed, pinned it in a few spots to help hold the shape, and left it to dry for a day or so.

Siman-blanket-blocked

I couldn’t resist wrapping myself in it before folding it carefully and mailing off to sweet Hannah. I like to think of her in her chilly apartment, warmly wrapped in love.

wrapped-siman-blanket.jpeg

P.S. She likes it.

Blanket-thanks-mhd

Advertisements

Wash and dry knits

April 19, 2015

Via my wonderful friend Cathie, a lesson in the resourcefulness of knitters and the durability of knitting. Picture this:

Skilled attorney, frequent flyer, intrepid knitter Cathie in the airport lounge where she’s passing the time during yet another Air Canada flight delay. Cup of coffee and suitcase by her side. In a perfect example of the domino effect, suitcase tips, knocks over coffee, which spills into open knitting bag at her feet, soaking her knitted baby blanket.

knit baby blanket variegated yarn

After some choice words (I wasn’t there but I’m pretty sure she wasn’t silent during said event), Cathie calmly takes blanket to wash room, rinses in sink (cool water, of course), squeezes excess water, and returns to lounge,

where the beautiful blanket is draped over the offending suitcase to dry.

knit baby blanket drying at airport

Surprisingly finished.

July 22, 2013

The Illusion Cube blanket is more than I thought it’d be. I knew the design was dead clever — 56 individual hexagons, each knit to look like a cube.

IllusionCubeCloseup

I knew the colors would be surprisingly lovely. Eight colors, each pair knitted twice in slightly different combination.

IllusionCubeFinished

Sure, each cube had about six ends to weave in and snip, making the back side a bit bumpy.

back side of Illusion Cube blanket

But I’m still delightfully surprised and pleased with the finished product.

I knew when I started this project, that this would be a gift for the child of neighborhood friends. Daisy was born when I was about 3/4 of the way through the cubes, the much-anticipated and greatly loved sister of big brothers Ben and Mookie and blessed child of Kerrie and Steve. The Yarn Harlot has said that knitting is “the best container for love.” I hope Miss Daisy is wrapped in love, in the form of this blanket and the less physical but no less tangible love of friends and family, for years to come.

Finished Illusion Cube Blanket over porch railing

Coming Together Quite Nicely

July 15, 2013

Once I’d learned how to align the two-colored hexagons in the Illusion Cube blanket, the sewing together progressed pretty steadily and easily. I’d sit and sew a bit, then stuff the whole thing into my bag until the next time. I’d grab my bag when I left the house, just in case I found myself waiting somewhere with a few minutes to spare.

Think you don’t have time to knit? Think again. How often do you sit in a waiting room of some kind? Or on the bus or subway? Or while waiting for someone to join you at a coffee shop? Ever sit behind the wheel (parked, of course), waiting for a child to emerge from a building or a sports practice? All prime time to grab the needles and make a bit of progress.

Speaking of prime time, think of the minutes — or hours — in front of the TV.

But back to the blanket. I’m loving the colors and emerging three-dimensionality of it.

Illusion Cube blanket in progress with 3 rows stitched

Piecing it all together

July 11, 2013

By the time I’d finished each piece of the Illusion Cube blanket, I’d knit more than the required 56 hexagons. There were a few mistakes along the way — duplicates of color combos, short-sided “cubes” (at least two of those). But finally, I was ready:

56 knitted hexagons for blanket

Sewing it all together seemed pretty easy-peasy as I started. The blanket is stitched together in quasi-stripes — based on the border colors of the hexagonal pieces (don’t you love that word?!). I was so pleased with the first 1 1/2 rows that I captured the progress in a photo.

Beginning row of stitched blanket

Wait a minute — THAT doesn’t look right. The colors were lovely but something about the stripes caught my eye — and not in a good way.

Blanket pieces sewn together at wrong angles

Fortunately I hadn’t gone too far with the second row. So I snipped and un-sewed, laid the whole thing out on the table, and placed each piece in the correct spot. And started sewing again.

THAT doesn’t look right…. (take 2)

June 23, 2013

As I’ve noted before, there’s no such thing as a knitter who doesn’t make mistakes. Learning to spot mistakes and figuring out how to correct them is something every knitter must do. If you don’t, you’ll end up frozen — confronted with a mistake that you’re unable to fix and unable to continue your project.

In the course of knitting the pieces — all 56 of them — for the Illusion Cube Blanket, I’ve made multiple mistakes. Sometimes I’ve spotted the mistake right away and been able to correct it with relatively little effort. Like forgetting to switch colors and realizing that I’ve knit four rows of periwinkle instead of two.

Another kind of mistake sneaks up on you. You think you’ve finished a cube just fine until you look carefully and realize there’s something not quite right. Like this:

AppleMagentaCube

It wasn’t until I took a photo of these two cubes, made with the same colors but in different combinations, that I spotted my mistake. Do you see it?

CubeShortSide-20130622-112705.jpg

There should be 5 stripes of the alternate (non-border) color on each side of the cube. In this one, I’d only knit four.

While sorting and counting the cubes I’d completed, I discovered a couple more that had mistakes.

CubeMistakes-1

But, I hear you asking, what do you DO when you find a mistake? Do you have to correct it? Or in this case, make new cubes with the proper number of stripes?

The answer depends on your preference. There are no knitting police or inspectors who will check your work and mark you down for errors. What do YOU want to do about it? How daunting is the correction? How will YOU feel when you look at your finished project — will the error seem glaring to you even if no one else can see it without your pointing it out? Do you care?

For me, for this project, I decided to knit new cubes with the proper number of stripes and correctly matched borders. After all, when you’re knitting 56 lovely striped cubes, what’s 3 or 4 more?!

 

 

One by one by one

May 26, 2013

The first time I saw the Illusion Cube Blanket in the WEBS catalog (which regularly occupies space on my bedside table), I put it on my mental “to do” list. I love the variety of colors — 8 in all — and the geometry of each individual cube and of the overall piece. With the completion of my most recent baby sweater and my neighbors’ second child on the way, the opportunity was at hand.

Selecting the colors was fun.

YarnColorsButtons

Plus I found a terrific bumper sticker.

KnitHappens

The blanket is a compilation of separate “cubes,” two of each color combination with alternating borders. Like these — magenta and green.

IMG_1923

Some of you will recall from math class that 8 individual items paired twice will yield 56 possible combinations. Right? Yeah, I didn’t remember either. But that’s how it works out — 56 individual cubes that will be sewn into a single piece. Blankets can be daunting because of their size and because it’s not uncommon to reach a point where you knit and knit and, as if in some sort of time or space warp, the piece seems to stay the same size. Not so with this blanket. There are 56 chances to finish a part. 56 chances to bind off. And 56 chances to weave in the ends on each piece.

CubeSpider

That’s a lot of ends. According to my calculations, 448 ends. But who’s counting?

Next year already

May 22, 2013

As a Boston Red Sox fan, “there’s always next year” has been my defense mechanism fan philosophy for decades. Each spring, I relish the return of the MLB season. The game radio broadcast is the aural wallpaper of my home: the play-by-play commentary, the background sound of the crowd as voices rise, fall, and cheer, the pause between pitch and swing, between hit and defensive play.

cubefirstinning

Baseball season is also prime knitting season. The slow pace of the game is the perfect complement to whatever is on my needles. On weekday evenings and weekend days, I knit at Michael’s baseball games — glancing up regularly to watch a play or pitch, usually (but not always) when he’s involved. I learned long ago that my kids don’t really care — or even know — that I’m watching their game or performance, so I feel no guilt if I miss a line drive or strike.

cubesixthinning

There’s a new life in the neighborhood, so I’m making a blanket, the Illusion Cube Blanket, something I’ve had on my radar screen for several years, just waiting for the right time (and the right human). Takes me about six or seven innings to knit a single “cube” depending, of course, on how exciting the game is or how often I put down the needles and cheer or how much I chat with fellow parental fans.

More than Buttons

March 4, 2013

Finished the wee baby sweater (Puerperium Cardigan) except for the buttons and figured I’d pop into Webs on the way out of Northampton, arriving 10 minutes before it closed, so I’d be forced to make a quick choice and then be done.

I arrived thinking the store closed at 5 but discovered closing time was 5:30, so I had plenty of time to look around.  Clearly, I had time for more than buttons!

YarnColorsButtons

There’s this pattern I’ve had a hankering for off and on over the past few years. I think the time is right.

Oh, and I just had to buy this (and may need to go back to stock up on a few for some knitterly friends).

KnitHappens

Random Thoughts of a Knitter in June

June 5, 2010

1.  Now that it’s warm enough to knit outside, I find myself loving Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Lace (color #01) more and more.  The subtleties of the color changes are much easier to see in bright light.  See?

Cleite lace shawl in sunshine

2. Still haven’t mailed the log cabin baby blanket to Michael’s teacher.  I really must get her address before school is done for the year.  In the meantime, I’m trying to enjoy looking at it instead of thinking, “Haven’t you mailed that yet?!”

3.  The approach of the last day of school is a tremendous source of excitement when you’re 11 and finishing 5th grade or when you’re nearly 15 and finishing 8th grade (and have an all-day field trip, field day, and “graduation” to look forward to). Not so much if you’re a high school sophomore with a heavy course load and 5 final exams between today and June 21.  And it doesn’t help when your brothers gleefully count down the days.

4. I just may have to give up on the recently discovered stash of wool that I found in the knee wall upstairs. After cleaning and drying, I discovered that it had been nibbled by (brace yourself) moths sometime over the past 13 years. I’m not above joining the occasional broken piece of yarn, but I think this might be too much. Will write more another day.

5. I really need to get to sleep earlier if I’m going to get up early enough to run more in the morning.  Must just force myself out of bed when the alarm goes off.  Snooze button, you seem like a friend, but you are not!

How Long Did it Take to Knit That?

June 1, 2010

I’m never sure how to answer when someone asks how long it took me to finish a project.  The truth is, I just don’t keep careful track of the time.  And I usually have several works in progress at the same time (OK, some have been sitting in a bag in the closet for a couple of years, but they’re still technically “in progress” even if I’ll never finish them!). There are many possible answers to the question:

  • “This baby hat took about one complete Red Sox game — on TV, not at Fenway, too many distractions.”
  • “I started this sweater last summer when I fell in love with the pattern and yarn, but then I had to knit a baby blanket for a friend and some Christmas gifts, so I didn’t pick it up again until April.”  Does that mean it’s taken me a year?!
  • “Oh, this lace shawl knit with luscious fine wool on size 2 needles?  I may be finished by the time I’m 50.”

I don’t usually give a direct answer because, well, I can’t.  I just don’t know.  Sometimes I can see myself in a particular place knitting this one object, and I try to count back to when that was.

While knitting a baby blanket at one of Michael’s  Little League game, an errant foul ball bopped a woman in the face. I jumped up to help her and a bit of blood got on the blanket.  She was fine, and the blood came out in the wash.  I finished that blanket while on a ferry to Cape Cod, probably in August.  So…Little League game in June (but I’d knit a bit by then, so maybe I started in April), and finished in August.  Four months?

A precise answer isn’t really what the person asking is looking for, I believe.  I think people ask because they’re curious, they want to show interest, and they want to be able to gauge (rightly or wrongly) if they could someday knit one of these (usually) lovely items, too.

If only they’d ask me that — “Do you think I could make one of those?”  I’d enthusiastically answer, “Of course, you could!”

Log Cabin Baby Blanket

May 25, 2010

There’s a new life in the world!  I know that thousands of babies are born each day, but I always feel a special zing when one is born to someone I know.  Michael’s fifth-grade teacher, the wonderful Ms. Ellis, had her first child on Sunday.  Both mama and baby are healthy, and really, what else matters?!

This good news prompted me to put the finishing touches on the blanket that I’d knit for the occasion.  Actually, I started the blanket without having a baby-to-be in mind.  I was looking for something easy to knit as a break from the lace, something I could work on at fast-moving basketball and hockey games over the winter.

Thanks to the wonder women at Mason-Dixon Knitting, I discovered the joys of the Log Cabin Blanket several years ago. Directions and lovely photos here (scroll down to the Feb 15 entry).

first "round" of log cabin blanket

You knit from middle outwards, starting with a rectangle of garter stitch, and building outward from each edge. I started on a work trip; here’s an early shot from the lovely Philadelphia airport.

It’s dead easy to knit — garter stitch all around, plenty of binding off and picking up along the edges.  You finish when it’s as big as you want or when you run out of yarn. I used some cotton Sugar ‘n Cream from my stash, white and a pastel mix.  I’m not thrilled with the spacing of the color, but I’m delighted that it’ll soon be covering a lovely wee little boy.

Log Cabin Baby Blanket

%d bloggers like this: