Blanketed In Love

fullsizeoutput_1bd1

So my brother got married early in 2015, and I spent most of that year knitting this blanket, which I presented to him & his wife at Christmas of that year as their belated wedding present. I’d known I wanted to knit them a blanket, but I didn’t pick out the pattern until about a month before their wedding, and as you can imagine, this thing was a huge amount of work! For their actual wedding, they got a card from me and a picture of the yarn with an “under construction” label. Here’s the whole finished object:

fullsizeoutput_1bd2

The pattern is Hue Shift Afghan by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence; it’s a KnitPicks pattern. I knit it in KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Sport, and I followed the “Rainbow Version” color suggestions, though I had to substitute a few of the recommended colorways because they were out of stock. I also followed Mariangello’s directions to increase the size of the blanket to fit a queen-sized bed. (If you do this, be sure to buy more yarn than KnitPicks suggests, of course!) It still came out a little small for a queen-sized bed, though; here it is being just about adequate for a full-sized one:

fullsizeoutput_1bd3

I loved this thing so much that it was reeeeeaaaallly hard to give up, and I just might make another one for us to keep one of these days! One thing that’s cool about knitting it is that you do it in pieces, so it never suffers from that huge-blanket problem where you have to keep the whole thing in your lap at once while you’re working on it. You make the squares in strips, and these add up to 4 separate large squares which you eventually have to seam together:

fullsizeoutput_1bd4

That’s the only seaming you have to do, though. After this, you pick up stitches at the edges to do the border. As you can see, there are eleventy-billion ends to weave in when you’re done. You can carry one color up per column, but each square generates two new ends to weave in for the other color. 😦

I over-purchased the yarn because I was terrified of running out, and I ended up with about a ball and a half left of each color. So I made a baby blanket for my friends Jackie and Robin! (Jackie made my wedding dress, as you will recall from my last post.)

fullsizeoutput_1bd6

I’m pretty proud of this, because I made up the pattern myself, using math to figure out how to get the most out of my remaining yarn. It’s knit in strips, and I attached each strip to the next one as I went by picking up an edge stitch from the previous strip to avoid having to do seaming later. Totally seamless, baby!

Here it is with my body & bookshelves for scale:

fullsizeoutput_1bd7

I deliberately made it pretty big for a “baby” blanket, because it’s totally not machine washable, so I figured the parents might not want to actually give it to their kid until she’s old enough to keep her bodily fluids inside her body where they belong. Also I wanted to use up all of that dang yarn!

Since I have so very much ground to cover in order to get caught up, I’m going to share with you one more blanket that I’ve made while I’ve been gone. This is a much smaller baby blanket, knit in machine-washable yarn:

fullsizeoutput_1bd5

I knit this for my friends Tia and Reid in freeform log-cabin style, a blanket-construction method I fell in love with a few years ago, when… holy smokes, it turns out I never shared the finished object from this project with you, either! Okay, I’ll show you that in just a minute! Anyway, the above blanket was knit in Berroco Comfort held double on huge needles, to create a very thick and squishy blanket that could also work as a playmat for “tummy-time,” something that I gather babies are into. (I am very childless, as you may have figured out by now.)

One more blanket, then! As the link in the above paragraph explains, in mid-2013 I inherited some vintage 1970s yarn from my mom’s basement, and I started a freeform log cabin project with it since I wasn’t really sure how much yarn I actually had. Here’s the finished product, which I must have completed sometime in 2014:

fullsizeoutput_1bda

It’s got some creases in it from being folded up on our couch; this is very much a workhorse blanket that keeps me warm when we’re watching TV in the winter. Look how handsomely it goes with our new turquoise sofa!

fullsizeoutput_1bdb

I knit those pillows on the sides, too, natch. #allkniteverything

Don We Now Our Dog Apparel

Max is a lucky dog. I felt like a psychic as I found myself finishing up his sweater just as the blizzard started to hit. In addition to making him a little happier about going out in the snow (which he basically hates to do now that he’s a grumpy old man), it meant that I could get totally adorable pictures for this post. Are you ready for some dog butt?

I’ve written up the pattern for this and am very happy with how it came out — it’s by far my most polished and professional-looking pattern, as well as the most complicated item I’ve ever attempted to write a pattern for. It has colorwork charts and everything, guys! Go here to download it. I encourage you to do this even if you’re one of my friends who reads this blog but doesn’t knit, just so you can be impressed with my skills.

One thing I learned during the past few days is that knitwear designing is way hard. Without a pattern in front of me, I transform into a knitting moron who forgets basic concepts like “do the ribbing with the smaller needles” and “once you have finished the ribbing, switch to the larger needles.” I eventually just had to write down the pattern for myself ahead of time, including all the subsidiary instructions like that, just to prevent myself from relapsing into moronhood.

I made the charts with the Knitting Chart Maker by Jacqui, a free program that I found by googling around and ended up liking well enough. You use it right in your browser so there’s nothing to download, and the interface is pretty intuitive. The only problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to save my charts as jpeg files, so I ended up just taking screen shots of them.

Here’s a shot of the underside of the sweater, so you can understand the construction a little better. Basically it’s knit as a rectangle on the top, and a slightly longer trapezoid on the bottom, so that the armholes can have a little ease. All this is explained in much more detail in the pattern itself:

In fact, most of the rest of what you’ll probably want to know is in the pattern, so go forth and download it! There’s still time to make your dog a sweater for Christmas!

Here’s Max inside with the Christmas tree. Look how dapper he is with his bow tie! Clothes on dogs are the best.

‘Tis the Season to Dress Your Dog Embarassingly

Last time we met, I showed you a picture of my family’s dog and lamented that they did not want me to knit him any dog sweaters — but it turns out that the mistake I made was talking only to my male family members. I came back to New Jersey for the holidays a few days ago, and the day after I arrived, Max came home from the groomer’s with a little Christmas bowtie on. “Wouldn’t that look great with a Christmas sweater?” I asked my mother. “Yes!” she exclaimed. “Can you knit him a sweater?!” Of course I can. Why didn’t I think to ask Mom before? So with my dad and my brother shaking their heads sadly, my mom and I gleefully set off for Michael’s to buy some suitably cheap yarn (Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice, woo woo) and some needles, and I was off to the races. I’m basically making this up as I go along, and I’ll release it as a free pattern here on this blog when I’m done — provided I can figure out a way to make the chart come out non-crappily. (Anybody have any free knitting chart software recommendations?)

So that’s it above, of course — I opted for a more general “winter” theme rather than an explicitly Christmas one so that Max can continue to wear his sweater when the holidays are over. I don’t have a lot of experience with stranded colorwork; the only other thing I’ve ever made with this technique are the really basic wristwarmers from the first Stitch-N-Bitch book. I did, however, write my own chart for those — I made them for everyone in my band for the last concert of our original lineup, with the name of our band on them. Since I decided to knit this dog sweater in two pieces, it involved doing colorwork back-and-forth (whereas I’d previously only done it in the round), which was minorly scary until I realized that it’s completely easy and works exactly the way you’d expect it to. So hopefully I’ll get this done in the next couple of days, and then you can all share the Christmas joy with your own dogs if you are so inclined.

In other knitting news, the yarn for my Big Frigging Red Blanket arrived just as I was packing to leave California, so I don’t have a picture of it to show you nor was I able to cast on in time to bring any part of it with me, but I am very happy with the color and more or less okay with my decision to special-order the yarn from frigging Nebraska even though it took three weeks to arrive. I estimate I’ll have this blanket done just in time for spring. Sigh!

What I did bring with me on vacation was the purple Tudor Grace scarf, which is coming along swimmingly:

Look how much bigger it is! I’d say it’s about 2/3 done. I also cast on for yet another Anne Hanson scarf right before I left, because I figured I was likely to finish this one. It’s her Fernfrost scarf, which I’ve been meaning to knit ever since she released the pattern nearly a year ago. I’ve even had this ball of yarn earmarked for it all that time:

It’s KnitPicks Shimmer, a 70% baby alpaca / 30% silk blend, in the Sherry colorway. I threw it into an order from KnitPicks awhile ago when I realized that the extra $7 would mean free shipping on the relatively heavy yarn-scale & needles that I was buying. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of KnitPicks yarns, but this one pleasantly surprised me; it’s shinier than this picture lets on, and the dye job is pretty good — there are nice fluctuations between different shades of cranberry & raspberry. At $7  for 440 yards I’d say it’s a steal, and would recommend it to anyone — especially beginning lace knitters wary of dropping $30+ dollars on other hand-dyed lace yarns for a scarf or shawl they’re worried they might screw up.

The pattern is brilliant as usual; I can’t sing Anne’s praises enough. It’s a little on the complicated side, with lace on both sides and no rest-rows, but the pattern is pretty logical and breaks up into memorizable units. It’s got enough to keep an experienced lace-knitter interested, let’s say, but it’s not so complicated that I can’t do it in front of the TV with a glass of wine. Of course, I’m kind of a wine-and-TV-and-lace ninja, so your mileage may vary. 🙂