Blanketed In Love

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.)

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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!

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

Gaea’s Wrap

IMG_5927Hello, and sorry for the long absence! Work got crazy for a couple of months there, but now I have the summer off and I can catch up on posting my backlog of projects! What you see here is a freeform wrap that I knit for my friend Gaea for her wedding in April. Gaea is very much a free spirit, and it came to me in a flash about a month before the wedding that (a) I ought to knit something for her, and (b) it ought to be something out of my brain and heart and intuition rather than something from a pattern. So I went to my stash and pulled out all the greens and blues, since those are the colors that come to mind when I think of her:

IMG_5857Not quite all of these made the cut — sorry, lime-green Fun Fur — but most of them ended up in there somewhere. I cast on an unholy number of stitches — north of 300, I’m pretty sure — and went to town. The wrap is mostly garter stitch, seed stitch, bird’s-eye lace, and shell stitch (or whatever that wavy drop-stitch thing is called — I don’t have my stitch dictionary in front of me). The result was a ginormous wrap that I loved to pieces and managed to remember to model before wrapping it up for gift-giving:

IMG_5941SO HUGE. SO AWESOME.

And here it is in another configuration with me looking a little drunk, which it’s entirely possible that I was:

IMG_5938That dress is the one I wore to the wedding, by the way. It was a fantastically freaky potluck Burning Man wedding at a park in San Francisco. So much fun!

Over the next few days / weeks I’ll fill you in on what else I’ve been knitting since February — stay tuned!

I Can Fly Twice as High

My NaCroMo Freeform Crochet-Along piece is all done, and I am kind of sad that it’s over. But look at how awesome this thing is! It was a great experience; I learned tons of new stitches, I cut my teeth on freeform crochet, and I made a bunch of new crocheting friends! I even got to be designer-for-a-day on the 30th; the red lattice border on the lower right side was the piece that I designed. Hopefully, now that I’ve got the concept and the confidence, I’ll be able to make some freeform pieces of my own with the added bonus of being in total control of my creative decisions at all times, rather than having to figure out where to put somebody’s damned four-leaf-clover. If you’d like to see the crazy range of how people’s freeforms turned out, you can check out our Flickr group, or if you’re on Ravelry, I highly encourage you to view the majesty of the finished freeforms discussion thread. I’ll have more to post here soon on my new and hopefully less ill-advised knitting adventures, so stay tuned!

Snail to Butterfly

You may recall that when I started this freeform-CAL project I called it a “Psychedelic Snail,” due largely to the multicolor spiral that is now covered up by that pansy. Well, earlier this week when I was visiting my family for spring break, my mom remarked that it was starting to look like a butterfly, so for the last few days I have been actively trying to make it look butterfly-like. This has mostly meant that I’ve been applying each day’s instructions to what is now the lower right quadrant, in an effort to develop the bottom part of that “wing.” I hope we get some shells or something so I can put some bumpiness in that region, because having one stick-straight wing-tail is looking pretty dumb so far. Only 3 days of instructions left! I’ll show you the final official-CAL photo, but I’ll probably clean it up a little bit afterwards to try to make it into a hangable-wall-art butterfly. (For one thing, it might need some antennae.)

And now, at last, I will share with you my recent bad-knitting-decision. What could it be, that’s been giving me so much trouble that I had to rip it all the way out and start over? Complicated lace? Fancy colorwork? No:

Simple stockinette. It figures. This is the start of Hannah Fettig’s Featherweight Cardigan, but it might not be for long. See, I generally like to have one difficult lacy pattern and one easy-peasy pattern on the needles at the same time — that way, when I’ve had a few drinks I can put the lace aside and pick up the stockinette, etc. Since I’m still working on finishing my Fernfrost scarf, I figured it would be a good time to start a cardigan on the side. I never intended to knit another damn laceweight stockinette cardigan — I love my Whisper Cardigan (also by Hannah Fettig), though knitting it bored me to tears — but I fell madly in love with Squoosh Fiberarts’ Sublime Lace in the Cedar colorway and may have bought two 900-yard skeins of it because it was dirt cheap. But it’s a poor choice for this project because it’s superwash, so it’s not going to fuzz up like the Malabrigo that I used for the Whisper Cardigan did, and I might be left with a cardigan full of holes and prone to runs & snags (because the laceweight fabric is so delicate). Plus it’s going to take about a gazillion years to finish, and I have other more urgent cardigan needs — like, say, something black that I could actually wear all the time. Plus two brand-new shawl patterns are calling my name: Anne Hanson’s Pine and Ivy shawl, and Elizabeth Freeman’s Torreyana shawl. I came damn near to ripping this out and casting on Pine and Ivy the minute it was released; the only thing that stopped me was that I was on vacation and didn’t have the right needles with me. Sigh.

Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus

Now, I am a lover of movies that are so bad that they’re good. But Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus, which really exists, is so bad that it’s just plain bad. It does feature an octopus so huge and badass that it slaps a plane out of the sky with its tentacles by reaching up out of the sea, but the only thing worse than the writing is the way the crappy actors deliver their crappy lines, and the CGI budget must have been miniscule because they use the same shots of the octopus and shark over and over again. Deep Blue Sea, however, is one of mankind’s greatest achievements. At least, one of mankind’s greatest achievements available for $4.99 in the bargain bin at your local Blockbuster. It features Samuel L. Jackson getting bitten in half and L.L. Cool J tearfully reciting his secret omelet recipe into a video camera as his legacy to mankind minutes before the giant superintelligent shark busts through the door of his (flooded) kitchen. You want to see this movie.

Anyway, I finished my octopus on time, but I waited a few days to post about it in case the mother of the young recipient reads this blog. When I was doing the photo session, Pat suggested that I have some kind of oceanic background, so I grabbed my trusty Deep Blue Sea DVD and I’m pretty pleased with how this picture came out. The woman is fleeing the shark, but she’s seeing my octopus and going “uh oh…”.

Here’s a shot from earlier in the photosession:

The pattern is Octopus by Hansi Singh, who seems to be the reigning goddess of amigurumi knits. Since the toy is for a small child, I didn’t put the pipecleaners in the tentacles that would have allowed them to be all curly, but I may make another one with tentacle-curliness for our apartment. What you can’t see very well in the picture is that the red bottom is actually sparkly; I knit it with a strand of red Cascade 220 and a strand of red Lion Brand Glitterspun held together. The pattern is definitely a pain in the ass, but since it’s small it’s totally possible to finish in a day or two. The actual knitting took me about a movie and a half (Warner Herzog’s Heart of Glass and Public Enemy starring James Cagney — I don’t only watch trash, I swear) plus two episodes of M*A*S*H on DVD. The finishing took half of Public Enemy and one episode each of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. So there you go. One thing to note is that the finishing encompasses like 1/3 of the total time that it takes to make this thing. Which is kind of crazy.

I also have a progress picture of my Freeform Crochet-along piece to show you — here it is after three weeks of instructions have been followed:

Note the ugliest shamrock-in-a-horseshoe ever down there in the bottom right corner (upside-down). That part aside, I’m pretty happy with it. I decided to take it with me on my spring break trip back to NJ, which does limit my yarn choices — I brought five or six balls of yarn in the colors I’d already been using. You may notice that I added a pansy on top of that godawful spiral in the middle; this makes me very happy.

So the octopus worked out fine, but that other bad-knitting-decision that I keep alluding to is so much of a disaster that I still can’t show it to you. I knit blissfully away on it on the plane on St. Patrick’s Day after a round of beer pong, a drink in the airport bar, and a drink on the plane, and I messed it up so badly that I had to rip the whole thing out and start over. Oops. But in a few days I’ll have made enough progress again that I should have enough to show you. That is, assuming I don’t throw the whole thing out the window and decide to make something sane.

Freeform Week 2

Here is my freeform-crochet-along piece after two weeks of daily instructions have been followed — I haven’t worked today’s yet! I’m pretty ridiculously pleased with it. I keep threatening that I’m going to hang it on the wall when I’m done, and Pat keeps looking concerned. If you have a Ravelry account, I highly recommend that you go to the pattern page to check out other people’s interpretations of the instructions — it’s really remarkable how different each piece is!

I know that I promised I would regale you with tales of my two recent bad-knitting-decisions, but I only have a photo of one of them so far:

What you are looking at, my friends, is tentacles. Eight tentacles, to be exact. What makes knitting this octopus such a profoundly bad idea is that I have exactly two more days in which to finish the whole damn thing, because I want to finish it and get it in the mail before I leave for spring break. Of course, ideally I’ll also finish grading all my students’ final exams before then, too. So, you know, hopefully in two days you will be seeing completed octopus pictures here. Either that or I will have had a nervous breakdown. See you on the flipside!

Freeform Week 1

Here is my NatCroMo Freeform Crochet-along piece after 7 days of instructions have been followed. Everybody’s looks quite different since we are all using different yarns, interpreting the directions differently, placing the stitches differently, and using different numbers. I’m actually pretty pleased with how mine’s coming out; I’m trying to make it as aesthetically pleasing as possible given the restrictions. But this is not always possible — for example, for the spiral in the middle, we were specifically instructed to use our least favorite yarn from our stash. 😦 I knit a whole skirt out of that yarn waaaay back when I first started knitting, and it really did look a lot better on my monitor when I was clicking “purchase” than it did in real life when it showed up at my door. I may as well show you that skirt, while we’re at it:

Here it is, in my barren, monk-like first-year-graduate-student apartment, back before I had any material possessions to speak of. Note how my phone is just lying on the floor while charging. The skirt looks sort of plausible in this picture, but in reality it’s difficult to wear without feeling like a grade-A weirdo. Now, I have been known to attend functions where grade-A-weirdo attire is encouraged (::cough:: Burning Man ::cough::), but somehow even in those contexts this doesn’t come off the shelf very often. Variegated yarns always sound so good in theory, but rarely work out in practice — this skirt represents the first time I learned that lesson, and that’s part of why I hate this yarn so much to this very day. I hate it because it tricked me.