Pink Ops

Several years ago, I made myself an Op Art blanket from Melissa Dominguez’s pattern in the Fall 2008 Knitty. You may remember I blogged about it here. At the time, I thought that I probably would never make another one, since it’s really A LOT of garter stitch, and gets pretty unwieldy at the outer edge.

Back in December, I was showing off my Ravelry catalog of finished projects to Bob (I know, I know, I am super cool) and he LOVED my OpArt. He asked if it would be hard to make a second one. Gotta love non-knitters–even garter stitch impresses them!


Of course I knit a second one. We went to the yarn store to pick colors, and I was a bit surprised when Bob picked the exact same pink and cream color combination I had used originally. I mean, it’s an awesome combination, but a bit unexpected for Bob. On my original blanket I used cheap One Pound yarn by Caron. For Bob’s blanket he sprung for something a little nicer to work with–Berroco Vintage in colorways Watermelon and Buttercream.
That’s the blanket in action (and in really poor lighting.) I followed the pattern as written and knit through the stripe that is 10 garter ridges wide (half-way between the small and large sizes.) Because the pattern calls for DK weight and I was using worsted, I upped my needle size to a US 9. I also used a I-cord bind off rather than a normal bind off to give more stretch and a more polished edge.
I knit on this a lot while I was studying for the Washington bar exam so the garter stitch wasn’t as painful as the first time around (or maybe the pain was just so far outweighed by bar exam pain that it seemed small in comparison.) Still, the last few stripes were a real slog. I may be jinxing myself, but I really hope this is my last OpArt. Great finished product, but not very exciting on the needles.

Garter garter garter garter garter…

I’ve mentioned in my last few posts (spread over 6 or so months… I know… I know…) that from about May of last year until two-ish months ago I really lost my knitting mojo. Lots of changes in my life certainly contributed–end of a big relationship, a move across town, old job that I hated to wake up to, new job that I do not hate but that is super challenging in other ways, another bar exam… by the time I got any alone time I would end up just holding my knitting but not actually creating any stitches.

I did not like that knitting had taken a major back seat in my life so I decided to try and change that. I decided that what I needed was something simple. Something so simple that I would normally never consider it. So simple that I could do it blindfolded, in the dark, with one needle tied behind my back. In short, I needed lots and lots of garter stitch with no shaping. Hello Garter Squish by Stephen West.


It’s a blanket made with two strands of yarn held together, done on size 15 needles, entirely in garter stitch. Not to toot my own horn, but I could knit this dead. Which was exactly what I needed since that is exactly how I felt at the end of the day some times. I couldn’t handle decreases. I couldn’t handle increases. Or short rows. Or charts. But I could do the knit stitch, over and over, endlessly.
The pattern (yes there is actually a pattern) calls for two strands of worsted weight yarn to be held together to make a super bulky yarn. I held one strand of worsted and one strand of DK together because I am a rebel. The DK was Berocco Vintage DK all in the color Cracked Pepper. The blues are Berocco Vintage Worsted in Neptune, Tidepool, Emerald, and Breezeway.
I used the highly sophisticated stripe technique of knit with one color until the ball is completely gone, begin using next color. I had two balls of each blue color, so once I went through the color repeat once, I just started over and did it again. Tres Modern. If it looks like some stripes are 19 garter ridges and others are 22, they are. I can deal. The double yarn combined with the garter stitch make this a super squishy blanket. It’s also really really stretchy. Unstreched its about as wide as twin bed and maybe 2 feet longer, but it can stretch to gigantic proportions.
I started in October of last year and finished just before Christmas. I gave it to Bob for Christmas 1) because he is my best friend and 2) because he only had one smallish blanket and if you are friends with me you need lots since I am perpetually cold. It gets used near daily and some of the end have worked their way out, so I need to give it a little TLC and weave them back in. Overall, I’ve been super pleased with the finished object and with the care and use I’ve seen it receive.
This project really helped get me knitting again when I had stopped almost completely. My productivity has been agonizingly slow compared to my usual, but I do find a little time most days to squeeze in a stitch or two.

Not quite

Well, once again, I didn’t quite finish my Olympic project before closing ceremonies.  I was trying to make my dad Basic Cardigan: Two Ways by Bruce Weinstein from the book Knits Men Want. My dad picked out the pattern and bought the book so that I could make it for him. Mom bought the yarn. My contribution was the knitting.

I made this my Olympic project so that I would be done in time for my dad’s birthday on the 11th. The lawyer in me wants to point out that I did finish all the knitting and really I said I would knit a sweater for the Olympics, not necessarily piece or finish a sweater. Another party of me realizes that this sort of loop-hole finding is part of what’s wrong with the world. I’d call it a bronze medal effort.

A few days of seaming and zipper installation after the ceremonies concluded and I had this:

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Ryan took on the role of model for me, isn’t he handsome? I think so. As you can see, the sweater is a bit big on him, but my dad is about 5 inches taller so I think it will fit perfectly.
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The sweater is very plain. It’s composed entirely of panels of stockinette and reverse stockinette. Perfect for watching lots of Olympics. But now I’m ready for a nice intricate lace pattern or some colorwork, or cables… something not so incredibly plain.
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The yarn was lovely. I used Berroco Ultra Alpaca which is a very sturdy worsted weight yarn. It is 50% wool 50% alpaca. The wool gives it stability and the alpaca gives it lots of warmth and a bit of drape.
I was very nervous about installing the zipper because I’ve heard horror stories about how hard it is to install a zipper in knit fabric and seen some really bad projects on Ravelry to back up the stories. The problem is that zippers are not at all stretchy and knit fabric is very stretchy. If you accidentally stretch the knit fabric when sewing in the zipper, you end up with that weird ripply sweater front that looks pretty bad. I followed this tutorial and it worked perfectly! You’re welcome.
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I love the double-thick collar. I think it is the perfect neck edge. The pattern was a bit vague in places. I think the designer sacrificed some clarity to get the layout to fit on the page better. Nothing too terrible, but I always get annoyed when designers sacrifice the pattern instructions for aesthetic concerns. I mean, the pattern is all anyone cares about, not how pretty the page is. I will take a well written pattern over a pretty page every time.
I’m going down to visit my dad in about a week and a half and I’ll deliver the sweater then. I’m sure it won’t get any wear until at least November, but at least he’ll get it relatively close to his birthday.