I should know better

 

I pride myself on possessing a certain amount of self-awareness. However, sometimes I’m forced to come face to face with something that tells me I am not in touch with my own nature at all. Way back in November of 2010 I decided it would be a great idea to start a blanket of crochet squares. Out of Red Heart Super Saver. That’s right, I decided that a long-term, many-small-pieces, lots-of-ends-to-weave-in, lots-of-finishing-to-do project, out of Red Heart, would be a great idea. For the better part of four years, this was the only photo I bothered to take:

Granny Square

 

Every so often I would feel guilty, haul out this project and add another square to my pile. After a square or two, I’d loose attention and it would filter down to the bottom of the basket. I decided to just randomly pick blocks from 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws, and Afghans by Jan Eaton to make a sampler blanket.

 

Blanket

 

I have one skein each of Super Saver in colors Carrot, Coffee, Aruba Sea, and Real Teal. The plan was always to make blocks until the yarn ran out and then use a skein of cream yarn to add a border to all the blocks and piece them together. The problems are many:

1) I hate big projects that are made of little pieces. I know some people feel like each piece is its own little accomplishment, but I find each completed piece to be a nice “stopping point” and it takes a lot of will power to start the next piece rather than a shiny new project.

2) I hate weaving in ends. There will be so so so many ends here.

3) While I don’t hate seaming, it’s certainly not my favorite and there will be a lot of that here too.

 

Blanket

 

Each square is about 16 inches to a side. Right now I have 18 squares. Two more and I could call it quits with a 4×5 block afghan. You have no idea how tempting it is to just crank out two more blocks, finish this sucker, and be done. I know, though, that I would really rather have a blanket that is 4×6. That means I need 6 more blocks, not 2.

Internet, I need you to make me work on this blanket. I’m making it your mission. If I start showing you other lovely things, things without a lot of finishing, things made with natural fibers, I need you to lay on the guilt, thickly. Mock me. Taunt me. Embarrass me. Anything to get me to power through these last agonizing hours of getting this done.

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.

New blanket just in time

I finished my Op Art.  Truth.  I know it’s been on the needles since forever (June 30, 2009 cast on according to Ravelry.)  Don’t you hate how Ravelry can remind you that you’ve been a complete and utter slacker when it comes to those lingering projects that just won’t finish themselves? LOOK!

IMG_0079

This is supposed to be our last day of sunshine before the winter grey sets in so I pretty much finished right on time as far as taking nice pictures is concerned.  It’s huge, over 5 feet square.  Here it is on the floor with cats for scale (and because I couldn’t get them out of the picture–my “shoo”s mean nothing to them.)

IMG_0074

It’s true what everyone says about blocking this, you have to be highly aggressive with it.  It comes off the needles totally wobbly and not at all square.  Here it is laid out pre-blocking.

IMG_0071

See how it’s all dimple-y and swirly at the corners? No good.  Time for pins and a yardstick.  I started from the center and pulled out one row of corners along the spiral and pinned them out.  Then I pulled out all the corners on the opposite side and pinned them too.  Here it is half pinned.

IMG_0073

Then I did the same thing with the other two sides.  As you can see from the finished pictures, at some point, I had to take a “good enough” attitude toward the whole thing or drive myself crazy trying to make it perfectly square.

I used acrylic yarn (Carron One Pound in colors “off white” and “rose”) so I had to kill rather than block.  After it was all pinned out I grabbed the steam iron and held it about 2 inches over the blanket and gave the thing a good steam.  I could see the yarn physically relax and settle into the pinned position.  It was pretty cool.  It also made the yarn way drapier and much softer.

Warning: if you make this blanket using this yarn, there is not enough to make the larger size.  I ran out halfway between the small and large size–with 9 rows left to go in the stripe I was working on.  Luckily a kind raveler sent me her leftovers and I was able to finish without having to buy a whole new pound of yarn.  Now to snuggle on the couch with some hot tea, my new blanket, and an episode of Star Trek.  I hate being cold, but I love being cozy… winter is a weird season for me.

IMG_0077

New Pattern Live!

My second knitting pattern has been released on Ravelry this week.  The Golden Ratio Blanket is available through the ravelry pattern store for $3.50.

337_2153

This blanket is based on the mathematical golden ratio.  It comes in three sizes: Stroller (Crib, Throw) 29.6”x18.3” (48”x29.6”, 77.6”x48”). This blanket is made by starting with the smallest block and picking up stitches to add subsequent blocks. The blanket is finished with an applied I-cord edge.  The instructions also include directions for back-stitching or surface crocheting the golden ratio spiral onto the top of the blanket if you wish.

Using size 11(8.0mm) needles and bulky wool, this blanket actually knits up pretty quickly.  Great for the math-loving nerd in your life (or a treat for your math-loving-nerdy self.)

The two patterns that I’ve released can also be found on the “design” tab at the top of the posts.  You can purchase them by going to Ravelry and using their checkout system, or by clicking the “buy now” button on the design tab.

It’s done!

The blanket that I have been working on for Ryan since November is done!  Actually, it’s been done since March 24 (or so Ravelry tells me, don’t you love Ravelry for reminding you of such things?)  but I didn’t have the energy or time to blog about such a gigantic project immediately since I had an unexpected visit from my dad plus hours of research work dumped on me at the last minute.  Anyway, you don’t care about that.  You’re only here to see this:

IMG_0913

That blanket is 4 FEET x 6.3 FEET.  As you can see, it covers Ryan’s entire futon.  This monster is so big that I could barely back away from it far enough to get good pictures in Ryan’s smallish living room.

IMG_0915

(Look in the background of this picture and you can see Lucy the Triceratops who lives on Ryan’s bookshelf.)  The blanket is a knitted representation of the Golden Ratio, which supposedly produces the most visually pleasing rectangle.  The ratio itself appears in nature in lots of ways, tree rings, nautilus shells, even human brain waves.  The rectangle is made by organizing squares next to each other in a way that keeps the ratio 1:1.61803398… (That super ugly second number is phi, one of those irrational numbers the like pi or e that basically make the whole world work.)  Each square gets smaller and smaller.  Mathematically, this shrinking continues infinitely.  Since I haven’t yet figured out how to knit infinitely small, I had to fudge a bit at the center.

IMG_0914

The golden ratio also creates a spiral, which I had originally intended to crochet on the top of the blanket, but Ryan decided he thought the stark geometric look was more his style.  I used Swish Bulky yarn from Knit Picks (because I am no fool and knew that if this was ever going to get done I’d have to use bulky yarn.)  It’s 100% superwash merino wool and it’s heavenly soft and squooshy and wonderful to handle, especially in plump garter stitch.  The colors I used (from lightest to darkest) were: silver, hawk, stormy, coal.  I ended up needing about 2,475 yards of yarn.  That’s 1.4 MILES! It would take me like 13 minutes of running to get somewhere as far away as the length of the yarn in this blanket.

IMG_0910

That’s a picture of me sitting on the blanket for perspective, lest you think I found a really tiny futon to throw it over.  (Yes the blanket is wrong side up in this picture, Ryan had it like that when I came over.  Funny to a knitter it seems like a horrible offense to a giant piece of knitting to have it displayed wrong-side up, but Ryan honestly can’t tell the difference.  I guess this is a good quality for a blanket which really is better without a wrong side.  I’ll take it as a compliment to my finishing skills.)

I wrote up a pattern for this beast, and also for two smaller sizes: stroller and crib.  They are basically created by knitting fewer of the blocks.  My blanket has 7 blocks, crib has 6, and stroller 5.  I also included instructions for adding the spiral in case anyone wants the complete math-nerd effect.  Right now it’s being test-knit by some great Ravelers.  When they get their feedback to me I’ll publish it via Ravelry and let you all know it’s there.  You can also check out the Designs tab at the top.  Right now the only thing there is Spring Breeze, but I hope to get a few more there shortly.

What’s on the needles Wednesday

Possibly by participating in Kerry’s What’s on the Needles Wednesday I will be sufficiently kicked in the butt to finish something. Therefore, this Wednesday, the project on my needles is this:

IMG_0760

That is Ryan’s blanket. Right now it’s just over 4′ x 4′ but it needs 20″ more of black before it’s finished. I try to devote one hour to it a day, but some days I just can’t bring myself to garter for that long.

It’s based on the golden ratio rectangle. When it’s finished, it will have a big red spiral surfaced crocheted onto the top.

Pushing boundaries

Generally, I would say that I’m not a superstitious person. I have, on occasion, been accused of treating the scientific method as a religion in itself. However, there is one superstition that I absolutely do believe in: the sweater curse. For those of you not familiar with the sweater curse, the basic premise is that if you knit a sweater for a man (or woman) you are not currently engaged/married to the relationship will end shortly thereafter. A couple of years ago, foolish young me knit a sweater, and a couple of months after it was finished, relationship over. I’m a believer.

So far, in my experience, it’s only sweaters that are cursed. I’ve had no problems with socks, mittens, hats, scarves… They don’t seem to have any relationship ending potential. So now I’m taking it to the next level.

IMG_0492

That is the beginning of a blanket for Ryan. If it looks like the Golden Ratio rectangle, that’s because it is. (Or at least it’s supposed to be… I did the math myself.) Ryan is a huge math nerd and requested this blanket. I’m hoping that means it’s safe to knit. Each new square is picked up from the squares before log-cabin style. I will surface crochet the spiral on at the end when I have finished.

The yarn is Swish Bulky from Knit Picks. It is 100% superwash wool. It was the only yarn line I could find with 4 shades of gray/black (Ryan’s favorite color for knits apparently… everything I have made him so far has been gray or black.) Since this is basically a 4’x6′ rectangle of garter stitch it is fantastically boring to knit, but I can work on it while I study/watch TV. Right now it’s just under a third done, we’ll see if I can finish before Christmas.

Long term project

Compared to knitting, crochet is easily a “less-favorite” craft. It can be fun for making amigurumi which are usually pot-bellied and adorable, and I did make a pretty cute summer dress, but it’s not my go-to craft by any means.

However, there is one thing that crocheters can make that knitters can’t really replicate. Granny Squares.

IMG_0487

I know some people think granny squares are tacky (and they kind of are) but I love the way they look. Recently I picked up 200 Crochet Blocks and started picking out blocks just to experiment/brush up on my skills. The yarn is cheap-o Red Heart mostly because it’s cheap and machine washable so cat-hair accumulation won’t be difficult to deal with. I’m using a pretty big hook (size K) so my blocks are coming out about a foot square. I bought 4 skeins, the three colors you see above plus a burnt orange. I’ll make blocks until I feel I have a sufficient number for a good cozy blanket or I run out of yarn.

My holiday knitting has put this on the back burner for a bit (probably until after new year) then I will pick up the hook again. I really enjoy making these since each one is like a mini project in itself and brings its own feeling of accomplishment when finished.

WIPs march of shame (part two)

OK, so I completed my Pioneer, and showed it to you last post, taking one WIP out of the list, a very good thing. I have made a deal with myself that for every TWO projects I get off the needles, I can cast on ONE new project. Theoretically, this should help me get all the old projects off the needles because even if I start and finish a new project, I’ll have to finish an old project as well to begin another new project… This is what I tell myself. Because I finished my clapotis and my pioneer, I got to cast on for something new. I chose something quick so that I would be forced to return to the old WIPs… aren’t you proud of me?

IMG_0282

These are Aran Isle Slippers by Jennifer Lang. I made them from Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in the color Calypso Heather. I used just over one 50g ball, so they don’t take much yarn at all. The pattern is a bit fiddly because of all of the picking up stitches and seaming. The Wool of the Andes is pretty fuzzy for plain wool (no mohair) so the cable pattern doesn’t really pop out, but they do keep my feet pretty warm in my cold apartment. They are sized pretty small I think. The women’s size says it fits a 7.5 shoe size, which is what I am, but they are very snug.

That project was finished very quickly, and now I am forced to turn my attention back to the old WIPs. The next-oldest one I have to show you is mind-numbing and may break my will.

IMG_0575

This is my OpArt Blanket and it’s only about 20% finished. It’s done completely in garter stitch and it gets bigger every round until there are 888 stitches in the last round. Right now, it’s taking me about 25 minutes to knit one round… It’s not even made out of good yarn. It’s made of cheap Caron One Pound acrylic that I wanted to use up. I love how this blanket looks, but the inanity of it may push me over the edge. Needless to say, this is not the WIP I am currently working on… More WIP shame to come soon.