Two years ago I started knitting a blanket for my niece. I fell in love with the Vivid blanket by Tin Can Knits, knit 9 of 20 squares, then got bored and wandered off to sew something instead. The thing about baby blankets is that if you wait too long they’re not baby blankets anymore. They’re just really small.
Earlier this year I decided I was going to finally learn to crochet properly. I watched a few classes on CreativeBug and learned a lot. One of the classes was on the classic granny square, and my passionate and unreasonable love for this simple square was rekindled. I say passionate and unreasonable because at an earlier time in my life when I disliked all crochet, I somehow still thought the classic granny was beautiful and interesting. Granny squares are my bridge into the world of crochet.
After completing a test square I didn’t want to stop, but I also didn’t want to start a whole new project, so I hatched a plan to knit half the squares for the blanket and crochet the other half. The knitted squares resemble flowers to my eyes, and I wanted the crochet squares to echo the floral design. Where the knitted design uses texture (lace) to create a flower, I needed to use colour the make flowers on the crochet squares. Each granny square consists of 8 rounds: the center in one colour, the following 5 rounds in another to make the petals of the flower, and 2 rounds of border in a third colour.
It only took me a few weeks to crochet my 10 squares. Then I knit the last square, and the quilt was ready for assembly!
Before sewing everything together I had to decide on a layout. This may have been the toughest part of the blanket, but I finally settled on a design I was happy with.
Once I had decided on a layout I sewed the squares together in strips, then sewed the strips together to form the blanket, using whip stitches throughout. The knit and crochet squares had very nearly the same number of stitches per side even though the granny squares appeared smaller. I clipped each pair of squares together in the middle and at the end, and sewed one stitch to one stitch as much as possible, skipping a stitch here and there as needed.
With the blanket in one piece I had to decide on a border. I swatched a few knit and crochet borders as you can see above. I was specifically looking for a chevron shape to echo the knitted lace. I decided on the crochet lace on the left. I liked it best, and I’m in a crochet mood right now, so it’s more likely to get done than knittted lace is at the moment.
I worked a round of single crochet around the blanket in preparation for the fancy border.
Then I worked the border in white. The border is worked in two steps: crochet shells, then single crochet over top of the shells to make them pointy rather than rounded. I used the border instructions from this blog post by Crochet 365, Knit too.
I love how the border and the blanket as a whole turned out! It took me much longer than I wanted, but the recipient is two, so she won’t know the difference.
I started knitting a sweater for my husband in September or October of 2019. I’ve written about it several times (here and here) as I made progress, but to sum up, I knit three quarters of the thing, then stopped due to project fatigue and a repetitive motion injury. Six months later I started the second sleeve, but set it aside again when it wasn’t the same size as the first (this is a prime example of shifting gauge. The first sleeve was knitted on vacation, the second in the middle of a pandemic). After doing a little math I made the new sleeve work. Then I sewed up the seams, knit the front bands and neckband, and sewed on the buttons. I was so excited to finally be finishing the sweater, and I documented my progress copiously on Instagram.
Seaming the body up.
Setting in the sleeves.
Adding the front bands, collar, and buttons.
I thought it was perfect…until my husband tried it on. The sweater didn’t fit. The fit issues were partly due to gaining the COVID 15, but equally at fault was the too-loose gauge I chose for the sweater. The front bands gape and refuse to hang straight even on a smaller body. And the neckline is wonky. It’s too low to be a crew neck, but too high to be anything else, and it stands out from the body instead of fitting snugly to the chest and neck. Part of me wants to rework the neck portion and the front bands and see if that will solve the problems. Another part of me wants to burn the thing and then pretend it never existed.
What do you do when disaster strikes your knitting?
I have been sewing SO MUCH this year, but in October I chose a knitting project. I was browsing Ravelry (as one does) and came across the Babouchka Shawl by Les Casperides. It was love at first sight. I had to have that shawl! The designer was looking for test knitters, so I immediately signed up and raided my stash. Instead of going with a white background like the designer, I chose a mottled navy blue.
The tassels, or bubblons as they are called in the pattern, are so whimsical and are great for using up small amounts of yarn leftovers that otherwise accumulate in the stash. I chose 4 accent colours for my shawl, but another tester did them all in the same colour and it’s lovely!
The shawl is a standard triangle shape, and 95% of your time will be spent knitting stockinette. The other 5% of the time you will be adding your pops of colour. The tassels are fiddly, I won’t lie, but they’re a nice counterpoint to the otherwise simple shawl construction.
I am so excited to add this shawl to my wardrobe, especially since my last few shawls have been more pink and frothy. Winter is dark and somber enough. I say, let there be tassels!
I am at a stage in life now when friends and family members are starting to have babies. Last year I made a baby blanket for my new nephew (the pattern is Bounce by TinCanKnits and I used 5 shades of Anchor Bay).
This year I am making a blanket for my new niece. I am using another TinCanKnits pattern, Vivid, and I am using Anchor Bay yarn again (partly because it’s wonderful, and partly because I had a fair amount of yarn left over from my nephew’s blanket). Whereas Bounce is knit in rows, Vivid is comprised of many separate squares that are seamed together at the end. I’m using grey, purple, cream, and the two yellows from my nephew’s blanket. This is my planned layout:
The blanket squares only take a few hours each and are super satisfying to knit: the centers have just enough lace to be interesting without being overwhelming, and the borders of each square are calming garter knit in the round. By weighing my squares and doing some quick math I calculate that I should be able to get all 5 squares of each colour out of 1 skein.
I’ve just finished my fourth square: 1 each in grey, purple, cream, and light yellow. Do you think I can get this done by Christmas?
My husband and I recently decided to start hiking again. There are so many beautiful trails within a few hours drive from us, and with Coronavirus being a fact of life now, hiking is a good way to get outside and exercise while staying away from people. Our eventual goal is to hike the entirety of the Foothills Trail in northern South Carolina.
The last weekend of June we hiked a section of the Foothills trail from Highway 107 to the trailhead at Oconee State Park. The hike was 4.6 miles each way, and we planned to camp overnight somewhere in the middle.
We started out with heavy packs and light hearts, and walked our way slowly to the trailhead. This section of trail is very beautiful. Green, somewhat hilly, and there are even a few sections of temperate rainforest with the most lovely flowering trees!
About a mile before we reached the trailhead we saw a sign for some hidden falls. We completed the first half of our hike, then retraced our steps for a mile and hiked the additional mile and a half to the falls.
What a beautiful place to rest! Our feet and legs were tired and sore, having walked over 7 miles that day, and it felt so good to soak them in the cool water.
My husband built me a small fire, and even though there wasn’t an official campsite, we set our tent up on the small patch of level ground we could find.
In the morning I knitted to the sound of the falling water.
Then it was time to pack up our gear and hike out. The 4.5 miles back to our car wasn’t bad, but we were both exhausted from our long hike the day before and from not sleeping well. We were glad to get off our feet and go home. Over the course of 2 days we had hiked just over 11 miles.
Note to self: when picking up a project that you haven’t worked on in 6 months, read the directions.
Exhibit A: I pulled my husband’s sweater out of the UFO pile this week. I last worked on this in December in hopes of it being ready in time for Christmas. Both fronts, the back, and one sleeve are finished. I would have finished it before the end of 2019 if I hadn’t injured my shoulder by working on it so much (note to self: when knitting a lot, I have to get some exercise to keep from getting injured). I wrote the pattern for this sweater, and I remember knitting the first sleeve, so I jumped right in, figuring I knew what I was doing.
WRONG! I worked six inches past the cuff, merrily increasing every 6th row. When I looked at the directions for how many increases to do, I saw that I was supposed to start out the sleeve by increasing every 4th row.
Riiiiiiiip. It’s amazing how quickly a sweater can be reduced back to yarn. What’s the old saying, the second time is the charm?
Several years ago I started saving my swatches. At the time I had some notion of how this could be a tangible record of past projects, especially items that were given away as gifts.
But as I accumulated more and more swatches I started to wonder if there was something I could do with them other than keep them in a shoebox. I pondered the conundrum and gradually an idea began to form: I could sew my swatches together into a patchwork blanket.
Obviously this won’t be an ideal solution for every swatch since some are oddly shaped or 3-dimensional, but I love the idea of taking something that would normally be discarded and making a memory blanket of sorts from it.
The upside of this plan is that the knitting is already completed, and all I have to do is the finishing. It also turns swatching into a part of an existing project, and not just a hurdle to clear before starting something new. The downside of the plan is that all the fun knitting is already done, leaving me with a million ends to deal with, and just as many seams to sew.
This is the time of year when so many of us take time to look back on what we did last year and plan ahead for the coming year. Here is what I made in 2019.
Finished Items: I finished 4 knitting projects in 2019, which is significantly lower than in past years. I’ve had a lot going on with work last year, which has cut into my crafting time. Also I’ve been doing a lot more non-knitting crafts and making a larger variety of items.
I usually have a hard time getting large projects done. Having a deadline helps with that because it helps me push through that stage where I just can’t stand to look at the project anymore. That’s what it was like with my nephew’s baby blanket. I bought the yarn (Anchor Bay by Cascade) and pattern (Bounce by Tin Can Knits) and got started. The first colour sequence went satisfyingly quickly.
The second set of stripes went a little more slowly, and by the time I got to the 3rd stripey section I was ready to put the blanket down for a while.
Only, at that point the baby was due in less than a month. So I powered through and made myself work on it when I had time. I live far away from my family, so one of the main ways my nephew will know me is through my knitting. Knitting is important. Knitting is love.
I finished the knitting a week before my Sister-in-Law’s due date. That’s when I realized I had a massive problem: 80 ends to sew in.
Here again I wanted to throw in the towel. I thought about leaving a decorative fringe on one side of the blanket, but realized that could be dangerous. So I took a deep breath, turned on a movie, and got to work. It took me several evenings to sew all the ends in, but like everything else in life, if you work on it consistently it will eventually get done.
The yarn I used is a 50/50 cotton/superwash merino blend and is meant to be laundered like normal clothing. This is a huge reason I chose this yarn. Babies make messes, and cleanup needs to be as easy as possible. Once I finished sewing in the ends I screwed up my courage and put the blanket in the washer and dryer. It didn’t shrink or felt. In fact, it looked great coming out of the dryer…except that a few of the yarn tails had worked their way to the front. I didn’t see a long-term solution to this problem, so I left things as they are. With any luck this blanket will be chewed on and dragged around so much that a few visible ends will be the least of anyone’s worries.