Sunday, September 30, 2007

By Human Hands

Just pieces on the floor for now. I have an ever fluctuating vision of this blanket. Each rectangle will be unique; the joining is still way up in the air. This cotton is the versatile Mission Falls 1894 and I love the colors. My idea is to make a very large "family" blanket that everyone can wrap up in; a blanket that can go into the washer and dryer with impunity. Not sure if I am dreaming or not, but I am going to go for it. A cool water wash shouldn't harm the colors and I really don't care if it shrinks. The idea is for it to be family friendly.

I am still working on the yellow Baby Cashmerino blanket; only realized a week ago that the baby is more than half-way to birth, but the blanket is not! I wrestled (and must be still wrestling) with a problem of what to do with a mistake I discovered. I was four or five rows beyond a place in the pattern where I transposed the 5 purl and 3 knit stitches. So the little bump that should have been, was about half, where the purls changed to knits. How I missed it...well who knows?

However, in Book 2: The Purl Stitch by Sally Melville, photos near the back show in wonderfully clear detail what one can do when you discover your mistake. "If a stitch was purled when it should have been knit, discovered many rows later," is the headline over photographs of a mistake being corrected, with directions below. Additionally, the same tutorial is on the opposite page for a stitch knit when it should have been purled. So the information was available for me to make a correction in this little blanket.

Of course, I could also unknit it all, back to the mistake, and begin again from there; this is an unpleasant prospect. I could run a piece of contrasting yarn through the row below the mistake, and then just unravel it; something I have not done before. The reasons for my hesitation about this correction are as follows: the yarn is particularly delicate and I don't want to harm it with overworking it. The yarn is also very elastic! The stitches want to return to the ball from the needles so care is required.

After time and thought, I attempted a correction via the ladder method in the above book. Several rows were involved, several stitches. I am a novice when it comes to this sort of thing, and was apprehensive about making a bigger mess than what I already had. When I had done what I thought was necessary, I found it was still not just right. In the picture above, the mistake is in a shadowy bump in the upper right quadrant. So I put it all away and have taken some time to think, again.

I have, at this point, concluded that the small mistake that remains is not worth the effort or angst to correct. Now...I imagine some of you will really be in an uproar about this. But I am not perfect, and the blanket is only about 1/6th complete; the chances that I will make another mistake are fairly great. After all, I knit in a 3-cat house and enjoy watching B&W movies while I knit. I also take phone calls, run up and down stairs to change loads in washer and dryer, eat chocolates, etc., while I am knitting.

You are familiar with the hang tags on your silk or linen clothing that warn you about slubs and other irregularities; the idea is that this is a natural part of the fabric and you are not to think it is inferior just because it seems to have some strange lumps and, I think I can take this just a bit further and say, this blanket is knit by human hands attached loosely to a human brain that is attached loosely to the world, etc. Any little irregularities you may think you see are to be considered a sign that this blanket was knitted by loving human hands and not touched by a machine at any period in its creation.

Whew! What do you think?


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Finally Loving It

One hundred fifty one stitches cast on for this little blanket. You may have used this wonderful yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. I selected this color for my first grandbaby, and bought 10 balls of it online - a nice savings of about $2 per ball when purchased in quantity. I had already selected a pattern. I saw a lovely one from Oat Couture and persuaded my brother to purchase it in a town near his home and mail it to me. I was in such a hurry to get started! I had been waiting for what seemed to me an eternity to become a grandmother, and now it was happening!

I started the Prairie Blanket during a time we had family visiting; I knitted in the living room while trying to participate in relaxed conversation. For me, knitting and counting and trying to keep my eye on the correct line of pattern instructions, along with conversation and a glass of wine just didn't mix. A few days later, I frogged it, and began again, with the same result. So I put it away.

When I picked it up again after several weeks, I realized I needed a new pattern, and the search was on once more. I found a pretty blanket in Debbie Bliss's Simply Baby - you can see it on the cover. I thought, "I can do this, but without the colored intarsia pictures." This little blanket has a pretty moss stitch border and is divided into several panels. Some have colored pictures and some have hearts. So I determined that I would make the blanket with moss stitch hearts in every other square - sort of a checkerboard pattern. I began by reading the pattern carefully and then transferring the heart pattern to a piece of graph paper. "Piece of cake!" I thought. "This is going to be fun!"

Well, it wasn't! After a dozen rows into the heart pattern, I gave up. Just too much counting, too frequent stopping. The fine yarn has a little stretch to it, and the addi turbos are really slick. I was gripping and the yarn was slipping and counting was painful, and keeping my place on both sides of the blanket and going from left to right on the pattern and then from right to left....well, I just wasn't ready for that. I knew I would need complete quiet to work on this blanket; this project should be enjoyable, fun...and it was not.

Another frogging followed and I wrapped the yarn carefully around the ball. Picking up works in progress occupied my hands for a while. I even completed another little blanket I had started with a chunky yarn and worked in Basketweave pattern (page 16 in Barbara Walkers Treasury of Knitting Patterns).

I'm not certain just what it is about this pattern, but I really love it! It looks somewhat complicated but is really isn't; it evokes carefree country living, casualness and love...well maybe that's going a bit far.

It looks soft, and it is soft; dozens of little pillows will trap the warmth and keep baby cozy. That's one of the benefits of this pattern over one that is lace, for example, or just flat stockinette or garter stitch. I was pleased to finish this, and tucked it into the drawer with fragrant lavender to wait for the day when it would be wrapped and given away. I closed the drawer with satisfaction and it was then that I knew what I wanted to do with my very special baby blanket.

So you can see all the little tiny yellow "pillows" in the pictures of the blanket above. I have passed the point in this one where I gave up on the previous patterns. Finally I am on the right track; finally it feels right, finally it is moving along as I know it should. And finally, I am loving every minute of it!

I hope you are loving your knitting, too.