Friday, 10 February 2012

A tale of two blankets

Crikey, where did a whole month go - again?

As soon as I saw the Spring 2005 edition of Interweave Knits I knew that if I was ever lucky enough to have a baby of my own I would make them the Bear Claw blanket. So as soon as I found out I was pregnant I went ahead and ordered the yarn. I chose 4ply Luxury from the Bendigo Woollen Mills. I love this yarn, it’s soft and even, a joy to knit with and as a bonus is machine washable. My only gripe is the colours aren’t particularly modern. The neutrals are nice but the other colours just don’t stack up against some of the boutique yarn companies (a bit 'old lady' if you like). I wanted soft relaxing colours for this blanket so I went with cream, wild barley, ghost and stone.

In due course the yarns arrived and the colours were as lovely as I imagined, soft, modern, gender neutral. I couldn’t wait to get started. I knew this was a major project but was unperturbed. This is how far I got…

It wasn’t the millions of ends to darn that put me off, I was prepared for them. What did me in was the tediousness of the knitting – which I didn’t expect. I thought this would be perfect for my process oriented mind but in fact it was just a bloody fiddle. And frankly, my lovely modern colour scheme just didn’t work for this project. Instead of clean and contemporary the look I was getting was a bit country cottage for my taste. Maybe it was because by this point morning sickness had struck me full force but I couldn’t bear to persevere and I abandoned ship.

I decided instead to go back to basics. Cerys is about as simple a blanket pattern as you can get, anyone with in-the-round experience could do it and, in fact, it would probably be the perfect project for someone wanting to learn how to work in the round (although the centre is a bit of a fiddle). I modified the design slightly so my round begins in the middle of one side rather than at the corner, and I made up my own stripe pattern. To minimise the ‘jog’ when changing colours I knit the first round with the new colour then on the second round I worked the first stitch into the round below. You get a slightly elongated stitch which smooths the join a bit. I searched around for ‘jogless’ techniques but this is by far the simplest in my mind.

This was the perfect morning sickness project, even when I couldn’t do anything much I could lounge in front of the TV and knit mindless rounds, only having to remember to change colours. The project grew quickly too and once I started to feel better it positively flew off the needles.

I think about 75 – 80cm square is a pretty good sized baby blanket as it works in a pram or capsule and can also be used as a receiving blanket (is that what you call a blanket you carry a baby around in???). I just knit to a pleasing part of the stripe pattern at around that size and then worked the hem. I worked an eyelet round and then 6 rounds reversing the mitre for the hem. I think I could have worked the last stripe a little wider as it looks a bit stingy but it’s not too bad really.

The finishing took ages! I cast off the usual way but then thought it might be a pain to block it with a tight edge, so I undid the cast-off and worked a sewn cast off instead. Next I blocked it (rather informally by washing on a gentle cycle in the machine and spreading it flat and square to dry – no pins involved), then finally sewed down the hem. it is more square than it looks in the picture but I am okay with it not being perfect.

Project details are here if you are interested.

Overall I am super happy with the result. As to the baby bear claw? Yes I would try again maybe, but I think stronger colours are needed and I would possibly go for a thicker yarn and bigger needles to make a modified version!

1 comment:

kbenco said...

How snuggly! The colours work so well in the mitred striped blanket. The bear claw looks awfully fiddly.