Monday, March 21, 2016

Circling a Blanket Tradition

My son and daughter-in-law are expecting a baby, their second daughter, in May 2016 and I wanted to knit her a circular blanket as I had done in 2013 for her older sister, Vivian. When I wrote this, it was January 2016 and I'd just completed the knitting, intending to delay publishing the post until after the baby was born. I could contain myself no longer. My daughter-in-law just texted me this cute picture of almost-two older sister with her blankie. So I am releasing this post for the second blanket now. Don't ya jus' love the tip-toe stance?

For the poem and blanket back story for first daughter Vivian, born in April 2014, check my post for December 26, 2013. Here she was last October holding up her green, yellow and white variegated yarn blanket like a pair of wings. Other views of the blankie (and of darling Vivian of course) are in my post for October 7, 2015. I made the new baby's blanket similar to her older sister's but not exactly alike so they could be told apart.

For the next little girl I chose the same brand and weight variegated yarn again, but this time it had a bit of pink and blue in the mix. For this second blanket, I was not as adamant that it have yellow, green, and white only to be like her Daddy's original from the mid 1980's, a color fixation that is explained in my post for December 26, 2013. The yarn was Michael's Loops and Thread Snuggly Wuggly, which comes in large 10.5 ounce skeins. I bought three skeins.

I used it double stranded with 10½ size needles, pulling from two skeins at once. I was partly through the tenth wedge out of twelve when I needed to start the third skein. I wound it into two balls, weighing them to be equal and continued on.

As on the first blanket in 2013, I found I could complete one segment per day, about two hours worth of knitting. This time schedule allowed no contingency for mistakes and tear outs. I kept up this schedule for the first five days, doggedly staying up at night until I'd completed a wedge. There are twelve segments and I thought, "I can be finished in less than two weeks!" Then I told myself that this was not a marathon. Knitting this blanket does take time and just because I squeezed it in impulsively among other projects that had been pre-planned, did not mean it deserved any less pleasure and anticipation in the making. I slowed my pace, being mindful of the baby-to-be as I knitted. I'd written a poem to accompany big sister Vivian's blanket. Little sister needed a poem too.

Spring 2016

As I sit here and knit you a blanket so round,
My thoughts also spiral around and around.
I hope you will use it, for sleep and for play.
I hope it gets tattered from lovin' all day.

Will you tug it and hug it, all out of shape?
Will you drag it around, pretend it's a cape?
Perhaps you'll ignore it and that's OK, too. 
I can't wait to see who is you, shining through.

Will you be a tomboy? Or coy little lady?
Will you wail all the night? Or sleep like a baby?
Adore your big sister? Or will you compete?
Be chock full of mischief? Or maybe real sweet?

What will your name be, mysterious one?
I don't have a clue; the surprise will be fun.
I do know however as I'm sitting here knitting.
Hugs and kisses from Grandma are oh, so befitting.

Que sera, sera. 
Purl and knit. Knit and purl.
Whatever will be, will be. 
Know my love, little girl.

I think being mindful is a maternal thing. My own mom used to knit one of her own hairs into each article for her children and grandchildren so her love would be with them when they used it.

Even at a more relaxed pace, and letting my imagination stray with possibilities about the little girl to be and her poem, I completed the blanket in less than three weeks of mainly evening knitting. Once I seamed the final row to the first, it finished at a diameter of 50".

The combination of 10½ size needles with a double strand of the Snuggly Wuggly soft worsted weight resulted in a very soft drape.

The scale of the garter stitch was pleasingly big enough to give good textural interest but not so large as to have holes. Using two strands of a variegated yarn, along with the change in row lengths, gave a soft tweedy, subtle heather-like variation in the colors.

For those interested, I repeated the pattern here. The idea is to knit partway across a row toward the center of the circle, then all the way back on the next row toward the outside. On the next row toward the center, knit two more stitches, then reverse back again and knit all the way to the outer edge.

Cast on 70.
Knit 2, TURN, knit back over those 2.
Knit 4, TURN, knit back over those 4.
Knit 6, TURN, knit back over those 6.
Can you see a wedge developing?
Continue this way. Two short rows of 8, then 10, then 12, then 14, etc. up to 70.
Once you've knitted across 70 stitches, turned, and knitted back you've finished the first wedge.
Do 12 wedges and you have finished your blanket. Just sew your last row to your first cast on row.

I had to backtrack and re-do some partial wedges twice on this blanket, even though I'd learned to be careful after my experience on the first one. The pattern sequence repeats and is not very complicated. The trouble was, when I was watching TV or talking and not paying attention, I'd overshoot and knit too far in toward the center. If an overshoot is not caught while on that row, there is no way to recover but to rip out the few rows beyond to get back to where the mistake originated. (There is an image of this type of mistake in the post for December 26, 2013.) Enjoy working on this project but stay alert. Knitting this round blanket is easy-peasy but prone-to-groans.

1 comment:

  1. Aw! Thanks for the preview! Baby Girl Chambers #2 will be sure to be warm and snugly in it. Vivian sleeps with her blanket most every night and loves it very much. I wash it weekly and it has held up well in the wash. Also, I love the poem. You completed all tasks well before the due date - A++, Grandma!