Emergency Project: The Conclusion

This is one in a series of posts about an emergency (of my own making) project – here’s the post that started it allthe first update, the second update, the third update.

IMG_6295
Finished!

There it is in all it’s glory: the finished blanket, slightly squished to fit on the couch cushions. I have maybe 1/8th of each skein left. I wove in the last end late yesterday afternoon but could have easily finished it on Thursday if I had taken it on the trip, though I opted instead to take smaller projects. That’s 5 (4) days to make a baby blanket, somewhere between 30-40 hours. Granted, it’s a thick, heavy baby blanket, but a blanket nonetheless.

IMG_6299But I couldn’t let the color stand. I tossed the finished blanket in the washer and dashed off to JoAnn for some dye. I was planning on using one of the liquid Rit dyes but the colors just seemed blah. Tulip jumped on a marketing opportunity and has started to package some of their dyes in a yarn dying kit, sold in a display with undyed cotten yarn, but those colors and the colors in the mothership display (the individual dye rack) were too close to neon for me. I ended up bringing home 3 packets of Dylon dye, in 2 colors. Please note, I haven’t used these dyes before – last time I used Jacquard Acid Dye and I’ve done a bunch of natural dyeing and plenty of fabric makeovers with Rit, both liquid and powder.

The Dylon directions involve stirring the dye pot (with the thing you’re dyeing in it) occasionally for 10 minutes and then constantly for 45 minutes. I don’t have that kind of patience. Dylon, unlike acid dye, is set with table salt (Rit varies depending on the fiber you’re dyeing), so I weighed the appropriate amount of salt (12oz) and dumped it in my front loading washer. Then I carefully cut open all 3 dye packets at once and emptied them onto the salt mountain. Finally, I added the still-damp blanket, closed the door, and ran it on my washer’s Deep Steam cycle.

I immediately ran it through another wash cycle with detergent without opening the washer. At the end of that cycle, I opened it up to see the blanket artfully spread on the back of the washer drum:

IMG_6301
Blocking by washer

When I pulled it out, there was some yarn barf that I stupidly didn’t take a picture of – one of my bound off edges came undone somehow, I’m not sure what I did to cause it because the yarn tail was still securely woven in. I tossed the blanket in the dryer (and ran the washer empty to get rid of any remaining dye) and after the blanket dried, repaired the wonky edge. I tossed it back into the washer again, this time with some dark colored beach towels; I really don’t want the dye to leach onto my friend’s laundry. So, here’s the final blanket this morning:

IMG_6305

And a closeup:

IMG_6306

I like it much much more all blue. The uniform color makes the stitch pattern stand out while still being slightly variegated and interesting. Here’s a comparison shot of the finished blanket and the finished dyed blanket, almost matched up side by side:
Left: finished blanket before washing, dyeing, and drying. Right: after. Details on my blog soon/later today. #knittersofinstagram #knitting #knitdesign #knittersofig #yarndyeing #dylondye

I just got back from lunch with my friend; her doctor has tentatively scheduled a c-section on October 6 for her and her little boy. She looks beautiful but miserable because it’s so effing hot out – it’s 95ºF/35ºC but with humidity factored in it feels like 111º/44º. She has a 2 year old daughter and babysits her 1 year old twin nephews during the week and boy oh boy is she ready to have this baby.

Anyway, she really liked the blanket. I also gave her the Herringbone Rainbow BB Blanket because IMO the one I made this week is too thick & heavy for a baby blanket. So why did I make it? The last one that I made similar to this, Super Quick, my sister in-law loved – it worked really well for nap time to sort of weigh my nephew down so he wasn’t as restless as his older brother was. So I thought that out of 2 blankets, my friend would at least be able to use 1. She’s very happy with both blankets; her house is super cold and drafty in the winter – old windows – so they’ll be very useful. Hooray!

And now I hope to spend the afternoon catching up on blogs so I know what everyone’s been up to while I’ve been knitting all week.

Emergency Project Update 3

This is one in a series of posts about an emergency (of my own making) project – here’s the post that started it allthe first update, the second update.

Untitled
Almost done!

Yesterday, I knit the main body until it was 36″ (91cm) long and added a garter stitch border, so it’s now 38″ (96.5cm) long. To add some width to this skinny blanket (it’s only 18″ or 46cm wide), I picked up stitches along the I cord edge and knit a 3″ (8 cm) garter stitch border. I started to cast off using Jeny’s Suprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, but it was too stretchy and made the entire border look like a ruffle. I ripped it out (I’d only done 1/3 of the stitches) and got everything back on the needle and then it was time to go with my kids and their friends for Korean barbecue at Honey Pig for my oldest’s last night home before heading off to his freshman year of college today.

Phew.

You may be wondering how I’m pulling this off – don’t I have other weekday responsibilities? I’ve been a stay at home Mom for the last 12 years, with a little bit of contract technical writing thrown in and, briefly, a part-time job at a history magazine publisher. When the boys were all smaller, I spent most of my days playing with or chasing after them while still trying to fit cleaning & grocery shopping & meal making in. But now that they’re older, I have lots of time for knitting. And the general mess that comes with 3 boys and pets has broken me of my need to always have a clean house – these days I’m happy if I keep up with my own laundry (the kids all do theirs), keep the house mostly clean, and keep our beige living room rug from looking gray with dog hair.

So skipping out on most of that stuff for a few days isn’t a big deal. So far, I’d say I’ve spent maybe 30 hours on the blanket this week, and with another hour or two, I’ll be done. Actually, I could more accurately calculate the time I’ve spent on it by tracking the number of episodes of Sons Of Anarchy I’ve watched. I have 2 more seasons to go and then I’ll have watched the whole thing!

The bigger accomplishment I’ve had this week, bigger than the blanket, is distracting myself from Brandon getting ready to leave for college. He doesn’t need me all up in his grill about what he’s packing, what he’s leaving, and what he’s getting rid of; I’ve had mixed emotions about all of this and we haven’t even made the trip to drop him off yet! So: devoting myself to this blanket this week has been a great distraction. I may finish it before we leave this afternoon, which means I may have time to dye it tomorrow afternoon when we get back. We’ll see what shakes out.

Emergency Project Update 2

This is one in a series of posts – the first and the second. (Let’s see if this instragram embedding thing will work …. the short answer: no. 😐 )

IMG_6268

I came close to ripping the whole blanket out yesterday, which would have been madness. Why rip it out? I’m using an I-cord edging on the sides of the blanket and what I didn’t realize at first is that knitting it too tightly pulls the sides of the fabric down. When you’re just knitting I-cord on it’s own, you have to be really careful with your tension when you knit the first stitch of each row so that the tube forms and the stitches are even without a ladder between the third and first stitches. But in this case, the stitches need to be large enough to bridge 2 rows of regular knitting in the body of the blanket or else the sides will pucker and pull the blanket fabric at the sides. Instead of ripping it all out, I made my peace with a few tight rows and have loosened my tension on the edge stitches.

There’s another tension problem with this pattern. It’s a variation on herringbone patterns like the one used in Lisa Bruce’s Favorite Scarf Ever (a great pattern – I made the scarf and then made a baby blanket using the pattern). But instead of using yarn overs to add stitches to balance the centered double decreases, the Dragon Skin pattern uses make one (M1). With M1, you’re basically borrowing yarn from the row before to make a new stitch, which tightens the gauge of the row you’re borrowing from – it’s essentially a twisted yarn over made without paying out the extra yarn, so M1 makes the stitches in the previous row on either side of where you pick up the yarn smaller and tighter. I have three pattern repeats, so there are 5 places where the tension of the M1s are an issue: the three places between the pattern repeats plus one for each side. Those two side stitches are also affected by the tensioning issue with the applied I-cord and together, I have some rows that are super duper tight at the edges and loose in the middle.

I’m compensating now for both of those tension issues, but those rows before I started … gah. I have to leave them in the interest of actually finishing the blanket.

One last flaw with this blanket: it’s only 18″ (46cm) wide. Most of the blankets I make are over 30″ (76cm) wide. I should have added another repeat or two. Oh well: forging ahead anyway. Maybe I’ll make it extra long instead. Or pick up stitches along one side and knit perpendicular to the body of the blanket to make it wider. We’ll see! Anything could happen between now and 11:30am Saturday, when I’m meeting my friend/the recipient for lunch.

Emergency Project Update 1

I settled on a pattern for this emergency baby blanket I need to get done by Saturday, a problem of my own making that I wrote about at the end of my post yesterday.

I chose a stitch pattern – Dragon Skin from Walker’s 2nd treasury – and dove right in with a garter stitch border on the bottom edge, 1×1 ribbing on the side edges. After almost finishing a repeat of the pattern, I got lost in the instructions; not sure which row I was on or where I was in the row, I wished there was a chart for the pattern. “Eff this!” I thought, “I hate written instructions for complex rows!” So I made a chart using an old version of Adobe Illustrator, which you can see in my progress picture. I modified the pattern some; this is technically one and a half repeats of the pattern and I also tweaked a few other minor things.

FullSizeRender 6
Progress!

I haven’t decided whether or not I like the resulting fabric – I kind of wish I’d chosen solid yarns instead of variegated. I’m knitting with 3 strands of Bernat Handicrafter cotton held together; one white, one Anchors Away Ombre, and one Reflection Ombre. All the color changes detract from the pattern, IMO – I wish the color repeats were longer so it looked more stripey. At least it’s not pooling weirdly (yet).

I’m also bothered by the contrast between the white and the dark blue in both of the variegated yarns, it makes the fabric look like static on a TV to me. (Do modern TVs even show static or are they all blue screens these days? I’m probably dating myself here.) Maybe I’ll dye it after I finish knitting it to cut down on the contrast. I did that with another skein of Bernat Handicrafter when I made Yet Another Baby Blanket.

We’ll see what shakes out today – for now, I’m going to stick to the plan and ignore all my misgivings.

yarn before
Original Color

 

overdyed yarn
After Overdying with Dark Greens

 

In the Mean Time

I’ve been busy pulling together a project that’s been in the pipeline for about 6 months now, since that fateful day in August when thermalgal (Jenni) came to a Loudoun Needleworkers meet-up and announced that she was (and still is) expecting her 2nd child in March.

We had just finished a blanket for our fearless leader, electricsoup (Misty), which ended up being large enough for her whole family to cuddle under. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but our intention was to make something for behbehsoup, as Zoe was known then. Misty has definitely appreciated the blanket, wrapping herself in our collective love (yes, even I get cheesy and melodramatic sometimes) during the last few weeks of her pregnancy, at the hospital, and during her maternity leave. We also made a Flying Spaghetti Monster for Misty’s son Alex, and by we I mean mainly snarkymarcy (Marcy) and BeadedLaceHoar (Karen), and Marcy’s husband Todd, who mastered the Embellish Knit for most of that I-cord.

So for Jenni, I was hoping to improve on things and do something a little different. Everyone involved agreed on a baby blanket and a family blanket, and many suggested making something for Jenni’s son Henry. As with Misty, Jenni provided a picture of her nursery so we could pick colors that would coordinate well with it. And as with Misty, we ended up using KnitPicks Comfy Worsted. I should have been more diplomatic with my project management, but ended up making some dictatorial decisions about the design. Making something as a group for Henry was going to be too complicated, so we left that as an optional bonus (I’m still working on my item for him).

I decided that hexagons, rather than squares, would be interesting to do, and in early December came up with several different blanket designs using 5 vibrant colors for the family blanket and 5 coordinating, paler colors for the baby blanket:

Jenni's Blankets

I ordered the yarn and distributed it along with the designs and instructions for making a basic, center-out hexagon. Even though I planned carefully and spent a day looking for the missing link in my hexagon calculations, I did not come up with the right formula for calculating the sides. I should have asked the LNW hive mind for help, but the hexagons (and blankets) turned out reasonably well.

I started piecing together the baby blanket last Wednesday afternoon and finished all but one hexagon on Friday morning, spending most of my time on the blanket and watching MI5 (aka spooks) on Netflix Streaming. Thursday I sent out email asking for help putting together the family blanket, comprising hexagons double the size of the baby blanket. RabbitSmile (Lisa), HoundHoar (Alana), and AliseKnits (Alise) all came over on Saturday with their crochet hooks to edge each hexagon with single crochet and then join them all in sections. Alana, who took a break to go home and get her 3 greyhounds, stayed until 3am, which is both crazy and the most fun I’ve had in a while – we giggled at the dogs, at IT Crowd, at my lack of piecing prowess as I crocheted the same seam for the 3rd time. I tossed the blankets into the washer and went to sleep.

Sunday: Jenni loves the blankets. They turned out really well, much better than they look in the pictures I took Sunday before the meet-up.

Baby Blanket: Family Blanket:
Blanket: Baby Blanket: Big

Since starting this project, we have two other LNWers expecting, both for their first child. [Insert obligatory but tired joke about drinking the water at knitting meet-ups.] I’m taking a break from blanket project management, which makes me sad/guilty (I could do it! Really!) but also relieved that I can focus on other things, like getting back to the point of this blog or life or some third thing I haven’t come up with yet.