For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.
For the first installment of this series, click here.
The delicious moment of epiphany that capped Part Three, was itself capped by a less delicious moment of epiphany.
I still had half the blanket to knit. Another thirty two squares. Plus seaming. Plus a border.
I felt queasy.
When you write a column like this, you’re not supposed to say that. You’re supposed say this:
And here, dear readers, I must leave you–for the joys quill and paper are as nothing to the thrill that awaits at the work table. Such brilliant yarn! Such dear little squares! I warrant I shall not sleep these ten days ’til I have had my fill of knitting them. Anon!
Okay, maybe most writers wouldn’t say it exactly that way–there would probably be a “yummy” and a “squee” and generous use of “ZOMG” plus a smiley emoticon. Such is the current fashion.
But what you are never, ever supposed to do is admit in public that you are not fainting with delight over every single stitch.
Pssst. Pssst. You wanna know a secret? We aren’t always fainting with delight over every single stitch, any more than you are. But don’t tell anybody I told you.
You may recall, however, that I started this adventure by admitting the blanket would be a minefield of personal aversions: big, repetitive, garter stitch. That was part of the point. Could I do it? Or would I fall apart in front of you all and pretend a throw pillow made of these two blocks was really what I wanted the whole time?
Garter on the Go
By this time, the two-color square pattern had engraved itself upon my brain as deeply as the alphabet, my telephone number, and the theme tune from “Mister Belvedere.” They had become such mindless knitting that on more than one occasion, I found myself binding off a square I could not remember casting on.
So I knit them in a sports bar…
On a Chicago rooftop…
On several airplanes, of which this was one…
On the back porch with a dear companion…
I knit through conference calls, waiting in line at the grocery store, sitting in a coffee shop, sitting in the park, lying in bed, lying in the bath, lying on the sofa, lying to myself, lying in wait.
I continued the running tally of my squares to make sure I knit enough–and not too many–of each combination.
To my great surprise, in much less time than I’d anticipated the table was covered with the requisite number of squares.
Then I sewed them up with whip stitch (more about that in Part Two), once again following a sequence inspired by the way quilters put their blocks together.
Choosing the color for the sewing was nerve-wracking. My original intent was to use one of the quiet background colors, thinking the joining method shouldn’t draw attention to itself.
But…why not? Why not celebrate the sewing? And pull the counterpoint color into the blanket more fully?
Finally, a border–to recall the binding that is the finishing touch on almost every patchwork quilt. By now, I was addicted to the sunny, Bayberry colorway and figured I might as well run with it.
I considered knitting the border as circular garter stitch, picking up stitches all around and increasing at the four corners as I progressed outward from the center. I’ve edged lace shawls that way, and it worked well.
However, a lace shawl–even a large lace shawl–doesn’t weigh as much as this blanket. I started to calculate the number of stitches I’d have on my needle, and how long that needle would have to be. I thought about alternate rounds made up of purl stitches. I thought about the difference between my flat gauge and my circular gauge.
I decided to do this, instead:
The same rate of increase that gives you the first half of the two-color square also gives you a perfect mitre at each corner.
The Finish Line
I did it. I did it! I knit my first blanket. And…I enjoyed it. The repetition, the garter stitch, the sewing. I enjoyed it.
I call it Floralia.*
I finished it on a day the heat index in Chicago hit 102 Farenheit with 86 percent humidity, and I still wanted to wrap up in it. It’s that cuddly. It’s that deluxe.
Here are the vital statistics.
Yarn: Kenzington by HiKoo® (60% Merino, 25% Nylon, 10% Alpaca, 5% Silk Noils; 208 yds per 100g skein). Colors: 1015 (Boysenberry), 1027 (Takahe), 1018 (Seal), 1000 (Pavlova), 1005 (Bayberry). 2 skeins of each color.
Gauge: 5 stitches/10 rows = 1 inch in garter stitch
Finished Dimensions: 3 feet by 3 feet
Needles: addi® Click circular needles, size US 6 (4mm) with 16-inch (40 cm) cable (for working the patches) and 40-inch cable (joined to 16-inch with connector for working the border)
My friends at Maker’s Mercantile liked it, too, so they’ve decided to take action.
For Your Knitting (and Shopping) Pleasure…
If you’d like to knit your own Floralia, a detailed free pattern is available via Makers’ Mercantile.
If you will be visiting Stitches Midwest, August 4-7 in Schaumburg, Illinois, you can shop in person at the Makers’ Mercantile Booth, Number 412. You’ll find Kenzington and Kenzie (among other beautiful yarns, accessories, and notions) and kits for both the Floralia Blanket and a matching pillow–plus a whole lot of other goodies.
And I’ll be signing copies of my newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knitting and Crochet Coloring Book, in the booth on Saturday morning.
Do pay us a call if you can. We’d love to meet you.
And please join me here in two weeks for the start of a new knitting adventure…
*A rather frisky ancient Roman spring festival (begun on April 27 or 28, depending upon which calendar you use) in honor of the goddess Flora.
Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue
Kenzington by Hikoo (60% Merino, 25% Nylon, 10% Alpaca, 5% Silk Noils; 208 yds per 100g skein). Colors: 1015 (Boysenberry), 1027 (Takahe), 1018 (Seal), 1000 (Pavlova), 1005 (Bayberry).
Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.
He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.
Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.
He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).
Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.