Monday, May 21, 2012

FO: Girasole

This has been a good week for me in terms of turning WIPs in my knitting basket into FOs. First, there was the hap blanket that I made for tadpole and finished a week ago. And this past weekend I finished up Girasole, which I had started while on vacation in Texas last December.

Five months is actually a pretty respectable WIP time for a piece like this. Sometime last week I realized that the end was in sight on this project. Between a day of watching training webinars for work and some extra time at home thanks to the NATO summit this past weekend, I was able to finish up the last repeat of the lace charts and work the border. For the record, that's a really long border.

Pattern: Girasole by Jared Flood
Yarn: 1 skein of Briar Rose Legend (this was a 1400 yard skein - I'm pretty sure Legend is now available only in 700 yard skeins)
Needles: assorted size 6 circular needles
Mods: I didn't change the pattern at all (unusual for me, I know) but I did use magic loop for the center of the blanket as opposed to the DPNs suggested by the pattern.

In terms of knitting experience, this was a really fun knit. The different lace patterns were all interesting to work and never went on so long that I got tired of any particular design. Ok, the last rows are really, really long but the pattern repeats themselves were pretty short. And the border itself was enjoyable to knit (a very important attribute when I probably spent 6-8 hours on the knitted on border alone).

It's funny, I really expected that I would have more to say about this one. I spent five months working pretty steadily on this blanket (if you define "pretty steadily" as picking it up at least once a week, or thereabouts). It's a lovely finished product. The hand painted yarn was a great fit for this lace - the color changes don't overshadow the stitches at all. And tadpole likes it, too.

So what's my problem? I think my shoulders still carry the knots from blocking the blanket (I pinned each and every point on the edging). Plus, I didn't make the blanket into a perfect circle (yes, I know I'm being picky on this one). And I think secretly wished that blocking would turn the yarn into a woolen-spun heather. Like this.

But I love seeing the blanket thrown casually over the arm of the couch, waiting for someone to curl up underneath it. Or two someones. Perhaps even three.

Is it an example of the perfect blanket? No. But it is a blanket that will be used and loved for that. Function trumps form here. And the form is pretty good, too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

That's a lot of garter stitch

This project had been on the needles for a while but I finally finished it and gave it to Tadpole as a mother's day gift (hobbit style) last weekend. A quick check of my ravelry notes revealed that I cast on for this blanket in October of last year. I know I worked on this one for a while but I didn't realize quite how long!

It's a little tough to see in these photos (since I opted to unpin the blanket and get it off the island before breakfast and completely forgot to snap a blocking shot) but this is a square hap blanket.

Yarn: 3 skeins of Knitting Notions Classic Merino Lace in ironstone and 1 skein of Knitting Notions Classic Merino Lace in thyme. I used just about every yard of the yarn. I was so close on the darker blue/green, in fact, that I had to frog the bind-off halfway through the second side when I realized that I didn't have enough yardage left to complete the edging. In other words, the light piping along the edge was not planned.
Needles: a 32" circular needle for the entire thing, including the i-cord bind-off.
Time to knit: seven months, off and on.
Pattern: . . . does "winging it" count?

Like many of you, I love looking through the BrooklynTweed patterns and I particularly liked the hap blanket design that Jared wrote up over a year ago. Gudrun and Ysolda have published similar patterns.  I found an outline of the basic design in one of my knitting books and decided that I'd try to whip up a working pattern myself (at the very least, the exercise would keep my from caving and buying some Shelter for the project).

Here's the bare bones version (assuming four skeins of yarn, two for the center square and two for the border): Cast on one stitch and, working in garter stitch, *k1f&b, knit to the end of the row, repeating from * until you run out of yarn in the first skein. Join the second skein and *k2tog, knit to the end of the row, repeating from * until you have one stitch left (and presumably are almost out of yarn). Bind off that last stitch. Then pick up and knit along the edges of the garter stitch square you just made, using a ratio of 3 stitches for every 2 garter ridges (in other words: k1f&b in the first garter ridge and k1 in the second, and repeat all the way around).

Now is the one tricky part: figure out what lace pattern you want to use for the border. I used Old Shale, but anything will work. Then calculate the number of stitches you will need for the lace pattern and corner stitches (per side, to make things easy). Subtract from that figure the number of stitches you have on any particular side to determine how many stitches you will need to increase in order to work the lace. Then work a few rows in garter stitch or some other filler pattern and work the necessary increases into those rows. And if you realize (like I did) that you didn't drink enough coffee to count or add correctly when you did that initial calculation, you can always fudge things at the corners on the first few lace rows and it all works out.

Work the lace pattern until you are nearly out of yarn (don't forget to save enough to cast off!) and then bind off using a 2-stitch i-cord.

I made this blanket so that tadpole would have something light to use at night now that spring is here and the nights are getting warmer. That's all well and good in theory, but how did it work out in practice?

Let's compare the new blanket with her current favorite: the Bear Claw:

Getting all dreamy-eyed - she loves this blanket.

Seriously, she really loves this blanket.

What? What's this new thing?

No, really, give me back my Bear Claw!

Here, you take it.

It only took one day and now the new blanket is a big hit. So much so that we can't leave it out during play time since all she wants to do is snuggle with it. Score one for mom on the knitting front.