Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A blanket for Spats Turkey

Once upon a time, my pal Jive Turkey went and got herself all knocked up. This was a long-awaited occurrence, and I was so happy when she told the internets the big news that I wanted to do something for her and for Husband of Said Turkey. So I decided to make a blanket for the baby-to-be that became known on her blog as Spats.

Just after that, a new issue of the online knitting magazine knitty.com went live. In it was an amazing pattern for a baby blanket called Op Art, and the example shown was in black and white. The pattern was designed by someone who had studied infant visual development and was intended to be visually interesting for babies. I found this to be fascinating and decided to make this pattern (albeit in more interesting colors yet maintaining the dark/light contrast) for Spats. I found this gorgeous soft yarn in a pearly white and wine color, not too Christmas-y but still with the visual contrast to make the pattern functional in addition to cool-looking.

Then, one of Leah's friends went and made the same blanket for Wombat so the blog world had seen the blanket. That blanket was black and white, so mine would be different, but I was glad that I'd decided on this pattern for Spats and not for Wombat!

When it came time to actually start the blanket, I was, to put it mildly, a little confused by the directions, which say to use two circular needles - something I'd never done before. After about six false starts I gave up and just started the thing on double-pointeds, transfering up to circulars as it slowly got bigger (the blanket is knitted from the inside out, with increases evenly spaced each quarter of the way around). At one point I had over two hundred stitches on one long circular and was running out of space, so I knew I had to switch to two, but I had no idea how. Solution? I scoured the internet for other people who had made the pattern to ask advice. I found some videos on youtube showing a two-circular knitting technique. And finally I had the courage to give it a try myself - and it worked! Yay! It was like wrestling badgers, but it worked. I never did figure out how to knit the pattern mindlessly; I had to count every stitch I knitted to make sure I'd be increasing at the right places and even marked my place verbally to Dan whenever he'd say something to me so I wouldn't forget and have to recount.

The directions call for much thinner yarn and a smaller gauge needle, so I knew I wouldn't be making the entire thing according to the pattern. I learned a lesson with Wombat's blanket; larger blankets might be nice for later but babies need small things if they are really to be useful. I didn't want Spat's blanket to get too big, so I finished up at about 450-odd stitches, bound off, and called it a day. Blocking was challenging; the pattern called for wool yarn which I can't use (allergic) so I'd used a lovely soft machine washable acrylic but acrylic is far more difficult to block into shape (blocking is the process of getting a finished garment or object wet, stretching it out to size, and letting it dry that way). I usually block the things I make even though they're less likely to change shape because it does help even out stitches and makes things look nice and finished, but unfortunately what was supposed to end up a square will probably be forever kind of an odd shape. Oh, well; I think it looks pretty cool the way it is. What do you guys think?

I took photos in the morning before I mailed it last Thursday. Someone didn't want to get out of the bed.


Anonymous said...

You all, this blanket is so awesome, and SO very soft. I had to move it AGAIN last night because the cat seriously has her eye on it. This is also why I couldn't get any good pictures of it all spread out - Tootsie kept shadowing me and would jump up on it every time I laid it out on the bed. Damn cat.
But anyway: blanket = AWESOME. With bonus baby-brain-stimulatin' goodness!

Crafty Mama said...

This is one of the coolest blankets I have ever seen, you did a great job!

tmjackson said...

Beautiful! It's so cool. The blanket is so rad it seems fitting for the shape to be slightly off. You did a great job.

Crafty Mama said...

Thanks for your comments on blog, by the way! I'll bet you could felt with alpaca. I've seen pictures of some alpaca-felted items, and they looked great! Just start with knitting something small, and be sure to toss it in the washer with some other clothes to agitate better. Next time I'm at a knitting shop that has some alpaca, I'll give it a try.

Are you allergic to mohair as well?