A couple items from my inbox.
Question on Justin’s Counterpane
Cindy wrote to say she was having problems conceptualizing how the pieces to make my Justin’s Counterpane pieced blanket fit together. This particular blanket is a large scale intro to white cotton/lacy knitting. Only twelve main units are needed to complete it – six keyhole shaped motifs, and six whole octagons. Ten triangles are used to eke out the sides and make them straight. An optional edging finishes the thing. They’re put together like this:
I did not use additional triangles at the corners to make a true rectangle because it’s easier to go around a more gentle angle without mitering than it is to go around a 90-degree turn. And I didn’t want to go through the bother of mitering my corners.
Because of the relatively few units used and the simplicity of the classic pinwheel motif, I think that people wanting to make a first item in this style might find the pattern useful. Being a blanket, it doesn’t have to fit anybody so gauge is a guideline, not a mandate. It can be worked in any cotton or cotton blend yarn you like. The yarn I chose was a very inexpensive DK weight, but by using the appropriate size needles, a piece of usable dimensions could be made in anything from sport to worsted. Much heavier than that though and you’ll get into weight issues, cotton being quite a bit massive than its equivalent thickness in acrylic or wool. (You could even work this in standard wool or acrylic, but I think the design will be crisper in cotton.)
In any case, some basic guidelines for knitting and seaming together pieced counterpanes include binding the motifs off especially loosely; blocking the units before assembly, by wetting them down and pinning them out while stretching them to their maximum extent; and using whip stitch or when possible, mattress stitch done in half of the edge most stitch to sew them together. Back stitch or mattress stitch done further into the motifs will make the seams too dense and rigid, and may introduce cupping.
Bargain Hunters’ Blocking Boards
Rachel and I had an eMail chat recently. I think it was over on one of the knitting-related boards at Live Journal. She was looking for advice on blocking. In specific, she was looking for low-cost alternatives for blocking. We went through the standards – pinning out on carpet covered with towels or on a padded table or bed, but she wanted a rigid surface that was easy to stow in addition to being inexpensive.
I recommended getting a half-sheet of drywall from the hardware store, taped around the edges to reduce crumble, and topped with a flat sheet through which the pinning happens. I also suggested scouring yard sales or opportunity shops for the squishy/spongy foam pattern/alphabet block floor tiles or play mats favored by the parents of toddlers. They’re indestructible and often outlast the toddler years, landing at second-hand venues. Top those with a sheet and pin away, happy that you’ve found a modular, easy to store solution that as a creative recycle, nibbles away at the waste stream.
Rachel decided to go with the play mat idea. She sent me a note of thanks, and included this shot of her shawl blocking:
(Photo is hers, used with permission). She also notes that she got her mat at WalMart, and it was less than $20. Love the shawl, Rachel, and as ever – I’m delighted to have been useful.