The amazing flood of fecundity exhibited by my friends and co-workers has not yet crested. More baby gifts are required. Being at this moment long on leftover yarn but short on inspiration and time I was delighted to notice something simple and clever in Knitty. Melissa Dominguez’ OpArt baby blanket fits the bill. It’s similar in principle to the Centerpiece Treasure pattern offered by Lion Brand, which I believe was a licensed outgrowth of a square published in the first Knitters Magazine Afghan competition in the spring of 1995. All are squares knit center out, relying on a simple non-eyelet increase in the corners to create a spiraling effect, and stripes in multiple colors to magnify the visual spiral effect. Melissa’s very successful bit of cleverness is to graduate the width of the stripes in the spiral throughout the piece, and limit the colors used to two. That takes the pleasing but static swirl and gives it depth and a striking appearance very true to her Op Art inspiration.
Diving into the stash of remnants, knowing that exact gauge doesn’t matter in this type of project, I came up with some Austermann Record 210 – a non-mercerized cotton. It’s listed on the label as Aran weight (18 stitches/27 rows =4 inches or 10cm), but I found in the past that it knits up closer to Worsted (20 stitches = 4 inches). I used it before to make my citrus-color Ridged Raglan pullover from another pre-2000 issue of Knitters, back before they fell into their current self-referential rut.
210 is a durable matte-finish cotton that holds its color and shape through repeated washings, after a small bit of shrinkage in the first wash. It’s biggest drawback is that it’s composed of lots of small plies and isn’t very tightly twisted, so it splits like crazy while being worked. I’m using US #6s (4mm) and am getting a gauge of 5spi in garter stitch.
I’m pretty sure I have enough of the lemon and lime to make up a small crib or travel size throw. If not, I’ll figure out a way to introduce the orange. Perhaps as a framing stripe around the outside. In any case, the thing is already on its way:
You can see Melissa’s spiral effect and illusion of depth already starting. You’ll also note the one bit of annoyance inherent in this type of pattern. Each stripe means two ends to finish off. I’ve ended off the first four stripe’s worth so I could see the joins would look, but you can see the chain of holes at 2:00 – each one signaling two more strands to tame.
I’ll keep going on this one until I run out of yarn. At that point, it will be big enough. Thank you Melissa!