As mentioned earlier, I have the joy of increased familial demand for baby blankets. In fact, I just found out about a cousin who is expecting a baby within the month. So what’s to do? Go stash-diving to find a good candidate yarn, preferably in a quick-to-knit gauge, then knit it up for expedited shipment.
In this case the best candidate quick-knit yarn to hand is a bag of Lion Brand Kool Wool in a vivid tomato red. This discontinued yarn has been stashed for a couple of years, ever since I found it for a song at a local odd-lot retailer. It’s a superbulky, super soft, noodly 50% acrylic/50% merino wool yarn – marked at 12 st and 18 rows to 4 inches on US 10.5 (6.5mm) needles. The texture ensures that I will need to be creative when end darning happens. I’ll probably have to separate the yarn’s many plies and bury them in different directions in order to avoid inconveniently ugly joins.
Why red? I happen to like bright colors for babies. Regardless of ethnic origin, babies are such pallid, helpless creatures to begin with, giving them a jewel like surround seems warranted. But I am violating a core precept – this yarn is marked as hand wash in cool water. I generally avoid hand-wash yarns for baby gifts, but the 50% acrylic content makes me want to risk it. One sign that shrinking/fulling will be less of an issue – I can’t spit-splice this yarn. I will be washing this prior to giving it to the recipient, just to make sure that the red stays where it’s supposed to and there are no other laundry surprises.
Now what to make…
I happen to like lacy patterns. At first I thought about doing a simple lace panel in the yarn’s big gauge. Some quick experimentation showed that decreases in this pudgy yarn are clumpy looking and unattractive. The knit togethers used in modular knitting also rule out simple directionals. Then I thought of doing something center-out, like a big medallion or swirl. Ditto. It’s just too bulky to show fancy patterning to any good advantage. Rather than continuing to fight the materials, I’ve opted to take advantage of what this yarn does do well – simple knit/purl, and work up a heavily embossed knit/purl repeat, edged with moss stitch. After some noodling around, I’ve picked the Elongated Diamond Pattern from B. Walker’s first Treasury (p.35).
As I experiment with this pattern I encounter the prose direction challenge. I know that lots of knitters prefer their directions to be written out rather than charted. Visually impaired knitters have good reason to want this because charts can’t be voice recorded easily, or fed into computer based reading assist programs. And some of us are wired differently – charts can be confusing if you’re not visually attuned to them, there’s no shame in that. But I’m firmly in the charts-good camp, and find prose directions mind numbingly frustrating. So the first thing to do was to graph up the Walker pattern:
Once graphed, the basic logic of the pattern becomes easy to see. The duplicate column of stitches at the end (or beginning) of each row is easy to spot, as is the stepwise movement of garter stripes around diamonds formed by knit stitches on a purl stitch background.
I’ve cast on three repeats plus 4 stitches of moss border and an edge stitch on either side:
((3*22)+1) + 2(4+1)) = 77 stitches
And worked 6 rows of K1, P1 moss stitch. This being an odd number of stitches, each of my full width moss rows begins with a K1. Here are the larval beginnings of the project, on circular #11s, which I chose to increase softness and drape.
We’ll see how happy I am with it as the project as it grows. With luck, it will quite quickly because it will be a race to see which is hatched first: target baby or her blanket.
Red is a traditional European color against Bad Voodo, as it were. My Yugoslavian grandmother put a red ribbon on my crib to protect me against the Evil Eye. So there!