A Love Knit Up

Sunday, March 30, 2008

First Square!

My first square is done! It starts on 70 stitches, with the dark color claret heather, and the second cloud. It measures about 8 inches to each side. So if the squares are all like this, the afghan (should I ever actually finish it) will be 64" x 80", which is about queen sized and quite respectable. =D
Note that the tiny purple square which is the last purple stripe looks a lot smaller than the first stripe. This is because it is: it is only 4 ridges. The actual directions I will have per stripe are at the end of this post. I'm not sure I'll use this square, but I'll keep it as my "gauge swatch." The color combination definitely looks nice; I'm going to make another square like this later.

I'm joining new colors by splicing the yarn (doing the thing where you knit to the end, undo a few stitches (and mark the spot where you ended) then splice together and keep knitting. It actually doesn't take that long, and it looks pretty good. (A bit of the time the lighter yarn got a bit discolored, but I think that in the long run that won't be that much of an issue. You couldn't really tell on the knitted part, anyway.) I was thinking of doing this very scientifically, so that I could prepare the yarn ahead of time. So I propose to measure the weight of the swatch and the weight of a few yards of the yarn. In addition, I know the number of stitches in each swatch, so I should be able to figure out exactly how much yardage each bit of the swatch takes. (Should measure it by weight, and in theory.)

I should also make sure to leave a set number of inches (3? 4?) for the tail at the beginning, so that I can make correctly spliced yarn ahead of time. =) That'll make it better for travel knitting, which was the idea behind this project anyway.

Directions for square:
Provisionally cast on 35 stitches twice (so that each half can be unzipped independently). We start with a RS row; all WS rows are knit. Knit two rows straight. k 34, k2tog twice, k34. Continue decreasing twice in the center of each square on each RS row, switching colors every 10 rows until 2 stitches remain. The last WS row is just a ssk. There should be 7 stripes, 4 dark and 3 light.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Psychedelic Non-squares Start

I know it's been a while since I've posted, and right now I'm not even going to pretend that I'm continuing what I started before. Now I am just going to blog about something I am starting now.

Many knitters out there have heard of the Psychedelic Squares Blanket. The stockinette stitch version was published in Mason-Dixon Knitting and many people are seduced by the idea of lots of colors and not very difficult knitting. Heck, I was seduced (about 2 and a half years ago) by this idea, and tried to make the stockinette stitch version of this blanket. I was, however, discouraged by the crappy yarn I was using (icky acrylic; even acrylic fans can't possibly like this yarn), the combination of colors (icky: this yarn was from a lot I bought off of eBay blind) and the fact that the squares weren't coming out square. (Apparently, blocking is needed for them to truly be square.)

This time, things will be different. First off, I am making the squares in garter stitch so that they will be truly square. Second, I am using wool yarn: KnitPicks Wool of the Andes, to be precise. This yarn is (a) wool, (b) cheap ($1.99 a ball when it's not on sale) and (c) comes in a wide variety of colors. (I was debating using elann.com's Peruvian Highland Wool (which comes in even more colors), but I decided against it because many people said it pills a lot.) Third, I have a color theme all picked out, and have even gone as far as to order a color card so that I can pick out new colors as needed. I'm going to have beige/cream colors for the light colors, and dark reds, blues, and greens for the dark colors.

In addition, I'm not going to make the blanket full of squares! Who says that you need to arrange the miters so that they form concentric squares?! This is my current plan:
Each square is going to have seven stripes, three "lights" (which will form the lines outlined above) and four "darks". The squares with stars in them are going to have some other pattern; one that I haven't decided on. The squares where two "light" lines cross are going to be interesting; I want to try to knit them using the log cabin technique so that the stripes have garter ridges going along them correctly. I'm not sure it'll work so far, but we'll see.

In addition, I want this blanket to be two-sided. Now I know that when you have garter stitch stripes, one side is nice stripes and the other side has two-color ridges. There's really no way to avoid this. However, other than this feature it should be possible to make it so that there are no obvious seams. The plan is to either (a) cast on with provisional cast-on and then pick up the stitches from the bottom for new squares, or (b) use Kay's seamless technique (where you pick up stitches along the cast-on edge). (I looked for a link to the second one, but I couldn't find it.) The different colored blocks above are the pieces that would be knit in one piece.

I'm probably going to try to knit the red and blue blocks first, then work on the yellow and green. The purple and cyan blocks are going to be the most complicated, because the purples include wildcard squares (that I'm probably going to either knit from the outside in or inside out, so that I can have live stitches around them) and the cyan blocks are very big. I'm also going to have to find a way to graft these together, which should also be interesting. Note that if I decide that I leave the stitches on the yellow, green, and cyan blocks live I can pick up the white wildcard squares just from around them, and knit them from the outside in, making there be less sewing. (This would mean, however, that I'd need to knit these squares with large pieces of knitting hanging off of them. On the other hand, there are only four of them, so that doesn't seem like a large problem; these could be saved for the end.)