After cranking out these two cotton log cabins for a niece and nephew to be, who are now:
I thought about a next project, maybe using leftovers from the leftovers. It had been so darn hot, a small cotton project seemed alluring. I made a couple of mitered squares for Jennifer’s Ukrainian project, but the idea of an entire blanket of these wasn’t appealing to me. Especially the idea of so much sewing up.
I pondered stockinette squares using the begin from the center style, like in old counterpane patterns. I was recently experimenting with these for a felted bag. Then I scanned the stash and found an ancient bag of Cotton Kureyon. I bought two bags of this when it was being discontinued. Last year, I made a pink and purple colorway into a sweater for the little girl across the street. She was thrilled, and I intended to use the other colorway for her brother, my local color expert. (Just turned 9, and the eye of a painter. Have you ever met a 5 year old who can tell turquoise from teal? But, when Suzanne asked me to make her another sweater, because hers was too small, I became suspicious. She did not grow that much in two months. She showed me the badly felted sweater. I guess it is not fair to ask non-knitting busy parents to hand wash clothing. Sigh.
So Winston did not get the other bag of Cotton Kureyon, and it seemed the perfect stuff for this blanket project. Striping with no weaving in of ends. Mostly cotton. I guess this yarn didn’t quite count as leftover, but it was leftover from an old purchase, and at least qualified as stash-busting. You could do the same thing with the wool Kureyon or another self striping yarn, or make your own stripes, with a few more ends to weave in. But still no sewing!
Here’s a chatty explanation. If you are more Sgt. Friday than Chatty Cathy, you can go right to the Executive Summary.
I tried several ways of starting. It made sense to start using 5 dpn’s with one for each side and the fifth to work with. If you don’t have 5 of one size, it doesn’t really matter. Use one of a similar size, and you won’t notice. (I think I read this in an EZ book, and it really doesn’t matter.)
My favorite circular beginning, Emily Ocker’s beginning, did not work well with this yarn, because you have to tug on the yarn to tighten up the circle, and Cotton Kureyon breaks when you look at it. Or, more frequently, when you give a tug to get more yarn, and discover you were sitting on the ball. (There is an excellent explanation of this beginning from Theresa at Spelling Tuesday.)
Next, I tried just casting on the stitches to one needle, and dividing them among the four needles. It worked, but was like juggling, which I have never managed to learn. And bean bags are easier to handle than slippery pointy sticks.
Then, I tried using a toe-up sock start. I don’t make toe up socks as a rule, but this trick did work. What I didn’t like was the non circular appearance of the center. (or the twisted stitches which are not supposed to be a part of this.)
Then my brainstorm — using a long circular I started with the 8 stitches using the magic loop technique, then transferred them to the double pointed needles after a few rounds. It worked perfectly for me, but as always knitter’s choice. I worked one knit round, one increase round, increasing after the first stitch and before the last stitch on each needle. I don’t like to think too much while I knit, so I worked until the square seemed like the right size ( roughly 10.5 inches) and there were 40 sts on each side of the square – 40 is an easy number to remember when making the next 11 squares. For stitch holders, I used other circular needles and narrow satin ribbon. This ribbon is way better than yarn for holding stitches. It keeps the stitches open and makes it easy to slide a needle back into them. I learned this from a student whose name I can’t remember so credit giving is in spirit only.
I only had 10 skeins of the Cotton Kureyon, not enough to make an entire blanket. Two skeins made three squares. To supplement, I picked up some Cascade Sierra, to use for sashing. (Sashing is plain or pieced strips of fabric that are used between quilt blocks.) This would make the blanket bigger and give me a way to join the squares. Since one goal of this project, during a killer heat wave, was to create a blanket that would be knit in small pieces as long as possible, I knit 20 rows (10 ridges) of garter stitch in Sierra for the blue sash on one edge of each square before assembling into strips.
Here’s a low-tech illustration of the layout.
I wanted to avoid sewing, so I had two options: grafting or three-needle bind off. I did try grafting. I liked the way the stretchiness matched the fabric of the squares, but I preferred the appearance of the three -needle bind off. It’s important, however, to keep the bind off as loose and stretchy as you can. I tend to bind off tightly, so I used a needle 3 sizes bigger for the 3rd needle.
For the long side, after four squares are together into one strip, using the Sierra, I picked up stitches. Use the live stitches where available, then pick up stitches over the garter stitch. Write down the total number of stitches, so you have the same number on other strips. Mine was 194. Work 20 rows of garter stitch. Pick up stitches along the length of the next strip. Join using three-needle bind off.
At this point, using the Sierra, I picked up stitches along each side separately and worked 20 rows of garter stitch (10 ridges) as you would for a log cabin blanket. Here’s a view of the reverse, to see the ends left to weave in. This is technically NOT sewing.
The sashing was not enough. The blanket cried out for a border. (Hear the sobs?) Initially, I worked a garter-stitch mitered border in the Cotton Kureyon ala MDK. It looked bad, lopsided from the color repeats. I love the borders on this Amish crib quilt , and was inspired to make a cheapo version of one. I picked up stitches along the edge, cast on 5 sts on one of the double points, and worked a knitted on garter stitch border, perpendicular to the blanket. For the corners, I did short rows. Cheapo version of Amish Quilt success, and nicely blended shading, too, courtesy of the Kureyon.