Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to our regular programming...

Yes, yarn-related activities have taken place. Look for a few finished objects in the next few days.

This baby blanket is my sixth baby blanket in four years. Each time, I start with an idea about the pattern or the color palette I want to use, based on the personality of the expecting parents. Sometimes parents decide to find out whether they're expecting a boy or a girl, sometimes they don't. Sometimes I buy yarn before they can find out because I can't wait to get started!

My baby blanket skills have definitely improved over the years. The first one, four years ago, was my one of my first knitting projects in a decade. I decided to knit a baby blanket for my upcoming goddaughter. I had just knit her a baby hat and a pair of booties in a few days from a kit I got at the fabric store. How hard could it be to knit a whole blanket, really? I simply knit the pattern that came with the ball band of the white acrylic yarn I found at the fabric store. It called for some combination of yo and k3tog every other row. I wanted to throw the blanket across the room after 6 rows. I just couldn't manage the k3tog (knitting 3 stitches together at once). My mother suggested I change the pattern to k2tog (more manageable) and only do the pattern row every fourth row. That was much better. I just went on that way. I didn't start over, so the blanket had a few rows of the original pattern at one end. On top of that, the second skein of white acrylic yarn was a different weight than the first one (I didn't really know about yarn weights then), which meant that the second half of the blanket is slightly narrower and at a looser gauge than the first half. It was misshapen and crooked... but made with love! I gave it to my goddaughter on her first birthday. Her parents thanked me profusely at the time. I'm not sure if she ever used the blanket...

My skills were already much improved for my second blanket, a stripey fringed garterstitch blanket in "santa fe" colors, to match the cantalope-colored walls of the baby's room. After that, I switched to crochet. It's faster than knitting and is naturally double-sided, which is a plus for a blanket. I made a granny-squared blanket (the only one I made with input from the expecting mother). I made a striped blanket in bright colors for my pastel-averse friend's baby boy. I made a psychedelic rainbow blanket for my nephew, because I wanted variegated yarn with a touch of yellow to match the color of his room. It turned out much brighter than I expected, which is funny since my brother's usual color palette is limited to earth tones...

Which brings us to this blanket. I knew my friend Katie was having a little boy. I wanted some boyish colors, a combination of greens and blues. The Moderne baby blanket pattern, from Mason-Dixon Knitting, was just asking to be crocheted. I used the schematic drawing in the book to figure out the proportions of each rectangle, crocheted a foundation chain of the right length, and proceeded to crochet one rectangle after another.

Things were going swimmingly, until I added the two bottom (third and fourth to last) squares. I was at a friend's house, admiring her 3-month old baby, got distracted and simply crocheted two many stitches into the previous squares. My new squares were too many stitches wide and were rippling. I was in complete denial about it, convincing myself it would all be fine when I blocked it, until I finished the last two squares and tried to lay the blanket flat. It was abundantly clear that no amount of blocking would fix this problem... so I ripped out the last four squares and put the blanket aside "for a while." Fast-forward to two months later... I picked it up again, did things right, and finished the blanket in a few days.

Pattern: Moderne Baby Blanket, from Mason-Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne (see it on ravelry here)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, 2 skeins each of Celery (905), Caribbean (847), and Colonial Blue Heather (904). Just over 1 skein of Aran (817).
Hook: 5.0 mm (H)
Started: February 27, 2008
Finished: August 9, 2008
Modifications: well, obviously it's crocheted... but I also added a one-row border of half-double crochet.

It's one of my favorites, because it turned out exactly as I pictured it (which doesn't always happen). Katie seemed to like it, and I hope her little Sebastien does too...

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