Umaro Blanket

When our friends Sarah and Ben announced their engagement, I knew that I’d knit them a blanket.  I know I’ve said that I wouldn’t do it again, but I’d been wanting to make this pattern for some time and this was the perfect reason.

IMG_3407Pattern: Umaro by Jared Flood

Yarn: Cascade Eco Wool in Latte (5 1/4 skeins total)

I LOVE this blanket.  It is soft and squishy and beautiful and snuggly. I chose a minimally processed undyed wool-I love that this is the color that it grows on the sheep. Something about that just feels organic.

Whenever I knit a large piece like this, especially one that is intended for gifting, I always think of the emotions and feelings and places that are knitted into the piece itself. This blanket travelled with me to New York and to the mountains. It has travelled by train, car, and plane.  I was at times happy while knitting it, sometimes loving, sometimes angry, sometimes weary, and sometimes sad.  I think that these are knitted into the fabric itself-and all are important especially for a blanket gifted for a wedding, or perhaps more importantly a marriage.

The lessons of knitting a large piece also lend itself to some other metaphors-there was a time when I found a minor error a few rows down, where I was able to fix it without having to unravel very much.  There was another time that I looked at the piece only to see that 10 rows back I had forgotten an entire row of cables. The only way to fix that was to unravel all those 10 rows and do it right. As in marriage, so goes knitting.

Knitterly details for the fiber artists among you-I found Flood’s instructions for cabling to be onerous, especially when using such a bulky wool. I switched to one of those U shaped cable needles instead and then would slip stitches from the front and back of it to my left hand needle when it came time to knit them. Blocking was also a bit treacherous-I tried to steam block as Flood recommends but my little puny iron didn’t even touch the fabric. So I nervously placed it in my front loader and ran it on soak for 5 minutes, then let it spin while I prayed it wouldn’t felt.  This enabled the stitches to really open up, and I’m so so glad I did it–it was 43×67 pre blocking and 52 x 65 after. And while the yarn was held double, it quickly got too tricky to hold two strands from two skeins, so I simply knit from the front and back ends of a center wound ball instead.

Pre blocking-43x67 and all squished up looking

Pre blocking-43×67 and all squished up looking

I’ve also been doing a fair amount of cardmaking these days, so stitched up this card to accompany it. I really like stitched cards-it’s such a simple embellishment and it looks wonderful.

IMG_3415

All wrapped up, with my new stamp labels to boot!

IMG_3417

I hope that Sarah and Ben enjoy this blanket as much as I enjoyed making it! Lots and lots of happiness (and warm cozy nights) to them!

Log Cabin Blanket

See how, at the top of this page, it says that this is partly a knitting blog? I mean, that’s even what the title refers to.  Not that you’d know it since I haven’t had a knitting post for, oh, MONTHS.

Here’s why:

Way back in January, I thought, oh, I’ll knit a blanket for my friend Irene for her wedding.  She’s getting married in July.  That’ll give me PLENTY of time to finish.

*snort*

I’ve learned that it takes a long time to knit a blanket out of worsted weight wool. A looong time. I suppose if I was one of those people that was able to devote 2-3 hours daily to knitting then I could finish one in less time than it takes for Congress to accomplish anything. (What, you say that still hasn’t happened? Nice to know that I’m finishing something faster than someone out there. )

I first started this blanket with these colors because Irene mentioned that the walls in her family room had recently been painted a copper color. I wasn’t sure if it looked that pretty, so I took a picture and sent it to my sister, who promptly replied that it looked like a 70s bathmat. I think that was her way of trying to be diplomatic instead of just screaming in horror. Sadly, she was right and I had to start over, this time substituting ivory for the dark brown and rearranging the colors.

The technique is adapted from quilting, and is the log cabin technique and specifically the courthouse steps or bricklayer. Many of the famous Gee’s Bend Quilts use this technique.  A few years ago the exhibition came to the Denver Art Museum–if you ever have a chance to see them in person, they are so beautiful as is the history around the quilts.

You start by knitting a center block, then picking up and adding on a strip to each side, then picking up along the newly created long sides, and so on and so forth until you have a big cushy blanket, just perfect for wrapping up in. I finished with a two rows of single crochet around the entire blanket, which gives it a more finished look.

The blanket is gifted and onto a new home–all the happiness to the newlyweds, and many warm and cozy nights.