A few years ago, while I was visiting Heather Ritchie in the Yorkshire Dales, I became enamored with all of the knitted blankets she had in her home. The mix of colours and fibres had me under a bit of a spell, and I knew that it wouldn't be long before I was knitting my own similar blanket.
I blogged my first attempt here, and I was convinced that this was just the first of many. I just didn't think that it would take me more than two years to get around to creating a second blanket.
This time around, I wanted to change the start so that the blanket would be rectangular, instead of square, so that it would better fit on my double bed. And really, maybe it was this challenge that delayed the project...? In the end, after much thought and consideration, I decided to cast on the stitches as though I were knitting a toe-up sock.
I started and finished the blanket in August, and it has been keeping me toasty warm ever since. I thought this might make for a nice housewarming party on our new blog. Here is what I did....
Check your Markers...
- use a different colour marker to indicate the start of the row
- ensure that your marker is on the correct side of the first yarn over in each pair of yarn overs - i.e. AFTER the first yarn over and BEFORE the continuous column of knit stitches in each corner.
Add more Texture... Sometimes I will purl these plain rows for a bit of texture or to help define a yarn/colour change.
Changing Yarns... I change yarns randomly, but try to do it right before my first increase (beginning with the YO) on an increase/odd row, so that helps to camouflage the yarn changes (in the increases). It is also easy for me to recall if I am on an increase row or plain knitting row (I just need to count the number of rows I have knit in a given yarn and I know right away if I am on an odd or even row). Sometimes I might run out of a yarn in the middle of a row - when this happens I just substitute a similar yarn in weight/colour. I try to knit in my ends as I go, so that there are not a whole bunch tails that need to be sewn in at the end.
Choosing Yarns... having a lot of variety in colours, shades and values is a good thing for this type of blanket. When you first start knitting, you will likely go through many phases of really loving it, to being unsure, to questioning your picks, and back to loving it again. Every row and every colour you add will change the look of what you have done. Sometimes you need to add a bit of 'pop' a few times before it looks right. Try to use up small balls when you first start knitting - as the blanket grows, so does the amount of yarn it takes to complete a row. When you get to the outer edge, you will need large quantities of yarn to knit several rows the same.
Finishing + Casting Off... for my blanket, I knit about 150 rows (for a total of over 650 stitches on my needles towards the end). I knit 11 ridges of garter stitch at the border (22 rows), continuing to increase on odd (purlwise) rows. I knit the last two rows as increase rows, and the extra stitches help ease the cast off around the corners.
Gauge... my unblocked gauge is 10-11 stitches, and 16 rows over 4". If you want the overall shape to be a shorter rectangle (i.e. for a Queen-sized bed), just cast on fewer stitches.
One of the many fun things about a project like this is that each yarn you pick up to knit brings its own little walk down memory lane, reminding you of past trips, great friends, favourite projects, etc. Celebrate good times - and using up leftovers! Lots and lots of leftovers - my blanket weighed in at a whopping 7.5 lbs!
I hope you will share your finished projects with us on Instagram or by email.... ;-)