Oh, joy – a Monday without work.  At least work work, the kind that involves a commute.  Mostly I’ve had a down-low kind of weekend, and I’ve managed to milk it by keeping the lethargy theme steady throughout today.

This weekend I’ve alternated time between knitting (halfway done with that second sock), looking at knitting patterns, and being cozy with family.  The knitting patterns I focused on yesterday were of the baby blanket variety.  One of my closest friends is due with her second baby late this year, and although I don’t know if the baby is a little he or a little she, I figure it’s time to get poised with at least a pattern, if not the yarn and/or a decision to go with a happy unisex color or colors.

I’ve made a couple of baby blankets, the second and more successful of which I posted about here.  The first one, while very nice to the touch and just lovely when folded, was a little challenged in the way of symmetry. 

Aha!  I've come back to haunt you from 10th grade geometry.

Aha! I've come back to haunt you from 10th grade geometry.

It came out trapezoidal.  That is, in the shape of a trapezoid.

I had decided to knit the Favorite Blue/White Blanket, a Bernat pattern available for free.  This was the third or fourth knitting project I’d ever attempted – the first blanket, and the first thing not to be made on fairly big needles with a fairly bulky fiber.  It was certainly my first baby item, and I was very nervous about the delicateness of it all.  

Favorite Blue/White Blanket

Favorite Blue/White Blanket

The US 7 and US 8 needles to be used seemed teensy weensy to me, and as much as I was determined to make a go of this pattern, I found that the notion of casting on more than 60 stitches made me sweat a little.  I decided not to tempt fate in altering the recommended yarn (it didn’t occur to me then that gauge isn’t quite as important for a blanket as it is for a sweater).  I used Baby Softee as instructed, in, you guessed it, blue and white.   It seemed to me if the pattern is called Favorite Blue/White Blanket, better not to mess with Texas.  Blue and white it was.  Good thing the baby in question was a boy.

The trapezoid FO was the obvious result of nerve-induced too-tight tension on the starting end of the blanket.  The stitch was actually very pretty – nice texture, yielding a lightweight fabric that wasn’t too lacy or fussy – but it took me days to get through the first couple of rows.  This wasn’t because the stitch was difficult, but because I was inadvertently pulling each stitch so tightly that none of them would slide down the needle without a lot of elbow grease.  An obvious fix, you say (duh, stop pulling them so tight), but I just thought that these were the inevitable and wily ways of working with smaller needles. 

With progress, my stitches gradually yet increasingly relaxed.  By the end of the blanket, my stitches were loosey-goosey, happily flying off the needles.  Didn’t really dawn on me until it was done that it was a leetle off from a rectangle.  Even blocking couldn’t bring it back into shape – but oh well, it was done, and the myriad of stitches I’d made were ready to embrace that little newborn, no matter how asthetically imperfect the collective whole of the stitches might have been.

I packed the blanket up and sent it off with love to the adorable Q and his mom, who is one and the same Kimlee I visited in Richmond recently.  She was very gracious about the trapezoidal nature of the blanket, and made me feel good about the uniqueness of my humble handicraft.  It made my heart sing when, during my recent visit, I noticed the Blue/White Trapezoid draped across the rocking chair in the nursery.  I took a few surreptitious snaps while everyone was downstairs, and brushed away a little tear of joy at the sweetness of finding it there.

I know, I’m a sap.

So.  Now I’m looking at patterns for the next blanket up to face the vice-like grip of my needles.  Below are my finalists.  Colors may depend on baby gender…or maybe not.  Suggestions welcome on color or fiber, but it’s the pattern that I need to settle on first.  Help me choose! 

Please drop me a comment below with your favorite pattern, or at least your favorite category: 

  1. Something with cables
  2. Something lacy
  3. Something blocky

 Just click on each pic for a closer look.

 

Something with cables:


Shower of Love
Leisure Arts #3219

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something lacy:


Summer Blanket
24-25-48, Gosyo Co., Ltd


Blanket with pattern in Alpaca
b13-22


Curlicue Blanket
Skruddevutts stickade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something blocky:


Moderne Baby Blanket
Mason-Dixon Knitting

Color Block Baby Blanket
Knit It! Magazine, Spring 2007
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It’s a sleepy Sunday afternoonish evening, and I’m feeling quite pleased with my lazy day – the first one in a long while.  Oh joy, I spent much time in rounding the bend of the home stretch of the getting-a-little-old-now ribbing to finish my tube vest.  Definitely within reach now – 3 inches left according to the pattern, but I’ll probably do at least another 2-3 extra inches to come within normal waist range on my tall-girl frame.  In any case – I want it to be done approximately now

I actually cast on my airy wrap last weekend, which I said wasn’t going to do yet, but extenuating circumstances called for Plan B: I found myself unable to proceed with my WIP as I had fantasized and was forced to re-assign my captive plane-knitting time to start the new project.  Oh, the tragedy.  Let’s just say I am occasionally 12 years old; in these times my little heart gets all smashed when my (apparently not-so-well-planned) plans get de-railed.  There were tears involved; also an AWOL US 5 circular needle, a poor inventory selection at Michael’s, and then, a rush to the airport.  I think I’d better change the topic in order to avoid post-traumatic stress.  Why yes, I am slightly insane.

Until my fingers can manage to finish the job on the aforementioned belatedly near-completion WIP, I’ll go ahead and update you on another FO from the past year or so.  Today’s happy subject is the Cabled Baby Blanket from Simply Baby, by Debbie Bliss.  The pattern calls for Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK, and although an alluring idea at first (would be so soft and luxurious against my new niece’s skin! expensive? no, it’s an investment, an heirloom!), enough so that I was narrowing down the color palette, I eventually came to my senses.  I read a couple reviews on Yarndex that made me think about the durability (and likelihood to pill), and then I went overboard reading many, many other reviews about others’ baby yarn favorites:

  • Never use acrylic for baby items!  Don’t you know it’s flammable??
  • Never use wool for baby items!  So many babies are allergic!
  • Always use something machine-washable!  Anything that needs hand-washing won’t get used!

The first two I took under advisement, but it was the third one that made me say, “Amen, sister.”  Sure I’d be happy to have the blanket be considered an heirloom, but more than that I’d like it to be used.  Really used.  Like I’d love it if it became the tattered but beloved woobie over time.  My sister had already birthed another child (who missed out on a baby blanket from me altogether since I couldn’t generate anything from a set of knitting needles at the time she was born – uh, sorry, Maiz);  I’d been around enough to see the mountain of baby clothes, baby washclothes, and baby bedding that she was continually churning through the laundry.  Even with one baby on her hip, hand-washing anything was not going to happen, let alone with a baby and a toddler.

I stumbled across lots of proclaimed tried-and-true favorites in my research  – Baby Ull by Dale of Norway was one that got rave reviews from many, but the gauge was a bit too small for the Debbie Bliss blanket.  I settled on Cascade 220 Superwash, which given my recent tendecy to Cascade everything isn’t surprising, but at the time I hadn’t compared the Superwash version to the regular 220 wool.  I ordered it in a brighter pink than the blushing, softy-soft barely pink colors I’d frequently seen in yarn colorways created “especially for baby”.  I figured my niece was going to come out one sassy chica just like her mama, and no wimpy pink was going to cut it.  I was careful, however, not to stray into the hot-pink range, lest she later think I was stuck in the 80s when I picked out her blanket color to match my neon shoelaces from junior high.

I like the detail in the cabling of this blanket – so pretty, and although I think the stitch looks complex, it’s not.  It’s just right to keep the stitching interesting, and you memorize the pattern quickly enough that you just keep chipping away at it while you’re doing other things without the interruption of pattern checks.  The color is Cascade Superwash 836.  I made it several inches longer than recommended because it just didn’t seem long enough for me at 31 1/2″.  I ordered 5 skeins of the 220 (pattern called for 7 skeins of Cashmerino at 137 yards each) and still had plenty left over.

My tension matched the recommended gauge with the US 6 (in the cable pattern, US 5 for the end borders), but before blocking, the cable stitches seemed too tight to me; not enough space to appreciate the stitch definition, and too tight to be drapey and soft.  Not too worry – blocking to the rescue.  I gently washed and rinsed with softener (I’m such a sucker for Downy – in the original April Fresh scent from the good old days with Mom, not these new-fangled Lavender or Linen scents), towel-dried (I like the roll-it-up-in-a-towel-and-walk-on-it method, at least for a sturdier fiber like this), and proceeded to stretch the heck out of it.  I held the corners and edges taut with many impressive-looking (yet unread, at least by me) hardbound ]books and let that puppy slowly air dry for nearly 2 days.  I think it was good and done within a day, but I wanted the blocking to be perfect, so I just didn’t touch it.

I started this project in May, once my sister knew it was going to be another girl; I nabbed the pink yarn, got down to business, and wrapped it up at the end of July before she delivered my lovely niece – E-dot.  Now that E is nearly 9 months old and has a bit more say about which blanket she gets to roll around on (OK, just pretend with me that she does), I’m pretty sure she likes my blanket the best, in comparison to the others in her closet.  I’ve seen the way she drools on it, and I think that speaks for itself.  She knows a nice superwash wool when she sees it.