And I Take My Own Sweet Time

So, I told you about being this close to finishing up a secret project.

And before that I gave you a little glimpse of the secret project because I had been working on it for so long and couldn’t keep it all inside anymore.

And before that I don’t know if I wrote about it here but I’ve been working on this secret project for about a year, ever since I found out my friend Erin was looking for a house.

So, let’s go back a year. Erin started looking for a house and I, being someone who greatly appreciates Erin’s existence, felt that she deserved something to make her warm and comfy in her house (not that she couldn’t handle the sort of thing herself, but you know). Little Knits came through for me big-time with their sale prices and soon I had a nice little pile of 4 colors of Elsebeth Lavold Bambouclé to play around with.

And play around I did. It took me at least a month to settle on a pattern. My first thought was something with dropped stitches but I couldn’t make that quite work and it seemed like the finished blanket would be tiny even if I used up every last yard I had. Then I thought a log cabin pattern would be fun but I ended up abandoning 2 different patterns because, again, the finished piece would have been too small. At that point I figured I just hadn’t bought enough yarn and I would have to go back to Little Knits (this would not have been a tragedy). I didn’t have the cash just yet, though, so I started again with the log cabin idea but threw aside all the patterns I’d been looking at and just went for it myself. I figured I should at least find a way to pass the time until I could get more yarn and the log cabin construction, with its separate blocks of color and my design goal of not letting any color touch itself, would make it less obvious if I ended up needed more yarn and mixing dye lots.

I started with a map in Excel to make sure I changed colors properly. This meant knitting only in front of my PC, which made getting started on this blanket very slow going indeed. But, I figured I had plenty of time since house hunting takes a while and Erin and I work together so getting the finished blanket to her would not be tricky.

I cast on as many stitches as I felt like, measured the width after I’d knit a few rows, and knit until I had a square. It was a 4″ square so I decided to make each remaining strip of color 2 inches deep. Pretty soon I was kind of shocked by how big it was getting when it didn’t seem like I was running out of yarn at all. I knew it would be big enough but then I decided to add a border, so I needed more yarn anyway. (And it’s really awesome how Little Knits keeps things on sale for one long-ass time, because it had been maybe 8 or 9 months at this point and I was able to get the same sweet deal on the Bambouclé. I kinda sorta totally love Little Knits, is my point.)

Anyway. The knitting started to speed up naturally once I got my MacBook and I had access to my color scheme from the couch. Then I had no choice but to speed it up even more about a month ago, for a few reasons.

First, Erin had found a house and was moving in, so now there was a definite point in time by which I needed to finish the blanket.

Then I got laid off, so now there was a definite definite point in time by which I needed to finish the blanket because it gets harder to give your coworker a gift when you don’t work together anymore.

And so, a slight digression, if you don’t mind, if only to ward off any layoff sympathy, which I certainly understand the tendency to feel in today’s wintry economic climate. This layoff was no surprise and, in fact, I completely welcomed the announcement. We’ve known since late last year that something like this might happen, so I’ve taken the time since as an opportunity to think about what I might actually like to do as a career. I ended up at my current job because I needed a job, not because it was the kind of job I really wanted, and trying to move on and do something else just hasn’t been a financial possibility. But for a variety of reasons, I have a little wiggle room financially right now. Not a lot, but enough that I wouldn’t have to worry for a few months if I just didn’t have a job at all. So, rather than jumping right in to another full-time, not-what-I-love-to-do office job, I’m starting culinary arts school full-time in a few weeks (!!!!!!!!!) and Dan and I are looking at how to reorganize the rest of our lives around that. First up is finding a part-time job, then looking for a cheaper apartment when our lease is up later this summer. More details as I have them.

Back to the blanket. When I reached the point where I didn’t think I could get another strip out of any 1 color, I stopped. I didn’t plan it this way, but it worked out perfectly so that the last round had 1 section of each color. For the border I went with the Muriwai treatment: as much garter stitch in the round as I could stand and then a picot bind off. I used the Picot 1 bind off from Cast On Bind Off and it took me an entire day – not an entire knitting day, which is usually, like, 2-3 hours depending on my schedule, but an entire day spent knitting – to bind off and I couldn’t believe how long it took even though it actually makes total sense when you think about how a picot bind off works and I reminded myself that this was for Erin and it’s worth it to do difficult or time-consuming things for people you like and who will appreciate the effort (Erin’s a knitter too) and then finally it was off the needles and it was so beautiful and I’d managed to line it up so that there was one lovely little picot right on each corner stitch and I regret nothing.

And so, this has been an awful lot of words, I know, and not a single picture. Let me remedy that with a single picture.

IMG_0077

A single picture is all I have because it has been so gray and rainy lately that I couldn’t do the 8,000-picture photo shoot I wanted to. I had dreams of this blanket draped over stone walls and closeups of it folded so you could see all the colors hitting each other at 90 degree angles and some really detailed pictures of the picots on the corner stitches, but alas it was not to be. In the end, though, I think this is the perfect picture to immortalize this blanket with because it has all the important elements – the blanket and Erin. And she likes it! (Also, it was taken at the office so it captures that whole coworker element nicely too.)

Pattern: For the log cabin section I just went with what I knew of log cabin construction: pick up stitches along 1 side, knit until you’re done, bind off, turn the whole thing 90 degrees, repeat. For the border I used the idea from Muriwai with the Picot 1 instructions from Cast On Bind Off.
Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Bambouclé, just about 2.5 skeins of colors 33 (light blue), 10 (green), and 67 (yellow), very close to 3 skeins of 25 (dark blue), and just under 8.5 skeins of 31 (brown) for the border
Needles: 5 mm circular
Started: June 2, 2012 (counting from the very beginning of the false starts; not sure when I started the design I ended up with)
Finished: May 9, 2013
Casualties: 1 Knit Picks Harmony tip and 1 Knit Picks interchangeable cord. Shocking, I know.

Well, that just about brings us up to date, I think. I haven’t been posting much lately because of all the life changes and planning and such but that’s all starting to sort itself out. Things should be calmer in a few weeks. Now that I’m done with the blanket I can get back to some knitting for myself. I also have some fun knitting planned for others, knitting which should go much faster and show up much sooner on the blog than this blanket could, as well as some fun personal stuff that I’ll share with you soon. Oh! and gardening stuff! Yes, people, watch this space. Exciting times ahead.

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