New Favorites: Clever garter colorwork

New Favorites: Clever garter-stitch colorwork knitting patterns

I’ve basically been asleep for four straight days (even when my eyes are open), since getting back from Portugal — I can’t get enough shut-eye or enough water, for some reason. Which means I don’t yet have my arms around the first round of Summer of Basics prize selections or how to even begin to tell you about the trip. But this is a rare summer in which, so far, the flow of droolworthy knitting patterns is uninterrupted. So can we talk about these clever garter-stitch beauties for a minute?

TOP: Picket Fence Afghan by Julia Farwell-Clay (from the new MDK Field Guide: Ease) is made up of 3-color garter-stitch blocks which somehow magically eliminate the weaving of ends and create a magnificent tapestry, which I think would be great at wrap proportions

BOTTOM: Ellsworth by Scott Rohr takes garter stitch, two colors of yarn, and short rows to a new level of magnificence

(Side note: If I owe you an email, I’m trying!)


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Dianna’s dream sweaters




New Favorites: Blanket temptations

New Favorites: Blanket temptations

Purl Soho, always an amazing source of killer blanket patterns, has been back at it lately. I still think if I ever knit a blanket, it will almost certainly have to happen in modular (i.e. log cabin) fashion, but these two are super tempting — and by the way both are free knitting patterns:

TOP: Nature’s Palette Blanket by Joelle Hoverson is an even more lyrical and painterly version of her long-ago Ombré Blanket but also brings to mind one of the first patterns I ever fell in love with as a knitter, their Striped Cotton Cowl. (Both discussed in this 2012 post, The other breed of colorwork.) Whereas the cowl had you holding a strand of randomly changing color along with a persistent strand of natural, the new blanket has you holding a rich range of colors together, alternating them along the way to create deep, mesmerizing color shifts.

BOTTOM: Double Knit Blanket by Jake Canton is, on the other, such a simple but effective thought — just two layers of stockinette “glued” together with a single stitch here and there — and double knitting has been on my list of things to try since the day I bought Joelle’s book as a shiny new knitter, thinking its double-knit coasters would be one of my first projects. I’ve still never done it! But think how cozy the blanket would be, and how fun to pick your colors.

Both would also be amazing knitted in wrap proportions — the blanket you get to wear everywhere.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Date night sweaters

Logalong FO No. 2 : Ann Shayne

Logalong FO No. 2 : Ann Shayne

Our second Log Cabin Make-along Panelist to cross the finish line is the lovely Ann Shayne, whose talent competition entry is her sure-to-be-prizewinning blanket combining Sequence Knitting textures with Log Cabin modularity. (That is, if she’s brave enough to go up against crowd favorite DG Strong at the state fair.) As you’re about to hear, Ann’s blanket is basically a 5-foot-square love letter to knitting itself, and she’s shared the recipe for it and lots more photos over at Mason-Dixon Knitting. Here she is to tell us all about how it came to be, and how it turned out — thanks, Ann!

. . .

You’re the only one of the panelists to knit that most traditional of log cabin projects — the blanket. You’ve knitted a fair number of log cabin blankets before, and yet you found a way to make it completely new and not at all traditional. You’re also the reason we coined the term “Mock cabin,” as you were working from a mélange of inspirations: log cabin, sequence knitting, blankets done in strips, etc. Remind us how this idea came together in your head, and how do you feel about how it came together in 3D?

First of all, you need to know that this has been the most fun I’ve ever had knitting. The combination of a yarn I love, an open-ended set of knit-purl patterns, and a knitalong to motivate me: wow. I’ve never made a blanket in eight weeks. Thank you for this knitalong, Karen! Amazing.

I started with the Ninepatch Blanket (a pattern in MDK Field Guide No. 4: Log Cabin)—I like the play of squares and proportion in that blanket. But having just published MDK Field Guide No. 5, all about knit-and-purl sequence knitting, I couldn’t see making a giant garter-stitch blanket — I wanted to play with sequences. That meant an instant diversion from the Ninepatch pattern, but not from the basic idea of blocks knitted one onto the next.

By the time I finished figuring out the plan, the Ninepatch idea had morphed. I scaled up the squares so that the sequences would read better. I ditched the miters in the corners. I was all about the textures and variety of sequences. And colors — a big part of the fun in the knitting was playing with the placement of the eight colors.

You and I talked at one point about how vast you were originally going to make this beast, and ways you could edit it down a bit. You wound up trimming out a few of the originally planned rows for a large throw size — although it might seem smallish to the uncommonly tall members of your household. Are you happy you scaled it down, or wishing you’d gone all the way? (Of course, it’s modular — you can add on anytime you like!)

Extremely glad to have scaled it down—I believe it was you who pointed out that I could finish faster if I … just ditched some strips. It’s 5 feet by 5 feet, and it seems to be about the same size as my other knitted blankets. The TV room is starting to look like a knitted blanket store.

I love that you’ve used this very traditional Irish donegal yarn for your #traditionalnottraditional blanket. Your original comment on this is one of my all-time favorites knitterly observances: “I want a blanket that will hold up like a Yeats poem.” Happy with how that worked out?

I continue to adore this yarn. I just returned a few of the unused skeins to our Shop, and I was actually sad. Tahki Donegal Tweed has been around since 1968, and there’s a reason for that. This blanket will outlive me, and that makes me weirdly happy.

You also posed some questions to yourself at the outset of this: “Will the various sequences hold up visually and read as squares? Will the colors fall in an amiable way? Will I ever fix dinner again, or will I vanish in the delicious Bermuda Triangle of log cabin sequence knitting?” So … ?

The squares turned out well. Loved seeing the textures emerge. As the strips of squares accumulated, I started to care more about how the sequences would land next to each other. There are definitely varieties of knit-and-purl sequences — some are flat, some are dimensional. Some read really easily, and others are so subtle that it takes 30 rows of knitting even to know what the texture looks like. I’d like a mulligan on a few of the squares—subtle textures on a dark yarn don’t sing, and the pleated sequences need to be surrounded by non-pleated sequences.

The colors landed OK. I did a last-minute 180 on one of the strips, which caused two dark squares to land next to each other, which I had wanted to avoid.

Dinner fixing? Maybe next month?

You’ve been smitten with log cabin for years, whereas this whole sequence knitting thing is a new infatuation. How do you rank them? And what’s it really like to take two highly addictive knitting concepts and meld them into one project? I’d ask if you’ll ever be able to knit stockinette again, but you’ve just banged out a Carbeth.

Sequence knitting is something I’m evangelical about. Find peace through knit-and-purl patterns! Life is so great when you’re knitting sequences! I want everybody to try it, because there’s such surprise and fun to be had. And yes — it works, totally, to combine log cabin knitting with sequence knitting.

You also noted in opening remarks that you didn’t want to include miters in this blanket, which are central to the original Ninepatch Blanket you’ve modeled it on, “because sequence knitting in miters would be a tricky thing to pull off.” Still feel that way, or have you already formulated a new project that does exactly that? If not that, what is next for you and log cabin, do we know?

It’s going to be fun to figure that out.


PREVIOUSLY in Logalong FOs: No. 1 – My fingerless mitts

New Favorites: Striped cabin

New Favorites: Striped cabin

I’m trying SO HARD not to get sucked down the log-cabin rabbithole just yet. Honestly — in addition to how much time I could easily spend just dreaming up ideas for the Log Cabin Make-along — I’m afraid if I decide on a course of action too soon, I won’t be able to resist casting on before New Year’s. However, I ran across this Misha & Puff pattern and nearly fell off my stool, and had to share it right away. They call it simply the Heirloom Blanket, and the palette is exquisite, but I am so wowed by the deft incorporation of speckles and stripes here. This one is entirely made of mitered squares seamed together (which is all fine and dandy) but could also be done with the ninepatch log cabin technique found in MDK’s Log Cabin primer.

I can imagine making this beauty at wrap size and never not wearing it.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: (Holiday) hat mania!



New Favorites: Purl’s most brilliant blanket

New Favorites: Purl Soho's most brilliant blanket

Here I am adding to my list of blankets I’d love to nap under but don’t have the patience to knit! But being a sucker for clever construction, I can’t let this one go unremarked: Purl Soho’s new Learn-to-Love-Steeks Blanket (free pattern). I know, you’re thinking “Did she just say ‘clever construction’ in a post about a blanket?” I did. With refined facings and edgings, it’s a simple single-stripe stockinette blanket, but it’s worked in the round — in a big tube, in other words — and then cut open. The implications and levels of brilliance of that combination are explained far better by Laura in her intro to the pattern than I can paraphrase, so you should really just go read the whole thing.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Unexpected cables

New Favorites: Graphic blankets

New Favorites: Graphic blankets

Every summer I say I’m going to do three things: knit socks, crochet something, and work on a blanket. I could kill two of those birds with one stone if I were to do something like Linen Stitch Manghan (free pattern) by Dedri Uys (bottom photo above), a crocheted blanket that I would like even better if it were scrappier and mismatch-ier than pictured. That has the dual appeal of modularity and using up some of my leftovers, but then there’s the lure of the upper one, Purl Soho’s Optic Blanket (free pattern). So stark and sophisticated with its ebony-and-ivory palette, and still has the modularity factor going for it, but that wouldn’t help me out with all those loose ends lying around …


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Rigel

Next of the Best of Fall 2016: M. Patmos’ blanket-cardigan

Next of the Best of Fall 2016: M.Patmos blanket-cardigan

Um. Now normally I’m sort of allergic to a hyphenate. But this cabled ivory blanket-wrap-cardigan — a big rectangle with pockets and a button band — is so good I don’t even know what to say about it. Other than well played M.Patmos, well played.


PREVIOUSLY in Fall 2016: Hat hair