Sunday, 1 March 2009

Look Ma - No Seams!

It hasn't always been an easy relationship -- this Noro Silk Garden and I. Certainly, it started out very well with a bargain price purchase of 14 skeins of the stuff. I don't often hit on good yarn sales so I was very pleased with the score.

I decided almost immediately that a small blanket was the thing. And that's when things started to get a bit rocky.

As I mentioned in January I had a few false starts and couldn't settle on a pattern. I wanted something simple that let the long stripes of colour provide the interest.

I tried some crochet, some knitting, some more crochet.......and some more knitting. And nothing was working for me.

And then one night, just before I fell asleep I had an idea that might work. Miraculously I remembered the idea when I woke up the next day.

Using some 5mm needles I cast on some (not too many) (20ish) stitches and knit in garter stitch for a long time which made pleasing chunks of colour. I slipped the first stitch on each row to give a nice edge for picking up stitches evenly. After a lot of rows and ending with a wrong side row (about 48 inches - 320 rows worth in my case) I cast off all but the last stitch.

Then I picked up a whole lot of stitches along the edge (159 for me - giving me 160 in total) to begin the next section. I knit some long rows in garter stitch which gave equally pleasing long stripy rows.

When I had enough of that I left the 160 stitches' live' on the needle and cast on 16 stitches using a knitted cast on at the end of the last row to begin the next section.

I then began the next stripe of the blanket by knitting those 16 stitches in garter stitch, ending the first and each alternate row by knitting the last stitch together with the next stitch from 'live 160'. You keep knitting these short rows, incorporating an additional 'live' stitch every second row until you have none left.

Cast off all but one stitch and begin the next section by picking up those stitches along the long edge again. Repeat until you have a blanket sized thing. This gives alternating sections of chunky blocks of colour and long stripy rows which make me smile and made me feel very clever.

I went for random section widths and was determined to have as little leftover yarn as possible. To that end I weighed the remaining yarn obsessively.

A Little Knitting Miracle
When I began the last section I was pretty confident that I didn't have enough yarn to finish it. I weighed the remaining yarn about every 40 rows and each time it was clear I was going to be just a wee bit short on the yarn.

And yet, somehow I was sort of surprised when I ran out of yarn with this much knitting left to go. Knitting faster and tighter (I confess I did both) did not overcome the yarn shortage.

I looked in every possible place in my house for a few grams of Noro Silk Garden that might have got separated from the rest of it during one of the earlier attempts. There was none in the stash cupboard, none in the stash basket, none in the drawers of the tv cabinet that occasionally become dumping grounds for works in progress, none behind the tv cabinet where the stuff that overflows the drawers sometimes ends up, none in the box in the guestroom of yarn that for some reason isn't with the rest of the stash....there was in short, NONE.

In order to provide a valuable lesson on the folly of pointless optimism to blogland I decided to take a picture of my almost but not quite finished blanket. And there, in the cabinet I keep the camera in -- where NO YARN EVER IS -- there was this very small ball of the very yarn I needed.

WooHoo! I have no explanation of how it got there or when or why, but I take my miracles where I find them and finished off the blanket. There are now about 5 yarns of the yarn left. Phew.

I like the blanket and I can confirm that Silk Garden softens beautifully with washing and use. Even though it was garter stitch I found that watching the beautiful colours develop in each of the sections kept my interest.

And I was very happy not to have any seams to deal with.

I'd like to make another version (when I next manage to score some cheap Noro Silk Garden!) with regular width sections. The only change I'd make to this blanket is the possible addition of a border. If I ever come across the perfect yarn for it I will probably add one - but for now I'm considering it finished.

And Now for Something Completely Different
(and rather unexpected)

I don't know how to say this - but I am currently PROJECTLESS.

Without project.

Nothing on the needles.

Madness I know - but there it is.

I really fancy tackling some crochet for a change but can't find a pattern that catches my interest. I have a beautiful cone of pistachio DK silk which I'd love to use and I have started a few and abandoned a few things with it -- but so far no joy. I may have to admit defeat for the time being and do a bit of stash browsing tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this!!! You are a genius. I've been wanting to knit a blanket with lots of different colors of Kureyon and this would work great!

No projects??? I could give you one of my 50!

fleegle said...

Clever and lovely! I do hope it softened up well for you--I got itchy just looking at it's beautiful face!

Try one of Susan Pandorf's designs. They are intriguing to knit (lots of beads, though).

Rachel said...

Beautiful! Clever design and the colors of the Noro are gorgeous!

I simply can't imagine not having anything at all on the needles. Endless possibilities!

The Caked Crusader said...

cough, lemur jumpers, cough

C. said...

I love it! Which is saying alot because I don't understand the appeal to Noro. This makes me want one.

Elizabeth said...

I'll delurk long enough to say how much I like your blanket - you should feel very clever - and how much I hope it has softened enough to be a good blanket. I get itchy just thinking about it.

Hippolyra said...

I love it!

And I am astonished that in the vastness that is blogland a cookery blog that I read has posted on your knitting blog.

Nevisknitter said...

The blankets stunning, and well done for coming up with the idea yourself.

good luck with deciding what to knit next too

Anonymous said...

Oh, that's gorgeous. Love the colour and the pattern, and woohoo for a) not having to sew it up; b) finding the smidge of yarn you needed to finish.

... Projectless? How terrifying.

the Lady said...

What a lovely blanket!

HPNY Knits said...

wonderful!!! I love it. its a great use of Noro magic, not to mention the Noro miracle!
inspired me to try some stuff with some yarn I "might have in stash..."

LittleBerry said...

The blanket is so simple but stunning... I love it and should you ever get sick of it I can find it a home... throws/blankets are things I love but never fancy knitting one... I think you should put this up as ap attern on Ravelry... seriously you should...

As for the crocheting I have been doing quite a bit recently... I suggets you have a look at the Japanese books they are worlds apart from ours...

fleegle said...

Yes, Susan's designs are incredible! Do try one--you won't get bored :)

Thanks for the kind words about Iris!

Joan said...

Fantastic blanket-- I admire your method just as much as the result. And I loved your "almost out of yarn" story. Whatever higher power one might believe in, (s)he has a sense of humour!

Donna said...

This is so genius - I love the idea, and it's a nice recipe for stashbusting with less glamorous yarns as well.

Angelika said...

I love what you did with it and the pattern brings out the colors so nicely. I would have liked the swirlies too, but it's perfect the way you did it.

clarabelle said...

The blanket is lovely, Soo! There's just something so satisfying about a knitted blanket, when it's quite simple, but where you're really letting the yarn/colours work their best.

Well done too on your amazing ability to plan ahead with the tiny ball of Silk Garden, stashed away in anticipation of needing it some day!

Purplegem said...

Great work, looks amazing :)

Agnes said...

Love the blanket! You can call it Good Karma Blanket! :D
Projectless? Perhaps you can savour such a moment for a while before your hand reaches for some yarns and needles ... LOL!

Barb said...

Totally love it Soo. It's really lovely. Makes me want to go out and get some silk garden. I love the color changes, and they really do fascinate me, but I can't wear it because it itches. I think as a blanket, I could definitely enjoy it!

Opal said...

i adore the blanket! how funny is it that the yarn was with the camera!

you best get something on the needles. i'm kinda freaking out for you.

Viknits said...

Hi Soo! Just catching up after a long break, your blanket's beautiful it looks rustic and warm :)
I can't imagine life, even for a day or two, without a project on the go - do you not feel restless? I've got two skeins of silk garden which I want to do something really nice with, I can't for the life of me decide what though. I'm glad to hear it softens up, that's encouraging.
Anyhow, great to catch up with your blog :)
Vikki x

Jen in KS said...

Susan, this method appealed to me so much I made a blanket like it. Instead of Noro, though, I used Marble Chunky in the Adobe colorway. It will be a thank-you gift to a couple who helped me during and after my father was in hospice. If you'd like to take a look at the throw, it's in my Flickr photostream here: