Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Two Baby Blankets Awaiting Nephew

A few weeks ago, a knitter friend and I took part in our area's Yarn Crawl. As knitters we are blessed with an embarrassment of riches with no less than eight yarn shops within easy driving distance. We quit our tour after the fourth shop, but not before I had done some damage to my credit card and made some increase in my yarn stash. Fortunately, I had plans for much of what I bought and decided this week to put some of the yarn to use.

My niece and nephew are expecting their first baby in January so finally I have a relative to make baby things for as well as for those babies at charities that my knitting group donates to.

So far, I've finished two baby blankets.

Knitted Blanket

This one is knitted out of three skeins of Plymouth's "Encore Colorspun" worsted weight in colorway #7659 "Grape Ombre." The pattern is Lion Brand Yarn's "Knit Diagonal Pattern Baby Blanket," a free pattern on their website. I especially like this pattern because if you're not sure how much yarn you need for the blanket you just divide what you have in half, knit the first half of the pattern's increases, then knit the second half of the pattern's decreases. I used my scale to determine when I had used up half the yarn so I would have enough to finish the piece.

I still had some yarn left so I crocheted a scalloped edging. The pattern is "Shell Edge" from 150 Crochet Trims by Susan Smith (St. Martin's Griffin, 2007, pg. 48). I like adding a crocheted border to a knitted piece as it helps to stabilize the edges and to keep the piece's shape. Of course, the edges on a garter stitched item usually behave and don't roll like stockinette does so this time the crocheted edging was mostly to add a bit of interest to an otherwise simple square.

Crocheted Blanket

The other blanket is crocheted using Plymouth's "Encore Colorspun" worsted weight in colorway #7722 "Very Bright Kids." Do you see a pattern here? Encore is my goto yarn when I need the easy care of acrylic but want the yarn a bit nicer than 100% acrylic. Encore is 75% acrylic and 25% wool and is machine washable and dryable, making it perfect for baby things. And I think the wool softens the feel of the yarn.

The pattern is a simple one of rows of double stitches with occasional chain skips to create holes in the middle of three rows. The completed blanket is approximately 36" by 36".

Here's my pattern info (I realize since I'm not a professional crochet designer, some instructions might confuse...feel free to ask me to clarify anything):

In my example the number of stitches I used are multiples of 12 plus 10 more stitches plus 3 stitches for beginning row 1. For my blanket I chained enough stitches to have 94 stitches on each row, plus I included 3 extra chains to begin the first row of double stitches.

Row 1: ds in 4th chain from the hook and ds in all the remaining stitches, chain 3, turn.

Row 2: ds in stitches 2-10, skip 2 stitches, chain 2. Continue 10 ds, skip 2, ch 2, ending with 10 ds. Chain 3, turn. This results in 7 holes separated by groups of 10 ds.

Row 3: ds in stitches 2-10, 2 ds over previous row's ch 2. This closes the hole you made in row 2. Continue in this fashion to the end, chain 3, turn.

Repeat Rows 1-3 to desired length.

You can be as flexible as you like: put more solid rows between the hole rows, put more stitches between holes, put fewer stitches between holes, put holes randomly through the piece, etc.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Off the Needles: Grey and Silver Dropped Stitch Scarf

I'm back to working on non-State Fair projects. While working on another scarf that didn't quite turn out the way I wanted, I learned this design technique. Putting aside the disappointing project for a later time, I knitted this scarf to incorporate this interesting ribbing design. 

The mid-weight (sport? DK?) grey and silver yarn is Studio Samples by Nicole purchased at A. C. Moore and the fiber listed on the label is "mixed fibers"... probably the grey is acrylic with polyester silver thread adding sparkle. I used five 50-gram balls of the yarn for my scarf.

The scarf is knit in garter stitch with some of the stitches dropped on the last row, and then picked back up with a crochet hook in a fashion similar to making a crocheted chain. After all the dropped stitches are chained and back on the needles, the last row is bound off as usual.

I cast on 37 stitches using the long tail cast on method. 
For the first stitch of each row: move yarn to front, slip 1 stitch as if to purl, move yarn to back, and knit to the end of the row. This gives the sides of the scarf a smooth, neat edge. Continue this pattern to the desired length. 

For the last row (knit 5 stitches, drop 3 stitches from the needle) 5 times, and then knit the last 5 stitches. Pull the dropped stitches all the way to the beginning of the piece so that you have wide strands of yarn separated by the columns of garter stitch. The dropped stitches will be chained up to meet the stitches remaining on the needle. The dropped stitches are worked in groups of 4 with just the first 4 given a half twist before being chained to the next 4 strands.

The result is a thick line of V-shaped stitches lying against a garter stitch background that makes for a more interesting scarf than simple garter stitch.