Need a holiday handknit? Time for a Schmatta!

Psychodrama

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Dear Ann,
I freely admit that throughout this long holiday weekend, whether I was feeding children, or whether I was enjoying one of the delightful moments when someone else was feeding the children, I was either knitting squares for my Psychedelic Squares Afghan, or thinking about my Psychedelic Squares Afghan.
As you can see from the photo above, I have sewn up a grand total of 6 blocks for my afghan, which I have decided is going to be 20 blocks avec Grandiose Border. (More about the Grandiose Border later.) Since I have been working on this thing since Memorial Day, you’re thinking, ‘Big deal. 6 measly blocks.’ But hold on just a cotton-pickin’ minute–this afternoon I wet-blocked these:
psycho48.jpg
…48 squares! This adds up to 12 more blocks. Which, I humbly submit, qualifies me for Severely Obsessed Status. This afternoon and evening I produced another 2 squares, which leaves me only 6 squares short of my goal of 20 blocks. Clearly, by next weekend, all will be in a state of readiness.
Along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two. For one thing, when you want to wet-block squares that are a bit, er, stringy and dangly, and you don’t want to weave those ends in yet because you’re planning to sew them into the joining seams so they won’t pop out later, waddaya do? I tried the method of running them through the wash zipped into pillow covers, but found that the ends got so tightly enmeshed that I had to cut them apart. So this time, I threw them into the washer as is, without benefit of pillow covers.
washingmachine.jpg
Eek! What made me so bold? I was betting that the cause of the entanglement was not the spin part of the cycle, but the agitation part. So this time, I put them in the ‘soak’ cycle, and when the machine started agitating (as washing machines will do), I switched it immediately to the ‘spin’ part of the cycle.
Yippee! It worked, and here is the Square Salad to prove it:
squaresalad.jpg
No tangles, and they were a snap to lay out on the bed after a quick shot of steam from Rowenta to stop the edges from curling.
Now, what about that Grandiose Border? I love this blanket. When the squares get sewn into blocks, the colors really move. Having paid homage to Kaffe Fassett with the ‘juicies and blahs’ color scheme (thanks, Kaffe! I love you, man!), I am thinking of paying my respects to another of our mutual idols, Debbie New. Debbie New is right there on the MDK Walk of Fame, next to Kaffe and the Gee’s Bend Quilters. (Hey–there’s Patsy Cline! How did she get there?)
What I’m saying is, unless somebody stops me, I’m planning to border this thing with my very first attempt at…..Labyrinth Knitting. And what I’m also saying is, I’m sort of hoping somebody stops me! Please, anybody out there who has tried Labyrinth Knitting, tell me if this is madness or not. I have a kind of Greek Key thing in mind, sandwiched betweened plain old garter-stitch borders in single-row stripes. (Back-up plan: plain old garter-stitch borders.)
Perfectly prepared to proceed straight to the back-up plan; just say the word.
Love,
Kay

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38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. You are contemplating labyrinth knitting along with moving house? Have you ever thought you may be just a tad masochistic? Or just a genius? I did read up all (well, most) of the pattern in Debbie New’s book – all I can say is the best of luck! Afghan looks marvellous – I can see small boys with small model cars running them up and down the ‘roads’ in it, like a sort of maze…..Love, Jill

  2. I’m going with Jill on this one!
    The psychedelia has hit you square one if you’re even attempting the labyrinth whislt trying to pack/unpack boxes – mind you it’ll look soooo amazing once it’s done that you’ve just got to go for it.
    I’ve just put Nicky Epstein’s “Knitting On The Edge” onto my wishlist – that might provide some sort of alternative if the labyrinth does prove to be incompatible with moving house.
    Jo
    xxx

  3. Stop you? Stop you?!? Why? It looks like you are reaching new dimensions of knitting. You know that rumoured ‘patternless knitting’ stuff. Debbie New will be proud of you. Just one thing: do you have enough circulars to do that very long, long labyrinth strip or will you commission your own 10ft version like she did?

  4. Kay- That afghan is just too beautiful!! I love it!

  5. Kay, I hate to tell you this, but you have been in the Severely Obsessed Category for a while now. I have the exact date documented somewhere. Blanket looks MAAAAHHHHVelous.

  6. Your blanket looks wonderful – such colours!

  7. oh my god. you are killing me with these beautiful squares! when will i possibly find the time to fit them into my already overbooked knitting agenda? i must have squares…

  8. No way am I going to get between a pscyho knitter and a labyrinth border. Just take an extra ball of yarn along with you, so you can find your way back out, o.k.? We’d miss you!

  9. Oh Kay, I love it. I’m experiencing serious Afghan envy. You and Ann always work on the greatest projects. But then, we worship the same knitting idols, so I suppose it makes sense (don’t forget Ms. June Hiatt in your recitals please!)

  10. Ooh finally more yummy square pictures! I’ve been waiting for them. I so want one for myself! Not sure how labrinth works but I have faith in you and can’t wait to see her all sewn up. :)

  11. Kay, it looks absolutely beautiful. I can’t wait to see your labyrinth pattern ideas. I’ve done some small labyrinths as swatches. If rubberbanding your circulars together puts you off, don’t forget crazy crochet! I haven’t knit or crochet in a few weeks now – my wrists/arms are killing me. I’m going to have to find out what exercises I should be doing or something – any ideas? I throw with the left hand so both wrists are working.

  12. Go for it! I know nothing about labyrinth knitting. But I have Debbie New’s book and love it. But when I study it too long my head starts hurting.

  13. Absolutely fantastic squares.Vibrant doesn’t come close to describing them.keep on knitting.You’re on a roll !
    :0)

  14. Hello….I’m feeling….encouraged? Wondering if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew? Scared to open up my Debbie New book again? All of the above? Still thinking about this Important Decision.
    Ann hb! Oh no! Straighten out your wrists! Drink a lot of fluids! A knitter with your long list of fascinating self-designed WIPs cannot be sidelined! (For one thing, it’s not like somebody else could just pick them up and finish them for you!).
    I suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome briefly while pregnant, and now occasionally get a twinge of it if I am knitting too much, or whilst lying down, or otherwise not practicing Good Wrist Hygiene. One tip my wrist doc gave me was to make sure I was not elevating wrists above elbows while using my hands. This tends to cut off the blood flow. Not sure any of this will help, but rest surely is a good thing. xox Kay

  15. kaaaaaay i’m looking at those squares on my blogfone and they’re blowing my mind even in this tiny dimension. GO WITH IT, GIRL. Throw in some scribble lace and you’ll have a debbie new museum. will be watching on my skinny bandwidth out here in the boonies.

  16. ps yes it’s me ann. who else do you know who’d foneblog from grundy county?

  17. you’ve gone round the bend – and i don’t mean gee’s! do a simple garter stitch or a checkerboard border, and retain your sanity. (course, i have never done a labyrinth knitting project – but i have walked the labyrinth – does that count? ) you can also borrow my new debbie epstein, book, knitting on the edge, if you want further inspriration. anything you decide to do will be wonderful. did you use rowan cotton?
    i just finished my summer shawl which basically assaulted me and demanded to be done. it’s in provence (my favorite cotton in the entire world) and it’s in sherbert colors of hot pink, orange and borders of black to calm it down. on the two ends i placed a black and very pale celadon checkerboard and i fnished it with a black ruffle (small) on either end – courtesy of ms. debby. it is so beautiful that i carry it every place i go and show it to complete strangers – it’s like what i used to do when my kids were babies and someone told me that they were lovely. i say ‘i know’. and i do know since the inspiration for it came to me from another place- just the way they did. hope things are going well. miss you – if you’d like, we can arrange one of those afghan joining parties at my house if you’re still in the middle of settling in. good luck with your move.
    phyllis howe

  18. My sister just sent me here and told me I HAD to comment. I have just finished a labrynth sweater. It was a blast and I think a simple one will look fantastic with your incredible afghan.
    A couple of notes from the experience:
    Don’t underestimate the number of circular needles you’ll need (6 for my sweater.
    The number of stitches you’ll have to cast on will blow your mind (1864sts. for mine and it’s for a little girl).
    Plan on a LOT of stitch markers. Make sure you have LOTS of them in 2 different colors (one for a decrease point and one for an increase point)
    If you’re a perfectionist – don’t even start. You WILL make a mistake with the markers (or drop one unknowingly) and will have to fudge it when you’re done. It will still look great.
    Best of luck – It’s a stunner of an afghan so far. Can’t wait to see the finished one.

  19. Terrilee!!!
    I feel an overwhelming urge to cling, like a 2-year-old, to your leg, and wail! This sounds like COMPLETE AND UTTER INSANITY!!!!! I usually have a hard time keeping track of the dozen stitch markers I own! (Come to think of it, where are those dang things?)
    Don’t leave me Terrilee!!!!
    It sounds like labyrinth knitting is an extreme sport. Reminds me of Ann’s article about the German guys who hang off of buildings and iron clothing.
    Off to buy circulars. Maybe they’re cheaper by
    the dozen? Can I buy them by the yard?
    I keep thinking there should be a way to do it in the other direction; vertically instead of horizontally. I spose I could fudge it and do the “mock apple pie” of labyrinth knitting by simply making the mini-mitered squares and knitting them onto each other in alternating directions.
    I don’t expect anybody to understand what I meant by that.
    Thanks Terrilee, and thanks Terrilee’s sister! xox Kay

  20. I love it! I’ve always loved it, so much so that I started my own. Thanks for the post about blocking, which I was beginning to wonder about (I’m at 6 squares knitted) and for the vicarious thrill of the border. Go for it!

  21. Kay
    I’m here for you.
    Dozen markers???? I bought out my LYS’s supply of markers — twice.
    But going for the vertical is a cop out. If you don’t go for it you’ll never have the gut wrenching thrill of standing up after knitting a row of 1864 stitches to find a dropped marker on the seat cushion.
    By the way, I didn’t mention this since you’re doing a border and it will be simpler, but it took me a week to pin out the sweater to actually get it into sweater shape.
    It was the most fun I’ve had in ages. And sharing it with other knitters is a blast.

  22. kay…. you are the bravest knitter,.. a knitting goddess to be sure! ….. but, i’d hate to have you go straight to the loon-y bin over an afghan….your heavenly psycho square salad will “sing”, regardless of your border solution….. self-preservation is the key here….deep breaths…. (how did you ever manage to get others to feed your children during the holiday crazies?) were you sitting atop a knitting throne? LOVE!

  23. Ok, you are one Bad-Ass knitter, and a better man than I….well, you know what I mean. Man as in person. Geez-O-Pete’s, I will have to stay tuned for this.

  24. Holy macaroni, you are ambitious! And I bow to your mad knitting skillz, yo!
    I tried carrying my yarn up the side, via suggestion, for a square of mine – and ran into difficulties considering I start my stripes on opposite sides each time. (I wrote a short bit on that for my website.) Next time, I try weaving my yarn ends in as I go. I must be crazy. (But nowhere near as crazy as you.)
    Best of luck!

  25. Kay you are truely, madly, deeply (sorry couldn’t resist the film reference) INSANE. But that’s why we love you! I don’t even know what labyrinth knitting is but it sounds scary! Thousands of stitches, hundreds of markers, needle extensions…. how can you possibly resist. I say go for it. I’m ready to worship!

  26. I don’t know a thing a bout labyrinth knitting (and haven(t beel able to find much about it) but if I understand well, a giant circular is needed ? taping circulars together doesn’t seem to be the thing to do. I’m sure there is a better and cheaper way, using an appropriate lenghth of plastic/rubber/latex/whatever cord/wire/tube ? Maybe something to be found in an hardware store ? medical supplies ? catheters ? There has to be somewhere among your readers an expert into sticking things into people (and I’m not talking about a serial killer).
    Good luck.

  27. IT … COULD … WORK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    (Cf. Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein)

  28. Dear Crazy Goddess
    I would be the last person to discourage a person from undertaking any crazy thing that could be described using the words Greek or Labyrinth.
    You could title your afghan Psycho Ariadne!
    Recommended reading during this project: Carol Shields’ Larry’s Party, about a man who designs and constructs mazes.
    xoxo
    Aara

  29. Oh yeah….slide right off the deep end. Why not? Nobod ever got killed by trying some insane knitting technique. Sometimes they wind up a few jalapenos short of a zippy salsa (if you catch my meaning) but dead? No.
    Besides, I’m interested in it but too chicken to try. I’ll just watch you.

  30. Listening to my gut, I must say, Kay, please go the way of Mies van der Rohe and, just this once, believe – less is more!
    (It’s so empowering, being able to chime in with my two cents – thanks!)

  31. kay, this whole episode is starting to remind me of why folks love NASCAR. Low likelh

  32. uh, low likelihood of disaster, but what if she DOES strangle herself with a ten-foot circular?
    I vote for you to make your own giant needle the way those desperate shetlanders did: get a lo g wire and sharpen the ends on a rock.
    watching ghoulishly from the sidelines . . . Ann of Moldy Gables

  33. Y’aaaaalllllll! (Ann’s off driving a pickup truck down a dirt road so I’m stealing her accent). I’m LOL that a little ol’ strip of possible knitting could evoke references to Young Frankenstein, Mies van der Rohe (I only recently learned that ‘Mies’ was not his first name–sorry Ludwig buddy!), Greek mythology and Carol Shields. Have I missed anybody? How about Shakespeare? (There’s always something in Shakespeare.) Let’s just say that Nicky Epstein is in pretty rare company.
    Stephanie, normally I take the ‘less is more’ philosophy pretty much as Gospel. But in the case of this afghan, I feel, intuitively, that More is More. And if I’m wrong, at least I won’t have to WEAR the thing. I can fold it up into a colorful little bundle and surround it with all the neutrals that otherwise comprise my surroundings.
    Plus, there’s always the ‘this will be a HOOT’ factor.
    Plus, there was the excuse, badly needed, to buy a set of those Denise interchangeable needles.
    Plus, I am going to dumb down this Labyrinth Knitting thing beyond recognition. Debbie New surely is going to have her solicitors send me a letter. “Kindly cease and desist from claiming that the border on that blanket has anything to do with me. Love, Debbie”
    Thanks y’allllllllll. xox Kay

  34. Wow, and here I am afraid (i.e. too lazy) to start a log cabin square blanket because I hate to weave in my ends! You are such an inspiration Kay! Maybe I should go the mitered square route and hope for the best. Being a new knitter, I should be finished around this time next year . I will be sure to let you know how it turns out! My best to you all from the Land of Many O’s. Melissa.

  35. King Henry VI, Part i
    Act 5, Scene 3
    SUFFOLK O, wert thou for myself! But, Suffolk, stay;
    Thou mayst not wander in that labyrinth;
    There Minotaurs and ugly treasons lurk.
    Solicit Henry with her wondrous praise:
    Bethink thee on her virtues that surmount,
    And natural graces that extinguish art;
    Repeat their semblance often on the seas,
    That, when thou comest to kneel at Henry’s feet,
    Thou mayst bereave him of his wits with wonder.
    Not my personal opinion, but I wanted to add that little bit of Shakespeare for you. . . as a knitter with a BFA in Theatre. . . I say go for it! I would love to watch your progress.
    “Once more into the breech dear friends once more, or fill up the wall with our English dead”

  36. Becca! NOW you’ve done it (quoted from my favorite Shakespeare movie, er, play). And I think the following is also applicable to the terrifying prospect of labyrinth knitting:
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition:
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
    Boo HOOO!!!!! xox Kay

  37. Kay, I had no idea I was supposed to keep my wrists lower than my elbows! I’m going to have to really look into this. Go back to your Debbie New – see the note about knitting a labyrinth sweater for a person who does not want to have to sew it up? She writes about knitting to the frist double decrease or double increase in the maze and then knitting back and then picking up stitiches along the edge – this will keep it more manageable and I think you could create the maze design as you knit!

  38. “Thou shalt not covet they neighbour’s Afghan” …. why not exactly ?? It’s gorgeous. Just even thinking about labyrinth knitting is hurting my head !