Beginning the Finishing
August 23, 2007
Well, I’ve been visiting Gibraltar this morning, as I continue the little process known as finishing a blanket. I’ve had Patrick O’Brian’s The Ionian Mission piping out of my computer as I sew in ends, and Russell-Crowe-I-mean-Jack-Aubrey has been busy chasing a French ship of the line down the coast of France. I’ll just say it: this series of 20 historical novels is without doubt the best possible choice to get a person through the many finish lines of a blanket like this. I can’t WAIT to get back to my finishing–Jack’s moldy, leaky Worcester is heading to the blockade of Toulon, people!
Finish Line 1: Knitting all the squares. All 64 are done; the final 8 are blocking and just about dry, down in the Drying Laboratory. Periodically I have been caught patting my tidy little squares. No, I was not actually TALKING to them; I was talking to, uh, myself.
Finish Line 2: Sewing the squares together. As promised, I kept an eye on the clock as I seamed, and at this point I’d say that 56 squares took 5 hours and 46 minutes. This was spread over four days. I did find that it’s not all that productive to sit down for ten minutes with the thing; there was a lot of frictional time wasted finding the damn needle and scissors, figuring out what square to do next, making sure there was a baked good within arm’s reach at all times. When I carved out an hour or more of late-night stitchery, I found a total groove and could do a 7-inch seam in 10 minutes. So, here’s my advice for seaming: do not do it in small bites. Get your knitting nook the way you want it, and shoot for an uninterrupted chunk of time. I could have trimmed at least an hour from this if I’d been more organized.
I’m mattress stitching these, which is so delightful here because all the edges of the squares are oriented for perfect, easy mattress stitch. The seams are virtually invisible on the front of the blanket. This is one of the HUGE BENEFITS of using your low-sew square method. All the awkward cast-on and cast-off edges–the edges that are tricky to sew up cleanly–are buried in the centers of the squares. (For those of you who want to know what Kay’s low-sew mitered square method is, she explains it right here. If you are contemplating a mitered square blanket, low-sew will save you a LOT of heartache. This is absolutely ESSENTIAL reading. Rilly!)
In several places, I had to finesse the line-up of the stripes, due to the varied weight of the wools I used. There’s only one place where I’m not all that happy–the thinnest yarn I used ended up next to a chunkier weight yarn. But I don’t hate it enough to redo it. And in general, I’m surprised at the way all these yarns behave next to each other. We really CAN get along. Aw.
Finish Line 3: Sewing in the ends. This exercise should be called Threading Your Needle 384 Times. By my calculation, 64 squares as I made them means 6 ends per square, or 384 ends. I sewed in 56 squares’ worth of ends in 1 hour and 58 minutes. (I am embarrassed to have held on to that little statistic, but this is a knitting blog, right?) It got to be quite the game, hiding the ends in the seams in the least obtrusive way possible. Those suckers are NOT COMING OUT. I BURIED ‘em. Tweedy wool is so fantastic for its velcroey way.
I’ll be finishing Finish Line 2 and Finish Line 3 once I unpin my pwecious little squares from their blockfest. At which point Finish Line 4 and Finish Line 5 loom. I am going to be looking for some advice on these last two finish lines.
Somebody asked what yarns the Tweedy Squares blanket uses. At this point there are 20 different shades of yarn. Here’s my best recollection. It’s basically every tweed known to humans.
Rowan Scottish Tweed DK
Rowan Harris Tweed DK (the early version of Scottish Tweed, until a fit was pitched about Rowan’s use of the term “Harris Tweed”)
Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK
Rowan Felted Tweed
Queensland Collection Katmandu DK Tweed
Rowan Donegal Lambswool Tweed, doubled
Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed (Such a beautiful orange! I had to use it even though it’s aran weight!)
Elspeth Lavold Silky Wool DK (Such a great golden color, even though it was on the thin side of DK.)
Jo Sharp Silk Road DK Tweed
Tahki Donegal Tweed
Thanks for all the kind words about the last post–I am DEFINITELY becoming a sportswriter, just as soon as Frank Deford and Roger Angell take up knitting. And I’m awfully sorry about Clif’s Seahawks bashing. I’m going to get after him with a Titans foam finger.