“I just want more of her.” A wonderful piece on the late lamented food writer, Laurie Colwin.

Beginning the Finishing

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Dear Kay,
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.
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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.
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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.
Love,
Ann

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38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. So pretty!!! I’ll have to start those books as way to re-enforce my slogging.

  2. I love your finished blanket and how all the different wools work together. Finishing does take lots of perseverance – I’ve completed ten squares of my blanket and am trying to do it as I go so I don’t have a huge job at the end. I keep knitting more squares and am not doing much sewing up though, so I might have a huge sewathon at the end. Thanks for all the sewing tips – they’re very helpful.

  3. You know, I’m sure, that I take your statistics as a personal challenge. My next blanket will be sewn up in 5 hours and 45 minutes, at the very most. Personal Best!
    And I certainly wouldn’t put it past Roger Angell to take up Knit Lit. That man can write about ANYTHING. He has that in common with E.B. White, and you.
    Me? I’ve been carrying around my laptop forcing people to watch the Merle Hazard video. Which forces them to laff themselves silly. Especially if they have a clue what he’s talking about. The line about being leveraged 10 to 1 just KILLS out here in the Hamptons. Bitter laughter, but laughter. I should tell you that there have been concerned questions about whether the jacket is a rental, or um, does he actually own it.
    I love the tweediness of your blanket. Adore. I wish there were a way to make cotton yarns so slubby and fluffy. Excellent work.
    Please send some of your wilting heat up this way. We are freezing.
    xoxo Kay

  4. All that tweedy goodness came together beautifully. I love the way those jazzy orange squares spike up the gray & navy, and the yellow smoothes it all together.
    Thank you AGAIN for getting me sailing off to the far side of the world with the P O’B audio books to speed my knitting. I’m in the Wine Dark Sea now.

  5. That blanket is saying “Grab yourself a cup of tea and a good book and a handful of cookies and crawl under me until the weekend.” It’s so far from the typical knitted afghan, so classic but new, and so cozy looking.
    And I’m impressed at how fast you’re putting it together. I read once that most of the chores we put off really take much less time than we think they do, and i discovered I can clean a bathroom in 15 minutes! Who knew the same principle could apply to finishing hand knits?

  6. WOW!! The blanket is fantastic!

  7. All of that seaming and weaving in of ends is exactly why I have not knit a blanket and likely never will. I admire your perseverence, but frankly the thought of all that finishing makes me feel faint.

  8. Them’s a lot of ends to manage but I know you can do it, Ann. That certainly is one handsome, tweedy blanket. Nicely done!

  9. Purty!

  10. 1. LOVE the blanket
    2. Love the Jack Aubrey Series
    3. Love R Crow as Jack Aubrey (and I didn’t think I would)

  11. Wow! I get antsy weaving in ends and seaming a piddling little tank top. I think something that big would drive me bonkers (though I keep looking at the moderne log cabin blanket, so maybe I’m doomed anyway).

  12. I love how many blog posts we’re getting these days! Wheeeee! love the blanket, love the tweedy goodness! yay!

  13. Yummy blanket. I wish that I had your color and design sense. I’m afraid that my mix and match ideas would look more like a train wreck than your art work.
    Kathy is right. The chores that we dread and put off forever, usually take less time than we thought. Even grading that stack of 85 papers, doesn’t take long. I just procrastinate it to death.

  14. I LOVE that Elsebeth Lavold gold silky wool – I think a bit of it should be worked into everything – not many great golds out there. I love this blanket!

  15. I just wanna know, how come it took me 33 years – 33 years, peepul! – to discover the Aubrey-Maturin series? I’m currently lingering (weepily, because I know the end of the series looms) over The Yellow Admiral. Best. Books. Ever. Are you listening to Patrick Tull’s reading? He’s fabulous.
    The blanket is gorgeous! I love the tweeds.
    ~Lori (the mostly-lurker)

  16. The blanket is beautiful! I love it!

  17. The blanket just keeps getting more gorgeous!
    I’ve been resisting the “low-sew” method because I really want to play with the squares once they’re all done, but I’m thinking some Photoshop playing might be in order as I really dislike sewing. Perhaps playing with it on the computer will get me to a point where I can do the low-sew method.
    Hmmm… I wonder, would it work to do all four miters of a square at one time on a circ? Working from the outside in? I may have to experiement when I get home tonight!

  18. She’s a byoot, Ann!

  19. Ann, this blanket is beautiful! I, too, am a huge fan of tweedy and what I call “farm” yarns and so this is downright inspiring. Love it, love it, love it!

  20. The number of ends to sew in made my eyes cross. Yeesh. Not to mention the number of hours spent sewing everything together.
    I loved your story of watching football and feeling the game in a new way. It must be disheartening to many of the guys who get cut.

  21. The blanket *is* beautiful.
    To avoid having to work all the ends in with a tapestry needle after you’re done knitting, have you thought about working the ends while you knit?

  22. You are one talented chick and so is that husband of yours!

  23. I am in love.
    The tweeds..ah the tweeds. It truly is gorgeous.

  24. That blanket is gorgeous and family-heirloom worthy! Definately the kind of thing I would want to snuggle up with. Congrats on all that seaming.

  25. Absolutely Fabulous!

  26. You’re making me feel like a slacker! You are amazingly productive. The blanket is beautiful; your color sense is awesome!

  27. Ann, you never cease to amaze me. What a beautiful blanket, and no wonder…all tweed. I love tweed. You did a lovely job with the yarn choices, knitting and finishing. Quite stunning. If only I could acquire your knack for weaving in the ends. I’d be set for life;->
    Ang

  28. That blanket is AWESOME! Make me one?

  29. That blanket is AWESOME! Make me one?

  30. I’m absolutely in love with that blanket. You have such a great sense of color. About this time of year, I always take on a giant project. This year I said no way! Now, because of your blankie, my resolve is weakening.:)

  31. A magnificent work of artsy warmth! Love this project and you know, it’s so much easier to watch it being done;)

  32. Beautiful blanket – I so love the coziness of the colors!! And the yarn! Wow. Just beautiful… what else can I say?

  33. Oh man, you have SO weakened my resolve not to knit a mitered square blanket until I finish a bazillion other things. Dang it.

  34. I’m a bit of a tweed freak, so natch’ I am in lust of your blanket. Wonder if you would like to give all those tweed yarns a rating as to softness, etc.? Hint, hint.

  35. The blanket was impressive with the squares lying next to each other. Blocked and seamed it is really something special.

  36. The blanket looks great! And don’t throw away all those snippings left after darning in all the yarn ends – they make great stuffing for knitted pillows. I’ve got two beautiful pillows I knit using Kaffe Fassett’s “magic Ball” technique (I just posted on my blog about one yesterday if you want to see it) and the pillows are stuffed with yarn and spinning scraps. it makes a heavy but very substantial pillow, and has tons of my personal knitting history inside!

  37. Ann, that blanket is absolutely beautiful. The color combinations are breathtaking… not to mention very tweedy… I love it!

  38. It’s the tweedy mitered blanket of the world, for all love!