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Clip ‘N Save for Miterheads

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Dear Ann,
Eventually the sun came out long enough for me to take a bunch of pictures of my latest chef d’oeuvre in the genre of square knitting. My inbox has been full of how-to questions, and I’m hoping to answer them all in this post. For those who have no interest in the intricacies of the art of assembling a mitered square blanket (and what is wrong with you, anyway?), this post guarantees a solid snooze. Rest your eyes, or read on.
Overview: In Which We Contemplate the Wonder That Is the Mitered Blanket
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Intrepid miterheads know the basic recipe for this or any other mitered square blanket: knit a bunch of miters; sew or otherwise join them together in a pattern pleasing to the eye, and stick a border on it (or not). This blanket used the same stockinette miter recipe used in my previous blanket, which starts by casting on 72 stitches. (For this blanket, I made 60 miters, knitting them together in blocks of 2 or 4 using the method described here.)
On Stripes and Striping
The first basic difference is that I did not do uniform 6-row stripes. I did use 2 colors for all of the miters, but I varied the stripe patterns a lot. As I continued experimenting, I started to become fonder of some stripe patterns than others. My favorite, by far, was the stripe pattern in the lower right corner of this picture (orange and green):
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6 rows Color 1
2 rows Color 2
2 rows Color 1
6 rows Color 2
2 Rows Color 1
2 rows Color 2
It looks kind of Ralph Lauren Polo-ish, but whatever! It was my favorite so I kept knitting more and more of them until it dominated the blanket.
Another favorite was the one on the two left miters in the same picture (top and bottom). To get this pattern, alternate 10 rows of Color 1 and 2 rows of Color 2.
In hindsight, I would have done the whole blanket in these 2 stripe patterns, with maybe just a few others thrown in. The idea was to create a pleasingly varied composition, in which the eye had plenty of places to sit and rest for a second. For me, all of this is intuitive and improvisational. If I planned it out in advance, there would be no discovery or adventure in the knitting of it–it would seem like piecework, just coloring in the squares. Doing it on the fly was much more fun (although I did end up ripping and re-knitting some experiments that didn’t pan out–c’est la knitting).
The Weird Partial Garter Miter
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This square is composed of 4 miters that start in garter stitch and finish in stockinette, with a color change at the center. Because garter stitch and stockinette stitches are not equal in length, some jiggering is required to get this square to come out the same size and shape as the other miters. For this, we need an actual recipe. (I’m very proud of myself for writing out this recipe at the time I was knitting the squares. I knew that (a) somebody would want it and (b) once I was done knitting them, I would have no clue how I had done it.)
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Partial Garter Miter Recipe
Using a circular needle, cast on 72. (Use the backward-loop method if you are knitting the miters together into blocks of 2 or 4.)
Set-up row (WS): K36, place marker, K36.
Row 1 (RS): Knit to 2 sts before marker, SSK, K2tog, knit to end.
Row 2 (WS): Knit.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 three times, then repeat Row 1 again. You should have 62 sts.
Cut yarn. Slide all sts to the other end of the circular needle. (Note, if you are using straight needles, simply transfer the stitches one by one to another straight needle).
The next row (Row 10) is now a RS row. Join yarn (same color) and knit across the row.
Row 11 (WS): Knit to 2 sts before marker, SSK, K2tog, knit to end.
Row 12 (RS): Knit.
Repeat rows 11 and 12 (decreasing on the WS) two times more, then repeat Row 11 again. You should have 54 sts.
Next row (Row 18) (RS), change to stockinette stitch: K24, SSK, (K2tog) twice, k to end.
Next row (and all WS rows): Purl.
Row 20: K23, (SSK) twice, K2tog, k to end.
Row 22: K21, SSK, (K2tog) twice, k to end.
Row 24: K20, (SSK) twice, K2tog, k to end.
Change color.
Row 26: K18, SSK, (k2tog) twice, k to end.
Row 28: K17, (SSK twice), K2tog, k to end.
Row 30: K15, SSK, (K2tog) twice, k to end.
Row 32: K14, (SSK twice), k2tog, k to end.
Row 34: K12, SSK, (K2tog) twice, k to end.
Row 36: K11, (SSK twice), K2tog, k to end.
Row 38: K9, SSK, (K2tog) twice, k to end.
Row 40: K8, (SSK) twice, K2tog, k to end.
Row 42: K6, SSK, (K2tog) twice, k to end.
Row 44: K5, (SSK) twice, K2tog, k to end.
Row 46: K3, SSK, (K2tog) twice, k to end.
Row 48: K2, (SSK) twice, K2tog, k1.
Row 50: SSK, (K2tog) twice.
Next row (WS): Sl 1, p2tog, psso.
Fasten off remaining stitch. You’re done.
Initially, I had planned to do more of these squares, to make texture more of an element in the design. But as I went along, I discovered that these squares were not as fun to knit (news flash: garter stitch takes longer to cover the same amount of ground—DUH!– and the garter rows decrease at a slower rate (2 per RS row) than stockinette (3 per RS row)). I also thought if I had more than one spot of this variation, it would lose its specialness. (Yes, it’s very special to me. I can’t say why.)
Das Border
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In retrospect, it seems like I totally lost my mind when I decided to do such a deep border. The idea was to mimic my favorite miter stripe pattern (the first one described above) in garter stitch, with the same number of repeats as I used in the miters. The symmetry of that, the echo, was appealing to me. I will just say this: it took a long time, and not just because I ran out of one of my colors halfway through. It took a long time because the project was absolutely non-portable by that point. It wasn’t even portable from one chair in the living room to the other chair. It was strenuous just turning the blanket to knit the next row. And the rows were long. And I was weak. Much as I love and revere The Garter Stitch– the mother stitch, the bedrock stitch of our civilization–I flagged. I weakened and picked up smaller, sleeker, zippier bits of knitting. It took a lot of Will Power to git ‘er done.
But now that it’s done, I really love it. I particularly love the little miters in the corner, which I did not think of doing until the very end. I knew I was going to miter those corners, but I didn’t know what pattern to use. I had a lot of brown and a little green, and this is what I came up with.
Recipe-wise, to do this border I picked up stitches along an edge and garter stitched in the first stripe pattern until I had done a full repeat of the stripe pattern used on the miters, then bound off.
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When all 4 sides were bordered, I picked up stitches in the corners (22 sts on each side), and working 2 decreases on each RS row, knitted a little garter-stitch miter in the corner, using only one repeat of the same stripe pattern.
At the end, I felt it needed a crochet edge all the way around, for tidiness. Lacking a crochet hook or the gumption to open a drawer to look for one, I “faux-shayed” the edge instead. To do this, using knitting needles, you pick up a stitch, then another, then bind off one stitch. Then you pick up another stitch, and bind off 1 stitch again. Stitch by stitch, you pick up and immediately cast off, ALL THE WAY AROUND THE FLIPPIN’ BLANKET. I’m calling this little technique “cro-Kay”. Poor man’s crochet. Lazy gal crochet. Whatever–it worked for me. (Note: When I pick up a stitch from a bound-off stitch, I pick up in the front ‘leg’ of the stitch only–not through the whole stitch. I know there are other ways, but this is the way that looked best to me for this purpose.)
So that’s it. Git on it, miterheads. Knock yourselves out!
Love,
Kay
P.S. As always, if you spot any errors in the recipes, please let me know.

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65 Comments

65 Comments

  1. OMG – This thing is gorgeous. Such knitterly lovlieness. I am stunned.
    Michele

  2. WOW! That is just beautiful, and truly a feat of persistence! Your border reminds me to ask- the borders on the moderne log cabins in the book- how are they done? The instructions refer to a different border than what I think I see on the two examples, and I prefer the clean look of that to the mitered border for this application.
    Thanks!
    Lynne

  3. I admit, I’ve been ducking the miter square. But I love the “Weird Partial Garter.” Thank you for the recipe!
    Like I really needed an excuse to go to the yarn store….
    Julie McC.

  4. As always, thank you for the new recipe. This blanket just kiss @$$!!! cro-Kay HA! I GOTTA try that!

  5. ‘cro-kay.’ am LOL-ing off my chair up here. your mitres are lovely- so graceful and genteel! to the undisputed reine of the genre– i salute you! thanks for the inspiration!

  6. WOW. JUST WOW.
    Thanks for the tuturial. I’m going to print it, and keep it as a reference. For when I finish the sock.

  7. Just Fabulous. No more words needed. (of course, that won’t stop me!) I bow to your abilities. Your miters are crisp and clean and your blanket it breathtaking – breathless and speechless amd I.

  8. am I, even!

  9. Beautimous!! I love the inspired faux-shay cro-Kay. ANYTHING to avoid the crochet hook ( and getting up to look for one!)

  10. LOVE IT!!!! I have tried a mitered square (actually, yes, only one square), and now am inspired to keep working on them. I will try out your recipes!!!!

  11. It’s really wonderful, lots of spots for the eye to rest indeed, and the partial garter squares? So special. Now, your “faux-chay”? Insanity, that’s what I call that. But I call it that with deep reference and admiration in my voice (you can hear that, right?).

  12. Wow, impressive. I always think I want to knit a blanket, and then I think, hmmm, what makes me think I could finish a blanket when I have yet to finish a sweater?
    Also, that is a whole lotta yarn for a starving law widow.
    And I have to say, it would scare me to death to mix colors and patterns without having the whole thing all planned out from the beginning. How do you do it and always have it end up looking so good?

  13. Isn’t that what children are for? To get Mommy the crochet hook that she doesn’t want to get for herself? It is in my house!

  14. Stunning. Beautiful. But how do you deal with all of those ends without going mad?

  15. That blanket is wonderful. My attempts at the mitered square have sucked so far. I think I’ll give it another go this winter. I must say that I love the terms cro-Kay and Faux-chay. They’ve brought smiles to my face today.

  16. Love it! Gorgeous!!

  17. Amazing! The color combos and stripes! I’m in awe. :)

  18. Oh Kay – you truly are the godmother of all us miterheads! That blanket is sooooo beautiful!

  19. Wow. This is insane!! Yet, strangely appealing…

  20. Wow. Absatively posilutely gorgeous. An heirloom-to-be. (Do you want to adopt me? I want to inherit that blankie. Never mind that I am probably 20 years older than you.)
    A few years back I knit a mitered-square afghan from a Colinette kit I bought on a trip to England. The squares were much smaller than yours, and mixed a fair number of garter stitch rows in with the stockinette. It never occurred to me that the pattern must have had to take into account the differing row gauges. Huh. Wow. It worked, though, because I followed the pattern EXACTLY. Someday I’ll be intrepid enough to try your on-the-fly method. I hope.

  21. Beautiful! And I dig the crocs.

  22. It looks great! And I can’t even get over that border!

  23. Thank you for the tutorials! I was one of those asking “how did you do that?” This time I’ll bookmark and print. Your blanket is beyond amazing. I love how the colors and patterns draw the eye. My mitered blanket is going on three years of off and on work, nearing completion!

  24. Thank you so much. It is fabulous!
    Sylvia

  25. That is truly a thing of beauty.
    Last week, I was inspired to use up some leftover cotton to make a mitered baby blanket. I have no idea what I did, but I ended up with a triangle!! So I’m just going with it and make four more the same way to make a round mitered blanket. When life gives you lemons . . .

  26. Oh, that’s nice! It reminds me of a mitred square blanket my gran had that was knit in different colours for each triangle of the mitre and had a leaf and vine pattern. I doubt I would have the patience to do those borders.

  27. Lovely! Is that dark border colour in the squares at all? I can’t see it. Cool!
    I could not point out any errors… I was knitting the 6-pointed washrag from the book this morning, doing the eyelet row and cursing because things weren’t lining up properly and I was going to just fake it (or have to come all the way downstairs to look at the errata page) and then I realized it was my own damn fault and if I just *read the pattern* right, all would be well…

  28. Kay the colors are so beautiful. The whole blanket is just absoluely gorgeous.

  29. Just stunning and more so with each perusal. Thanks for all of the relevant info – saves wondering how to go about askin’ politely!

  30. I like the partial garter block best! I love how clean and crisp it looks. I wonder what a whole blanket of them would look like.

  31. Holy Miteres!
    Crack open your beverage of choice and marvel at it’s loveliness!

  32. Can you post what the BACK of the blanket looks like? I want to know what I am supposed to aspire to. Thanks!

  33. grandchildren will be fighting over who gets it when they plant you baby. knit more ,world peace be damed, you need to work on family peace now kiddo. knit more you lucky-duck.
    blankie heirlooms for one and all.

  34. Just beautiful…

  35. The weird partial garter square? I’m thinking it might be par-fait as a cushion. And the faux-shay cro-Kay? Pure genius. Thank you Kay!

  36. Lovely, lovely blanket! I too would love close-up photos of the backs and fronts of the seams as completed (and ends weaving!) Did you carry the non-knitting color along as you striped? or did you cut? I am making a mitered baby blankie following the general course of events of the pattern in VK on the Go, Baby Blankets Two ‘Geometric Blanket’ on page 72. I’m using my own colors – but it works up as ONE PIECE. And I’m weaving in ends by catching them in the bottom loops of the stiches I pick up. I’m not happy with the back so I will face (line?) with some fleece fabric — not practical in your super-size version. Thanks for all the inspiration!

  37. heavenscent….i’ve been transported. is this mitered blanket #3? you’ll need to include it in your will! what are your feelings about gartering this entire “puppy?” would this avoid matressing? you’ve been blessed with serious stick-to-it-ive-ness! LOVE!

  38. Oh, Kay. Oh, oh, oh. Nothing smartass from me today. (Okay, well, yeah, I did wonder about your color selections just the littlest bit when it was all just, you know, not really anything yet and not all up there together in all the glory, but.) Oh. Oh, oh, oh boy.
    I’m trying to tell myself I’m glad I haven’t made such a glorious blanket because then all the other blankets I would make afterwards would have the sting of not being as good as this one.
    And I still consider the border SHEER GENIUS. Truly. Worth every last moment of desperate yarn search to get it all done. Oh, oh, oh.

  39. Holy cow. Humble readers are rewarded by your perseverance. It looks amazing–perfect for snuggling under on chilly fall nights.

  40. Now here’s the question – how long of a lie down did you have to take after finishing it? two years? three?

  41. i love it!

  42. I bow to the genius of The Kay.
    I love it.
    Super Fantastic! (I am about to steal the garter square for a baby blanket made out of years and years worth of 4 ply mercerised cotton leftovers saved from the bin at work in pinks, lilacs and silver greys. I may even sneak a bit of denim in there, just for old times sake).
    And now do we get to see the Tweedy One, Ann?

  43. Beautiful!

  44. That blanket is freaking gorgeous. I keep trying to resist all the square knitting that is going on over here, but you gals are making it tough! Magnificent!

  45. Really, I think this is my favorite knitted item ever made on the whole planet.

  46. Beauteous!

  47. beauteous!!!

  48. I’m having trouble typing because of all the drool that has spattered all over my keyboard… I’m in love with this blanket. Love the border, love the variety of stripes…(I had already started this after seeing something else you did, but your color choices are so wonderful) and I love the mixture of garter and stockinette. Yummm….. thank you for taking the time to write it all down. You ‘da best!

  49. Amazing.

  50. Oh, Kay. My goodness. The Gee’s Bend quilt ladies got nuthin’ on you.

  51. That is amazing! Almost makes me want to try knitting a blanket! Almost. :)

  52. Wow, hard to choose a favourite, but I love the half garter square too, and the little corner miters–the whole thing is stunning. I think we need to arrange a visit the new blanket tour for you and Ann, another excuse to come see you guys.

  53. This is unbelievably gorgeous. What an accomplishment!

  54. Beautiful, as usual! I love that you use the word ‘recipe’. I learned how to knit when I was an exchange student in Denmark about 100 years ago. My ‘Danish mother’ used the word recipe for pattern. Thanks for bringing back some really great memories!

  55. hi to you both – reading your blog in the uk – getting desperate for your book – poss with out getting it from amazon!! – also getting desperate to know how to get hold off all this amazing cotton yarn that you have in the states! – does anyone know – apart from ebay – where you can get stuff like sugar n creme or the yarn the lady with the bright blanket used? we have nothing like it here! lucinda S

  56. Simply amazing! It’s very beautiful and inspirational. And I thought that making a quilt that size required intestinal fortitude. Weaving in all those ends alone would be enough to send me round the bend.

  57. kay- but for the fact that you didn’t use a hook, that *is* crochet, BTW. the hooky thing just makes it easier than with the knitting needles. mwah! loving the potential coziness of this blanket!

  58. Love the lime green crocs! Blanket is spectacular!

  59. Gorgeous! The colors are amazing. And thanks for the recipe, ‘though I don’t think I could manage it.

  60. Oh cruel! How can you tell me it is the border of doom when I have fallen so in love ???? I console myself with the thought that my knock-off border is only going round a baby blanket. I may yet live to knit another day ……
    Heather x

  61. The colours! The creative mitring (word?)! The fabulous border! I LOVE this blanket. Do I win a prize for spotting a Croc, the greatest shoes ever?

  62. I can answer my own question, Lorinda and Sandra D spotted the crocs before me. Damn it(!)

  63. omg. that is just beautiful. though I totally get you on that border bit – hoorah for your perseverence!

  64. I’m back. And this time I have a question. Why do we cut the yarn and slide the square around and knit before we start the set of deceases on the wrong side? Could we just purl back? Two less ends to weave in by 48 squares equals 96 fewer ends.
    Oh my. That’s a lot. I may need to try that on my second square . . .

  65. There are times when I think I am a creative person. And then I see something like this and I am in awe. This is amazing. I love it. It’s beautiful. I must make one of these. Wow. Just wow.