Learn how to crawl: the New York City Yarn CrawlΒ is on through Sunday, September 25.

Baby Steps

Dear Ann,
As you know, when I’m not checking the blog to see how many catalogs have been cancelled and whether you’re ambulatory, I’ve been doing a bit of mitering. As always, my plans at first were grandiose: I wanted to make a large denim mitered-square blanket like Belinda’s majestic original. Then I thought, ‘Um…nah. Too much work. I’ve done this queen-sized mitered-square blanket thing a bit too recently.’
And anyway, I needed a baby blanket. Why? Here is a tip on Controlling Kay’s Brain (not that it’s difficult): If you want me to knit another blanket for your baby, send me a picture like this:
Awwww! and double-Awwwww! He even has a halo on his pillow.
The entrelac blanket is lovely. Baby Taro is enjoying it in a very photogenic way. But there’s one problem: since this blanket is made out of Noro Silk Garden, it’s hotter than heck, hairier than a Yeti, and needs very careful treatment to preserve its status as a Priceless Heirloom. Baby Taro deserves a workaday blanket with charm. He deserves a blanket that can be wadded up, crammed into the stroller basket, and plopped on the grass in the park. He deserves a blanket that repeated washings, dryings, and wiping his face with it will only improve and patinate.
My friends, Taro deserves a 100% cotton, denim blanket. (How I got this idea of a denim blanket, I don’t know–it just came to me.)
So I started out on a small, 6-block crib-sized quilt.
Block 1 was normal enough:
And so was Block 2:
Then I got bored. I started to think about the Gee’s Bend Quilts, and how there is always a surprise that breaks the symmetry. So I used some scraps from my big Tahki Cotton Classic blanket, and did this:
Which led to this:
And then this:
I added ‘sashing’ and mini-blocks to widen the blanket, and basically just for the fun of those little spurts of color. Now I have 5 squares ready to seam.
For Block 6, I was tired of mitering. With an admiring nod in the general direction of Finland, where our beloved Anna goes wild with bias-square stripes and patterns, I did this:
Haven’t sashed-and-blocked the last one yet, but here is the proposed layout:
When it’s finished, it will have sashes and blocks on the right and bottom edges as well. (I can only take the asymmetry so far, or my consistency-craving brain will explode.)
I’m trying to finish it before leaving on my trip! But I may not make it. At least my passport arrived on Saturday. (Yes, I live on the edge.)
Hope you’re feeling perkier, and David too!
Love, Kay
P.S. Speaking of the Quilters of Gee’s Bend, check out Jan’s post about meeting them in person!. Thanks, Jan!




  1. Stunning. I have bleached squares for you – you’re going to have to make another!
    x x xx

  2. Whoa, sista! Way to bust out of the [square] box! I have yet to start my next round of miters ~ finishing off the Cotton Alpaca with an undesignated Baby Surprise Jacket first. (And Rowan Elspeth.) When/where are you traveling, remind me? XXO

  3. Just when you had me all happy and content with mitered squares…
    This is definitely a park blanket. It will get lots of love. (So what’s next, Kay? A big one to line with a patchwork of dishtowels as your own picnic mat?)
    And yeah, that pic would have done me in too!

  4. …GLORIOUS blankie! makes my heart go pitter patter….lucky babe…..

  5. WOW!
    Really, that’s all I can say!

  6. Faboo blankie.

  7. I HAVE to make one of these. Every time I come to your blog I think about it. It’s completely fantastic!

  8. Oh my. Kay. Beautiful.

  9. Valentina–remember how sad and dishraggy my little square looked the other night, when everyone else was knitting lace and socks, and lace socks, and god knows what-all? But you see why I love them. Put a bunch of them together and become something else entirely. Please don’t abuse the knowledge about controlling my brain. xoxo Kay

  10. One tiny suggestion – would you turn the upper right square, the one with the chartreuse highlight? Turn it so that the chartreuse is next to the teal square, the southwest corner of its square. Now the surprise zigzags across the whole, getting smaller, until…Pow! Miters! Ah, that’s better.
    Now why can’t I do these things?

  11. mitered squares are nice, but i was beginning to wonder when you’d get bored of knitting them. and then you come out with this totally amazing blanket! way out!

  12. Have you read the book Beloved by Toni Morrison? In it, one of the characters has a quilt made from scraps of work clothing, all in blues and greys, except for 2 orange squares. You have just given me a mental image to use whenever I read this description. It’s positively stunning.

  13. I am using your instructions on knitting a log cabin blanket. I have never picked up stitches before, but I read through instructions I found online and books(not very informative) and tried it. The only problem that I am having is that the back shows the new color running through the old color as I am picking up the stitches. Is that how it is suppose to be? Is there suppose to be a front and back side to the blanket? I find the lines of color unsightly. I have tried different ways of picking up the stitches and have frogged the piece a thousand times, but it is still the same. Please HELP ME! It’s driving me CRAZY.
    Here are the pictures of my progress. Front: http://images9.fotki.com/v190/photos/1/140756/877362/logcabin002-vi.jpg
    And back side: http://images9.fotki.com/v174/photos/1/140756/877362/logcabin001-vi.jpg

  14. Fabulous !
    Art !

  15. O that square with the pinks/oranges! That square is inspiring a whole blanket for me! Kay I like that blanket so much – when I saw the needle holder in Found Objects I thought, OMG – someone snapped a pic of Alice Starmore’s needle holder! I mistook the St. Cecelia plaid for Isle of Lewis plaid! Annhb

  16. Hi Oiyi–I’m answering your question in the comments in case others have the same question.
    I looked at your pictures, and the good news is, you’re picking up stitches perfectly–yay!
    The bad news is, there is no way to avoid the line of new color on the wrong side when you are picking up stitches on the right side. This is the same with stripes, also–when you change color, there is a ‘dotted line’ of the new color on the opposite side. It’s the nature of knitting, I think.
    Many, including me, have used this phenomenon as a decorative feature. If you knit stockinette stripes, on the reverse side, you get an effect that looks very much like the fabric alled ‘ticking’. I’ve seen loads of sweaters that use this feature decoratively, and I used it myself on my ‘Courthouse Steps’ log cabin blanket, to make it look more ‘quilt-like’.
    The only way I can think to avoid this is to keep knitting in the same color for every log cabin patch—which will give you log-cabin ‘texture’ but not color patterns.
    Hope this helps. Happy log-cabining, xox Kay

  17. THANK YOU, Kay! I thought that I was doing it all wrong. I feel so much better now. Hee hee… You have saved my sanity.
    I am now calm and will go back to log-cabining.

  18. Thanks for the link to Jan’s account. And thank Jan for it too.

  19. LOL Ann HB–I never even thought about our Ann S. sharing the same initials with La Starmore! And the sombre plaid—how funny and perfect!
    I like the way these things look, when loaded, like centipedes.
    To Oiyi I will just say that isn’t it funny how once you know something is ‘right’ and not ‘wrong’, it looks better immediately! This happens to me all the time. If I can’t change it, I decide that I like it. (Well except when we’re talking about Hubby. Him, I keep trying to change.) xoxo Kay

  20. Fabulous squares, Kay! Looks like you got your TN State Fair entry finished already.

  21. ….oh kay…. how ever did you create those little squares in the corners which “pop” so happily?

  22. Dear Kay,
    OK, now I get it about the mitered squares. The baby blanket is fabulous. There’s a baby present on my schedule. Hmmm… Maybe a mitered square blanket.

  23. That’s going to be a smashing blankie! The splashes of colour are really cool. And what a sweet baby too πŸ™‚

  24. Blimey, that is one stunning blankie! Really, really lovely. I can’t wait to see the finished article. Actually I want one for myself!
    Hope you’re feeling better Ann!

  25. You’ve outdone yourself! Thats a whole new level of mitered afghan. Inspiring! Especially the orange/red center.

  26. What a gorgeous blanket, Kay! I saw the Gee’s Bend show at the Whitney, and it was incredibly inspiring – kudos to you for translating that spirit into knitting! Lucky, lucky baby Taro.

  27. That blanket is gorgeous!! Is there a pattern??

  28. Absolutely inspiring!

  29. Are you sure it’s OK to turn quilting into knitting? Doesn’t this violate some sacred rule of needlework?
    Ohh, just kidding. Your squares are looking wacky wacky wacky, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. I do think that one in the middle that is all white on the outside/all dark on the inside somehow jumps out a bit much, but that’s just me. Will you finish before you go? I can’t see how, unless you have Carrie pieceworking for ya.

  30. Double awww is right! What a cutie!! I love the blanket. When I saw all the squares seperate I was a little worried (I crave consistency and the like), but it looks great all laid out. Good call πŸ™‚

  31. Not that you’re asking, but as for the layout, can I please chime in my two cents that you switch the position of the way-out square from lower right to middle left? I’m so thrilled to see your wild experimentation with our beloved denim . . . denim: it’s not just for use with the other denims anymore! Ok, Kay – you’re positively over the edge here – and I’m inspired, too.

  32. What a blanket! It’s beautiful! πŸ™‚

  33. A kwestion: Did your colorful cottons shrink along with the denim? How did you manage the impossible: shrinkyfadey denim plus regular cotton yarn???????????

  34. And, to continue the above question: Will the blues (and other non-denim types) bleed onto the ecru when washed?

  35. Susan–I’ve already washed all of the denim miters in these pictures, but not all of the sashing with the cotton blocks. I find that the blue doesn’t bleed on to the white if I use a top-loading American machine, I’m surmising it’s because they use so much more water than the front-loading Euro models. I’m expecting the small colored cotton spots to slightly shrink in hot water, like the denim does, but not bleed, since they are such small bits.
    We’ll see what actually happens, but I’m pretty confident that the white will stay white and the colors will stay colors, thanks to the pre-washing of most of the dark denim.
    It’s always an adventure, and it helps if you’re prepared to like it no matter what happens. For example, if the blue bleeds onto the colors, I’m prepared to see that as an ‘antique’ effect. But as it didn’t bleed onto the white on the first washing, I’m pretty sure it won’t bleed now. xoxo Kay (MUST AVOID THE GERMAN WASHER!)

  36. Did you even stop to consider that you might explode when combining two of your “passions” mitered-squares and denim yarn? I mean Kay! For the love of all things knitted, you have your readers to consider. How would we have gone on? Thankfully it seems you haven’t even blinked an eye. Phew. That was a close one.

  37. Really wonderful. And yes, I pledge to you to make it down to the MFA even if I have to haul a toddler, to see those quilts, maybe even more than once.

  38. The blanket is looking awesome. I love the colors and movement. Just great!


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