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Did I Cast on the Noro? Reader, I Did

Dear Ann,
I miss you when you’re away!
In my last post, I whimpered about the pull of temptation to cast on a new log cabin blanket in Noro Silk Garden before doing my duty and finishing the last sleeve on a child’s overdue pullover. A few days later, this comment came in from (our vast readership in) Qatar:
I was going to say just give in to the call of the Noro, but it’s been several days, so you must have already.
Tracy in Qatar

I am so busted. Was it that obvious?
Truth be told, I didn’t even last an hour after publishing the post. Watching the dreadful news reports from Japan this past week, I felt such a strong personal connection to a country in which I have no actual personal connections. Then I realized.
Yoshiko Jinzenji
Naomi Ito
Yoko Saito
Hello Kitty
Eisaku Noro
Wabi sabi
Tokyo International Quilt Festival
Stationery Products in Charmingly Wacky English
The list goes on and on. For handworkers worldwide, the connection to Japanese craftspeople, techniques, aesthetics, and materials is profound, and it feels personal.
So, with barely a frisson of maternal guilt, I cast aside the boy sweater and cast on my Noro Silk Garden, thinking about Eisaku Noro (who is reported to be all right, thank goodness). Clearly, the 4 skeins that had been tempting me were not going to be enough. I started in on a log cabin blanket inspired by the Modern Crosses Quilt in Susan Beal’s book, Modern Log Cabin Quilting.
After I had 2 blocks done and 2 more started with my original block construction (don’t even think about the state of my personal grooming by this point), Cara called. She called to tell me she had been obsessing about the Modern Crosses Quilt, and how to knit it. We started talking real fast and in a flash I knew that I had to go back to square one (ahem) with my block construction. Whee! Only 10 hours of knitting down the tubes, and there will be some fiddly ripping out before reknitting. (I had already woven in the ends! What possessed me?)
(So these lovely pieces are now out-takes. I had to take a picture, though.)
Another few hours of knitting while watching CNN ensued, and pattern writing, and reading tweets from and about Japan, and bugging Cara to make PhotoShop illustrations in the middle of the night, and bugging Belinda who is on vacation, and bugging YOU who are on vacation, I am pleased and proud to present:
The Mitered Crosses Blanket. My first Ravelry download! All proceeds from download sales will be donated to Mercy Corps to aid its emergency relief work in Japan. So go forth and download, blanket knitters of the world! Tweet your heads off about it if you are so inclined! Activate the social media of your choice!
Look! We even have a “Buy Now” button, for people who don’t want to haul themselves all the way over to Ravelry.com:

Careful observers will notice that the photos are of single blocks; that’s because the sample blanket is not finished yet. What with all the research and development, I’m only two blocks in. But I’m off on a week-long trip that will involve many hours there and back on a plane, and lots more prime knitting time. And if anybody can finish a 12 block blanket in a couple of weeks, it is me. I am strong for this sort of thing. (Born This Way.)
I’m going to git.r.done, and bring ‘er back, and post a gajillion pictures of it in early April. Meanwhile, I will try to post photos of the individual blocks from vacation.
(I will finish the boy sweater, too. It’s a top-down. He can keep growing for a couple more skeins, while I finish this blanket.)

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  1. The situation in Japan is sad beyond belief. If the Japanese, who always seem to be about five years ahead of the rest of the world in Clever Solutions for Modern Living can’t cope with what nature and people have wrought, well…
    However, your creativity in creating mitered crosses and kindness in donating the proceeds are admirable things. We are grateful that you were Born That Way.

  2. like!

  3. Oh no. And I am in a highly suggestable frame of mind too.

  4. whoa! I love the white noro!

  5. The squares are lovely & your contribution of the proceeds to the relief efforts in Japan is a beautiful gesture. Mitering & log cabin in one – my idea of heaven! I could never figure out how to construct anything close to this, so thanks to you & your creative consultants!

  6. I never post (well, that is unless there are prizes involved!) but had to come out of lurkdom to say BRAVO! The squares are beautiful and I can’t wait to see the finished blanket. Thanks for doing this for Japan, and for the knitters.

  7. Which Silk Garden is the red/pink? It’s not quite warm enough to be 84 (a favorite) although with changes that can come with lots, it could be.
    We’ve gotten e-mails from our friends in Japan, but not had any long conversations. I can’t imagine.

  8. Perfect blanket square! Nice, nice! And more effusions are going through my head but I will stop now. Just grand!

  9. This is awesome beyond belief. I’ve got a massive case of startitis that I’ve been trying to cure, but you just added to the symptoms with this. And the benefit is such a great incentive to buy the pattern.
    Thank you also for reminding me of the knitter’s special connection with and indebtedness to Japan.

  10. Wow! One of the most beautiful blankets I have seen! Great work πŸ™‚

  11. I thought the first squares looked great, but when I scrolled down to the second kind, I quickly understood why the first ones had to be ripped. The mitered crosses are clearly the way this blanket must be knit. Excellent design job! and thank you so much for donating your ravelry proceeds. I think I may have a new plan for the yarn budget.

  12. Miters and log cabins; two of my favorite things! What a lovely thing you’re doing. Off to go buy it.
    The teen was in the process of folding 100 origami cranes with which to ask his girlfriend to the prom when we received news of the earthquake and tsunami. We visited Tokyo a couple summers ago. There’s a little Japan in all of us.
    I’m also donating from pattern sales of my Pacific Shawl. Together we can do a lot!

  13. I was distressed about the ripping out of the original beautiful quilt squares but finally scrolled down to see the new ones. Now I’m gobsmacked and you made the right choice. Just gorgeous.
    You’re right, too, that we all have many connections to Japan, so I’m checking out that buy now button. Thanks.

  14. Very fitting way to collect funds for Japan. I personally don’t know anyone in Japan, but now understand why I feel a personal connection. Great pattern, too!

    I might even do something I have never considered doing before: Knitting a blanket. Whoa, SRSLY.

  16. P.S. Would you JUST KNOW, I sold off my Silk Garden stash in my December stash sale. Guh.

  17. This is just spectacular! I look forward to trying this when my carpel tunnel symptoms subside. Meanwhile, I’ll buy the pattern as one more way to help out. It’s just mind boggling, the destruction from this triple whammy. I just heard last night in an email from Knit Purl that stocks of Noro yarn are expected to be hard to come by in the immediate future, so now’s the time to stock up!

  18. I love it! What color is that neutral backround yarn?
    Oh, and for those that can wait 10 days or so and might want to make a smaller quilt, Silk Garden Sock goes on sale at WEBS (yarn.com) on 4/1.

  19. What a lovely design! I’ll be casting on tonight. Thanks!

  20. Fantastic, of course.

  21. Such an elegant solution! Can’t wait to give it a try.

  22. this is such a beautiful tribute

  23. Ditto to all of the above; and, my personal reaction: YESSSSS!

  24. The rip and re-do was well worth it! These are tremendously pleasing to the eye. Quilterly and knitterly at the same time. Maybe this is the blanket my 10+ year old stash of Silk Garden should become?

  25. Beautiful squares and sentiments. Love them both!! It’s now on my list too!

  26. o, dern it, woman. I just spent my last penny at ye’ old LYS yesterday and now I need to go back for some silk garden (I just love that stuff!) I must have this blanket. The worse of it is we had to turn on the AC here in SC today — going to be “a hot knit” in this town soon.
    o, let me quit now and run over to Ravelry to “buy now”
    thanks Kay.

  27. Wow – what a difference! It’s perfect.

  28. So clever. I love it. Have never knit mitered squares so bought your pattern and I will go for it. Thank You so much and I think the pattern proceeds to Japan is brilliant. Knitters, we do make a difference. Safe travels,

  29. I don’t think anyone has used the word brilliant yet…..but your solution was brilliant. And since the crisis in Japan was your inspiration it is inspired brilliance….the best kind. The red cross is going to want one…you know…in red and white.

  30. QUESTION: For those of us who do not like to purchase things on line, is there a place where we could mail in payment for the pattern?

  31. Ann outted you on the M-D Ravelry group, so I told PayPal to send you some money from there. Just beautiful Kay; you’ve outdone yourself.
    Mary G. in Texas

  32. Don’t forget to add Moonstitches to your list! I read on her blog that they have. Gone to Okinawa to wait this out.

  33. The blanket is awesome. I bought yarn for a sweater today, but if I had seen this in the morning I would have bought yarn for the blanket instead.

  34. Nice design, I like the miters and squares all put together. I’m in the midst of my one and only log cabin so far, been working on it since May 2010 I think… So this design looks a bit daunting. Maybe a pillow would be good….
    Anyway thanks for your support of Japan. My cousin lives there has two college age kids. She’s been there for about 20 yrs or so. They were nearish the east coast but not in terrible danger but last I heard via my Aunt they decided to travel west to safer ground in Hiroshima of all places. So I think she should be there now.

  35. Oh, your squares look lovely, and all I have been doing is gazing at wild (yes! WILD!) sea lions in the harbour here (Monterey) – we don’t get wild sea lions at home. OK, and gazing at (wild) Sea Otters too (don’t get them at home, either). Will get yarn in SF and start knitting. Can’t believe you’ve got this up for sale already! Well done you. We should have been in Tokyo right now, and even though we’re having great fun in CA we do mourn not going. The money we’d already changed to Yen as ‘Tokyo cash’ will be heading to Japan somehow. Further on to SF tomorrow, then I think Thursday we begin the journey Eastwards…

  36. oh – it’s gorgeous! well done!!!!

  37. Gorgeous! I almost want to start one right away, but that’s not practical for me right now. Love the way you reworked the square.

  38. put Moonstitches on your Japan list….

  39. Just read a great knitting tip on sweaters…Knit the sleeves first…I loved it..and will do that for the next sweater I work on…

  40. Love it! What color is the neutral border and corner squares? When I went to the color cards, I didn’t see any neutrals.

  41. Wow, so beautiful, can’t wait to see more of it!

  42. You had me at hello (kitty). Actually at Noro, and garter stitch, and log cabin, and donation for Japan. Then you put that button there. It is gorgeous, Kay, already printed and ready to go. The girlfriends will have to wait on their prom puses!

  43. Gave lots to Japan directly. Can’t believe it all. Can’t go starting more blankets as I have two in progress. But the stash of Noro is very excited to know this may be its future.
    Can’t believe that every time you start making a blanket, I think it’s the best one you’ve ever made. Every time. But they’re like loved people – you love the new one so much, but actually, you don’t love the other ones any less.

  44. Why do I love the MDK blog? Because you love the PROCESS of knitting so much. I don’t have anyone to call and brainstorm about best methods of knit-creating a fabric quilt square. I’m so glad you do and that you share it with me. The creative process is thrilling. I look forward to seeing how your Noro blanket progresses…and I’m really looking forward to what creativity ensues from your followers.

  45. Wow. That is all I can say. I just downloaded the pattern from Ravelry. My heart is broken by what has happened in Japan. Your thoughtfulness is without end.
    If anyone is up for a knit along to make afghans for Japan…Please count me in. Now to cruise the internet for NORO πŸ™‚

  46. Curious about why Mercy Corps? I am always interested in finding about new good organizations. I plan to donate patterns sales for the next month and trying to figure out if another group is better than DWB.

  47. That is a beautiful pattern

  48. You’ve Done the Right Thing in every word of this post and in every step in designing your cross-quilt and dedicating it to Japanese relief efforts. Thanks, Kay. You and the quilt are beautiful.
    ps: and what are the color numbers of the two balls in the top photograph?

  49. As soon as I get myself to a secure connection, I’m buying that pattern. Aside from being lovely, I wholeheartedly support Mercy Corps and will be happy to support their efforts in Japan. I already do on a monthly basis, but even a little bit more added to someone else’s little bit can add up to a lot. Thanks, Kay!

  50. Terrific pattern, great cause. Already bought and downloaded it, and thinking about how I will interpret the pattern using my Noro stash (no shortage of Noro around here!!). Love how you jump on an inspiration and cook it into something beautiful, useful and globally helpful.
    Thanks for your efforts and creativity!

  51. Love the pattern. Made the purchase. Alas, Noro Silk Garden 269 is nowhere to be found. So I decided to use a red background with Noro Silk Garden 84. Thanks and what a great idea. Also donating to Doctors Without Borders.

  52. What a fabulous use of silk garden. And such a good cause. I immediately bought the pattern and now I can’t find the 269 anywhere!

  53. The background color is 269. I have always found it far too easily! But I think Lambs Pride Worsted in a neutral or any numberof other yarns would work beautifully.
    THANK YOU EVERYONE for your bigheartedness. I chose Mercy Corps after some looking around. I liked that they work with local partners, and that they stick around after the immediate crisis fades from the news and consciencenesses. Not that this is going to fade anytime soon, I hope.
    Still Enthusiastic After 2 More Blocks On the Plane,

  54. knit the pullover for a future grandchild, instead! πŸ™‚

  55. You’re such a sweetie, Kay! XO

  56. If you & Cara put your heads together it had to come up miters! I love this version and think it would be so fun to knit. I loved your first one but this is so so better b/c it miters! You & Cara rock!

  57. Hi Kay–
    Donating to MerciCorps is a great idea. I would like to send a friend your pattern, but I don’t want to create a Paypal account to use through the Ravelry site. I have donated directly to MerciCorps (I can send you a copy of the receipt, if you like.) Would it be possible to get a copy of the pattern?

  58. Thank you for doing this! word has spread, and I just bought mine off of ravelry. I hope you get lots and lots of orders.

  59. @Belinda 12:23 : if you’re in Monterey, go to Monarch knitting now, so you have something to work on while driving up to SF tomorrow!

  60. Thanks for a great pattern, I’ve purchased it through Ravelry, and what a wonderful way to help Japan. I quilt too and have the Modern Log Cabin book on my wish list at Amazon–thanks for that too!

  61. I have to wait a couple of days to order the pattern, if I do it now I will want to start and I have so much to finish first. Garter Stitch, Noro and mitred squares all wrapped into one beautiful project…Thanks!

  62. Kay – this design is just beautiful! I happen to be in the middle of my 2nd Noro blanket right now. This has officially made its way to my on deck circle. Bless your heart for what you are doing.

  63. Megan – only just saw your recommendation so missed Monarch which is probably a good thing (on the whole) as I am doing the driving! Will find somewhere in SF, but thanks for thinking of me!

  64. Aaargh! 269 is a discontinued color! All of my LYS’s are out! Cruelty of cruelties… (well, ok, reality check, definitely a minor problem in the grand scheme of things).
    I’ll look at the Lamb’s Pride options, anyone else got a bright idea for subs? Or some surplus they’d like to sell me? (I’ve already got my first center cross and a half with the stitches that are supposed to connect to the background color on waste yarn, I am very excited about this lovely blanket.)

  65. Gobsmacked. And I thought I was immune to blankets and log cabin and Noro. Apparently not.

  66. A while back, I found your site digging through the internet for log-cabin instructions after seeing my sister’s Mason-Dixon book for half a day, but not having one of my own. I was sure I could reconstruct it–and I ended up back here.
    (and then I read all of your archives, for days and days. I didn’t know knitting blogs were this much of an addiction. Clearly a bad sign.)
    Anyway, I wanted to say thanks for first inspiring and then instructing a real beginner knitter to begin challenging herself.

  67. This is so lovely and I can’t wait to cast on for it. I have a whole bunch of Silk Garden Chunky to use for the crosses. I’ll have to figure out what I can pair it with for the outsides of the blocks.

  68. Such startitis you cause! I’m *sposed* to be using the extra $$ in the bank account for home renovation! I guess one could argue that this falls under the category of “home improvement” if not “home renovation.” Yeah. What I just said.

  69. Yes, as brilliant as this is, am I the only one who prefers the original crosses? Would love a pattern for those. Would definitely purchase one!!

  70. Gorgeous. Have been offline due to the move and Verizon’s general lack of ability to do anything they say they will. Sitting at Logan waiting to go to London, but will gladly donate when I arrive if I still can. Have done other ways but I’m liking the pattern for the new house.

  71. Original and lovely. Thank you for donating all your proceeds to help the Japanese people. You’re generous women.

  72. I’m fay-muss! For busting you, no less πŸ™‚
    Can’t think of a better way to get there.
    Thanks for the link, and I’m beyond honored to be mentioned on the same page as this noble effort. The blanket design is wonderful, and I will knit it for worthy people in need.
    Mitres + log cabin + Noro = some kinda heavenly knitter’s overdose

  73. This is beautiful. I am knitting mine of Peace Fleece in red black grey and white. I’ll add a little of the Noro yarn as well…I need both in there as there is so much happening all around the world…thank you for the sharing of this mindful practice for our friends in Japan…and now I will add…in the Middle East and in so many places where there is trouble in the world. I have one square finished.


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