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

Quilt-Knitting Monday

Dear Ann,
So there I was Sunday afternoon, hanging out the knitting on the clothesline. Happy as a pig in a blanket, because I’ve finished the denim blanket for my friends’ baby, Taro. I took a few pictures, because when you have an FO, it’s all about the bragging, isn’t it?
I love the way Belinda’s space-bleached patch (lower right) throws everything off-kilter. Your eye doesn’t get what it expects. I think the squares will blend more as the blanket fades and mellows. At some point, it will seem like it was meant to be.
I love the spots of color in the block-and-sashing. Especially the pink one. May Taro be a boy who does not feel excluded from pink or any color. I don’t approve of that pink/blue baby-labelling thing. When a new person comes into the world, he is entitled to all the colors we’ve got.
Technical details, I sewed the mitered squares together into the 6 blocks using mattress stitch. All the other bits–the ‘sashes’ and mini-blocks, were picked up and knitted on. The seams between the blocks, and the long one down the center, were made by picking up stitches on one edge of each piece, and then doing a 3-needle bindoff. I now think the 3-needle bindoff makes a superior seam on a blanket. It is extremely flexible and strong, and it is neat on both sides. The only trick is making sure you pick up the right number of stitches on each edge, so that the join is even and you don’t have stitches left over on one side. I did the narrow border by picking up along each edge separately, and then knitting a few rows of reverse stockinette; the four edges were tacked together at the corners. The edge curls toward the back of the blanket, and looks like i-cord or piping.
One more thing: the colored blocks are Tahki Cotton Classic. I had no problems with the denim shrinking and the Cotton Classic not shrinking. It all worked out fine, with no puckering or pulling. Over short distances, the denim’s 10-15 percent shrinkage is not very noticeable, and I believe the Cotton Classic also shrinks a bit in hot water.
Bragging for the Blogless
As long as I was hanging stuff on the line, I figured I’d show off a little. To the right of Taro’s Denim Blanket, we have: Apron From One of My Grandmas (Which One, We’ve Forgotten) and Quilt Made By Charlie’s Grandma.
The apron is fun. Although I had assumed it belonged to my apron-wearing grandma, Mabel, my mom thinks it belonged to my non-apron-wearing grandma, Pearl. Pearl was a case worker for a social work agency. Her job was providing services to a large group of ‘seniors’, some of whom were younger than her. (Sometimes I got to go with the seniors to bingo, where I learned Speed Card Marking.) They showed their affection for Grandma by making her stuff: ceramics, crochet cozies for toilet paper rolls (the hoop-skirted doll ones), and other handmade tributes including aprons. This was funny because Grandma really REALLY was not the Apron Type (she was the Taking-People-To-Bingo Type; once when I was about 10, she picked me up, told my mom she was taking me for ‘a ride’, and took me to the Ozarks for several days, but that’s another story). But I’m guessing you are more interested in the quilt.
I got the quilt at a silent auction for the kids’ nursery school a few years ago. It was made by Charlie’s Grandma. At the auction, I basically parked myself within eyeshot of this quilt the whole evening. Luckily everyone else was bidding on spa days and restaurant dinners, so I did not have to engage in Antisocial and/or Unladylike Behavior to get the quilt.
There are only three kinds of houses, but each one looks different. When I bought the quilt, I didn’t know whether it was from a pattern, or if Charlie’s Grandma had designed it herself. Later I saw another version of it at a quilt show in Glens Falls, New York, so I guess it must be from a pattern. Charlie’s Grandma did a wonderful job selecting the fabrics–I hear a steel drum when I look at the colors.
As you get closer to the sea, the houses give way to cabanas. The cabanas remind me of Kaffe’s ‘tents’ intarsia pattern — which, for all I know, may have been inspired by a quilt. Fun fact: cabanas are totally knittable; Barbara Walker’s 4th Treasury gives instructions for how to make cabana-shaped pieces. (She does not explain WHY to make them. We just make them. We don’t ask why.)
The waves are really clever, and there is a nice bit of quilting in the sand. As I’ve learned a bit more about quilts, I’ve realized that this quilt has very little quilting on it. I think it would be particularly nice to quilt in the skies above the houses, and in the strips around the border.
But I love it just as it is.
Happy Monday,
Love, Kay




  1. That is one incredible feast-for-the-eyes baby blanket! It reminds me of those intense, contrasting stimulate-your-baby-at-an-early-age mobiles, only much, much more aesthetically pleasing! Gee’s Bend all the way. Lucky baby!
    Speaking of blogging for the blogless, my Mom was just visiting which got me thinking about setting up a gallery to share all my Mom’s knitting on my own blog, too. Someday soon.

  2. I love all the pieces, but had to comment because I made that quilt pattern several years ago and am just now getting around to getting it quilted. It’s a paper pieced pattern (a bitch to take out all those itty bitty pieces of paper!), but it comes out really nice. I made mine with batik fabrics so it will definitely be machine quilted. I’m not hand quilting batiks ever again! Anyway, love the colors, it was a great find!

  3. How beautiful, you’ve made a fantastic job of the baby blanket – love all the little coloured bits – and what a fab quilt. But little bits of fabric scare me, I Will Not become quilt obsessed, I Will Not… I Will Not… (trying to convince myself here). Lovely, lovely stuff for a sunny Monday morning! x x x

  4. All beautiful stuff,especially the fantastic mitred blanket.It’s fabulous.A piece of art.I love the way the coloured squares pop,and the slightly trippy effect of the beautiful bleached square. Fab !
    ” When a new person comes into the world, he is entitled to all the colors we’ve got.” Never a truer word !

  5. Fantastic blanket and quilt! And the details, thanks for explaining them so clearly.

  6. Lovely lovely lovely.

  7. That new mitered blanket -wow. Best yet. Of course I say that with each one you work on.

  8. Kay! That blanket is giving me palpitations and I WANT ONE. Forget the baby, give it to ME!

  9. Okay. That’s it. I’m making a mitered square blanket. I’m back from vacay, so when’s our first lunch tutorial?
    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! And I love the quilt too. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Yes, love the blanket! I like the swirly, psycho, shifting colours. Great!

  11. I love that bleached block the best! It has an Edward Munch “The Scream” feel about it. Love the blanket. Thanks for all the details on how you construct them. I should get moving along with mine.

  12. I love your blanket and the quilt and sometime we may want to hear more about that freewheelin’ non apron wearing grandma

  13. Hey Kay!! I love your show and tell!
    I thought of you over the weekend. I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… and behind Grandpa Joe’s head when he was in bed, was a knitted afghan/quilt. Not mitred corners, but certainly in that vein. You’d love it, methinks.

  14. Inspired by all of you lovely people, I started a mitred square blankie for a friend’s little on a couple of months ago. I need to ask, though — how large are your squares(in inches), Kay? And how big is the blanket over all? Please let me know if you can.
    Thanks so much!

  15. I must have felt your mitered square vibes all the way over here. Last night I decided to seam some of my Psychedlic Squares up. I managed to sew two blocks in two hours. Oh my god. I will never finish this thing.

  16. oh kay…. what a colorful post! you’ve inspired us all in the blanket department…..how will you part with such a treasure?….perhaps, you have another lurking in the background? makes monday worth it!

  17. Can’t take my eyes off that blanket. It is FABULOUS!!

  18. Love that den’m blanket. Both quilt and blanket are gorgeous!
    JJ (Charlotte, NC)

  19. The blanket is gorgeous! I wish for time to finish things like that one day. πŸ™‚ And I totally agree about the colors. Sebastian’s pinwheel blankie is green, orange, and pink, and I knew he was a boy already.

  20. ditto for “all the colours we’ve got.” had an argument with my grandma about a (purple Pingouin w bits of rainbow colours) 1-pc. jumper i was knitting Elliot when he was born: “babies don’t wear purple,” she said. (of course…. they much prefer after-dinner-mint pastel shades.)

  21. That blanket is fab! Is there a pattern for it? If so where? I loved making you buttonhole purse now how about that blanket? It realy is a work of art. Bravo.
    Of course that quilt is magnificent also!!
    Kudos to all!

  22. I love the little pink bit in the blanket most of all. Go boy pink!

  23. Lovely baby blanket! I totally agree about all the colours being for both boys and girls. Sadly various friends and family don’t so most of the baby stuff I’ve knitted is white, honey or yellow. Even some baby blue and baby pink – but only in the blue/boys, pink/girls way. I should stop letting them choose their own wool!

  24. Fabby, fabby blanket Kay. I love all those colours and the general madness!

  25. Those are some great looking quilts. Well done!

  26. Hi, Kay,
    This blog is always an adventure to read, whether it’s you or Ann writing! When I read today about Grandma’s surprise Ozark trip, I see where you get that fun spirit. ;o) It sounds like you’ve got a few chapters of a book like “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” tucked away in your very own life. You writing a book? (hint, hint)
    And I’ve got to save a copy of your color comment for my quote files: “I don’t approve of that pink/blue baby-labelling thing. When a new person comes into the world, he is entitled to all the colors we’ve got.” Love it! I took a similar approach when my girls were younger and bought them equal quantities of things like Barbie dolls and dump trucks, Care Bear videos and Batman tapes, GI Joes and baby dolls — and we played “fort” about as often as we played “house.” The older girl, now a teen, is nowadays into a tame suburban version of Goth (black clothes, but she still says “yes ma’am” and does chores) and the other, a second-grader, is a pink-power Barbie-gal all the way. At least I feel assured I gave them some options. ;o)
    Hugs from an appreciative reader!
    – Carolyn B.

  27. Oops, I also mean to add how much I admire the colorful quilt, apron, and the quirky geometrical blanket (my favorite).

  28. I love how you include all the colors in the mitered blanket! Any child or adult would be proud to have that lovely, and loveingly stitched gift! The quilt makes me want to go to the beach! Gorgeous! Come over to my blog and see the additional buttonhole purses I finished. I also finished an apron for the Tie One On show and tell;D. I’m not one to wear my apron either and I’m from the Ozarks! Ya’ll can come see us anytime y’hear!

  29. I love the denim blanket. The bright spots of color and the oddball square are so great. The quilt is amazing, such talent πŸ™‚

  30. I love all those pieces. Generations of craftiness coming together.

  31. Hi! Just wanted to let you know that I love your blanket so much that I am already about halfway through one of my own. I changed a couple things about the way I made mine (color choices) and I have to think of something cool to do for the last square (since I won’t be doing any space dyeing!) but if you are interested in seeing someone else’s take on your blankie, stop on by!
    Keep up the absolutely inspiring work!

  32. Kay,
    I swear I have searched your site for the answer to this question, but is there a reference on making stockinette mitered squares? I have no trouble with garter squares (I even have the domino knitting book) but can’t find a good reference for the proportions on stockinette squares. Any help?

  33. I had to de-lurk to say I am SO jealous of baby Taro! That has to be the most gorgeous & original baby blankie I have ever seen. Congratulations Kay, you are a denim genius.

  34. This is undoubtedly the coolest baby blanket I have ever seen. Do you share starting information?


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