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

The State of the Blanket

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Dear Ann,
Honey I’m ho-ome!
Of course I’m going to blog in luxurious sens-u-round about my fab time in England, with particular emphasis on: A Boy and His Dune Buggy Disguised As An Electric Wheelchair, clothes-shopping with Trinny and Susannah’s main competition (aka Polly and Belinda) (“cinch it!” “nip it!” “tie something in front of it!”–these were just a few of the helpful (no sarcasm!) tips about jacket features to deal with what we are calling “the tummy issue”), tea with knitpals at Liberty’s (2 words: clotted cream) and last but only chronologically so, the wonderful cupcake-encrusted event at Loop (Patsy and Johnny on the hi fi–need I say MORE?).
Not only was my Anglophilia not cured last week, it is now a raging, full-blown, incurable case. I use the word ‘dodgy’ 12 times an hour. I declare my intention to visit the ‘loo’, and more specifically to ‘have a wee’. I am researching great-grandfather Thomas Gardiner in the hopes of persuading the Home Office that I’m still a British subject. (Current theory: he intended to go back.)
But this will all be recounted in mind-numbing detail in another post. Today, I’m posting about one thing and one thing only: Did I finish the blanket in time to make Belinda cough up 250 grams (see? I’m all metricky now!) of home-bleached denim yarn? (For those who do not check our comments every 5 minutes as I do, blogless Belinda smacked me with a handknit glove and challenged me to make good on my goal of finishing all 12 blocks of the No-Sew Mitered Square Blanket while in England and France for 2 weeks.)
Well, no. I did not finish all 12 squares. But in my defense, (a) I had to come home early, (2) I had to come home early and (iii) I didn’t stay away as long as I had planned to stay, losing 4 days of knitting squares for this blanket.
Here’s the play-by-play.
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Leaving London. Not a great deal of progress, despite knitting on public transportation, the train to and from Emma’s, and every spare minute. There just weren’t a lot of spare minutes.
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I couldn’t resist an Atmospheric Shot. Isn’t my London Bedroom nice? Note the denimy twill curtains.
Oh, the bedspread? You want to know about the bedspread? It’s the gigant-o mitered square blanket Belinda made entirely from scraps of denim yarn. It’s a whopper-25 blocks. I.e., 100 miters. Doubly magical for being made of both DENIM and MITERED SQUARES. I did NOT steal it but I did borrow it for the Loop event as a ‘sample from the book’.
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My then-favorite square. Experimenting with a partially garter-stitch square. The trick is to keep the square the same size as the all-stockinette ones. Trust me, this will be cool. I just know it. I feel it in my bones.
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A few days later, packing to leave my chum’s home in Versailles. Sorry, this rug is a bit too Versaillesy for a backdrop. But you can see that I had been knitting my little heart out, what with another train trip, then 24 hours of trying to either wake children up or get them to go to sleep against their will, followed by a one-day strike that made it impossible to do anything in France besides knit (I had to WALK to the Phildar store, I kid you not). Things were looking grim, pace-wise. I promised myself to knit 4 miters on the plane to New York.
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And here we have the current status. 8.50 squares in total. Nowhere near where I need to be, but it’s starting to look downright blankety.
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Perhaps I can distract Belinda with the mesmerizing Orange Square. Ooh. Aah. Orange square.
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Or the emerging Partially Garter Square? Isn’t that EXCITING Belinda?
Anyway, I’m still enjoying knitting on this thing. There has been much evolution of Deep Thoughts on Color, as well as Profound Instincts on What Makes a Particular Stripe Pattern Interesting. There are a couple of miters I’m probably going to re-do for color reasons (it looks to be very easy to take one out if you’re careful with the scissors), and now that I’ve blown the dang 250 Gram Challenge, I’m thinking the blanket should be bigger than originally planned anyway, maybe 4 x 4 squares instead of 3 x 4. I am LOVING the no-sew concept. I really think it works. I am even working out how to solve this pesky little problem:
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The Wobbly Center. Fear not the Wobbly Center. The center will hold.
Love, Kay

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39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Even if Belinda wasn’t mesmerized by the orange square, it worked on me! :)

  2. wow wow wow – love the colors, textures going on there – love seeing Belinda’s blanket again, seriously tempted to order some color cards and order up a ton of yarn!

  3. can you prove a relationship to Gardiner’s Island Gardiners?? Maybe that would help :D

  4. Those are all fine reasons for not finishing on time. The garter stitch will be brilliant, as the English would say.

  5. hey guys-
    my copy of the “oeuvre” arrived today from amazon.com – you guys are really live, now.
    I fed the family dinner, then retired to my office (bedroom) to read it cover to cover. You guys did such a great job – you didn’t sell out to the big guys at all.
    It’s OK for the fame to go to your heads now. We understand.

  6. I’m away, but am told that my copy arrived safely from amazon yesterday–I’m totally impressed with the no-sew blankie–am in the midst of a blanket right now and trying to figure out if half sewn, half no-sew would look good or awful. Don’t worry about the yarn, it was a bit of a dodgy bet anyway, no?

  7. Sadly the book hasn’t arrived yet but I am all over the orange square! I want to make the blanket as long as I too can have the orange square! **i luv orange and hot pink**. The patterns from the book look not in the least bit dodgy – but positively kewl and doable even for me! I look forward to pouncing on it the minute it gets here.

  8. Are you going to tighten up that point where the 4 edges meet?
    You are really knitting fast! I only managed a shell top slightly over a week!

  9. awww had I known I would have been the local help out gal! :)

  10. yummy blankie!
    I live in the land of clotted cream – you can imagine the size of my hips ;) – go here http://www.roddas.co.uk and you can online order Cornish clotted cream!
    I’ve been itching to get to Loop for ages but as a cornish lass, the thought of going to London kind-of scares me, but I have done it & have met the girls at Liberty (pre-Loop though). GOing to have to summon up the courage to face the trains & traffic & go. (It’s the down-escalators on the underground that terrify me)
    Jo
    xxx

  11. VICTORY!
    Dodgy bet???? Dodgy bet? Wasn’t dodgy at all, Stephanie B!
    But you know what? It’s sooooo lovely (see, distracted of London, must be the orange square), and you were such a fab guest, and there’s stuff to send to you anyway (the left-behinds), I’m going to do the denim for you regardless. Beacuse you’re worth it, to coin a nauseating phrase.
    Do you want 4 ply or DK?
    And just because I can’t resist it, I do love the garter st, but my fave is the cream / green / green / chestnut stripy set that make up the first complete square from the bottom in your back-home picture.
    Love from London x x x
    ps – I can petition the Home Office for you if it’ll help your immigration status. Say we need you here for services to the hand knit industry?

  12. ps – this has just come back to me – I dreamt about your mitred squares last night! x

  13. Welcome home.

  14. Hey! Nice to have you back! I missed you yesterday. My Every Other Thursday wasn’t the same without you. Hope you’re early arrival was for good reasons, not anything bad, and I’m SO looking forward to next week! YAY!
    Oh yeah. The blanket is phenomenal. I’m just jealous is all.
    And one last thing. Do you know this artist? Sean Scully? I was looking through a magazine while waiting to be shrunk and I was like OMG! MUST TELL KAY!

  15. Me again. Google Sean Scully. There’s better stuff out there than the link I gave. This guy paints log cabin blankets.

  16. Forget about the orange square, I feel the magnetic pull of the half-garter square.

  17. The center needs a flower. Some kind of knitted flower that is all the rage. Or a tiny mini square could be sewn (sorry, that’s the only way I see) over it and over some of the other centres for a bit of texture.

  18. We’re off to Paris next week with the kids and my in-laws, and I see the French aren’t quite done with their little spring party. May need to pack an extra skein of laceweight, eh?

  19. This is such a great sum-greater-than-its-parts exercise. Don’t get me wrong, I love a mitered square. But look at what happens when you start mucking about with stripe patterns, color combinations, and square combinations. I’d love to try one that goes even more subtle, almost monochromatic. (You know me. I love a cloudy day, which we’re having here and I’m in bliss about . . .)
    The big orange square is the ticket. Pattern and randomness.
    Love this.

  20. One of my favorite english-isms that still survives in my re-yankee’d vocab is Whinge, but jusdging from your tales of travel, you probably don’t need that one. Save it for when you come home and it’s a too hot day in July to knit. Happy Trails.

  21. Pretty! And, oh, clotted cream . . . .yum!

  22. Genius. The no sew is brilliant, the color inspired. I even like the garter texture. Carry on!

  23. Oh, man. Thanks for the reminder of how much we all want that denim blanket as I continue to slog through the ginormous queen size blanket I’ve promised myself to finish but consider quitting knitting when I’m done. Maybe I won’t quit after all, just switch back to cotton. Denim, denim, denim… Will it screw with the mojo of the gift if I chant that to myself as I knit?

  24. Kay,
    Welcome back across the pond……you took the kids? Reallllllllllly? That would definitely challenge the holding of MY center!
    But yours continues to HOLD…because what you do comes from that Holy place where the
    “world’s great need meets God’s call”

  25. I love the way the miters form their own well-ordered texture pattern over the crazy (in a good way) stripes.

  26. I’m so intrigued by this blanket. And pining for a copy of your book. I should have Amazoned it. But I’m so impatient.

  27. Wow! I don’t know where to even start. That blue denim blanket is incredible. I think I would have “accidentally” packed it away with me. Your squares are coming out swimmingly! Bravo!

  28. dear, dear kay….please save us from this sewing up thing we all fear so much. is your idea “patent-able?”

  29. I found a great book to temporarily feed my Anglophile-ism. . . Nigel Slater’s biography “Toast.” It is about all the wonderfully wonderful (and awful) foods of his British childhood. It’s a great read.

  30. Your stripes are genius. i love them!!! I’m inspired to start a pillow. And your colors are just dreamy. so inspired!

  31. The squares! The colors! The garter stitch rows! I’m speechless. (Thank goodness you’re not.)
    Welcome home!

  32. love the new blanket squares! and the book! it’s too too fabu!
    i just finished knitting a log cabin baby blanket which i thought i had invented based upon my love of your taro blanket but my laziness in having to sew anything together (if that makes any sense). it’s black, white and red and will now be billed as an Educational Learning Blanket =)
    wish so much you were bringing the book tour to Boston.

  33. Ann! Kay! The AnnKaybookbookbook arrived today and I stopped to look at it…and then I stopped work to look at some more…then I stopped to e-mail my knitting daughter that she needed to stop on the way home from work and get this bookbookbook for herself…what a fabulous book…what a gift to the imagination…thank you.

  34. Okay- I got your book yesterday. LOVE IT!! I am now knitting a log cabin in some kind of Zen/obsessive state, and using up all my leftover bits of sock yarn. It may turn out to be totally “naf”, but I am having so much fun!!!!
    Thanks for the chuckles and inspiration.

  35. The blanket looks great! Anything with no seaming looks good to me.
    My copy of The Book arrived today – hardcover! I had no idea! I’m so impressed and pleased!

  36. Just purchased your but and am really enjoying it. I have read your blog almost since the first and have been looking forward to the book. Good Job!

  37. Hi Kay, Met you in London at loop. You were wonderful, and next time I hope Ann can come too. Learned about your blog and book through an email from loop and look forward to catching up on years of missed blogs. The book is great, and it really as the others have said a real gift to the imagination and, basically, it feels like a letter from a good friend who has great, do-able knitting ideas. Feeling very inspired!

  38. Ahhhh! Found your blog through another blog who also linked to your book, genius!!! I must have a copy, it looks delicious. I love this no sew blanket. I’m making my first ever big project now (a sweater), so this might have to be big project number 2!

  39. two entries:
    1. “No this is not the Doris Kearns Goodwin look-alike contest. As you can see, that is being held across the street.”
    2. “I’m sorry Ann. You’re going to have to let go of the scarf and give it back to the nice lady who knit it as a sample.”
    (Hope the fact that I have no idea what my URL is doesn’t cost me. My office number is: 202-467-0411/.
    Looking forward to seeing you both next week at Knit Happens in Alexandria!
    Mary Dwyer Pembroke