Is Starshower the new Honey Cowl? Only time will tell (but it looks good).

Do Try This At Home

Dear Ann,
This afternoon I took a well-deserved break from my Lacy Zigzag shawl, which was itself a well-deserved break from what I was really supposed to be doing, to let my Inner Artiste out to play with the squares.
There is a ton of squares in my apartment. Recently, a Floridian reader who I will call ‘Cindy’ (because that is her name) emailed me with a most generous and tantalizing offer. Cindy volunteered to sew up afghans for us. Cindy’s kind offer, combined with my growing fright at the prospect of sewing up all these squares, motivated me to lay out our very first afghan for Afghans.
In the fog of squares, I needed a game plan. So I sat down and sorted them by fiber, and then by approximate gauge, with the thought that it would be easiest to sew worsted to worsted and bulky to bulky. But that only got me so far. With so many choices, how to decide which squares belong with which? I quickly came to the conclusion that, next time, I’m not going in there alone: I want a buddy.
But Cindy is waiting, and I need to de-square my bedroom. So I hit upon a simplistic solution: The First Afghan would be an All-Carolyn Afghan. This made a lot of sense because: Many of Carolyn’s squares are in the same weight of yarn, and some are even in the same yarn (she has a righteous stash of wool tapestry yarn from her sister Lucia). Moreover, Carolyn’s squares are remarkably uniform. Their straight edges would make a hormonally-challenged pin-blocker like you break right down and cry like a baby. And finally, there is consistency in Carolyn’s palette. She likes deeps, brights and neutrals. Surely I could work with that. So here is the first draft:
cindyfirstdraft.jpg
(Careful observers, and especially Carolyn, will note that there are a few non-Carolyns in the mix. But be assured that I took the utmost care to fill in with squares that had that essential Carolynosity, a Carolynian gestalt if you will.)
The first draft, in which I alternated neutral squares with deep/bright squares, felt too hodge-podgy. So I went back to the drawing bed (notice how well Carolyn’s neutral squares go with my bedspread) and reconfigured them in alternating bands, swapping a few squares in and out. Here’s the final version:
cindyfinaldraft.jpg
It’s 48 inches long and 41 inches wide, which puts it in the large baby blanket division. Thanks to Carolyn’s sharing with me of her windfall from Lucia, I can send Cindy some matching tapestry yarn for sewing up, which should further unify the artistic statement of this afghan. I.e., look pretty.
So, one afghan is underway. Laying out the others will be more challenging, because we won’t have the All-Carolyn rule to guide us. I’m gonna need some help, is what I’m saying.
By the way, here are Carolyn’s most recent contributions, which were inspired by her jacaranda tree. Lordy, the trees you people have out there in the country!
A huge yoo-hoo and virtual hugs to Cindy and Carolyn!
Love, Kay
P.S. A note about the zigzag shawl: I did 3 whole repeats before losing a stitch somewhere. (Ruh-roh. Time to activate the 24-hour International Lace Emergency Hotline.) In other late-breaking developments, I made a tiny change in the pattern: where it says slip 1 knit 1 psso, I am doing slip-slip-knit. My psso’s are too loopy. The ssk is tidier, at least in this inelastic linen yarn.

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Great work, Kay! And I’m terribly excited to have my first square in the first blanket (at least I am reasnably sure I spy it). Could you just reassure us that there will still be Sew-Up Bees, please?

  2. ATTENTION: THERE WILL STILL BE SEW-UP BEES!!!
    The thought is, we want to have some FUN at the sew-up bees. With the number of squares we have, it could turn into a sweatshop with chip ‘n dip if I don’t start laying out and sewing a few up before then.
    Didja see the laundry baskets full of squares, Maggi? No worries about plenty of squares to sew up.
    xox Kay

  3. to the square in all of us….heavens to betsy, kay, the potential afghan is most joyful! but i must sing praises for your artistry, cindy for her up and coming saintly patience, sisterly yarn-ness, and my “cushioned quilter’s square ‘n blocker” padded thingy. in kay-ville, i envision a room full of square voices calling out… “pick me first…. no fair, it’s my turn… you belong at the bottom, and besides, we clash”…. ah yes, color me looney!…. xoxo’s

  4. Hey, did you ever think about sewing up those squares to make, like, a blanket or something?
    I love love LOVE the way these squares look together. The only one that jumps out to me is the light-colored cable one, G 4 if we’re playing Bingo. Is it the photo, or does it seem a lot more dimensional and lighter than the others? I like the flatness of these squares, but if Miss Cable needs to be where she is, well then fine.
    Way to go. We need to keep elaborate stats on how long Cindy spends sewing this little project.
    I’m kind of amazed that you have all those laundry baskets. So tidy of you!

  5. Well, thanks Ann, for the props on my laundry basket storage facility for the squares, but it’s getting to be a problem to do the laundry. We have to literally remove squares from basket, load laundry, and then when laundry is complete (this can take from hours to days, depending on who’s in charge), re-load the squares into the baskets. This is no way to live, I can tell you.
    Do not fret about Square G4 (the Cable). I’m way ahead of you. Scientific tests have been performed. When you pull on the edges of G4, it fits right in. It’s the same weight of yarn, and in fact I think it’s the same yarn as one of the log cabins. The cable pulls in the edges something fierce.
    It’s kind of exciting to reach the stage of having an actual blanket in process. Go Cindy! xox Kay

  6. Ummm… how many squares has Carolyn sent in? Is this the entire Carolyn stash or is there more? Blimey! And they are all so lovely!
    Well I’m raising a glass to the first MDK Afgan – figuratively speaking anyway, it is 8am after all…

  7. I have two words for you: crazy quilt. This is definitely the way to go with the remainder of the squares. It’s hard to do, but I have a friend who is a quilting guru who swears by it – she makes all of her squares, mixes them up, closes her eyes and randomly pulls them out and places them in order. It will work, I promise you. Chuck guage and color to the wind and go crazy! (By the way, the carefully ordered quilt looks fabulous, too! But do you really have time to do it 20 times over?!?!) xox
    P.S. I’m headed to Vegas this weekend with my May square yarn in hand. I’m putting Nevada on the map baby!

  8. Awesome blanket, but I’m with Julia. Unless this process went a lot faster for you than it would for me, I suspect you might go slightly batty perfectly arranging each square with its soulmates, and consistent with my laissez-faire knitting personality I would opt for stitching them together at random. Or at least try one that way. Rock your world. (However, if symmetry and control are going to rule, let me know what colors you are short on! More reds?)

  9. My squares *themselves* look like a crazy quilt! No way will they ‘go with’ anything, including each other. (Arguably, each one doesn’t even match *itself,* but we’re not going there!) So I concur that you’ll go stark raving mad if you try to make them match. Mwa-ha-haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa….
    Maybe Maggi and I (and other Richmond readers/knitters) can sew one up, too, since you’re barely halfway through the collection phase and already out of laundry baskets! (Good excuse to get Greta back up here, too, so I can play with her.)
    Do let us know if you have particular color/weight preferences (ooh, sounds like a “singles” site, doesn’t it?), as well as what States are still unrepresented to see who has strings to pull and favors to call in!
    What a cool thing you two started. You should, honestly, be so proud of the goodwill you’re fostering. I’m glad to be a hanger-on!

  10. I bow down at Carolyn’s feet. That girl is square crazy!

  11. I love the entry in the family book: She likes to work upstairs with yarn. So cute.

  12. OOH gorgeous ! They look like dolly mixtures ….. do you have dolly mixtures over there ?? I’ll send some for afghan laying out inspiration if you don’t !

  13. the family book is an absolute pearl! it’s quite adorable that wee urchins think moms look like mrs. potato head. a keepsake.

  14. Ann, I love your portrait! Tonight at the bookstore I found a 70s book on modern crochet that includes a picnic blanket that converts into an evening cape!

  15. As I’ve worked on my first square contributions, I’ve been thinking about how you’ll organize and sew up those suckers. It would make me crazy because I’d want to keep elaborate archives about the orgins of each square.
    I’ve noticed (in my long lurking and not-commenting) that there seem to be several Seattle-area MDK readers. Maybe we could organize a sew-up bee? I’ll bring tasty snacks and drinks.
    Love the family album.
    Melinda

  16. Kay– I dont know where Cindy is but if she’s within 50 miles of Ft. Lauderdale, I can help with some Florida stitching!!
    I love the afghans you’ve put together, such symmetry :)
    Next year when we do this, can we do Warm Up America? heheh
    PS – I’m willing to be Emergency Lace Back Up when Emma is SLEEPING!! LOL

  17. Hi Happy Kay Mom! How wonderful that Joseph thinks of your happy face! I often say a little prayer of thanks for Josie’s selective little memory. And never fear, she is 8 and her pics of me are only just starting to look a little less like blimps with glasses and lots of lipstick.
    The turquoise sari-shawl is a thing of wonder. Check out this site: http://www.vintage-knitting-patterns.com/
    Vintage patterns to buy and download, and a FREE 1951 Stoles and Shawls pattern book to download if you fill out a questionare. It has some good stuff, but I have been leaning toward the Morehouse Farm “La Scala,” (thanks to whoever posted that). I have a sentimental spot for Morehouse. On a business trip to NYC several years ago, I was wandering the Union Square (I think) Market and happened on their booth. At that time I was still in baby-mode haze, and hadn’t knitted in a long long time. But by that night, on the plane, I was happily hooked all over again, working on a beautiful moss green lace scarf.
    This weekend, I’m weaving the ends in on my 3 little squares and mailing them, I mean it! I feel like such a slacker! What beautiful stuff.
    Susan

  18. Just to let you know – bump has finally decided to make his presence felt in the way of contractions etc. – yeay!
    Unfortunately he’s *still* lying posterior so it may take a while before you receive the traditional report of weight, name & “Mum & Baby doing fine, Dad in the pub” but shouldn’t be too long now….
    Jo
    xxx

  19. Eek Jo ! I’ll put the kettle on and fetch clean towels…

  20. I’m pretty sure that by the time Jo reads this, her bump will be on the other side of her skin.
    In the meantime, I’m thinkin’ of her and rootin’ for her. This is just the beginning, girl!
    Aara, mother of Xavier, 16, Magdalena, 13, and Dylan, 9

  21. ~I keep checking back for news!
    Thinking of Jo,Mr.Jo and their new person.Hope it is/was a joyous birth.

  22. what a beautiful afghan that is going to be! bravo, everybody!
    (inspiring, as always)
    rooting for jo! and knitting on the front steps today!
    last night i started – and finished (what, me finish a project?) a coffee-cup sleeve (ie the magknits ones) in the hospital waiting room with elliot. knitting helped me bite the bullet & wait (and wait… and wait) ; however, i am distressed by the state of our health care system here in QC. i am soooooo tired – and on that note – she went off to sleep.

  23. christy…..truly, i am presently in a bit of a fanatical square mode,….but keep in mind that my patterns are totally minimalist in flavor, (no snazzy designs whatsoever),for which i must apologize!

  24. The ol’ citrus vanilla candle of maternity is lit. Lots of love and easy labor thoughts to Jo tonight.

  25. Well, ladies (and Thomas, and Ann’s Brother-in-Law), I feel very proud that we may be making Blog History: The first live birth to be documented, in real time, in a comments thread.
    I know women do weird things when in the early stages of labor (my weirdest was to drink a large glass of red wine, on doctor’s orders, in a vain attempt to stop the labor–the only glass of wine I have ever drunk without enjoyment!–I vaguely recall having an argument with Hubby, who wanted to run out to the store for a bottle of wine because all he could find in the closet was ‘good stuff’–and I’ll leave you to guess who won that argument), but Jo takes the cake and wins our hearts by getting on the computer to post her news flash. Hope she doesn’t keep us in suspense too long! Love and all good wishes from Kay

  26. According to my mum I was supposed to make my appearance on Dec 6th and yes labour did start then. But I didn’t really feel like meeting the world yet, so after 48 hours(!) my mother decided to go for oxytocin and suction. Good thing too, I had the umbilical around my neck from all the turning and was beginning to look somewhat blue-ish.
    I usually got that story whenever there was something to do, like in ‘I was in labour with you for 48 hours, so you can carry the trash out/mow the lawn/rake leaves/shovel snow.’

  27. thomas, your post made me laugh (again!) (giggly girl).
    i actually said the other day, when my Significant Other asked if I would be OK at home with the 2 kididdles while he went to his meeting,
    “i brought them into this world -i think i’ll be fine for an hour alone with both of them.” Oh, the shaaaame.
    -kaf

  28. next question: how many skeins are you using and what dimensions does it give you? I never know how many skeins to buy!