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Live From Denim Central

Dear Everybody,
This morning, Ann is indisposed. She has been called away on an Urgent Matter involving Gingerbread Houses and something called the ‘pre-first’ grade. She expects to be up to her elbows in royal icing for the better part of the day. I would venture to say that although surely ‘pre-first’ graders are much more mature than kindergarteners, there may be airborne gumdrops. The vocabulary word for the day might be ‘pelting’.
Bless her heart, Ann is such a sucker.
What does this mean for you?
I’m afraid it means more denim. Denim denim denim. I heart denim. I do wonder whether I’ll wake up some morning, look around me, and ask myself, “Dude. What is with the denim?” But so far that hasn’t happened.
It’s a shame, really, because until this gingerbread thing came up, Ann was poised to show everyone the finished prototype of the Perfect Sweater. I’ve had a sneak peak, and I gotta say, it’s one heckuva Perfect Sweater. I daresay it’s the Ultimate Sweater, especially if your passion is stockinette stitch. This sweater is a long, smooth ride in the ol’ Stockinettemobile. And it fits Ann’s small-sized model, perfectly. Ann’s pleased and proud and being a knitter, she wants to tweak the living heck out of it.
But for that, you have to wait until Ann gets the calcified egg white out of her hair. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe never. The royal icing, she is a tenacious icing.
So here’s the denim show. Let’s get it over with, shall we? If y’all would just start knitting some denim, I could move on with my life. Until then, there will be…..
SIXTY-THREE SQUARES of Barbara Walker’s Learn-to-Knit Afghan, in–you guessed it–denim!!!
Today, though, just squares one through 10. I’m sorry, but you make me do this. Send me pictures of all the denim you’re knitting out there, and I’ll ease up on you. We can forget all about the other 53 squares.
Squares One Through Eight–Knit-Purl Combinations
Square 1: Striped Garter Stitch. When Barbara says ‘learn-to-knit’, she means Learn. To. Knit. Back to basics. I have to say, maybe I was having a good day or something, but I handled this one with no problems whatsoever.
Square 2: Striped Stockinette Stitch. Steady now, it’s time to learn-to-purl. Again, I was pretty comfortable. No surprises. At this point, I was still trying to heed Barbara’s advice–which she’s not very, um, flexible about–to learn to knit continental-style. I can do it, okay? I just don’t want to. I need to keep in touch with my inner Camp Fire Girl, and knit the way I was taught. It works fine, okay? Leave me alone!
Square 3: Basketweave. Knitting and purling in the same row. Remain calm.
Square 4: Lattice With Seed Stitch. I’d like to do the whole blanket in this. Lurvly.
Square 5: Diagonal Ribbing. A stair-steppy little stitch. Extremely difficult to photograph. Would make an awesome alternative to a regular ribbed edging. Plus it doesn’t pull like regular ribbing. I give it a big thumbs-up.
Square 6: Twisted and Crossed Ribbing. I.e., not really ribbing. This will look fabby when the indigo starts to rub off of the raised stitches.
Square 7: Garter and Rib Pattern. When Barbara wants to teach you something, she teaches you. This pattern is meant to show how “different patterns can create very obvious differences in gauge (number of stitches and rows to the inch) even when worked with the same yarn and needle size.” The garter spreads out and the ribbing pulls in.
Square 8: Rose Fabric. This is the last of the “Knit-Purl Combinations”, and it requires the death-defying maneuver of knitting in the stitch below. The revelation of Rose Fabric is that it is such a light, airy fabric, even in cotton. What I learned from Rose Fabric is that you can’t pick a stitch pattern just by looking at the picture.
Here’s where the learning curve went from flat to steep. I’d never knit a mosaic pattern before. They always struck my eye as kind of ruggish. Kilim-y. Pretty but what do you do with them? Another revelation was in store. Mosaic patterns yield a fabric that feels woven. It lies flat. It doesn’t spring the way knitting generally does. Sometimes that’s what you want.
Square 9: Horizontal Chain. Mod!
Square 10: Diagonal Chain. For the background color I used mixed strands of denim from my Texere cones.
Okay I’m done. For now.
I’ll be back.
Love, Kay




  1. Kay and her squares are back! My question: just how do all these differently sized squares fit together into an afghan-shaped thingamabobby? Well, I’m guessing Barbara has that all figured out and we’ll be gasping in delight at the finished masterpiece.
    (Couldn’t stay away from the potato chips, eh? C’mon girl, let’s see some circles in 2006!)

  2. Oh, Kay – you just always know how to light my proverbial fire. I was all adrool – and then, then you pull out the MOSAICS. Cripes, man. I actually have a denim question for you – between the elann and the rowan denim, if you were knitting a sweater, do you notice a great difference in gauge and finished what-have-you? I’ll gladly take any pontificating you’d like to offer on comparisons of the two (I know you featured a link to helpful info on this before, too, but I want the KAY input now). Okay, I have to wipe the drool off my keyboard and get back to work. Thank you!

  3. Oooh, I can definitely see the potential of *the square project*. Putting it on the list. And the denim is such an inspired choice of yarns for it. πŸ˜‰

  4. Dammit, Kay, just when I’ve decided to sit tight and really knit up some of this wool yarn that has filled my house to bursting, you have me scheming to invest in cotton denim — something I’ve never before felt the urge to do — and knit along with you and Barbara. Geez!

  5. Kay: The Blue Period. Lovely, can’t wait to see how they fit together.

  6. Ahem. Square no. 7. ‘rows to the inch’. I’m saying No More.
    Poor Ann! I have been on the receiving end of Royal Icing, and that was without any Small People being involved. I’m still finding odd bits attached to strange places in the kitchen. I send my sympathy.
    And how do all these squares fit together? Or is it only no.7 that is a bit wibbly? Have you knitted them all, or are you only at no. 10? More denim, more denim, more denim! One day the world will be converted…..

  7. The last few weeks I’ve woken feeling really odd. At first I thought ‘forgetaboutit’, but looking back I think it started with your pix of the Whitby. OK, I’ve dabbled with denim before, it’s no big deal nowadays, but lately I’ve been craving for cables. I never thought I’d be tempted, cables left me cold, I even felt sorry for anyone who couldn’t stop. But this morning I ordered some books, (Oh, this is hard for me) had my stitch dictionaries out…..well you’ve heard this before, Kay. Thing is, how many rows is the centre celtic knot pattern in Whitby?? 24? 28?Please, just a little hint, then I’ll shut up, just this once, huh??

  8. Love it! So, I’m getting the picture that stockinette, aka The Stockinettemobile is like one of those big Volkswagen Vidalia trucks, perfectly aged and covered with meaningful bumper stickers. What vehicle does mosaic knittng relate to? Flying Carpet?
    Poor Ann! I hope there aren’t any dragees (candy bbs) involved. After a little family cookie decorating one year, we were slipping on runaway candies for weeks.

  9. Eeek! Scrambling to complete my order before the rest of my chums rush in and buy up all the denim! I ordered enough balls to make the largest sweater in the largest size (hoping there will be leftovers to squirrel away for a Taro blanket or a baby jumper). This convert is happy– it started with Little Badger Knits which I bought a few years back, and then your Taro blanket, and then the Whitby, and soon I hope to be proudly wearing (okay, knitting) my own Rowan cotton denim 80s style extravaganza. But don’t stop posting the pictures now! I need continuing fuel… Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm, Kay!

  10. Barbara’s book helped me learn many new techniques. That is going to be one beautiful afghan.

  11. You are SO going to get that Knitting Bead for your Camp Fire ceremonial vest. This is the knitting version of the woman who cooked every Julia Child recipe, isn’t it? WoHeLo, sister!

  12. That will certainly be a beautiful blanket.
    We did the gingerbread thing in Kindergarten and my son loved it so much we’ve done one every year (he is now 9). And also my advice is…don’t eat it… not after all the saliva and other bodily fluids the child invests in it….

  13. Between my blueberry yogurt and my blue clay coffee mug, I’m thinking I might be looking at the world through denim-colored glasses? There are worse vision differences to be had.
    I’m browsing the denim, people. Denim People!! Ha! That’s just a little blue humor for you this A.M. Thank me later.

  14. No wonder your fingers are blue!!!

  15. Lovely.
    I will have to search out this Barbara person’s book (?) and some denim to hoard.

  16. Oooooh. I love the denim. I also love the so-called scarf, which I started a few days before you posted about it. I thought that I had escaped being a lemming, but apparently not – Everyone is making and buying them, I was just the last lemming to figure it out! I suppose I will have to give in to Clapotis next. Perhaps in denim?

  17. Just out of curiosity, how much would a denim afghan actually WEIGH when completed? I’m kind of picturing something you couldn’t leave around unattended smallish children …..

  18. I’m so happy you finally posted these – they are really beautiful – I can’t wait to see this blanket grow square by square.

  19. Love #4, love #9. Am making stockinette baby sleeves in denim, and my, they’re long, for baby sleeves.
    I think you must wash these squares and put them side by side and show us if they’ll all fit. Actually, show us them side by side before washing, too.

  20. Between the Whitby and this I feel a giant sucking sound drawing me into the world of denim. In fact I just ordered the book and 2000 yards of the stuff….Help Me!

  21. “Heaven….I’m in heaven…” Oh, Kay, you always come through for us cotton lovers. The denim: it is beautiful. The squares: they are exquisite. And I suffered three moments of squimishness during this post. First when you mentioned Ann and the royal icing (a cruel, cruel mistress) then there was the continental style knitting and still later when you brought up the mosaic. So scary.
    Is Barbara pretty thorough with her continental tutorial in this book or is it basically an instruction i.e. “Knit in the continental style”? I have contemplated having a go at this method but, well, I am afraid. And I haven’t found a good resource. And I am a slow knitter anyway and Lord knows I don’t need to try a new technique and discover that even this “quicker” method is slow going for me….
    Oh chatty chatty today. At least it looks like I am not the only one. . .

  22. Ooohhh…this is all making me want to run down to my LYS (at which I happen to work) on my day off and buy up all of our denim. And ignoring all of the other things I need to do today. ACK!

  23. Your squares look great. This is going to be one super-fun afghan.

  24. Re: continental. I, personally, worship at the throne of The Principles of Knitting, and Queen June says it produces overly tight knitting and an uneven tension between knit and purl rows. So there.

  25. Those are snazzy! Makes me want to make a sampler afghan too. I have the same pattern tha tmy garnmother used – maybe it’s time to dig it out…

  26. Just in time from decorating gingerbread houses in kindergarden, still scraping bits of icing off my sweater, but happy to report no flying gumdrops, in New England.
    Awe-struck by denim squares! keep them coming!

  27. OHHHH ! I so covet 4,8 and 10 – who is this Barbara ? What did I miss ??? I need a denim afghan too !
    Heather x

  28. The Brooklyn review of your recent work concludes with:
    Rock the &*%$ on!
    Also, I love that Babs is not afraid to start people with an AFGHAN, instead of a little hat or a potholder or whatever. Because she’s going to teach you how to knit, and not be afraid, and do lots of cool stuff. It’s not so much knitting you’ll get bored, because it’s INTERESTING and she trusts you to keep learning after the initial curve. It’s not so much knitting that you’ll get bored, it’s so much knitting that you’ll never stop! You’ll love knitting so much you’ll positively GUSH in knitblog comment areas!

  29. Completely inspiring. The denim goodness is washing over me like Uncle Stan’s Egg Nog. Fan- freakin-tastic! You know, Kay, you are going to start a run on this stuff- the Denim, Barbara W’s Book- all of it.
    I think you need a white denim afghan to take out to Lawn Guyland. How completely beachy and fab would that be?
    Off to make cookies and royal icing for the Toddler Room. Little people in this house want to help, but like I always say:”It’s only help if the other person says so!”
    Great job Kay!

  30. Whoa. May I say: Way cool, dude.
    Full stop.

  31. Very cool! Now I want to knit up an afghan with Denim.

  32. O Den-M-Nit
    O Den-M-Nit
    How lovely is your blueness
    You’re deep and dark when first you’re knit
    And lovelier still when faded a bit
    O Den-M-Nit
    O Den-M-Nit
    How lovely is your blueness

  33. Kay, it’s time we bought shares in Denim Yarn Production. People are Getting It. Yay! x x

  34. Just wish my *(&^&* Denim from Elann would show up! Don’t they know Christmas is less than two weeks away and I have baby jeans to knit!?!?!?

  35. Now added to Christmas list: Barbara Walker’s Learn-To-Knit Afghan and denim. This looks like a good alternative to the other sampler afghan I can’t do, because I can’t figure out what in the world yarn to use. Thanks for sharing!

  36. Now that I finished my husband’s denim sweater and started one for myself, I’m a total convert. Oh, Rowan Denim, how I love thee.

  37. just wondering…how long do you think that it took you to knit all of those squares? I love it. How much Denim did you need to buy for the project?

  38. vibrant denim blues pix! how masterful of ewe. LOVE…them!

  39. I love squares 8 – 10! Way cool!

  40. Square No. 7 just keeps singing Scarf, Scarf, Scarf at me. I am putting my fingers in my ears and will be closing my window on Mason Dixon presently as I will not cast on for a scarf now, no, no, no…

  41. love barbara walker, her mosaic knitting book is the best. the denim is lovely, the squares are gorgeous, and it’s all good.

  42. It’s so beautiful! I’m working on the denim afghan from 100 Afghan Squares to Knit. I figure that if I can’t beat Houston, I chould join it with cotton yarn.

  43. Wow, I LOVE this project!!!! New ideas for squares. Thank you, I can’t wait to see the rest!

  44. That was a blast seeing all those different kinds of squares in the same yarn. Way cool — thanks for doing that! I look forward to the next 53! πŸ™‚

  45. Ooh, I have that book but could never decide what yarn to use. My LYS has 3 colors of demim, perfect for those crazy colors near the end of the book.

  46. Hi! I’ve never blogged before but you guys are funny & way too talented! I want to hear more! I design knitting kits, needles, wooden round looms, that kind of stuff as a consultant. Anyone working with knitting boards or looms? I’m interested in doing new stuff with hairpin lace, broomstick lace, weave-its, etc. with all the new yarns. But the main thing is: my maiden name was Betty Dixon (I’m from Okla.). Thanks for your fun projects – love the robot!! Betty Wilkinsonn


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