I spent the weekend working on the finishing of the blanket for Tia Coleman.
Everybody please send out a thought and a prayer for her—remember that for the past twelve weeks she has been living a new reality that is all but unimaginable.
(Here’s how this project began.)
I have to say, I welcomed the opportunity to complete this blanket. Order out of chaos is the theme of the moment, and it has been good to bring together the work of knitters from all over the country, and England, too. Thank you to Nell, Julibeth, Mary Anne, Jeanne, Kate, Ellen, Mary, Irene, Sue, Charlene, and Kay for making Tia’s blanket happen.
Pick out yarn for the joining. I excavated a magnificent giant ball of Ton of Wool. Its mild gray color was the exact frame I was hoping for.
Arrange the squares in a way that looks good. This went on for a while.
Watch out for outlier squares and face into what needs to happen with them. The two outliers I discovered were my own. Too big. I sat them down and explained that they would find their destiny in a blanket, but not this blanket. They were philosophical about it.
Get your needles figured out. Three-needle bind off requires, amazingly, three needles. And the i-cord border uses DPNs.
Figure out your seam game. This blanket is 4 squares by 4 squares. I wanted to seam it with the fewest possible ends, so I used one length of yarn for each seam—for picking up and knitting stitches and for the bind off that follows.
Another way to do this would have been to seam individual squares together to create strips of 4, then seam the strips together. This would have added a lot of ends to this blanket.
Here’s a really awesome graphic showing what one length of yarn can do. Follow the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 for the full journey. Really sorry about this crap drawing but I’m low on caffeine here.
Step 1. I picked up and knit along the edges of 4 squares.
You can see the long needleful of picked-up stitches. Weirdly satisfying.
Step 2. I put that needle aside for the moment, and did not break my yarn. I fired up needle 2, using the unbroken yarn from needle 1 (it takes some TLC to do this), and picked up and knit along the edges of the next set of 4 squares.
You get really good at counting to 54 as you pick up and knit the stitches along each edge.
Step 3. I did the three-needle bind off to join the eight squares.
Step 4. It is a gratifying moment to arrive at the final stitch on a long three-needle bind off. Especially when you’ve used exactly one length of yarn. You feel like you’ve really done some connecting.
Once I’d finished the three seams going in one direction, the blanket had these thin little connectors where the seam jumps from one row of squares to the next. (See, over at left center?)
You really need to do this work at a table to keep from yanking the thin little connectors.
I repeated Steps 1-4 for the final three seams.
Here’s what the front side of the seam looks like.
And here’s the back. It’s a ridge of bound-off stitches.
I continued in this manner until I’d done three-needle bind off on all six seams.
At which point I settled in for 15 feet of i-cord edging. If you’re new to this most wondrous finish to a blanket, here’s a great video tutorial.
The Final Bath
After all this moving and grooving, it’s important to give your finished (finished!) blanket a final bath. You can see here how puffy the seams are.
A soak in the tub, cold water only, lets it all come together.
Spread out, still drying here, you can see what I’m talking about.
There are many metaphors that come to mind when putting together a project like this. Mostly, I thought about Tia Coleman, the knitters who joined me in this project, and the idea that everyday life is something to pay attention to, to relish, to treasure.
And love is everything.
Speaking of Love
The groups of blanketeers over in the Lounge continue to work on their Team Blankets. Such fun! Such dear humans! Join in if you’d like to make a square. Email me if you’d like to lead a new team for a blanket you’d like to organize.