Block by Block


I may have pushed off most of the things on my to-do list this weekend because a big box of yarn arrived on Saturday and with it I could start a fairly ambitious knitting project.

2 down, 28 mystery blocks to go!

2 down, 28 mystery blocks to go!

As ambitious as yarn bombing a tree? Okay, maybe not, but this feels more of a mountain to me than that project did because I have always preferred knitting small things or at least items that knit up quickly. A blanket does not, generally speaking, knit up anything close to quickly. Even the baby blanket I knit a year or so ago reminded me of the monotony of large shapes and how much I do not enjoy that kind of needlework.

The crab was much more enjoyable to knit than the blanket!

The crab was much more enjoyable to knit than the blanket!

Nor do I enjoy piece-work when it’s the same piece over and over again, so the traditional afghan made up of granny squares never really appealed to me, either. (Granny squares are crochet, of course, and I’m more likely to just keep going around and around to enlarge one than make the 60 or so needed for a modest throw. I tried that once but there was something a tad off as my concentric squares ended up a bit tilted as I went along–interesting effect, but not what I was going for.)

A green and white crocheted throw of concentric squares that tilt a bit with each round

Case in point… the tilted squares would be cool if I knew how to make them on purpose!

What changed my mind? I’m still not 100% sure, but it had to do with one of the many email newsletters I usually toss out but randomly read (otherwise I’d unsub and be done with it, but occasionally I want to know what they contain) and it happened to include a notice about the Cascade Knitterati Knit-a-Long. 30 blocks by different designers released over the course of the year via the Cascade newsletter. It was just starting, and it would yield a pretty decent blanket by the end. So I gave up filling in the no-spend block for that day’s habit tracker and ordered about 24 skeins of yarn.

Could I have knit it with my stash on hand? Perhaps. But I don’t really think I have enough of any one type or weight of yarn to make the project without buying anything at all, much less in colors that would all coordinate, so I might as well start fresh, right? Could I subscribe to the patterns, save them, and do them when I’m not trying to be very budget-conscious? I suppose I could have tried, but a project I don’t start now could take years to eventually get around to, if ever, so there’s a higher chance it’d languish on my hard drive instead of doing some good!

So goes my justification of the yarn purchase.

Now, full disclaimer, I’m not using Cascade 220, instead I’m subbing a similar superwash Wool of the Andes from KnitPicks because, at the time, I thought it would break the bank less. That now remains to be seen as the 220 in Cascade 220 apparently denotes the yardage involved, and the WotA is only half that per skein. Rookie mistake, definitely. That said, the first block took slightly less than 1 skein, so the 24 I have might get me through the bulk of the project. It depends on the patterns. Block 2, for instance, is stranded color work, so that takes up twice the yarn. I do have some spare WotA Superwash in my stash from knitting Todd’s Tardis scarf a few years ago, and while it’s not exactly the same colorway I’m using so far, I think the dark blue could coordinate with the merlot, briar, almond, bamboo, and pampas colors I chose if I use it as an accent or intersperse the blocks just the right way.

Or I could order more. We shall see.

Lessons So Far

Always order more yarn than you think you need. Not only could the yardage be different, but if you decide to switch around some color designations for the given patterns, you might fall short of the designers’ projections. I did not do this. I hope I will not knit to regret it.

I finished the first block a single afternoon, interspersed with a little work here and there–I’d reward myself with some rows after completing a different task.


Block #1, designed by Jacqueline van Dillen

Rows might not be the right word, though, as the first block was knit in the round; a different experience to be sure. The circular cast-on was awesome, though, and I foresee using that again when I do more center-out items since it’s far easier than the cephalopod-like machinations used to cast on and divide stitches on double points otherwise.

My knitting strictly from charts confidence got a bit of boost on this one, as well.

Block #2, designed by Shannon Dunbabin

Block #2, designed by Shannon Dunbabin

I got a little more than halfway through block two by the end of Sunday night (pesky responsibilities kept intruding) and set it aside until last night when I was determined to bliss out with the remaining squirrels and acorns. Knitting stranded color work flat is a pain. There, I’ve said it. I much prefer doing it in the round, but that’s not what the pattern calls for. Such is life, and it’s always good practice to do things that come less naturally, right?

All those ends to weave in, too!

All those ends to weave in, too!

The other thought I had while working on the blocks so far (other than the coolness of having a new blanket by next winter) was that these blocks will need blocking and seaming: some of my least favorite parts of the process. The blocking I’ll probably do in bunches, but I’ll have to hold off seaming until they’re all complete so I can get the best possible arrangement. I’m not sure I can just go with the flow and attach them together as I go.

Now I shall wait semi-patiently to see what block #3 will be!

The Great Eyelash Yarn Shortage of 2016

In The Studio

I have some leeway in my evening schedule this week, thanks to it being Todd’s turn to cook. Wohoo! Still loving this arrangement we started back when we first moved in together, way back in 2009. I don’t have any projects due in the next week, which means I could actually work on something just for fun. Except for the very large project that is the Yarm Bomb due in November.

But November’s a long ways away, right?

Sure, but there are a lot of pieces going into this project and I need to knit hay while the sun shines. Or something to that effect… (I do have a portion that involves crocheting with hemp, though no hay will be knit for my submission.)

And suddenly I realize that I may not have mentioned this project at all, tumbleweeds on the blog as they were for a while.

So… Thomasville Center for the Arts is doing an Art in the Open competition this fall, to coincide with Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival, and the theme is Furry and Feathered. Teams of up to 3 fiber arts will be yarn bombing the crepe myrtles along W Jackson St with proper cash prizes on the line!

If you guessed that there might be monkeys on the tree I’m decorating you’d have guessed correctly. My original plan includes 3 monkeys, one parrot, several butterflies, some flowering vines, and a hellovalotta banana leaves. Some of the yarn is being provided by the local yarn shop, but it won’t be in for a few more weeks, and that’s what I plan to knit the banana leaves out of, so I’ve been working in the characters.


The parrot is more or less complete, though I feel like he needs a little something, maybe some plumage on top of his head? He’s mostly made of recycled sari silk that I’ve had in my yarn stash for ages. I had to order in the yarn for the monkeys, though, since I was going to need a bunch, and then had a merry time finding the last few skeins of eyelash/fun fur novelty yarn in some shade of dark brown to give the monkeys a bit more interest. Seriously, there’s a shortage of brown fun-fur yarn out there for some reason that I just cannot fathom. My supplier only had one skein to send me, the other supplier had none, the usual online suspects were no help, neither were JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels. Finally, on the bottom shelf at Hobby Lobby, I found three skeins of the stuff on Saturday.

Persistence pays off.

So now my monkeys can live up to their furry expectations.

Meanwhile, I also want to get caught up on the vlogs–I’ve got two weekends to edit and I want to do an August Favorites video, as well. I think that should just about fill up the week and weekend, then, when it’ll be time to start on my next design team project!

What projects do you have going on right now?