Denim Blankie Dilemas…

Just in case you’re wondering why I have started speaking like a four year old and calling this project my “Denim Blankie” …………blame Mel Brooks’ The Producers… “I need my blue blankie!” 😀

I thought I’d share some of my thought processes behind this project with you. When this way too long post gets dull and wordy, I’ll throw in a close up a completed square to titillate your knitterly senses.

Here’s a shot of Mewsley modelling the blankie so far. I suspect Mewsley will be trying to claim this blankie as her own at every possible opportunity!

As you asked, Feltboots, she’s half Burmese and half “moggie” although don’t tell her that – she’s is convinced she’s royalty!

Even though there’s a detailed and I think, well written pattern for the Denim Blankie, there were a few quite fundamental decisions to make at the start. I also seem to have a deep seated need to make my knitting life hard for myself – a tendency I’m deliberately fighting in this “respite knitting” project.

Do I…

  1. Buy all the yarn up front?
  2. Use the colours given?
  3. Knit big strips with one pattern block following on the next row from the previous pattern block without casting off?
  4. Pick up stitches from the previous block’s cast off edge so save sewing up?
  5. Knit separate blocks and sew together?
  6. If knitting separately – sew together as I go or do them all at the end?
  7. Add in different blocks from other blankets (there’s another denim one in Debbie Abrahams’ follow up book “More Blankets and Throws to Knit”)?
  8. Start messing with adding in some of my own designs?
  9. Make it smaller/larger to fit as a wall hanging as intended?
  10. How do I keep track of what blocks I’ve made?

Here we go…

1. Buy all the yarn up front?

No way! As this is in several colours I’m certain differences in dyelot won’t notice – especially as the first thing you do with Rowan Denim is bung it in the washing machine to shrink and fade it. I’ll buy odd balls here and there when I run out of stash yarn. If you’re thinking of a one colour blankie though, it might be a different story…

Gratuitous close up alert!

This is the “Tweedy Rib” block…

2. Use the colours given?

I’m all for swapping around colours but as far as I know Rowan Denim has only ever been made in 5 colours (Navy, two shades of mid blue, cream and black)- the black is now discontinued. I do have some black left over from Ben’s Brooklyn jacket but I didn’t think black would work in this blanket. I am using the two different shades of mid blue – only because I had them in stash….

3. Knit big strips with one pattern block following on the next row from the previous pattern block without casting off?

Nope – nice idea but bad in practice. I think you’ll end up with long “scarves” which you’ d then have the sew together along the long edges. This would give a finished blanket that had inflexible vertical seams and no horizontal seams for stability – I think it would pull strangely out of shape and just feel wrong to flex in one direction and not the other. Tell me if I’m wrong!

Another close up !

Apple pips…

4. Pick up stitches from the previous block’s cast off edge to save sewing block together?

Hmmmm… I tried this. It seemed the perfect compromise.

The centre three blocks here are joined by picking up the stitches from the previous block…

Although it worked well and the picked up and cast off stitches gave the blanket horizontal stability, I found it so hard to pick up the stitches! The demin has no give (and I probably cast off too tight too) so it was painful and slow to pick up, so much so, I though it would just be quicker to sew them together!

I also wanted something small and portable – 7 or 8 squares joined together are quite bulky!

Another down side to this method ( and in following on as in option No. 3) is you can’t choose what block to do next. I found that when I’d got used to a pattern on a particular block, I wanted to make two or three the same.

A final downside is peculiar to working with the navy (or black) Denim – the colour rubs off on everything like brand new denim jeans. That meant that even if you were knitting a cream block, the navy one below it was dangling on your white trousers leaving a nice big navy smudge…..(I’ll give you one guess how I discovered that … 😐 )

5. Knit separate blocks and sew together?

It’s the obvious, traditional approach and the one I’ve plumped for. I’m happy with mattress stitch (essential for neat seams) and joining the straight edges is very easy and quick.

Another gratuitous close up alert!

This is the “Reverse Stripe” block…

6. If knitting separately – sew together as I go or do them all at the end?

No brainer! If I was faced with 81 beautifully knitted blocks to sew up I would seriously struggle to get started – I’d also find it hard to muster the enthusiasm to keep knitting the blocks without seeing the blanket coming together. As soon as I have a few that go next to each other in a vertical strip, they are getting stitched together.

7. Add in different blocks from other blankets (there’s another denim one in Debbie Abrahams’ follow up book “More Blankets and Throws to Knit”)?

Very tempting! My brain immediately started down this route. My imagination was all fired up when I thought, “No! Stop!” For me, this is supposed to be an easy respite project, not difficult or complicated. Apart for mixing in two shades of mid blue (which isn’t that hard) I’m going to follow the pattern as written. There is huge scope to play with the this concept though! Maybe another time….

Getting bored? Time for another gratuitous close up…

Textured check…or double moss stitch to most knitters!

8. Start messing with adding in some of my own designs?

Hmmm…same arguments with myself apply as for point No.7 – “This is respite knitting – Stop making it complicated!”

9. Make it smaller/larger to fit as a wall hanging as intended?

The space I want to fill is smaller than the blanket’s original size but I may not always live here and might want to use it on the bed. I’ll lay it over a curtain pole so it fits…

Also, the blanket is laid out symmetrically in the pattern and I’d have to mess with that – I have a “symmetrical brain” – I would be very uncomfortable just lopping off a few strips and and it being unbalanced. **Shouts at self*** ” K.I.S.S!! Keep It Simple, Susan!! Just follow the pattern…”

Time for another picture…

This one is Cables and Texture…

A favourite of mine. Just as well as there are 14 of them in the blanket!

10. How do I keep track of what blocks I’ve made?

As I’m knitting the block separately and doing several of the same block one after the other there’s a real possibility that later on, I’ll find I’ve done too many of a block. I hate wasting knitting effort!

In the pattern book there is a grid laid out as a guide to where each block goes and a summary of how many “copies” of each block you need. I have photocopied this and I’m colouring in each block I finish with a highlighter pen and putting a mark by each block’s summary so I can see how many of each I’ve made ….

Was that totally confusing? Here – I’ll show you….

I hope you made it to the end of that very long post!

7 Responses

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  1. minxxy
    minxxy September 15, 2007 at 8:16 pm |

    I knitted Flower Power from that book and used wool mainly from my stash…. added in bitsa this and bitsa that.
    I love the finished product, stuck rigidly to the layout and never sewed them together as I went along. I’m not sure if I wished I had but I do remember watching it grow quite quickly during sewing as that’s all I had to do, the knitting was all done.
    However, I need to muster the will power to sew together my mitred squares. They are all knitted and blocked as I went along but I just can’t seem to seam it. I think it’s because I have to decide on the colour layout and Im not too good at that *insert sad face*

  2. feltboots
    feltboots September 16, 2007 at 3:23 pm |

    Of course Mewsley isn’t royalty – she’s a cat so she’s actually a Goddess 😉

    She looks pleased with your latest offering, it’s looking wonderful. Will the denim wash without the colours running into each other though ?

  3. susan crowe
    susan crowe September 16, 2007 at 4:07 pm |

    Hi Feltboots
    I’ve seen lots of discussion about this blanket and colour run issues. (Mostly found when I had the problem with Ben’s Brooklyn Jacket!) The short answer is “yes” the blues will run a bit and the cream will get a bluey hue.

    I’m forewarned and prepared for it. Liberal use of colour catchers might help and Debbie Abrahams has suggested a little bleach in the first wash – we’ll have to see when I wash it.

    I’m OK with a bluey cream on a blue Blankie – dirty grey on a black jacket was another story!

    Susan

  4. Arianwen
    Arianwen September 16, 2007 at 6:21 pm |

    I picked this book up at the library yesterday, and put it back down. Because of the enormous amounts of cottons needed . The idea of buying a few at a time is a good one. Your blanket is looking fantastic just the thing for the cat’s bed lol.

  5. Vikki
    Vikki September 23, 2007 at 1:34 pm |

    That’s a cool blankie! And a coool, sophisticated looking cat, clearly she doesn’t just think she’s royalty, she KNOWS she’s royalty. :p
    Eveleen below looks very scary and complicated but beeeeeautiful! *must learn colourwork*

  6. Jackie
    Jackie November 5, 2007 at 5:32 pm |

    I am working on the same project. How did you block the squares?

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