Friday, October 03, 2008

Knit, wash, boil, block -- Baby blanket done

I finished the Gotland baby blanket, one day latter than planned, Friday not Thursday. Only because I went to knit night without taking the 6mm needle needed to work the I-cord border, N loaned me one of hers mid evening, but it was to late to finish that day. So its an 8 day blanket, not including the spinning. The blanket has been boiled (yes boiled, and I'll explain why soon), and blocked and is dry and warm and snuggly, I've started a new project, one I've been planning for a few months now, and my Alpaca tangled yoke cardigan is going to be my 'away' project this time. Some quiet time at my dads should be a good time to make a start on the sleeves., and they are in the round (the cardie is knit flat)- so they will be a little more fun.

But the Gotland baby blanket, Friday morning it looked like this, as I worked the last two sides of I-cord edge. I like days I work from home, I get to use my tea and lunch breaks to knit, and appart from the cell phone, there are much fewer interputions. On the down side - the books and articles I need are not so handy. For the I-cord I used a heavier yarn, and 6mm needles, the blanket was knit on 4.5mm needles. One advantage of using the larger needles was I didn't need to add a few spacer-rows to the i-cord to keep the edge from drawing in.

When I washed the last of the skeins after plying, I had the skein sitting in a bowl with some of my wool wash soap in a sieve ready to pour hot tap water over. I decided to pour the half jug of just boiled water over instead. I thought it would dissolve the soap better. 30 minutes latter, I noticed two things. First there was quite a bit of oily film on the water surface,
and I noticed when I knit with that skein, it was whiter and not so sticky. As I knit - I realised that the slightly sticky wool would attract quite a bit of dust and dirt. I didn't want the blanket to look grubby a few months of use down the track - so I thought about washing it in hot/boiling water, then decided to boil it. I reasoned that would release more oil and lanolin than just washing, and just to be sure, I boiled it with some soap flakes. When I say boil - it was more of a simmer, and I repeated it 4 times, as for the first 3 times - well the water was distinctly brown.

To block I first stretched it out to 75 cm, but after an hour or so, re stretched it to 78cm square. The dry blanket feels soft and light, and I think looks whiter and less yellow, and isn't sticky at all. The boiling didn't seem to harm it, its slightly fuzzy - but nothing a few hand washes wouldn't have done, and no one commented on it at knitting this morning, other than to say nice things.

And all finished and dry, and soft and stretched, ready for a baby.

And this is a pair of yarns I've been playing with a bit recently. The Pink is slightly more than DK weight (I don't really speak USA yarn code but would that be Aran weight?). It was a 800g cone of pure wool for $8 at the Mill. The white is merino angora from the mill, they knit up at slightly different gauges but I've been playing with that in my designing. The pink has a rougher feel that of the white, still soft but not as soft, so I've been planning and playing about how to keep the white at the top of a cardigan and the pink on the working/wearing ends, the body, hem, sleeves, cuffs. As a parent the bits you don't want white on a 6 year olds cardigan.

So after a bit of a play, with colour work and gauge samples and corrugated ribbing, I've made a start.

This is what I've done, its the 4th try to get the yoke right, and the one that finally worked. I've been reading up Barbara Walkers top down book, and EZ's yoked sweaters and working with their suggested shaping maths. I wanted the neckline to be dropped slightly - I find both those two seem to design very high necklines which my kids don't want to wear. I also found that the standard instructions to cast on a section and knit back and forth casting on a few extra at each end of the row until you have enough to close for the neck - well, its not that simple. Working that way gives a tube, a tube with a slanted top but a tube all the same. Which works for high necklines - but not for lowered ones.

So the last two days I knit and frogged, and knit and frogged, and knit and frogged, until I got this, casting on at each end and at-the-same-time increasing randomly across the row -

Voila! Its very nearly flat the way a yoke should be. Its a subtle improvement, but I think a nice one. I've added a 4 stitch steek panel down the front, and will pick up and knit a band around the front and the neck edge once the body and sleeves are done. The plan is for some zig zag colour work to transition from the white to the pink yarn. And random increases - because I want a true round yoke not a raglan or a saddle or some other variation with formal structured shapping.

So thats what I've been upto, tomorrow is Sunday, so pancakes, and packing and off to visit grandad in Waimate for a few days. Its the second week of term break, and the cubs and I are on holiday this week. Bear is staying behind, to clear out the garage, in preparation for our new garage to be built.

Take care, knit something,
na Stella


Sarah said...

Gorgeous blanket! I am intrigued by your yoke adventures...can you recommend books for sweater construction? I want to make my mom a yoke-y sweater at some point, but it will be quite the math project...

Knitting Linguist said...

That's a gorgeous blanket! Did you use a particular pattern? I'm also loving the sweater that you've started -- those two colors together are wonderful. Is it starting to be spring yet? (We're now doing our fall alternation between cooler days and scorching hot fire weather...) We watched Whale Rider last night, and Tess and I both commented on how much we enjoyed being there and want to go back!

Linda said...

Blanket and sweater are beautiful. And the "boiling" tutorial is very helpful. Thanks!

Bells said...

the blanket is beautiful and I found the description of what you did to it really fascinating!

I feel a yoke sweater coming on, in time for next winter I hope.

CraftyGryphon said...

The blanket looks lovely, and clearly, the simmering didn't harm it at all. (Neat trick, I'll have to remember that!)

Looking forward to watching your sweater progress.

Anonymous said...

Lovely blanket. The contrast edging takes it to a different plane.