Read the pattern!

You know how patterns usually ask you to read all the instructions before you start? If you are like me, you never do.

I have started work on the wedding present. What seemed like a relatively simple pattern – knit a lot of chevron scarves and sew them together to make a blanket – has me baffled. Maybe I should start to read the pattern before I buy the wool!

I cannot figure out how I can join all the scarves without ugly seams on the wrong side of the blanket. Maybe I am being overly particular, but I like my blankets and quilts to have two relatively attractive sides. Is there a way to sew two scarves together without a lumpy seam on one side and without taking away from the chevron effect (as a crochet or similar join might do)? I have investigated Bickford seams, but even they do not seem up to the job. Or, perhaps more truthfully, I am not sure I am up to the job of sewing them!

To try to end my confusion, and even though I ignored the ‘read the pattern’ instructions, I have been making test swatches.

On the first swatch I tried:

  • starting with a chained cast on and ending with a traditional cast off for matching tops and bottoms (all good!)
  • picking up and knitting the garter-stitch border (nasty lumpy join on back)
  • crocheting a border (neater than picking up and knitting, but not the effect I want)
  • creating the striped effect through intarsia in place of sewing (much neater).

My tension also passed the test. I am fortunate to rarely have tension problems.

Knitted test swatch, checking intarsia, tension and borders

My first swatch was just to test the borders, tension and intarsia.

Knitted test swatch, checking intarsia, tension and borders

The back of intarsia is neat enough for me – and far neater than a seam would be.

On the second swatch I tried:

  • knitting the garter-stitch border as I go, instead of picking up stitches and knitting it last (no lumpy join)
  • knitting slip-stitch selvedges (perfect for the garter-stitch border)
  • changing colour right on the edge of the border looks (fine).

A helpful explanation of these neat selvedges can be found on the Detroit Knitter’s blog.

Knitted test swatch for slip-stitch edge, intarsia and knitted-in border

I really like slip-stitch selvedges for garter-stitch edges that are not to be sewn in.

Knitted test swatch for slip-stitch edge, intarsia and knitted-in border

The slip-stitch edge did not look so great on the stocking-stitch side. Perhaps it just needs a press?

For the third swatch, I am working on the chevrons and testing the increases and decreases.

Knitted test swatch for chevrons

Finally, I am testing the chevrons.

Do you unravel your test swatches? I do! I photograph them and take notes, and then I unravel, reclaiming the yarn for the project.

At the moment, my swatches seem to be telling me that I will be knitting a very messy tangle of intarsia yarns, with a large number of bobbins or balls attached at any one time. Sigh. A friend suggested sticking with the scarves-sewn-together method and sewing a backing fabric to the underside of the blanket to hide any messy joins, which definitely has merit.

Are you a knitter? What would you do? Persevere with a tangle of intarsia yarns? Chuck the whole thing and find a new chevron pattern (probably crochet!)?

In other news, the quilting blog hop I am taking part in next month has started. If you want to meet some new and creative quilters, click the button below and hop on over!

Plum and June

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23 thoughts on “Read the pattern!

  1. I am a knitter Carla, but have only ever made cardigans and jumpers! All this joining makes no sense to me! (Great help, aren’t I?!!) Could you visit a local wool shop fo advice? Or You Tube? Good luck with what you decide to do….

  2. oh gosh, I NEVER read all the instructions before I start anything and it usually always ends in disaster! haha. Recipes, sewing patterns, knitting patterns…. I really should start reading ahead! I hope you get it all sorted 🙂

  3. I’m a reader. Where it comes to knitting I read, glaze over on line 2 and abandon the idea. When it’s sewing, I skim quickly, concentrating on the tricky bits like bound pocket edges or fancy plackets. When it’s quilting, I don’t do patterns generally, and if I do, I look once and then I know what I’m doing. I think the suggestion to back this blanket is sound. Knitting always has a wrong side. And if I might suggest, use a light fleece, it doesn’t stretch as much and will help the blanket keep its shape.

  4. I was going to suggest checking Ravelry, but then I did, and saw you’re already there! 😀 If you’re okay with crochet (I know some people absolutely hate it), you should be able to get almost exactly the same look, without any seaming. Though you will still have the intarsia joins showing in the back, or seams. So I think its a question of preferences, and which look you’re more comfortable with. Backing it could be a good idea. Also, I think its worth pointing out, that unless your stepdaughter is a great knitter as well, she’s not going to see any imperfections — and if she is, she’s going to see what a colossal undertaking this is, regardless of the outcome. 😀

    • I checked Ravelry and I am ok with crochet. I don’t mind the intarsia joins as they look like a cute running stitch. Big lumpy seams are another story.
      Great point about the recipient. She is not a knitter and very forgiving. I was just trying so very hard to make something she would really like! Curse Pinterest!

  5. This is a weird coincidence as I am thinking about knitting a blanket at the moment as well, and this was exactly the problem that is stopping me. I have a gorgeous cable cushion pattern which I love which I want to knit up in large squares or strips, then stitch together to make a blanket. I wasn’t anticipating the stitching together being a huge problem, I think you can slip stitch the edges together in a neat and invisible fashion, the same as any knitted garment. But how to deal with the back is another matter altogether. I may just have to accept it has a front and a back.

    • I wasn’t anticipating the stitching together being a problem, either. It isn’t with knitted things you can wear. I have successfully knitted squares and crocheted them together into a blanket, so please do not lose hope (there’s even a pic to prove it somewhere on this blog). The quirk with this pattern is keeping the horizontal chevrons without interrupting them with a vertical join.

      • Oh I see! Hmm, I can’t quite see how you can get round that. How about a giant sized pair of needles and just knit it as one piece? Highly complicated, but it would achieve what you are after.

    • I plan to use stubborn tenacity until it is wonderful! At least, judging by everyone’s comments, it seems like I have not overlooked anything obvious and simple.
      As for the colours, credit should go to the accuracy of the website’s images (I bought the wool online) and my stepdaughter’s taste.

  6. When I knit I always start the row with a slip stitch and finish by knitting into the back of the last stitch. This gives me nice edges that sew together well for a neat and never bulky finish. That could work well with your chevron pattern.

    • Thanks! I will give that edge a go before I unravel the third swatch and start casting on for real. I am going to try intarsia first, but I will need a back-up plan if that proves unworkable.

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