I finished it! It has taken me a year, but I finished the blanket I have been knitting as a wedding present before my stepdaughter’s wedding! Hurrah!
A little more than a year ago, I ordered a mountain of wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills.
Then, I started knitting test swatches. In spite of a few rough starts, a little bit of cursing and a break for the hot weather of summer (no one wants to be sitting with 4 kilograms of wool on their lap on a 42 degree Celsius day), I kept plodding along.
Because I had decided to knit the blanket all in one piece instead of knitting it in strips and then sewing it together as the pattern suggested, the project basket tended to stay by my favourite chair. It was not the sort of project I could pick up and take to my group sewing days. It was just too big and bulky.
Whenever I was watching television, I chipped away at it until, finally, it was done.
So, here are my knitting stats:
- I used Bendigo Woollen Mills’ Luxury 10 ply (worsted or Aran weight). I have a lot of wool left over, about a third of what I bought, so I see matching knitted cushion covers as anniversary presents and the start of a granny square blanket for me in the future.
- The pattern was a free pattern by Bernat, but I modified it heavily to knit it all in one piece.
- My finished blanket is 53 x 66–70 inches or 135 x 168–178 centimetres. If I were to make this pattern again, I would add an extra stripe on one side to make it a fraction wider.
- It took a very long time. Two rows took the best part of an hour, and there are a lot of rows. A lot of rows. That is equivalent to a lot of episodes of Poldark taking his shirt off, as well as every dramatisation of every Jane Austen novel ever written, a lot of random movies, and at least one series of Spooks thrown in for good measure.
Apart from knitting the whole thing as one unit on a very long circular needle, I made the following modifications to the pattern:
- I worked a chained cast on and a traditional cast off for matching first and last rows.
- Instead of picking up and knitting stitches for the side borders, I knitted the garter-stitch border along with the rest.
- For neat side edges, I started each border with a slip stitch (knitwise) and ended each row with a purl stitch. I love the neat and non-rolling effect of these slip-stitch selvedges.
- I knitted some rows ‘backwards’ to minimise the number of yarn joins and ends I had to weave in. By that, I mean I worked from the wrong side and worked the decreases and increases in a purl row instead of a knit row. It was a bit sneaky, but it worked.
- I accidentally skipped a stripe in the first pattern repeat because I was not paying attention. So, to make it look deliberate, I skipped the same row in the last pattern repeat. Not a design flaw! Nope! Deliberate!
- I cheated on the two-row stripe in the middle of the wide blue bands. It was supposed to alternate between the two other colours. That was too much needless fiddle. I made it all dark grey.
- I knitted five pattern repeats.
As I knitted, I was a little nervous as the blanket was forming lumps and waves, but a friend from high school, a far more experienced and confident knitter than I am, told me not to panic. She reassured me that it was normal for chevrons and that blocking would fix it. I put my faith in her and, of course, she was right.
I used the wet-towel blocking method. I staked it out on the floor using my newly purchased blocking wires and pins, and then I placed wet towels on top of it all and waited until everything dried. Thankfully, no one needed the spare bathroom during those few days.
The awkwardness of knitting this all in one piece paid off. This blanket is going to be a sofa throw rug, for draping over laps and watching telly during the cold winters where my stepdaughter lives in country Victoria. Blankets in use do not sit perfectly flat, they get moved and sometimes the underside shows. I am happy that the back is almost as nice as the front. The effort was worth it.
So, that is what I have been doing with my last twelve months. What have you been up to?
I have enjoyed this project, in spite of its size. I loved the soft and springy feel of the yarn and look forward to buying more colours from Bendigo Woollen Mills to start my granny square crochet blanket. Secretly, a year ago I was trying to steer the couple down a brightly coloured granny-square-blanket path, but they chose this pattern and these colours instead. They are much younger than I am but have much more grown-up taste!
The wedding is in less than two weeks, and I just need to finish the modifications to my dress. My husband and stepdaughter have had words with me. Apparently, a late hand-made wedding present would have been acceptable, but a half-naked stepmother at a wedding is not. Who knew?! I have some French seams to unpick. Fast. Ugh.