Recently in 3 Ply Targhee Log Cabin Category

More Squares

While I am coping with my Dragon Age withdrawl (yes, it really does sort of feel that way... and I go back and forth on the whole issue of another playthrough) I've been knitting squares and catching up with some of the recordings on our DVR.  I was hoping this afternoon to get some nice artsy looking pictures of my efforts, but the dark grey clouds hanging over Chicago thwarted my efforts.  I really hate winter lighting in my house.  It can take the nicest colors and turn them in to something strange, particularly the oranges and yellows, which just seem to blow out.  You'll have to trust me that these squares look nicer together than the do in this picture.

20091220_BlanketSquares.jpgSo this photo is really more about documenting progress than it is about trying to make the project look nice.   I've now finished 36 squares (I got three more knitted up after this photo was taken) and together they are about the size of a large-ish baby blanket.   As much as I would love to have something that ends up the size of a full-to-queen sized blanket, I feel like that may be unrealistic, if only from a cost perspective.  So I think I'm going to be hoping for something that works out more as a smallish afghan for my couch. 

Wrapping Up the Week

One thing I've always wondered about fantasy heroes... you spend some undetermined amount of time saving the world, accomplish your goal, get a little fan fare, and then what?  Where do you go from that?  After you save the world, is everything else a let down or do you spend the rest of your life just feeling unnaturally good about yourself?

Well, if you're playing Dragon Age, you decide you want to see what's going on with the other endings and you start thinking about which save games you're going to re-load from.  Planning your next character.  This is probably the first RPG ever where I felt like I wanted to actually play the whole darn thing again.  The characters really are that good. 

Whenever I finish a good book wherein I got attached to the characters, I'm always a little bummed that the book is finished.  I feel that way about Dragon Age, too.  But since most books don't take me over 100 hours to read, there's also a bit of relief that whatever I do next, I'll be able to visit Ferelden in a much more relaxed manner, dropping by when I need to get a break from the real world, without the intense compulsion to want to know how the story ends.

Speaking of stories... if you're looking for another good fantasy series to pick up, might I recommend Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos books?  I've just finished up Taltos and Yendi and just started Dragon (I'm reading them in chronological order for the character, as opposed to the order they were written in) and while they aren't deep, they are really just a lot of fun.  I really love books written in first person, and these don't disappoint, as the main character, Vlad, is a wisecracking assassin with a mini-dragon familiar and penchant for witchcraft and getting in and out of challenging situations.  These books just make me happy to read, and because they are pretty light weight, it's easy to pick them up and put them down as necessary. 

Not only did I finish up DA today, I also got the pleasure of getting to finish up assembly of that AVL loom I mentioned last week.  All it's major pieces are in place, so warping might happen soon.  I'm so excited about getting to weave on a floor loom, I could just dance.  I mean, wow, warping a loom that I can sit inside... actually having to throw that shuttle for a fair number of inches.  Foot treadles.  Too. Wonderful. For. Words.

And then there's the squares and the swatching.  I have 4 new squares for my Targhee blanket, and I'm one swatch away from starting John's sweater.  Not monumental knitting productivity, but enough to make me really itchy to get things started on Aspinwall!

Guess What? It's More Yarn!


I was almost about to apologize for the lack of significant crafting going on here. I was almost going to, but I'm not.  Not for the standard "this is my blog and I'll do what I want to reasons", but because taking a little break from crafting while I did other things has helped me really start to get excited about the crafting projects I want to tackle. There have been bits and bobs of knitting and weaving when I'm hanging out with the kid and watching TV,  but most of my free time is still going into Dragon Age.  What's funny, now, though, is while I am still enjoying the game a great deal, all the great new yarn I have been acquiring has starting to shift the balance of what I want to do.  I've gotten to that point where I know the end of the game is coming relatively soon, and I'll be okay with that since there are so many other fun things waiting for me once it's complete. 

Okay, Yeah.  So that means today there's still precious little knitting to discuss.  But there is new yarn.

Julie and I headed out to Marengo to pay a visit to the Fold.  I have to say, I always feel like going out to see Toni is a little bit of a pilgrimage if you love fiber or yarn.  There's always something new to see and Toni has a real knack for finding hand dyers who make beautiful stuff.  My primary mission for the trip was to acquire some more Mountain Colors 3-Ply wool to continue my diagonal squares blanket.

20091213_BlanketWool.jpgMission accomplished! 

This was one of the most fun and fast color selection processes I've ever done.  I spread my completed squares out on a table in the sunlight, started grabbing hanks of yarn and tossing them on top.  Keeping some, returning some to where they came from.  I want this  blanket to be big and very patchwork feeling when it is complete, so I looked for harmonious colors, but also a fair amount of variation.    Most of these yarns fall into the dark jewel tone end of the spectrum, but I absolutely love how the yarns with the rich gold jump in and out.   I would love to end up with a full size or queen-sized blanket when all is said and done -- I think this project is going to be my mindless TV knitting project.  Honestly, there's nothing you have to pay less attention to knitting than a garter stitch square.

But, no trip to the Fold would be complete unless I found a few unexpected treasures that I just couldn't leave without.

20091213_ScarfSilk.jpgThe yarn on the left is Blue Moon Silk Thread II -- which to my eye looks roughly equivalent to 10/2 perle cotton, thus making it a yarn with the potential to be a spectacular scarf warp.  I think it is the ST-2 colorway.  The yarn is 100% silk and there's about 1200 yards, so if I was feeling ambitious, there is actually two scarves worth of warp there.  Clearly I will be thinking about suitable weft and weave patterns to complement.  The Luscious is another 100% silk yarn, but more of a worsted weight preparation.    I haven't talked about it much, but over the last 9 months or so I've been dealing with eczema.  I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that I might be developing a little bit of a wool sensitivity (something that it is paining me greatly to admit to myself).  Right now, it's incredibly easy to send my into a frenzy of itching.  But I've discovered that many of my silk and silk blend things can be worn next to my skin without making me feel like I want to take the top layer of my skin off and slather myself in steroids.  I've wanted a simple, luxurious black scarf for a while now, so the Luscious jumped right into my hands and never jumped out.

And while I will never say never about yarn acquisitions here chez Keyboard Biologists, I think it's fair to say that my basket overfloweth at the moment and I'm going to try to be a good deal more reserved for a while. 

And now I'm off to rid the world of corrupt nobility and darkspawn.  See you on Wednesday!

Circle of Squares

Now that those socks are finished, but Lotus still requires constant focus as I work through my second crochet lace cuff, I've gotten back to my 3-Ply Targhee Squares.  These squares are exceptionally well aligned with knitting in front of the TV -- I'm going to be really sorry when my current batch of yarn runs out and I have to wait for my next installment. 

In the meantime, I'm also getting started on a new weaving project -- and I'm learning why one should really appreciate handwoven fabrics made with fine threads!

P.S.  Thanks for the nice comments about Ms. Z.  She is beginning to get interested in the project I work on.  I hope someday she just won't want to re-work our home network topology with her dad -- but that she'll also want to do the occasional craft project with Mom.

P.P.S  Thanks also for those who shared the crochet hints -- I'm definitely going to try working Lotus large lace edging attached to the body of the sweater in the round!

Pile of Squares

With hanks of what used to be Banff drying in my bathroom and the daily meditation alpaca scarf not quite ready for the camera, out comes a pile of squares.

These are the squares for my 3-ply targhee blanket. Each square is about 1 ounce and about 6x6 which means that the final blanket is going to be on the heavy side if I get it to twin size like I hope to.  There should have been two more squares when this picture was snapped (but they were separated from the herd for weighing duties) and there have been two more knit since then (and one that is in progress), but even without those squares, I still have a pile of squooshy goodness, thick and soft. 

As I have from the beginning, I love the rich colors of the yarn -- all mill ends from Mountain Colors.  I'm particularly smitten with their blues and greens, which can be both rich and electric, and their yellows which are warm and deep.  As I was taking these pictures, I realized how autumnal they seem together, so, I am hoping that sometime in the future they will be supplemented with some additional color melodies.

Targhee Squares

A while ago (right about the time I found out I was pregant with Z) I took a trip to Montana and stopped at the Mountain Colors shop and dye studio.  Mill ends and other goodies abounded, and I came home with a small suitcase stuffed with 3-ply Targhee mill ends in as many colors as I could find.  My initial plan was to make a small blanket out of the log-cabin squares in the middle of the picture.  I got distracted from the project as my pregnancy progressed and when I made the transition into motherhood, I also had the chance to participate in the project to knit diagonal garter squares for a blanket to be auctioned to help out Emma's son, Oliver. 

Those diagonal squares got me thinking... so easy, yet really neat looking, especially when put together in a blanket.    When I came back to this project, I got to thinking that it might be fun to keep the log cabin squares I had already made and randomly intersperse them into a blanket of these "solid" colored squares. 

This is TV knitting at it's finest.  Uncomplicated garter stitch but a chance to indulge in a variety of lovely colors. 

While I feel like there is much yarn in my basket, I have a suspicion that I will be phoning up for more mill ends.  I like the thick, sproingy quality of these squares, and I am beginning to imaging a large and inviting blanket...

If you're wondering why my Thursday posts have become a little sparse, it mostly has to do with the fact that Wednesday night is "date night" for John and I and by the time I get back from dinner, I'm often feeling a little bit tired. In general, I've had pretty good energy levels while I've been pregnant, but it does seem like I get to a certain point at night where I just get sleepy. When that happens before I post, it usually means no post.

Anyway, onto my next log cabin block. While I don't have a lot of light colored yarn, I do have a little bit that I want to intersperse into the blocks. So for this next block I built my colors off of the central block (which has red/brown earth tones) but I also included one block of that light colored yarn that is a complete contrast with the rest of the yarn in the square.

The Second Block: A Little Contrast

On of the things I've been thinking about since I started quilting, was building a series of blocks that were mostly black and white prints and having the occasional block that would have one small element of a primary color (inspired by some Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass pieces I've seen). In my head, what makes these blocks interesting is not the black and white prints, but that contrasting splash of color. In this block, I wanted 4 out of the 5 blocks to have the same depth of shade and to share one or more colors (in this case, the red and brown tones can be found in 4 of the 5 blocks and the blue and aqua tones can be found in 3 of the 4) and have the 5th block just pop out, but still have colors that would work with the colors in the other 4 "logs" in the log cabin. The light green block co-ordinates with the others (blue and green go together well in my book and there are some subtle yellow shades that go with the browns and reds in the other colorway) but also stands out because the depth of shade is so much lighter.

Does it work? It does for me, at least in this block. Clearly I'll have to make a few more and start looking at them all together to really know. But I think it was a good experiment.

Log Cabin by Random Selection

This is the first square that I did for the Mountain Colors 3 Ply Targhee project. I used US size 8 (5.0 mm) needles and cast on 8 stitches for the center square so that I would have a starting center square of about 2" and a final square of about 6" x 6" (gauge translation: 4 stitches and 8 rows to 1" in garter stitch). The resulting fabric has a nice thick texture, perhaps a bit thicker than you'd want for a blanket, moving into the range that I think most hot pads fall into.

For this square, I started off with the random grab idea. After I converted all the skeins into balls, I reached in and pulled out a color at random and started the square. The next four colors were more or less determined the same way. This is when I realized that if I really did things this way, I would probably end up with a lot of some colors left as I progressed through the project. But I was generally pleased by the fact that random selection led to something that was pretty coherent in color.

To begin with, this square is a good deal less bright in real life than it appears in this picture (I had to use my old camera to snap the photos because I had temporarily misplaced my little Canon) due to the camera's tendency to saturate reds and the fact that it was a very bright day when I took the photo. But the general trends are okay. There's not really much color selection process to speak of since the selections were random. But you can see how there is some brown that moves through almost all 5 blocks, there are muted autumnal reds in 4 out of the five, autmnal blues in 3 out of the 5 and golds and greens in 2 of the 5. I think this is why they work together in a not-too-jarring way. There's definite color overlap in all the colorways. If I was to replace any brick, it would be the one on the top left... in both this picture and it real life it's a bit brighter in tone than the rest of the colors. But for random, its acceptable.

My favorite colorway in the group is the one in the center. I believe it's called "Goldrush" (none of the mill ends came with any color identifiers) and the golds and greens and reds are lovely and autumnal. Very evocative of maple trees in the fall. Fortunately, I also have a reasonable amount of this color, so I'll be able to use it liberally throughout the project.

A Basket Full of Potential

A Basket and a Color Study

Last December I travelled to Montana on business and managed to include a side trip to Mountain Colors
. I hadn't really been intending to acquire much yarn, but when I found the box of 3 Ply Targhee mill ends I did what I could to make room in my suitcase to bring home my own version of a Bitterroot Rainbow*. When I got them home, I couldn't resist coverting them from hanks into balls so that I could play with some simple but randomly colored log cabin squares.

For no particular reason (other than, perhaps, being easily distracted) the yarn got wound into balls but never actually started it's journey into log cabin squares. My fiber room is now on its way to becoming the nursery,** and as a part of the transformation, I re-discovered my basket of 3 Ply Targhee balls waiting patiently for me. And since it's still going to be a little while before I get back to sweater knitting, and I'm done with the other log cabin blanket project, I decided to play around with some new log cabin squares.

This time, however, I am coming at the project with very few pre-conceived notions of where I want to go. I think, instead, I am going to use this project as an opportunity to play with color. One thing that intrigues me greatly about quilting is how easy it is to do color studies. I love to start with a simple idea or favorite fabric and then run around a store looking for things that work with it. You can do this in knitting, but it is somewhat more complicated because knitting a log cabin square takes a good deal more time than cutting pieces out of fabric and machine sewing them together. But this targhee yarn is a heavy worsted so it knits up on fairly large needles. The variagations provide the same kind of opportunity to do a color study as if I was pulling fabrics down froma store wall. Knitting up a simple block (a center square surrounded by an outer square) takes relatively little time (probably an hour and a half or so) so I can start to see the results quickly, at least from the perspective of a knitting project.

I have created a few simple rules for this project:

  • Each log cabin square is composed of 5 color sections. Each section must be a different color.
  • The first colorway can be pulled from the basket at random, but the remaining 5 colors should "interact" with the first colorway by sharing some color component with one of the other blocks that it touches.
  • A block is not considered finished until the ends have been woven in.

Initially I was just going to pull balls at random and let things lay how they would, but I have a great deal more of some colors than others, so I need to determine the order of the colors so that colors I have more of end up in the larger blocks. Otherwise, I suspect I will end up unable to maintain my desire to have 5 different colors in each square.

For the rest of this week, I'm going to show you the first four squares that I've worked up as part of this project, and I'll try to talk about why I put the colors together that I did in hopes that it encourages other people to take a stab at playing with color.***

* Mountain Colors is located in Montana's Bitterroot Valley and one of their signature colorways is called Bitterroot Rainbow.
** This was always what the room was intended for, it just took us longer to get to the point where we needed a nursery than I thought it would and since we weren't using the room for anything else, it became a space to store my fiber-related toys. Now, plans are underway to create a better creative space for me in our office so that Miss Z can have a creative space of her own.
*** And, hopefully, it will also give me some time to work on my other ongoing projects which have been going rather slowly as I work on house organization projects related to preparing for our new arrival.


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