Recently in Hemlock Ring Blanket Category

Hemlock, Blocked

Blocking, while not a panacea for every knitting problem, can solve a lot of them.
20081109_HemlockBlanketFull.jpgOnce soaked (actually washed on gentle cycle in my washing machine), the fabric relaxed a good deal and I was able to pin it out and tame some of the unruly curvaceousness of this blanket.  As you can see towards the top of the picture, some parts of the feather and fan still have a ruched look, but I am imaging that the baby will not notice these things.

20081109_HemlockBlanketCent.jpgThe center of the blanket is lovely after blocking.  The flower motif really shines and almost looks delicate even in this aran weight yarn.  I definitely learned something when I had to make those openings under each of the petals.

20081109_HemlockBlanketF&F.jpgBelieve it or not, this is the first time that I have worked a feather and fan pattern into anything.  Easy easy and certainly nice results.  This would also probably be lovely with striping yarns.

20081109_HemlockBlanketChai.jpgI had helped for a more festive photo shoot for the blanket, but it was cold, almost snowy and damp on Saturday so my upstairs balcony was my best option and it was cold enough to keep me from getting too creative with the pictures.  It looks nice draped over the back of a chair, does it not?

20081109_HemlockBlanketEdge.jpgThis edge was incredibly time consuming, incredibly yarn consuming and absolutely worth it.  So pretty!  And definitely something that will provide textural interest for an infant. 

20081109_HemlockBlanketQuar.jpgThe specifics:

Hemlock Ring Blanket

worked in Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton, "Periwinkle", ~4.5 skeins
needle sizes as specified in Jared Flood's modification of the original doily design

Comments on the Yarn
This yarn is suggested as hand wash or dry clean... well, hand washing and dry cleaning are not something any new mom wants to bother with so I washed it in the gentle cycle of my top-loading washer.  It came out looking a little more careworn but not raggedy or shaggy.  I suspect that if I washed it on it's own in a front loader there would be very little wear on it.  I also washed (and dried) Z's Circles Stroller Jacket in the same load with similar acceptable results.  This yarn is a loosely spun cotton, so I do suspect that over time it might end up moving past careworn to more abused looking, but I think it's worth the trade off to be able to put something so soft next to a baby's skin.  This cotton is probably the nicest cotton I've ever worked with (in fact, it almost has a hand like silk).  It's cost definitely makes it a luxury yarn purchase, but for a special baby, it might be a worthwhile splurge, and I whole heartedly recommend it as long as you can accept that it needs to be treated just a little bit more gently than standard cotton yarns and understand that it may have poorer wear parameters than standard cotton yarns as well.

Blocking has definitely made me happy with this project again, and it will be on it's way to its intended recipient soon... well, just as soon as I stop knitting little toys for Z and make a few to accompany the blanket!

Hemlock Blanket, Unblocked


The tail end of a cold is really pulling me down, so this post will be brief and visual.

The knitting for the Hemlock Ring Blanket is complete, and I should be moving on to the blocking except for two things:

1) I'm not sure what space I have right now that is large enough to pin it down to.
2) When I tried to spread it out, it was really difficult to flatten out the middle (you can see that I've poofed up the center for the picture to help get the rest of it to lay flat) so I'm wondering if a good soak is going to be sufficient to loosen it up enough to block correctly.

And, I'm also concerned about whether this is going to be a good gift.  I'd hate to have to have the darn thing be blocked out every time it was washed.  The last thing a new mom needs is a fussy baby blanket.

Anyone else made one of these blankets and have any comments on that? 

A shame I forgot about this pattern. I think it's also very neat for a baby and there's no chance that the garter stitch is going to cause blocking or maintenance problems.

A Blanket and A Trip to the Past

All those comments on Ravelry suggesting that the Hemlock Ring Blanket is a quick knit appear to be true for me as well. I'm now almost finished with my second skein of yarn (I purchased 5 skeins, and I plan to knit until I run out), so the flower motif in the center is complete and I'm beginning to see how the Feather and Fan pattern is going to play out.

20081014_HemlockBlanket.jpgTo take these pictures tucked the needles under the body of the project and smoothed it into a circle.  When I saw the result, it reminded me ever so much of some old round pillows that my Grandmother has.  Hers, of course, are in those 70's oranges, browns and yellows and come garnished with big pom poms in the center (I think they may be crochet as well) but the idea is the same.  The lacy quality of the center of this piece makes it not quite right for pillows, but it does give me food for thought.  What if you expanded this pillow out by so many rows, then reversed the process and had the same motif on the other side? Or made two and seamed them together in a way that left room for a zipper? Clearly you would have to think about how to get a pillow form in and out, and how to block out the design, but I think the result could make for some very attractive couch accompaniments.

20081014_HemlockBlanketDeta.jpgYes, I am probably enjoying combining the macro mode and plane of focus selection with my new camera far too much.  I hope you'll humor me.  I've always loved to look at my yarns and my knits close up and the fun of doing it has more than doubled now that I have a new toy to bring to the party.

I've been busy with my swift and ball winder lately.  In the past two weeks I've gotten prepped for 4 new projects.

20081009_NewProjectYarn.jpgThis rather motley collection of yarns starts on the left with the Dream in Color Smooshy that I am using for my Francie socks, Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton that will become a Hemlock Ring Blanket, Blue Moon Socks that Rock Heavyweight (color: Thraven) destined for man-sockliness, and Dale of Norway Baby Ull that is kicking off the beginning of the Zebra Striper sweater and will be joined by a whole host of other Baby Ull colors.

All the yarns but the STR have moved past the contemplative phase of the project into the active phase.  This afternoon's nap was dedicated to starting the Hemlock Ring Blanket.

20081009_HemlockBlanketStar.jpgThe bright sunlight that I took this picture in washed out the color quite a bit.  The actual colorway is called "Periwinkle".  It's a bit more blue and lacks the purple tones that I normally associate with periwinkle (based on growing up with that 64 box of Crayola Crayons), but it's still a fine color for a baby blanket for a new baby boy.  This very special baby will be making his entrance in the southern US, so a wool blanket, while more up my alley given the array of lovely superwash merinos that there are to work with now, didn't seem very practical.  I opted for this Aran weight cotton because it's held up fairly well in the little jacket that I made for Z, and because, as cotton yarns go, this is really several cuts above anything else I've knit with and reminds me much more of silk than of cotton. 

What helps to creat that lovely hand is relatively low twist, making this a somewhat impractical fiber for a baby.  But since this baby will be the child of a very important person in my life, I have decided that I am allowed a touch of impracticality and indulgent luxury. 

I haven't gotten very far yet, but at this point this blanket lives up to its positive reviews.  It's definitely the sort of project that makes you want to do row after row, just so you can see how the pattern is going to evolve into a blanket.  And if it continues to speed a long as it did this afternoon, I could definitely imagine putting this into my "go to" pattern collection for blankets for new small people.