Friday, September 23, 2016

Monet Blanket and How to Knit Something Like It (Photo Essay)

I'm chuffed to have finally finished a summer-long project, a full bed/couch-size blanket knitted in scraps that echo the colors in two batches of hand-dyed yarn a flea market buddy gave me ten or fifteen years ago...and lots of knitting memories. I didn't buy a single skein of yarn to make this blanket.

Here's the blanket itself, spread out across three chairs...unfortunately close to a patch of sunshine, which allows the colors to show but also spoils the picture a cheap cell phone can take...

Even the cheap cell phone can do better than that, and it will, with photos of individual portions of the blanket.

The borders were durable Red Heart acrylic...

Red Heart  Super Saver Economy Yarn, Monet Print

(It's been sold, but here's what I'd knitted with the batch of "Monet" multicolor-fleck Red Heart when it first came on the market.)

Kates Sweaters 385.JPG

And here it is in the border of the blanket, above a band of Red Heart solid blue.

I made and sold the blue jacket before I had a digital camera; here's the yarn:

Red Heart Yarn Super Saver 0381 Light Blue 7 oz
Here's the first pattern band, in the sequence in which they were knitted, above the border. (In order to get the borders to match I knitted both borders first, then continued knitting from what was actually the border band knitted second until it was long enough to join to the band knitted first.) Here I used up small scraps of solid colors as contrasts to the first scrap of hand-painted wool.

The multicolor yarns that coordinated so well with each other, and with Red Heart's "Monet" fleck, were Cherry Tree Hill handpainted wool and mohair. The company still offers unusual hand-dyed yarns but now they focus on lighter-weight "Broad Band" yarns that form stripes--nothing like the blanket-weight fleck yarns that formed dots, when knitted, for which the company was known in the 1990s. Check out...

And here's a nice Amazon link...the founder of Cherry Tree Hill yarns wrote a book featuring patterns designed to highlight lots of other fancy handpainted yarns, as well as her own. Few of the yarns shown are still available, but you'll get lots of ideas about how to use ombre, fleck, and broad-band multicolor yarns that are available now.

The coordinating multicolored yarns became this jacket:

photo (5).JPG

From the scrap bin I pulled out balls of solid colors and a couple of other multicolor yarns that blended naturally with the Monet and Cherry Tree Hill yarns. The patterns alternated garter stitch with texture and color patterns found in Rae Compton's Complete Book of Traditional Knitting; my copy still has the decorative paper cover, but here's the book's Amazon link:

You can find the patterns I used in the first third of the book, but why even bother? If you use blanket-weight yarns that knit up to (on average) 4 stitches per inch, 200 stitches will cover one person, couch, or "twin size" bed or cot, very nicely. Allow 10 stitches at each end of each row for garter stitch borders. This leaves approximately 180 stitches for your "canvas." All the patterns in the book can be repeated a few times within 180 stitches. Plug in your own pattern choices in between garter stitch bands and borders to get a unique blanket of your very own.

Here's the next section of knitting, in which you see the Cherry Tree Hill mohair, at the bottom of the picture in the band of garter stitch. This was followed by more of the light blue, contrasting with the gray cotton I used to knit the Paper Bag Cap (photo below); more of the Monet appears in the blackberry stitch band.

At this point, in order to show the colors, I stepped in front of the patch of sunlight and photographed the blanket from the side. Here's the next part of the knitting, in which Red Heart light blue and Cherry Tree Hill mohair are knitted together in the fairisle pattern.

That shades-of-green yarn was used in a jacket I still have for sale...a photo (and description and buying information) should appear here soon.

Here's the final section of patterns I knitted before joining to the top border you see above.

These yarns, and more of the "Monet" yarn, also appeared in the Faded Ribbons Jacket

Some of the other yarns in all of these multi-yarn projects were also Red Heart acrylic, and some were other acrylics (I've forgotten). One unusual yarn that appears in the blanket and the Faded Ribbons Jacket, I remember, was a single skein, bought at an end-of-season sale, of Chelsea Silk (blended) pale blue fleck yarn from Tahki Yarns

The blanket can be purchased online for $100 (plus $2 per online payment). It's approximately 50x75" (it will stretch slightly in use and shrink slightly when washed); big enough to cover a couch or twin bed. Wool and mohair sections may feel prickly, but these are top-quality wool and mohair yarns, handmade, with minimal chemicals, so a lot of people who think they're allergic to wool won't react to them. (I've knitted with these materials draped down over my bare legs, so I know for sure they don't contain enough acid residues to trigger that nasty hyper-acidic reaction with human skin even in summer.) The parts that will cuddle around your face as you sleep are acrylic anyway. This blanket should turn snow for several hours, and supply warmth for patients taking blood pressure medication.