May 28, 2013

Hemlock Blanket

Once upon a time, on an average February 28th afternoon, I was procrastinating on my homework. Unoriginally, I selected my computer to be my medium of distraction. After deciding that there was nothing interesting on both YouTube and Facebook, and that I still didn't want to take APUSH notes, I found myself on Ravelry. Ravelry.com (like unraveling a project that went dreadfully wrong)  is a site where avid knitters and crocheters can post and use patterns, organize their yarn, projects, and needles, and do other crafty-oriented things. As a cheap student, I mainly mooch off the free patterns other members take the trouble to design and post.

So I was surfing around for an enticing pattern (with no intention to actually beginning another project), when I stumbled upon Brooklyn Tweed's Hemlock Blanket. The blanket was based off of an old doily pattern and enlarged to become blanket-sized. After downloading the pattern, it looked too simple to be true. Contrary to what many of you think, I am actually still a novice knitter, having never pursued any truly advanced project, so I was trying to see what I was capable of. 

So, I got out my needles closest to the recommendation, picked out some low-quality bulky (and very old) yarn to experiment with, and continued on my little adventure. 

This is definitely the most technically challenging project I have ever tried, but I had very few struggles with it. I completed the flower part the first night, finally did my APUSH notes up to the wee hours of the morning, and the next afternoon, I finished what can be seen. The fish lace part continues on for about four times longer than I did it, but I had run out of yarn. I even had to rip out another older project to do the finishing cast-off crochet stitch (it was worth it).

One does not simply knit the piece and is then done with the project. Similar to how a completed painting must have a protective coating applied and be matted, knitting projects, especially lacy ones, must be blocked. Blocking, a process I tend to ignore and then regret for skipping, is basically the process of forming the piece into the final desired shape. Simply soak the piece in cool water, dry it systematically with a towel, and pin it to dry in the final desired shape until it dries completely (at least twenty-four hours). This was the first project I had ever blocked, and it was incredibly simple and made a big impact. I have learned from experience that skipping this step is a big no-no.

The final size for this "blanket" is about 36 inches in diameter. It would be a good nightstand tablecloth or table centerpiece, but right now it's just collecting dust in my fabric box. Don't ask me what it's doing in there, but like all of my spontaneous projects, its impact on my life and society as a whole is enormous.

After completing all the knitting in less than twenty-four hours, which is tens of thousands of stitches, I realized my hands do have a knitting limit, as they were sore and achy for the next week. This phenomenon will be considered next time I am in a similar situation, and I will probably overestimate my toughness, as always.

Sometimes life tends to win. While thingymajiggers like this are great, APUSH notes are more important in the great scheme of things. I guess.
Hemlock Blanket, completed March 2, 2013
Yarn is actually much more of a green teal than image indicates.


Until next month,
Happy Crafting!
--Elizabeth

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