I have no blocks knitted again today, but I am happy to report that the I-cord border is finished along the bottom and what’s started of the right side of the blanket. I got through it faster than I expected even though knitting applied I-cord is kind of putzy. I’ll talk you through what I did, but first let’s open packages.
Today there were only two. That makes me giggle a little bit. “Only” two. Only two people generously sending me their yarn scraps today. Two on top of the 76 others, making 78 total to date. I’m a little grateful for a lighter mail day today so that I can hopefully get to the I-cord business without staying up all night. We have a playdate planned for the morning, and I want to be awake to enjoy it.
The first package is from Carrie in Tucson. It’s a nice, big chunk of what looks like handpaint. She thoughtfully noted 100% wool (NOT superwash!) on the envelope. Carrie, what is this lovely stuff? Do you have a picture of your socks up on the net somewhere? Do you have to hand wash them every time? I’m so lazy (and you know that I speak metaphorically here), it’s hard for me to imagine knitting handwash-only socks. Anyway, this picture doesn’t do the colors justice, and Sophie’s pudgy little hand looks a lot more scarily dismembered than cutely snuck in as I imagined. I promise, the rest of her body was right there wiggling around on the floor.
The second package is from Suzanne in Richmond, Virginia. Two nice blobs of e-w-i-a-f, and the cute little toes are courtesy of Sophie who was sitting on my lap trying to grab the camera from me.
Thanks, Suzanne and Carrie! You made my day. Okay, you wanna see some I-cord in progress? I took a few pictures while Julie finished her breakfast this morning and Sophie took her very brief morning nap. I sort of forgot to take pictures at the very start of this process, so we’re going to have to do a little imagining here. Oh, and I learned to do this, or something very like it, at Meg Swansen’s knitting camp. She describes it very clearly in her book Sweaters From Camp too.
The first thing you’re going to want to do is put some of the live stitches from the cast-on edge onto a knitting needle. With the eensy-weensy spider cast-on, sometimes this can be a bit of a challenge for me because those stitches can be kind of tight, so I usually pick them up with a smaller needle than the one I’m using for the project. In this case, I took a nice long size 0 and picked up a few diamonds’ worth at a time. I started the I-cord on the lower left edge of the blanket as you’re looking at it from the public side. Also, if you use the cast-on that I did, half of your stitches are probably going to be mounted on the string backwards. You can either correct them as you put them on the needle, or just make sure you turn them around as you work your way across the row.
Next, cast on 3 stitches with your regular needle. A short, double-point works nicely here. Any old cast-on will do – even a provisional one if you want a seamless join by grafting at the very end of the blanket-making process. Now take a look at the picture. Pretend there’s not a bunch of I-cord attached below the wooden needle, and that’s about what it should look like as you’re getting started.
Slide those three cast-on stitches onto the left-hand needle (the metal one in my pictures). The working yarn will be attached to the left of those three stitches, and yes, it is going to look weird and wrong to you. Now, stick your right needle into the back of the first stitch and knit it. Once you’re comfortable with the sliding stitches part, you can just leave the needle in there instead of sliding it over all the way first. Knit the second stitch normally. In this picture, Julie was testing me to see just exactly how close she could come to touching my knitting without pissing me off.
Knit the last newly cast-on stitch together with the first picked up stitch from the blanket. Now you have three stitches on the right hand needle again. Slip them back to the left-hand needle and repeat the process- knit in the back of the first stitch, knit the second stitch normally, knit the third stitch together with another from the blanket through the back loop. Keep doing this till you get to the tip of the first diamond.
As you go around the outer edge of this corner, I think it is best to pick up an extra stitch on either side of the middle to make your edging accomodate the length around the bend, if that makes any sense. You’ll want to pick up that stitch before you slide the stitches back to the left hand needle, then just treat it like a regular blanket-side stitch. When you get to the join between the first two diamonds, pick up one stitch in the diamond peeking out between them so you don’t get a weird little gap. Then just keep going all the way across the bottom.
When you get to the bottom-right corner of the blanket, you can start working your way up the right side. Some of the stitches will be live ones that you cast on provisionally as you worked the blanket. Some of the edges will be the slip-stitch edges of the mitered squares, and those you will have to pick up one stitch at a time as you apply the I-cord. Hopefully, once you’ve made it across the bottom, it will all make sense to you and it should be a cakewalk.
The blanket wants to say hello again, and it’s showing off its wild and wooly loose ends. But look – no more ends hanging from the bottom! The only ones still attached are those from the very top row where there’s no good place to weave them in yet, plus a few provisional cast-on scraps on the left side.
Here’s a closeup of the bottom right corner. I think it will look a lot better once it is blocked. Doesn’t all knitting?
And here is the top of the right-hand side. I broke the I-cord yarn off, leaving a generous tail that I can use to spit-splice more yarn in when I’m ready. The three live stitches are being held on a coilless safety-pin type stitch marker.
If you’re still with me here, I want to note one other thing. I got three e-mails or comments today from the women to whom I sent yarn. Ann posted about hers on her blog. Karin got two balls of Artyarns Ultramerino so she can try knitting her first socks. Karin, I’d like to suggest a toe-up approach since I’m not sure exactly how far that yarn will go – it’s definitely enough for a pair, but I don’t know how long the cuffs will be. It will partly depend on the size of your foot. Denise got one of the big balls of blue Forissima. I’m confident that all these packages have found good homes, and it really feels great to share some of the fun.
Oh! and last but definitely not least – Soprano Spinner is busy making her own blankie. It’s looking good. Everyone go over there and tell her how pretty it is.