Finally Done – Great American Afghan

This took nearly three years to complete – started in early 2015, and with the blocks finished and assembled in August of 2015.  However, it took two winters and into November of this year to finish the knitted band around the edge.  To be fair, I only worked on the band intermittently and only in the winter – when the rest of the afghan could be warming my lap in the process.  The unending nature of the band around an afghan this size (that’s a queen sized bed it covers) meant that I had to take frequent breaks to avoid going out of my mind with boredom.

It is a generously-sized and very warm afghan.  After two years of quasi-use, I’m a little disappointed that it is showing wear in the form of fluffing and mild pilling, which suggests that it might not take to many washings (and afghans should be washable).

This was going to be a gift (but for whom, I never determined), but after using it for a few years – and having it show signs of use – I will likely keep it.  Unfortunately, the colors are not appealing to me.  Mind you, they are terrific colors, and I’m pleased at the way the afghan turned out but (as you can see by the bedspread), I prefer a different color palette.

New techniques (Finished Projects Installment) – Mitered corners!  I chose a band from one of the squares of the Great American Afghan book (one of the squares that I did not use for the precise reason of the band that I – at the time – did not want to tackle).  The straight sections of the band were attractive and easy, and the instructions for the mitered corners were OK – they only gave directions on knitting the corner, without direction on where to start the mitered corner.  I’m still not sure about that one.

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Casting On – Fanciful Rose Afghan

Back at the afghans, again.  There’s a new baby in the family among the cousins, and both the yarn and pattern are terrific for a baby afghan.

I’ve knit this afghan several times, and used this specific yarn and color – it looks great, feels soft, and is easy to knit.

Pattern:  Fanciful Rose, from Leisure Arts, “Our Best Baby Afghans” book.  The book contains a number of lovely afghan patterns for baby, and is well worth the investment.

Yarn:  JoAnn’s Rainbow Classic, in color Blue Rainbow.  Unfortunately, the yarn is discontinued.  I purchased several afghans’ worth several years ago, and after this afghan (which uses two skeins), I have two skeins left, in color Rose.

Adjustments:  I made the afghan narrower than called for in the pattern by two repeats.  An adjustment to accommodate the yarn more than an issue with the pattern.

Minor Annoyances:  This yarn reminds me of annoyances I have with self-striping yarns — frequently, there is a “break” in the yarn which throws the pattern off.  In order to keep the pattern consistent, a quantity of yarn is wasted.  I recognize that this is what happens when you purchase mass-manufactured yarn, and that it’s simply part of the manufacturing process, but it is still annoying.  Yes, there was a break in this skein.

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The morning light makes the colors look grey – the color palate is a light blue
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Detail of the stitch pattern

Zig Zag Afghan Complete

Stopping point reached.  Not all leftover sock yarn was consumed (that would be either crazy, or obsessive, or both), but it reached a size where I thought that concept was well represented and the afghan would be useful.

Size is about 36″ x 60″ – big enough for a lap afghan, big enough for a nap afghan, but not big enough for a blanket (or for 2 people).  Because it is made from sock yarn, it’s not heavy, which works for me.

Pattern:  10-Stitch Zig Zag Afghan, by Frankie Brown

Adjustments:  I made it a 20 stitches and 20 rows, instead of 10.

Yarn Used:  Stash of leftover sock yarn (I used about 1/2 of my stash)

Theme: rainbow (more or less – you can see it, if you squint)

Zig Zag Afghan Complete 1 12-19-2015 (1024x576).jpgZig Zag Afghan Complete 2 12-19-2015 (1024x576).jpgLessons learned:  Stitch markers are important.  Even though this was an easy project, it was “easy” to get off count on the rows.

Goals:  Good “mindless knitting project” to get me through a stressful work period with two large projects on the burner.

Mediocre:  Stash buster project.  Yes, I managed to (nearly) use up 13 sets of leftover sock yarn, but the overall project has a very “patchwork” feel, which is not really to my taste.  So, +5 for using up yarn, plus an extra +1 because the size of the project tended to be “just right” to use up a particular color per panel, but -3 for the lack-of-matching= still worthwhile in the project completion department.

Update March 22, 2016:  I use this afghan a lot more than I expected.  It is lightweight (because of the sock yarn) and airy (because of the garter-stitch giving it loft), and just right for a lap afghan.   I tend to be warm all the time, so I don’t need a heavy blanket when curling up with a book (or with knitting), but sometimes, a bit of afghan on the lap is nice.

Stitch Markers are Our Friends

This deceptively-simply pattern is certainly a learning experience.  I was looking for a little mindless knitting to consume my ever-growing stash of leftover sock yarn, and I’m getting a lesson in the meaning of the term (misnomer), “mindless knitting.”

Below is the picture I took when I made the decision to go back to the beginning.  I had been knitting, merrily along, and realized that my rows had gotten off in count – and the mistake was “growing” with every row.

If you look closely (sorry for the slightly blurry picture), you’ll see the distances between the “zigs” and “zags” are not even – which means the stitch count between change-of-directions is not consistent.  By the time I got to the  part represented by the lower right corner, the “zig” was half the size of the “zag.”  How did that happen?  Not paying attention is how.

So.  I’ve completely unraveled the project and am starting over.  Things I’ve learned:

  1. Stitch markers are our friends – In Version 2.0, I’ve placed a stitch marker at every change-of-direction to help me keep track of the row count and direction.
  2. Colors need to blended better – I will be using all of one color before changing to another – for the “look” I want, the back-and-forth didn’t work.  This is purely an aesthetic thing for me.
  3. Colors can be blended for transition – I will be using some “row-by-row” alternating colors to try to soften the blend from one skein to another.  Hopefully, that will make the entire piece look a little more “together,” instead of patchwork (which, admittedly, it is).
  4. There is no such thing as “mindless” knitting.  There is only “less-focused attention” knitting.  One must be liberal in the use of reminder devices (aka stitch markers) to avoid “mindlessly” knitting a piece out of shape.

To be fair, this is an easy pattern and an enjoyable pattern, and I think I’ll be pleased with the result.  However, Version 1.0 was an exercise in learning to pay attention, and a reminder that you don’t always get it right the first time.

One of the things I like best about knitting is that there is always something new to learn.

Zig Zag Afghan Fail

WIP/Stash-Buster – Zig Zag Afghan

This is an interesting project.  I’m working my way through skeins and skeins of leftover sock yarn to make an afghan.   I’m trying to coordinate the colors, a bit – hopefully, it will be more apparent as the project grows.  I started out alternating skeins within a color range, but, now that I see the effect, I rather wish that I would have used up one color or pattern before moving to the next – I think the effect would have been smoother.  However, eight skeins into the project, I’m not sure I’m willing to backtrack and start over.

This is a great “mindless knitting” project.  Thanks to Frankie Brown for her “Ten Stitch Zigzag” afghan pattern.  I’ve made it a 20-stitch pattern (20 stitches wide and 20 rows before changing direction, or “20 Zigs, then 20 Zags”), which seems to work fine for this project.

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