Heirloom acrylics

Green_blankie

I knit this green throw in the summer of 1978. Jimmy Carter was president. It’s alternating simple seed stitch and reverse stockinette panels. For reasons that are now obscure, I lined up leaves in long rows on the reverse stockinette. I was 26 years old, had already been knitting for 18 years, and was quite proud of my creation. Recalling my knitting budget, this would definitely have been discount department store acrylic. Thirty-five years ago I was a solo knitter, without the support of a local yarn shop or a “Knitlist.” And Ravelry was just a gleam in Jess and Casey’s parents’ eyes. But knit happened anyway.

This throw graced the back of a series of couches, used and new. The couches long ago moved on to parts unknown (or at least unrecalled). But the green throw lives on. It traveled to my son’s new home in the past few years. He, his wife, and their Chocolate Lab, Roxie, are still using it and it still looks basically OK. Even the fringe has held up well.

Here’s another look at the remarkable staying power of acrylics.

green_blankie2

This next blanket is an early full-sized Rambling Rows. It might even have been my first Rambling Rows, that wonderful Cottage Creations pattern by Carol Anderson that I come back to again and again for heavy doses of garter stitch.

Rambling_Rows

This Rambling Rows was knit around 1995, of a variegated acrylic that was LYS-purchased and more on the pricey side. I recall it as being a Spanish yarn, but don’t remember the producer. My son used this blanket on his bed for many years. It led a hard life in dorm rooms and in rental homes. When I visited him a few weeks ago, I slept under it. It’s still going strong, still keeping the family warm.

Rambling_Rows2

Celia’s Blankie: a Cottage Creations must-knit

celia_crumpled

This is Celia’s Blankie, another modular-knit afghan from Carol Anderson at Cottage Creations. Anderson’s website is not set up for e-commerce or downloading patterns, but the pattern booklet is available on a number of websites and local yarn shops and she invites direct inquiries to her.

Miles of garter stitch is a big draw for me and so are Cottage Creations patterns. The instructions are very clear, but also quite chatty. Rather rustic drawings illustrate some sections of Cottage Creation patterns.

As with Rambling Rows, which you can check out here and here and four more here, when you finish Celia’s Blankie, there is no finishing. You will likely chose to work in the tails from the individual blocks as you knit and, if so, it’s off the needles and your finished blanket can be immediately put to use.

My blankie is knit in easy-care Plymouth Encore worsted. I knit the largest size square the booklet suggests and ended with a blanket that was 45 inches by 46 inches, including the 10-ridge garter stitch border.

Anderson leaves a lot of choices for the knitter, including the size, number and color-patterning of squares. Since it’s knitter’s choice, the pattern doesn’t spell out exactly how much yarn you’ll need. I found I was able to get 7 squares out of all but one of the Encore skeins, on US size 8 needles. This blankie took 3 skeins of each of the 3 colors I chose. The booklet provides photos of several blankets knit by several test knitters, with information on their choice of yarn and how much yarn they used. I selected one of the arrangements used by one of the test knitters. There isn’t any reason why you couldn’t put this pattern on steroids and knit a full size blanket. Just knit more squares.

For the border, I picked up 24 stitches in each square, working garter stitch in the round with my longest circulars. Garter stitch in the round means you knit one row, purl one row. I marked each corner with a stitch holder and then each knit row I increased one stitch (by knitting in the front and in the back) on each side of the marker. I bound off on a purl row.

Here’s a closer look at one of the mitered corners:

celia_folded2

I’m pleased with the result:

celia_full

 

Another Lillie’s Little Sweater

This is Lillie’s Little Sweater. Yep, another one. It’s knitted here in easy-care Plymouth Encore, a 25% wool, 75% acrylic that wears like iron and is soft enough for babes.

I shied away from this Cottage Creations pattern for quite awhile because I thought it too simple to hold my attention. My first impressions were wrong. Very wrong. You start at the sweet, mostly garter stitch hood and work your way down. There is something so satisfying about casting off without having your project piled up in pieces, awaiting your sewing and finishing work.The pattern is a simple, but not simplistic, design.This time Carol Anderson partnered with Joan DeBolt.

All Cottage Creations patterns are a luxuriously slow read. Anderson writes her patterns with good humor, good wishes, even planning a break for you at the midpoint of most patterns. She explains everything in tons of detail. And then, on the stuff that easiest to forget, she reminds you repeatedly to remember. You won’t be able to download the booklet. It will take a trip to your local yarn shop or a snail mail order to slowly bring the pattern to your door and the project to your needles. The slow way this easy pattern unfolds is part of the charm. Here’s another Lillie’s I recently knit.

Babies and Bears Cardigan, super sized

I’ve made the hooded baby version of Cottage Creations’ Babies and Bear Cardigan many times. Check it out here and here. It’s sweet, quick, and babies look super cute in it. This is Cottage Creations Babies and Bears Cardigan, super-sized. Not so sweet, not so quick, and I don’t pretend I look cute in it. But it’s a well-designed, easy-to-execute pattern. The sweater is very comfortable and I’ve already worn it a lot.

Babies and Bears is knitted here in Plymouth Yarns Coffee Beenz, a 25% wool, 75% acrylic that’s part of the Encore line. The XXL size was supposed to take 1800 yards. Mine used 1520 yards (just over 7 skeins). The only significant modification I made was to add 8 more decrease stitches just after the pick up row on the neck band, to tighten up the neckline. I don’t think that would have been necessary with a yarn that was of a more firm construction than Coffee Beenz. About two inches less sleeve length would have been better for me, but I just cuff the sleeves. And, instead of leaving any sewing for the band all around the sweater, I took a lesson from the baby version and used a 42″ circular to handle the band all as one section, mitering the corners in front.

Another “Babies and Bears” sweater

Over the years, I’ve made about a half-dozen of these.This time I used the simple fair isle insert rather than the gurnsey-style knits and purls insert. Both are very sweet.This pattern, by Cottage Creations’ Carol Anderson and Kristi Williams, is a wonderful almost no-seam design. This time it’s knit in Cascade 220 Superwash. About a skein and a half, 330 yards, is all I needed for the six month size. Size 7 US needles worked for me.

My only modification is that I do a 3-needle bind-off on the hood, rather than try to graft garter stitch. I find getting the tension correct on that particular graft is very difficult and I only rarely can get it to look perfect.

Check out the gurnsey style insert here.

“Try it, you’ll like it.”