Saturday, October 6, 2012

Log Cabin Blanket, a marathon

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There’s a particular reaction that comes with finishing a project this big, this all-consuming.  There’s a huge sigh of relief, accompanied by an always-unexpected sort of internal collapse.  In fact, I’m typing this missive with one finger as I lie facedown on the floor in front of the fireplace drinking chamomile tea through a bendy straw. 

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So big, so heavy, it consumed a gajillion hours of my life and so many thousands of yards of yarn [sudden realization: the stash is free!  I can make other things!] and sometimes made me feel so despairing of its completion, and when I ran out of any kind of light value yarns, well.  Let’s just say there were tears.  And then the lightness of the moment when that little snafu got solved was equally sweet.  You get kind of involved in something this big, and its hard to prepare for that moment when you finally.  Knit.  The.  Last.  Stitch. 

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I spent so many episodes of Arrested Development with this blanket on my lap.  The entire Olympics.  Most of Anna Karenina.  We have had a deep connection, even, I daresay, a relationship.  And now it’s over?  Now it’s just going to lie there on someone’s bed?  After all we’ve been through together? 

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There’s the first big sigh of exultation, followed—instantly—by something like “Wait, no, come back!  I love youuuuuu!”  and crazy new thoughts of the next blanket are already forming.  Because, honestly?  There is just nothing like them.  Look at that!  It is perfect. 

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Well, one must move on.  A blanket must fulfill its true purpose, which is to comfort and cozify, and the knitter must find a new project over which to obsess.  I’ll miss you, sweet Log Cabin Blanket.  Your ten thousand miles of garter stitch in every color in my cupboard was a special thrill.  Remember that time I found the dropped stitch after I’d already bound off the edge?  We had a laugh about that, didn’t we?  And don’t forget the time I knit a whole extra stripe because I got distracted by the tv and forgot I was even knitting and had to rip out two hours’ worth of work.  Haha!  That was so great.  

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This blanket is even more beautiful than I suspected it would be.  All through the long (long!) months of knitting it, I kept worrying there was too much red, not enough red, too many mid-values, too many darks, what if it didn’t lie flat, what sort of edging should I use and goodness me, now that I’d thought about it, whatever color should I use for the edging?  As the panels were finished, I stacked them together and wow, the doubts were so persistent.  Not enough neutral?  Too much?  There are just too many hours in a project this size, and too many materials being used up to avoid these big worries.  What if it isn’t worth it????  But the knitting was just so, so, so lovely. 

And then I whipstitched the panels together, added an attached i-cord edging and sort of felt a burst of adrenaline.  Yeah!  It looks good!  No, wait…it looks great. 

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This pattern was originally published in this book, but the basic instructions for How to Log Cabin can be found here.  I made four panels of eight courses of stripes surrounding a 20-stitch x 20-row center square.  I used almost every worsted weight yarn I had in the cupboard, supplemented enormously by the now-mythical Great 70% Off Sale of 2012.  My strategy for something like this is to buy yarns in colors I like, and then use them as my whims dictate, as a painter chooses colors.  I try to make sure there is a balance of warm and cool colors in my palette, and to ensure a proper balance of lights, darks, and mid-values.  As always, I stick to my personal rules about primary colors and pink/blue, and then I just try to knit what looks good.  These yarns are, let’s see…there’s a LOT of Ella Rae Classic and Amity, and a fair amount of Berroco Vintage, because that’s mostly what I have in the cupboard.  There is a bit of Dalegarn Heilo, a bit of Patons Classic Wool, a bit of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes—I do not have color names to share, I’m sorry.  There is also a fair amount of thrifted yarns that are other people’s leftovers without labels, chosen for weight and color, and I don’t know what they are.  I used a US 7 29” circular needle for the panels and two US 7 dpns for the edging.  There is an untold amount of yardage in this thing, but the edging, more measurable, used an entire skein of Ella Rae Amity, about 220 yards, in color 23, which is a kind of grayed-out navy blue. 

You can read more details about finishing a blanket like this here

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Long-distance runners know what this moment at the finish line is like.  They tremble, laugh, throw up, cry, collapse, pray, howl, exult.  It’s bittersweet.  It’s done. 

63 comments:

  1. I think this is the most beautiful blanket I have ever seen. Amazing achievement, and the watching of the Olympics, Tour de France, Wimbledon etc rings bells with me too! To be so patient, persevere despite lack of yarn in right colour, dropped stitch recovery and just all round stamina. Hats off to you, and it can live on my bed whenever it likes if it doesn't have a good home to go to! Here, have tea, cake and a survival blanket to control the sweats and shakes from your marathon! Fiona x

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  2. I can't imagine me doing a thing like that!!! You are "bravissima"!!!!! Complimenti from Italy
    Gianna

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  3. S-P-E-C-T-A-C-U-L-A-R!!!!!!!!!
    So eye catching, so big, so beautiful....and I think so YOU!!!!
    As Gianna just said : BRAVISSIMA Kristen!!
    xxxx Alessandra

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  4. WOW! Your blanket is absolutely beautiful!!! I LOVE IT!!! Your pics of it rock too :)
    Smiles, DianeM

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  5. Wow!!! That's one gorgeous, GORGEOUS blanket! A true treasure, Kristen. Your photos of that beauty should be in a magazine, they're so pretty. Your family will cherish this forever!!! xo

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  6. Absolutely stunning - what an achievement. I love the way the colours work together - you've made a thing of beauty!

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  7. Wow! Absolutely Gorgeous! I found your blog earlier this summer and have been lurking ever since. I'm embarassed to say it took me quite a long while to realize that we are probably "neighbors" (greetings from Fairport!)Your blog- this blanket in particular- inspired me to put down the crochet hook and learn *gulp* to knit. 2 knitting classes down and I'm hooked (or is it needled?). Thank you for being such an inspiration and congratulations on such a beautiful accomplishment.

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    1. Fairport! *waves at Lisa across the backyard* Howdy, neighbor! (ooh, and thank you, too!)

      :)

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  8. I think there are no words for this! Gorgeous doesn't cover it. Awe, gets close. You are a wonderful inspiration. thanks!

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  9. What a PROJECT! Congratulations. Lie back. Read something light.

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  10. Well it is absolutely amazing and i love it! Well done. I think I am not going to carry mine on anymore. I don't like my colours. Yours on the other hand are perfect and go perfectly with each other. x

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  11. omg kristen! this takes my breath away, garter stitch is my favorite, this is stunning. i love the way you wrote about it too, i felt the exact same way finishing my pi blanket,but your so good at putting it to words. enjoy your beautiful beautiful work of art. and yes, of course, cast on for another blanket! i'll look forward to it!

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  12. How beautiful! I absolutely love it. You're so talented and have such an eye for color.

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  13. Oh, what a lovely blanket. It must have taken ages. Kudos to your patience. I started one crochet hexagon blanket and 9 months on it is still not ready to be "delivered". :)
    Love

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  14. Congratulations! It's absolutely beautiful. And just think how satisfying it will be to snuggle under it with a cup of tea!

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  15. This is bloody amazing Kristen. It has kind of a Gees Bend/Denyse Schmidt/work of art/look to it. Your color combinations just pop. I bow once again to your mad skillz with the needles.

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  16. I am speechless! It is absolutely beautiful! You have done a wonderful job. This is someting that can be done in so many tones...

    Maria

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  17. Kristen, you are truly amazing and so very talented. Your log cabin blanket is absolutely gorgeous. I can just imagine how heavy it is. You always manage to make all the colors work together so beautifully. Happy weekend wishes, Tammy

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  18. What a beautiful post about the highs & lows of making such a beautiful blanket as you have! Although I am no knitter, I can well imaging it the depth of feeling & attachment you must have. The sheer amount of time you spent on it would forge such feelings & how lovely that you will always be reminded of this season & time whenever you look at it! x

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  19. It's beautiful. What more is there to say?

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  20. An enormous achievement! well done on creating a beautiful blanket as it's obvious sooooo much time and effort has gone into making it. Your work is so inspiring, I'd love to make something similar.
    I like how in your post you've commented on the bad as well as the good times making the blanket - craft can sometimes be so frustrating as well as giving such enjoyment. I look forward to seeing what you make next.

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  21. What a beautiful blanket Kristen!!! Well worth all the time and work you put into it. Enjoy it to your hearts content! :)

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  22. How gorgeous! You've made a true work of art! Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures!

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  23. Such a wonderful blanket! I know your feelings about colour balance too well. I started a ripple back in May and am soon finished. But between now and then there was a lot of frogging wrong colours, ordering substitutes, not liking them and so on. And now my blanket is nearly finished and I have have enough yarn to make another one with the colours that weren't right in this one...

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  24. Your blanket is wonderful, and your colors are perfect. I made a woven stitch blanket after reading your post back in June, and I just love it. I want to make another one but I'm working on a sweater. I know how much you love your blanket. I understand.

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  25. This is a beautiful blanket, I've never seen one like it - I love it!
    Angie x

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  26. By Golly! What a beauty! And 'the behind the scenes' story made me grin from ear to ear.
    Would you consider adopting me so I can put a claim on that blanket? :)

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  27. So beautiful! So worth every tear and frustrated moment! Now you can snuggle up in it's comforting warmth! :)

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  28. It is simply amazing. What a labor of love, and worth every single stitch.

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  29. It's wonderful Kristen....just gorgeous ...well done on completing the Marathon :0)
    Jacquie x

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  30. The blanket is gorgeous. I devoured every word you wrote describing this labour of love. Those are the words I would use when I am crocheting big projects. Endless hours of "togetherness",frogging, not wanting it to be finished and yet when it is-- a sigh is released from way down in! Then it's on to the next...... Thanks for sharing!

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  31. It's done and it is absolutely amazing. You have finished the Ironman, or the the swim from Alcatraz, you are truly my garter stitch hero. And here I am complaining about a little ole garter stitch sweater, I should be ashamed!
    Go get yourself a bottle of bubbly to celebrate.
    hugs,
    Meredith

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  32. Oh my goodness. I've never seen such an amazing, inspiring, gigantic peice of knitting in my life. Like, seriously, no kidding! That is incredible!! I wanna start somthin' now! :)
    Love, love, love it!
    Grace Ann

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  33. Goodness, it is beautiful!! Congrats on finishing it :)

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  34. Just Stunning!! ...and so worthy of "THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BLANKET IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD AWARD!" Congratulations Kristen..Take your bow! :) penny x

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  35. Beautiful, beautiful blanket! I can just feel the weight of that baby through the pictures! I'd love to see how it looks draped on a bed. Congratulations on the completion :)

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  36. Thanks for another beautiful post, Kristen. The blanket is perfect and your words about it are delightful. Bravo!!! xx from Gracie Encore! Encore!

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  37. You always make me laugh. Your blanket is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Kelli.

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  38. unbelievable what a work... beautiful,,,,

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  39. Congratulations on the completion of your amazing blanket. I am in awe of your talents.

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  40. Many many congrats Kristen! This is not just a blanket but a journey, an adventure and YOU'RE FINISHED!!! It's gorgeous, stunning, beautiful and divine. Now just take a pill and go and lie down in a dark room for a few days..... xxx

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  41. That is an amazing blanket!!!!!! Love it!
    Maria x

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  42. Awestruck!! I don't think I've ever seen a more beautiful knitted blanket,it's absolutely gorgeous. Congratulations x

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  43. Oh, I do know that feeling even if my afghans have been on a slightly smaller scale -- but it is gorgeous and wow, whoever the lucky recipient is, I hope they have some inkling as to how special this blanket is. Can't wait to see what you put on the needles next.

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  44. Oh, it is really great job!!! Lovely!!!

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  45. As I have mentioned so many times on my blog you are an inspiration to me ... Your work, the color choices and the words ... The way you write and express yourself on your blog is simply beautiful.. I'm always inspired to start another project when I visit your blog. So elegant, so beautiful... Just simply art ...

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  46. Completely amazing. Congratulations!

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  47. WOW....it is just simply gorgeous! A what a very nice story of how this perfect blanket came together! Shari

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  48. That's truly amazing!!! Love the colours, love the pattern, love it's size!!! What a clever crafter you are!!!
    Carly
    x

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  49. It is absolutely gorgeous. You are so lucky to be able to make something like that. As a rank beginner, I get so frustrated that it will probably be ages before I have the knowlege and skills to attempt that. Bravo!

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  50. It is stunning! And this post exactly describes what I was trying to explain to my non-crafty friend today - that strange combination of emotions that are wrapped up in a large blanket project. Congratulations on finishing this beautiful creation.

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  51. Your blanket is a thing of true beauty! I am in absolute awe of it and keep scrolling back up the page to gaze upon it. And I have enjoyed every word of this post. You write so beautifully, so honestly, so hilariously and I am a huge fan!!

    A massive congrats on finishing this stunner hon. I hope you've managed to get up off the floor after your through-a-bendy-straw tea session! What a hoot.

    Have a fab week.
    Leah
    xx

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  52. Kristen, this blanket is absolutely spectacular!! I love it, so I can only begin to imagine how you feel about it ... well actually I get the idea, you wrote so beautifully about the whole process. Had a chuckle at the start with your typing of the post with one finger, face down on the floor!!! And thank you for making this and posting about it because I will never embark on such a huge project, but I feel that I've travelled a bit of the journey with you! Trudy x

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  53. A truly beautiful blanket Kristen.Your description of the journey and finally reaching your destination was so enjoyable to read. Congratulations. Shirley

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  54. Stunning! It truly is a work of art as well as a tribute to your persistence. And your ode to the blanket was fabulous too! Love it!

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  55. Wow! That's one beautiful blanket and I can only imagine how many hours went into it. No wonder you need some recovery time!
    Victoria

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  56. I've been following your blog for some time and all of your projects are great, but this one is just exceptional. Great job.

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  57. Totally amazing! What a marathon of a blanket, it looks so beautiful. The colours are wonderful. This is one you'll always remember making!
    Hope you are now recovered enough to take a few shaky steps towards the depleted yarn stash, and find the energy to tackle that next project!!!!
    Go Girl!
    Gill xx

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  58. I love this part: "Your ten thousand miles of garter stitch in every color in my cupboard was a special thrill. Remember that time I found the dropped stitch after I’d already bound off the edge? We had a laugh about that, didn’t we?"

    You're very clever. And talented.

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  59. This is very beautiful and inspiring. I really enjoyed reading your post.

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