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.