06 July 2006

Log Cabinning

Here's the beginning of my first square of a Mason-Dixon Log Cabin sampler afghan. I know, I know, I'm supposed to be working on that Mom Sweater. And I have been. But while I was doing round after mind-bogglingly boring round, I was thinking about log cabins, and so I just had to get out the yarns I was thinking of using, and play with them, and once I'd done that, naturally I had to try out a square. But I swear, REALLY, I'm only going to do a square at a time of the afghan and let it take me months or even years to finish. Even though this techinique IS as addictive and instant-gratification-y as everyone says. Ahem.

Anyway, because I have no money but do have a huge stash, I'm forced to make do with the yarns I've got, even though they were originally purchased with different projects in mind. So the colors aren't what I'd choose if I could just walk into a store and buy what I wanted (that'd be Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran, is what that would be), but on the other hand, it's fun to make do with what you've got. Constraints breed creativity.

So what I've got is mostly a Russian yarn brand called Semyonovskaia, in a very light DK weight. They're all some blend of wool with either alpaca, angora, or mohair, and each also has a little bit of acrylic. I bought these to play with because they're cheap, come in bazillions of colors, and I wouldn't care too much if what I made sucked so much that I had to chalk the whole thing up as a loss, without even enough psychic energy (or long pieces) left to rip out and reuse the yarn. So, that's what kind of yarn I'm using, and it's probably for the best, since if this does eventually become a finished afghan, I want it to be the kind that's always laying on the couch and gets tons of use (and thus needs to be washed pretty regularly) rather than the heirloom type that I can't, right now, afford to store or have cleaned properly. I'll make that kind of afghan some other day, in the misty future, when I have a house and a real income.

Anyway, there are a couple other random yarns thrown in there too, because they almost match the Semyonovskaia in weight and because I've got nothing else planned for them, because they've all got a little bit of something synthetic in them (though everything is at least 50% wool; mostly more than that).

So I've divided the colors into three groups and I plan 9 squares of 12" each. Each square will probably use only two of the color groups at a time, but they'll be evenly balanced around the whole afghan. Two squares will be like the "blanket of many colors" afghan from the Mason-Dixon book, two will be in the courthouse steps style, two more will be modernes, and two will be mitered, but in garter stitch and with only a few very wide stripes, so that it's not too jolting of a difference in shapes next to the log cabins. The center square will be made up of concentric squares in thick stripes (maybe 4 colors), using the "picture frame" method described in M-D for borders. I'll knit the squares together with strips of black garter stitch, and finish with a black garter stitch border.

That's the plan so far. These are the three color groups (shown above, though the third group came out all wrong in the picture; it's actually grey, ice-blue, and teal). I've switched them around again about six times since the photo, but now I'm back to where I started. I think I'll do like my commenters recommended on the M-D KAL: just make some squares, and whichever ones I don't like can become pillows.

This is the sketched plan I'm working from, though it's totally out-of-scale, generally wonky, and with non-representational colors. I only put it up here for giggles.

I'm not binding off at the end of each strip, btw, as suggested on the KAL, and I'm slipping the first stitch of every row purlwise. I'm keeping all the live stitches from the three sides not in play at any given moment on one long circular needle, which works much better than using up all my stitch holders at once, and works right up to the end of the square, since it's never going to get any bigger than 12". I'm not even bothering with putting stoppers on the points of the holder-needle -- when they get in the way, I just poke them into the knitting.

While digging out this yarn, I discovered a sad, lone little mitten that I'd completely forgotten about. It's the Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern, made in garter from side to side. I like how the combination of color (dark heathery grey), stitch, and flared cuff make it look a bit like a medieval gauntlet, and I really like how it actually fits (when stretched) my freakishly long fingers, unlike every commerical mitten or glove I've ever seen. I really ought to make the second one one of these days...except I have no idea whether I altered the pattern at all, or what I did...if I kept notes, they're lost. How silly of me.

Hubbster and I are going to go take a walk now, because it's grey and cool outside, and lately that seems like good weather. And then, I'm back to slogging. Through the diss, through the Mom Sweater. Sigh.

P.S. I am SO excited about the new issue of Knitty. I love each and every issue in its own way, but this one brought back memories of FINGER KNITTING, and that just made my day. Oh, the miles of strips I used to have lying around my childhood bedroom! I remember exactly the colors of variegated Red Heart I used, too.... I have to say, the reason Knitty is such a runaway success is not just that knitting is trendy and that knitters are online in huge numbers, or that the patterns are both hip and free. It's that knitty is a really professional publication. It's beautifully designed, reliable and consistent, well-written and well-edited. That's the difference, I think, between just anybody throwing some stuff online, which these days anybody can indeed do (and that's good!), and what can happen when someone really talented and passionate creates something of substance. And for all that, the thing still has a sense of humor! I think it's a major feat, and Amy Singer is amazing. Go Amy, and congrats on quitting your day job!!


amy [Knitty] said...

Kate, thank you *so much* for your kind words. If I'm ever lucky enough to meet you, I will give you a freaking huge hug.

keri said...

Here from the mason dixon knitalong..I love the way you drew up your design. I think it's going to be amazing!

Tiffany said...

Found you through the Icarus-along. Everything you knit is just beautiful. The picture of your view in St. Petersburg took me back quite a few years. I was an exchange student in Germany and we spen a few weeks in Russia. I stayed in a hotel just a few blocks from that cathedral. I love how the blogosphere shrinks the world. I'm looking forward to seeing how your sampler comes together.