March 19, 2007
The Lost Weekend
Starting Thursday afternoon, when I first posted the beginning of my first ever miter, I knit miters the entire weekend ending about midnight last night. 20 miters in all. Five blocks. It's only the beginning. Not surprisingly, I found my voice - and there are lots of pictures and words to prove it. Skim if you like. Thank you.
Okay. So this is what happened. Back in January, I got an email from WEBS saying that they had Tahki Cotton Classic grab bags on sale - it came out to like $2.50 a skein. I had never used TCC so I called Kay, who I know collects TCC the way I collect STR and asked if this was a good thing. She said it was a very good thing, so I bought three 10-skein grab bags and gave them the specifications Kay suggested: 1 bag warm brights, 1 bag cool brights, and 1 bag neutrals. All different please. Now, with a grab bag you are at the mercy of whoever's putting the bag together and whatever stock allows. When my yarn arrived, I realized I was a little light on the purples and reds, so I did what you all would've done and bought another 10-skein grab bag and asked for purples and reds. I got oranges and some pink, but that's okay. That's why they call it a grab bag.
I bought the yarn, took a couple of pictures of it (see above) that I didn't really love and promptly put the yarn in a huge plastic bag and stuck it in the closet. Honestly, it was one of those things I needed to have but didn't have an idea about it. Another Log Cabin? Who knew? I just knew I needed the yarn and the price was good and that was that.
Fast forward a few weeks. I keep seeing these interesting ripple blankets and chevron scarves everywhere. I'm not going to crochet and I hate scarves, but the undulating color is appealing to me. Then, I go to my sister's for the weekend and I'm in my niece's room and she's playing with my hair (god I love having a niece!) and I'm looking around her room and I spy some of the swatches I gave to her so she could have blankets for her babies. Back in the old days, I'd make tons of swatches - I mostly knit blankets for other people (oh how the times have changed), in acrylic no less, and there are lots of leftovers. One of the blankets I made was a ripply chevrony blanket pattern that was my grandmother's - well - actually - it wasn't her pattern but she had used it to make blankets for all of us grandchildren. Mine was the first, I suspect, and it's quite boring in its color choices, but my sister's is inspired. I'll try to take a picture of it while I'm at her house next weekend. Anyway, I had made this blanket for a friend's daughter and had swatched a bit before I started knitting. This swatch had purple stripes. My niece wanted to know why I didn't make it bigger.
The swatch stuck with me and started niggling around in my brain while I was knitting away happily on the Katharine Hepburn Cardigan (which I WILL BE FINISHING) and on Thursday, when I was out of sorts, I thought - HUH! This could be a great use for my Tahki Cotton Classic. I'll knit an undulating ripple blanket in my grandmother's afghan pattern and how fantastic will that be!?! So I took out the yarn and chose two colors I didn't really care about - an orange that I had five skeins of and a bright yellow. I found my grandmother's pattern written on the back of a receipt and tucked away for safe keeping and tried to cast on. Not only couldn't I read my writing to get the pattern to work out but I started to cast on and got the stitch count wrong and then I thought forget it. But I had the cotton out and Kay's always talking about her miter love and I'd never knit a miter before....
Quickly I took out my copy of Mason-Dixon Knitting - possibly FOR ME the single most influential knitting book I own - and turned to the miter page. I studied the pattern and my mind went a churning. Then I remembered that Kay had a no-sew miter thing going on so I went to investigate. Might as well get as much information under your belt before you start. While I was over there, reading the tutorial and thinking this probably isn't for me - I WAS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING. There was a square - a group of squares - in the no-sew miter that spoke to me on such a level I was instantly dumbstruck and foaming at the mouth. Muttering and silent. I was NUTS!
Then I remembered that I, myself, had photographed this stupendous mitered blanket before it was finished. I went and looked through my photographs.
I did NOT knit this masterpiece. Kay did.
See that big orange square up in the right top? See it? THIS, my friends, is the secret to everything. Immediately the whole thing fell into place for me and I dumped that bag of glorious Tahki Cotton Classic color and started throwing things together.
My favorite thing about Kay and Ann's book is the whole thing about rules. Kay loves the rules. They rein you in and set you free all at the same time. So I made up some rules for my new mitered blanket. First off, there will be approximately 20 squares, made up of four miters, and they will each have a dominant color that runs through the square and keeps it cohesive. The four "background" colors may be in the same color family, a different family, I may use a background color more than once, I may have four different colors. The background is kind of like anything goes. I won't be sewing them up until I'm finished - I may throw out a square in the end, I may need to knit more.
Once that was settled, I began to knit:
Square #3 - knit on St. Patrick's Day
And knit some more. (So my hand was cramping up before I went to bed Saturday night. So what?)
At some point, I don't know whether it was Saturday or Sunday, my ass went numb from sitting on the couch. All the movies started to blur together (but I do remember that I REALLY like Daniel Craig as the new Bond. He's got that grittiness to him that's essential to Bond - they can't be TOO pretty, ie Moore and Brosnan) and I had scoured the internet looking for every color card of TCC I could find and promptly printed them all out and cross referenced them with the list I had put together in Excel of the colors I already had in my possession. I may or may not have left the house on Sunday to buy a HUMONGOUS GLASS VASE so that I could throw all of the half balls of TCC into it and let the colors mingle around together to find new and exciting combinations. I definitely bought another 17 colors. I am desperately in need of red.
I do know this: by Saturday night I had identified the fourth and fifth squares, started the fourth and thought I'd at least CAST ON for the fifth. Whatever.
Whew! I'm done for now - or at least until the new yarn comes. I've exhausted the color combinations I've got. I'm sure I could push them and find another few squares, but I'm mentally exhausted. I need to go back to the KH Cardigan - one color - for a little bit. Besides, I won't have a weekend like this one - where I don't have anything to do, really, for a long time I'm sure. But I've got it down that I can knit a miter, one quarter of a square, in under 90 minutes - three sitcoms - it's not going to take me long at all. I'm already 1/4 finished! And away we go....
Posted by Cara at March 19, 2007 01:32 PM
Stunning. And the thought process too. Totally made my stressful day bright and sunny. Thank you, Cara.
Posted by: Donna at March 19, 2007 12:43 PM
I think your blog voice is back. Yay!
This is so freaking gorgeous. And there is nothing I love more than hearing/reading creative people talk about their creative process. So this post is pretty darn close to perfect. I can't wait to see more squares. And the cardi. :)
Have a great day, Cara, and don't forget to rest those hands. Cotton can be tough on them.
Posted by: Laura at March 19, 2007 12:49 PM
So pretty. I understand and share your Mason Dixon love, for me, currently it is Log Cabin bibs. Actually, the next bib is going to be a ballband bib.
I can see the mitered blanket in my future, right after lizard ridge.
Posted by: PICAdrienne at March 19, 2007 12:50 PM
I can't believe the number of beautiful blankets I keep seeing around at the moment, yours is no exception - love the colours, it would make my brain hurt putting them together and I'm sure I wouldn't do it half as well. Nevertheless, I'm itching to join in the fun. I *will* have a lovely blanket to cosy up under by next winter. Enjoy continuing to work on yours :)
Posted by: Nicola at March 19, 2007 12:55 PM
Wow! Look at you go. Your squares look great and I think your rules will keep it looking smart. I hate all the making up that comes with a project like that but you've got me having second thoughts.
Posted by: Renee at March 19, 2007 01:00 PM
Thanks for giving me some more motivation to keep my own mitered squares going! Your squares look amazing!
Posted by: sarah b. at March 19, 2007 01:09 PM
Pure and simple...obsessed you are. You do good work when you're obsessed!
Posted by: margene at March 19, 2007 01:09 PM
Posted by: Kay at March 19, 2007 01:11 PM
Ohhhhhh, wowee wowee. Sooooooooooooooooooo great! Can somthing be too colorful? No way! I hope you find the right red and SOON. This thing is going to be gargeous.
I like it when you're in a flow state. Excellent armchair knitting for all of us.
Posted by: Ann at March 19, 2007 01:14 PM
Love those colours! Sometimes a bit of obsessive knitting is just what you need.
Posted by: Mary at March 19, 2007 01:15 PM
Stunning! And yes, obsessed, but in a good way. Thank you for sharing the beauty and yarny goodness.
Posted by: Karen in Toledo at March 19, 2007 01:19 PM
Posted by: Melody at March 19, 2007 01:19 PM
I am seriously in awe of what you created this weekend and you've put me back on Miter Square making. I have a ton of that Thaki yarn myself and love your planning and thoughtful-ness with this blanket. I need to do some of that myself.
Lovely, lovely, lovely!
Posted by: Rebecca at March 19, 2007 01:20 PM
OMG!!!! I said it was going to be awesome. You are so inspiring.
Posted by: Tonia at March 19, 2007 01:23 PM
I've been wanting to do a mitred or log cabin blanket for some time, and now you've given me the bug big time! There's just something so mathematical and symmetrical about the mitred blanket, and it's so much fun to see all the different colors. Now if only I had a weekend to do some obsessive knitting...darn grad school!
Posted by: Adam at March 19, 2007 01:33 PM
Your photographer's eye is shining thru on this project, Cara. The colors! The combinations! The contrasts! Lovely stuff!
Posted by: Meg in North AL at March 19, 2007 01:37 PM
Oh my. I'm a bit weepy. Wait...thats just the high pollen count. Still, this is AMAZING. You've done it again, Cara. Pure knitting gold.
I HEART Mason Dixon Knitting, and was eyeing those miters just last week. The wheels in my brain are turning....
Posted by: Sarah at March 19, 2007 01:37 PM
Wow - those colours are amazing - keep going..
Posted by: SamLaTricoteuse at March 19, 2007 01:38 PM
Hmmmm..... so glad you came up for air to show us this. I like that immersed creative experience. So necessary sometimes.
Posted by: LaurieM at March 19, 2007 01:40 PM
I *FREAKIN'* LOVE THIS!
(Why yes, my excitement required all caps to convey how much I want to make one of these blankets now...Nice work.)
Posted by: kodachrome at March 19, 2007 01:42 PM
Have you seen Renee's at A Good Yarn?
She didn't plan out her squares- just knit at random!
Posted by: Deb at March 19, 2007 01:47 PM
Those squares are really inspiring - as are you! Like Adam posted above, now I've got the bug too.
And I'm planning a trip to WEBS this weekend...hmmm...maybe it's a hint from the knitting universe.
Posted by: liz at March 19, 2007 02:00 PM
Gorgeous...love the color combinations...the blanket rocks! And won't WEBS be having their spring yarn sale soon? Maybe some TCC for me.
Posted by: Barbara A.M. at March 19, 2007 02:10 PM
FANTASTIC! I like it when you're obsessed, too. ; )
Posted by: Vicki at March 19, 2007 02:12 PM
Posted by: loribird at March 19, 2007 02:14 PM
"At some point, I don't know whether it was Saturday or Sunday, my ass went numb from sitting on the couch." This is just too funny. I feel that way as I sit at the computer to look at just one more blog & while I'm knitting.
The blanket is going to be beautiful. I like how each square has one common color. I'm no expert, but I believe that Elann Sonata is equivalent to TCC, but their colors are different.
Posted by: Sherry at March 19, 2007 02:14 PM
Amazing! The color combos you chose are just lovely!
Posted by: keri at March 19, 2007 02:20 PM
What a gorgeous project and it looks like quite a lot of fun to knit up! Great job.
Posted by: Wanda at March 19, 2007 02:23 PM
They are gorgeous. And I can just picture you knitting and muttering away feverishly.
Posted by: Carole at March 19, 2007 02:27 PM
love it, love it, love it!
your pictures are inspiring me to try my first mitered square! :) Thank you! gorgeous, really.
Posted by: jess at March 19, 2007 02:29 PM
that blanket is going to turn out so beautifully. thank you for posting all the pictures.
Posted by: vanessa at March 19, 2007 02:32 PM
Darn...I'm reading your blog at work, but I.T. has blocked pictures. I'll have to wait until I get home to see what you and the commenters are talking about. I'd like to send I.T. "to the moon, Alice."!
Posted by: Joanne at March 19, 2007 02:39 PM
It's looking amazing. I love your colours! And I *love* Daniel too. He's HOT!
Posted by: terhi at March 19, 2007 02:41 PM
And I have to agree with a previous post, your photographer's eye really is coming through.
Thanks for the inspiration!
Posted by: Lynn at March 19, 2007 02:46 PM
Good-ness! When you get the fever you are unstoppable. I love all your choices--such fun combinations!
Posted by: Jennifer at March 19, 2007 02:48 PM
Gorgeous! I've loved seeing the pictures these past few days, but I'm glad you got your blog voice back. I can't wait to see more of the Katherine Hepburn Cardigan, too!
Posted by: Megan at March 19, 2007 02:50 PM
You know what they say, go big, or go home. You definitely went big, and I am so inspired.
I'd love to have a Cara-along (if I had the stash and the speed)! Great knits, great pics.
Posted by: The Queen of the Snow Cows at March 19, 2007 02:50 PM
Good Lord I love it.
Posted by: earthchick at March 19, 2007 02:56 PM
I guess I'd better stop resisting and come over to the miter side. Your squares are beautiful.
Posted by: Stephanie at March 19, 2007 03:27 PM
I am besotted with your blanket. Do you think WEBS will do another grab bag? I'd break my self-imposed yarn purchasing ban for that. Thanks for the inspiration!
Posted by: Jenni at March 19, 2007 03:34 PM
WOW! I am in love.love.love. Beautiful colours, wish that store was UK based.
Posted by: anushka at March 19, 2007 03:40 PM
Square #5 makes me want to go peel some citrus so my fingers will smell the way that square looks. Mmmmmm.
Are you carrying the unused yarn up the sides?
Posted by: Valerie at March 19, 2007 04:02 PM
i loooove square #5. i wish i had bought some of those TCC bags...i missed out!
Posted by: al at March 19, 2007 04:03 PM
I have been hoarding TCC ever since Kay started her "juicy and blah" blanket...you can just imagine how much I have. One of these years I'm going to pull my cotton stash out and cast on. Yours is gorgeous Cara. Great job!
Posted by: Stacey at March 19, 2007 04:05 PM
Gorgeous project, Cara! I love your eye for colors. Those color choices are absolutely stunning and will make a really nice blanket.
Posted by: Doris at March 19, 2007 04:15 PM
my god, cara! we are on the SAME wavelength! i just put a notice on the blog that i'm looking for TCC leftovers so that i can make a ripple afghan :) i came down with the bug this weekend after looking at the same KAL that you did.. but i do actually crochet and thought, hey! TCC in the summer is great, and so is crochet if you are going to pick it up and put it down a lot.
i WISH i had gotten in on the grab bag thing. dude, i would have totally rocked that! i'm dying for more TCC especially after reading this post. you're an inspiration!
Posted by: gleek at March 19, 2007 04:20 PM
oh, and also, daniel craig is HOT buns. we just watched "casino royale" this past weekend, and i'm STILL thinking about it. i'm a huge bond fan but i think that this is my favorite of the past ten years.
Posted by: gleek at March 19, 2007 04:25 PM
what a beautiful story! i do believe i caught a bit of your obsession from reading this. not that there's a time or place in my life right now for knitting cotton mitered squares, but as long as you do, i'll be content ;-)
Posted by: kris at March 19, 2007 04:37 PM
Those squares looks amazing. I've been in love with that blanket ever since I first perused their book at the local book store. And about two times a week, I flip through its pages and stare longingly at that blanket right before going to bed. I wish I'd gotten that email from WEBS. I'm jealous with envy.
Oh, and, Daniel Craig?? The hottest and best Bond in a LONG time. You're right; it's the whole rough bad boy thing that makes him so good.
Posted by: Chancy at March 19, 2007 05:15 PM
You are amazing...I love them and you have such a keen sense of color! I love the MD book. I just picked mine up again last night to look at a pattern. It is the best. Take care and have a great week!
Posted by: michele at March 19, 2007 06:15 PM
Gee, I hear that these things are kind of addicting.
Posted by: Tan at March 19, 2007 06:22 PM
this is going to be so amazing when you're done. really love the "rules" and the outcome.
Posted by: reve drapeau at March 19, 2007 07:11 PM
You have inspired me to begin planning to start my own. I love that blanket, and I'm so glad to see that it is in fact possible!!!
Posted by: Alison at March 19, 2007 07:53 PM
Fine, you convinced me . . . I'll start knitting the mitres again. It was the Daniel Craig reference that did it for me. MEOW! Nothing like sitting in a dark movie theater with your daughters (and husband, but he doesn't count) lusting over the man . . . all three of us! I love the coral/orange color. Very pretty. Cannot wait to see it finished.
Posted by: Ava at March 19, 2007 08:23 PM
The blanket looks beautiful. I was thinking of using Cascade 220 scraps (I have a *lot* of them...) to make a small mitered baby blanket using the MDK pattern. I know I don't have the patience for 80 blocks. Do you think it would be pretty easily to attach a fabric backing to it? Cascade isn't as soft as cotton.
Posted by: Elinor at March 19, 2007 09:01 PM
Gorgeous! I love the peek you give us to as how your creative mind works! And reading your post convinced me I really should have Mason-Dixon Knitting...I have almost every other knitting book it seems :) Can't wait to see which squares you come up with next! keep 'em coming!
Posted by: Carrie at March 19, 2007 09:34 PM
A-MA-ZING. I love it--the color combinations are wonderful. My mind is reeling from all the squares you made this weekend and all the seaming that is to come. Beautiful!
Posted by: Janice at March 19, 2007 10:39 PM
Stunning! and fun, seems like you had a lot of fun!
Posted by: tina at March 19, 2007 10:42 PM
I just keep looking at all of those colors. I am glad you were able to turn your laryngitis into something so beautiful.
Posted by: Sarah at March 19, 2007 10:50 PM
Oooh, Cara! Beautiful! ...and now I need one!!
Posted by: Julia at March 19, 2007 11:20 PM
I'd love to see the glass jar with the tahki in it. All that color!
Posted by: Lynn at March 20, 2007 12:12 AM
I really enjoy Mason Dixon....I am happy to see one of their projects come to life here. Great work.
Posted by: Holly Burnham at March 20, 2007 06:02 AM
I started knitting the mitered squares for the Mason Dixon blanket over the summer and then stopped working on it once the weather got cool. Seeing all your beautiful squaresa is making want to start back up on it again! I love your color choices!
Posted by: Kelly at March 20, 2007 06:19 AM
You may of lost your blog voice for a little bit, but not your knitting kaarma. Those blocks are very excellent!
Posted by: Kim at March 20, 2007 07:10 AM
Whoa! That's amazing and what a bargain! I'm either utterly impressed or shocked at how much you accomplished over the weekend. My hand is cramping with sympathy. You are amazing!
Posted by: Jennifer at March 20, 2007 07:14 AM
WOW! The colors. Your knitting stamina. Impressive. Now I want one!
Posted by: Sarah at March 20, 2007 07:48 AM
Those look great. I really like how you did the color combos with the slight variations for your squares. It is very interesting and unique without being jarring.
Posted by: Christy / Not Hip at March 20, 2007 09:12 AM
Beautiful! I haven't gone in for the mitered square myself, something about all those colors running riot; I just haven't seen enough order in them. Then I saw this quilt (#7344) here and your post. The light bulb flickered...unifying colors! Duh.
Anywho I love the prgress you've made so far (so quickly!) and just have one question. Did you used the no sew method? I ask becasue your squares aren't backwards like the ones in the tutorial.
Posted by: E to the M at March 20, 2007 12:42 PM
Holy crap! Those are f-ing stunning. I'm officially inspired.
Posted by: Kim at March 20, 2007 01:57 PM
Posted by: flair at March 20, 2007 06:08 PM
I was off my computer for a few days -- driving one of the nona-boys back to college -- and look what I cAme home to! Cara, my friend, you have found your new THING! I'm happy just scrolling through the pictures over and over again -- although I must admit square #5 is my favorite.
Posted by: nona at March 20, 2007 07:02 PM
I love your rules for the squares -- just enough structure to make the blanket cohesive, but lots of freedom to make it sing!
Posted by: kmkat at March 20, 2007 08:56 PM
Ooh, I love your plan and the color combos are gorgeous!
Posted by: Leslie at March 21, 2007 06:47 PM
Yummy! And Ms. Cara is knitting cotton to boot - how nutty is that? This is going to be wonderful, I just know it.
Posted by: Julia at March 21, 2007 09:32 PM
dude. seriously. you just made me want to go buy up a crapload of colorful yarns and knit a blanket.
oooh the colorsssss!!
Posted by: Rosi G. at March 22, 2007 09:12 AM
3 sit-coms! He, he, he! Or a sit-com and an hour long drama. Or 1 typical movie on dvd...
I think I do that sometimes too, measure my time in television shows... oh well...
Those squares are looking georgous,
Posted by: ali at March 24, 2007 01:57 PM
Your mitred squares are AWESOME! Steve and I had a huge debate about these "loose balls" that Tahki wanted to get rid of (yes, we laugh about term quite a bit, in the safety of our office and home). I'm also glad that whoever picked your order did a decent job giving you the colors you needed. These types of orders always stress our order pickers out to the extreme - they don't want to disappoint.
Posted by: Kathy at March 25, 2007 12:05 PM
I am astonished. You knit 20 miters in one weekend? I have been knitting miters for 2 months and I have 7. I also knit lots of other things, but a 9o minute miter is admirable.
I am always at Mason Dixon, they are the best and I have seen you mentioned many times but this is my first time to your site. I am totally impressed.
Now, I have a 2 year old, a 40 hour a week job, 3 grad classes and work on the weekends - hence the low knit output and lack of a blog but I hope to one day have a whole miter-ey weekend like you.
What an awesomely inspirational site - thanks so much.
PS I am also extremely jealous of those who got in on the Tahki Cotton Classic sale. I spend $5+ a skein and my color choices are limited!
Posted by: Meg McG at March 29, 2007 08:46 PM