14 April 2010

Instant Gratification

North Georgia Knitting Guild plans to knit an afghan or two as a charity project. The blocks need to be exactly 8-inches square. I decided to try a square for a quick change of pace. Sometimes a knitter needs instant gratification. Fortunately, I have the full run of Knitter's magazine's afghan series. Those of you who know my fondness for geometry will not be surprised that I picked the block by Linda Cyr in The Great North American Afghan booklet (Sioux Falls SD: XRX, Inc. 1999, second printing 2008, pp. 40-41). The North American afghan is the second booklet in this series. In addition to the geometry, I liked that this block is worked from the center out, which meant that I could knit until it was big enough. And I could fudge and add a few border rows at the end if it came out to seven inches square instead of eight.

I got lucky, and it seems to be right on the money at eight inches square. The booklet lists this as one of the five hardest blocks, but I don't understand why. There is quite a bit of picking up stitches on selvage edges -- maybe that's why? There is a tiny bit of either grafting or seaming at the center. And the block itself is garter stitch with decreases for shaping.

A couple things to keep in mind if you try this. For the center four little squares, I recommend using Lucy Neatby's waste yarn method for setting up a grafted seam.
In this case:
Cast on and work the first row of square 1 in waste yarn.
As you join in the working yarn, leave a tail long enough to graft the row.
Complete the remainder of square 1 with the working yarn.
Complete squares 2, 3, and 4 as written in the pattern.
Using waste yarn, pick up along the edge of square 4 as if starting square 1.
Using the two rows of waste yarn -- one at the beginning of square 1 and one along the edge of square 4 -- as guides, graft squares 1 and 4 together with the long tail yarn.
Remove waste yarn.
Wallow in the glow of your success.

The other change I made to this pattern as I worked has to do with the selvage edges. Usually I'm very happy to pick up along the edge of garter stitch. It is typically pretty easy to pick up in each little bump. Or you can work a slipped-stitch edging and pick up in the chain stitch. It is not so easy in this pattern because you have to decrease at both edges in order to make the triangular sections. A slipped-stitch edge does not really work because of those decreases. And as the blanket grows, you have to pick up more than one stitch for every ridge. My solution was to work the selvages of the triangles in stockinette.
Thus, a right side row might be: ssk, knit 11, k2tog
And the following wrong side row would be: p1, k11, p1
The result is a chain edge that has one chain per row rather than one chain per ridge. You can pick up the correct number in this edge by picking up in most of the chains but not all of them. I found skipping a chain now and then to be easier than trying to create something between ridge bumps in the garter selvage.

The original block has several more iterations of triangles than mine does. You can make the block as large or small as you like by adding or deleting iterations. Once established, this pattern is worked from the center out with four different skeins without breaking the yarn. This would be a fabulous project for a long-print yarn like Kureyon, Karaoke, Paintbox, Geologie, or Mochi Plus. I think it would also look good in a medium-length print like Tonalita. Several of these blocks joined together with the pattern flowing from one spiral into another would be dynamite. It would also be great with half in a plain dark yarn and the other half in a bright long-print. If someone experiments, please let me see your results.

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