Sarah's Afghan

Friday, December 31, 2010
This is a special afghan made for my daughter Sarah to celebrate her move into an apartment of her own. We worked on the design and its features together and started the process with her requirements for an afghan -- big and warm with flowers!

For warmth Sarah chose Lion Brand Homespun yarn which meant that a larger size afghan was going to be heavier and bulkier than a regular size one but for Sarah that meant more snuggle-ability (if that's not a word, it should be!) Homespun is a bulky and textured yarn and wasn't going to work well for flowers, in addition, it didn't come in the colors she wanted. The perfect color - Wild Berry - was found with Lion Brand's Vanna's Choice Yarn. We had the yarn and colors - now to design!

I got really lucky with a flower design when I found a newly published book, 100 flowers to knit & crochet by Lesley Stanfield, there were lots of flowers with wonderful dimension and detail to chose from. After crocheting and knitting up a few different ones we both liked the Anemone.

Now we needed a simple background where it was going to be easy to attach the flower as well as frame it. Using only double crochets and increasing the number of stitches each round it didn't take long to design and settle on a simple crocheted square. The pattern is detailed below.

I like how this design incorporates both knitting and crocheting (I love to do both) and it's not often that both are prominently featured in an afghan design. It took over a year of designing and execution to finish; that makes it a special blanket for a special person. I love you Sarah.

  • There are a total of 35 squares (arranged in a 5x7) and 18 flowers.
  • Size 8 needles were used for the Anemone flower along with Vanna's Choice yarn. It took 3 skeins of Wild Berry, 1 skein of White and 1 skein of Black.
  • Each square measures approximately 11½" and the completed afghan measures 55" x 77".
  • I crocheted the squares with a K hook and it took 14 skeins Edwardian Homespun each skein of made +/- three squares
  • The border is a row of single crochet.

    Square Pattern
    K hook - Homespun yarn
    Rnd 1: Using Magic loop beginning: (3 dc, ch 2) 4 times.
    Rnd 2: *Work dc’s in each dc and in the corners work (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) *
    – 7 dc each side from corner hole to corner hole.
    Rnd 3: Repeat Rnd 2 from * to *
    – 11 dc each side from corner hole to corner hole.
    Rnd 4: Repeat Rnd 2 from * to *
    – 15 dc each side from corner hole to corner hole.
    (6” across at this point)
    Rnd 5: Repeat Rnd 2 from * to *
    – 19 dc each side from corner hole to corner hole.
    Rnd 6: Repeat Rnd 2 from * to *
    – 23 dc each side from corner hole to corner hole.
    Rnd 7: Repeat Rnd 2 from * to *
    – 27 dc each side from corner hole to corner hole.
    Rnd 8: Repeat Rnd 2 from * to *
    – 31 dc each side from corner hole to corner hole.
  • One-piece baby sleeper

    Saturday, November 27, 2010

    I love this outfit! I've knit it for almost every baby in the family. It's from a 1981 Needleworks publication titled To Baby ... With Love by Linda Dec Vikla. The outfit is big so I knit the 6 month size because the feet are not “walking” feet. It's a fun knit and a perfect gift for older babies (6-9+ months). Through the years I'm made minor pattern corrections, mostly about where to end the knitting to begin the eyelet rows. While it's a lot of knitting and a lot of seaming, the quality and durability of the garment has always been worth it.

    The beauty on the left is my granddaughter Natalie wearing the newest version. This one was knit with Rowan Pure Wool 4 ply (a superwash wool) in a gorgeous raspberry color. The beauty on the right is my niece Elisa and is the first sleeper I knit (Elisa recently graduated from law school!) Below is one knit for my niece Karla and this one was passed down for two of my daughters to wear.

    A true classic and almost heirloom pattern!

    Note: The waist and feet are fitted to the baby with the use of ties. To prevent the ties from being pulled they are stitched to the garment at the center backs.

    Anne of Green Gables - Cotton Warp Quilts

    Saturday, November 13, 2010
    A few years ago I was rereading the Anne of Green Gable books when I ran across this passage:
    "Yet with all this Mrs. Rachel found abundant time to sit for hours at her kitchen window, knitting "cotton warp" quilts - she had knitted sixteen of them, as Avonlea housekeepers were want to tell in awed voices."
    Anne of Green Gables
    Chaper I
    Later in the series there are references to the quilts as spreads and having patterns:
    "Mrs. Rachel has given you one of her beloved knitted quilts of the tobacco stripe pattern and she says when I am married she'll give me one, too."
    Anne of the Island
    Chapter XXIX

    " 'I'm going to give Anne two of my cotton warp spreads,' she
    resumed. 'A tobacco-stripe one and an apple-leaf one. She tells me they're getting to be real fashionable again' "
    Anne's House of Dreams
    Chapter II

    So what was she knitting and what was she knitting it with? It took me awhile to do the research and even longer to write a blog post but this question pops up periodically in knitting forums and it is always answered in pieces. So I've collected those pieces, added a little research of my own, and hope to make a one post comprehensive answer. Here goes:

    The Annotated Anne of Green Gables By Lucy Maud Montgomery, Margaret Anne Doody, Mary E. Doody Jones and Wendy E. Barry has the following note to "'cotton warp' quilt" :
    "A particular type of yarn sold in stores and identified as such on the label. When it first came in, in the 1820s, this very soft yarn was used principally for weaving. What Mrs. Lynde makes is, strictly speaking, not a quilt but a bedspread. The common way of making such spreads with cotton or other thread is to knit squares on the bias and stitch them together, but Mrs. Lynde's quilt knitting involves elaborate lacy patterns. Montgomery herself knitted three such patterned quilts (see Appendix, "Homemade Artifacts")."
    And the Appendix passage which is from Montgomery's 1914 journals:
    "Today I began to knit a quilt...There have been so many days lately that I could do absolutely nothing,...Now, knitting has always had a good effect on me when I was I began the quilt. It doesn't matter if I never finish it. Quilt knitting in this particular pattern especially always makes me think of Malpeque. I spent a winter there once with Aunt Emily. Every girls and woman in Malpeque had knitted, was knitting, or intended to knit a quilt -- some of them several quilts. They possessed so many patterns and considerable rivalry went on. Lace knitting was very popular also. I caught the fever and began a quilt. I think I was three years knitting it. It was very pretty but wore out long ago. Ten years ago I knitted a second which I still have."
    What was Mrs. Rachel knitting?
    Mrs. Rachel was knitting a counterpane with cotton warp yarn. This activity became extremely popular from the mid 19th century thru the early 20th century and its popularity is also noted in this story from The Gentleman's Magazine, July to December 1893
    "We sit round in a circle in the best parlour, and are very solemn, and tea is handed round. Then we talk--at least the others do; for until the men come the women talk about nothing else but recipes for bacon-pickles and knitted cotton counterpanes. They make the counterpanes in little square or oblong bits, which are afterwards sewn together. They each have a piece which they are knitting, and there are hundreds of patterns in which they may be done; they discuss each pattern, so it takes a good long time."
    A Village Fragment
    by Mary Hartier
    What are Knitted Cotton Counterpanes?
    A knitted cotton counterpane (counterpane, bedspread and coverlet are synonyms) is composed of squares, triangles, stripes or other shapes of knitted pieces that are sewn together to make a bed-cover. The word counterpane is also frequently used to refer to the patterned knit pieces themselves.

    A knitted counterpane pattern from Godey's Lady's Book, July, 1860 (a modern pattern translation is here)

    Additional knitted counterpane patterns:
  • Bedspread (Counterpane with Leaves)
  • Leaf Bedspread
  • Quilt (Square Counterpane with Leaves)
  • Rose Leaf Counterpane

  • Knitting Counterpanes: Traditional Coverlet Patterns for Contemporary Knitters by Mary Walker Phillips is a popular resource book for contemporary counterpane knitters.

    What are the patterns for Mrs. Rachael's counterpanes?
    The specific patterns used for the two counterpanes mentioned (A tobacco-stripe one and an apple-leaf one) are not known. Leaves are very common patterns used for counterpanes and there are many variations of tobacco and apple leaf patterns. Mrs. Rachael worked the tobacco leaf pattern in a stripe (a long narrow band) but the shape of the apple leaf pattern is not mentioned.

    What is cotton warp yarn?
    Cotton warp yarn is cotton spun to be a strong and durable yarn for use in the warp of a woven fabric. Cotton warp yarn was (and still is) an easily available and economical choice for knitting a bedspread, as well as other household items.

    The size of cotton yarn used for a counterpane would depend on whether a light or heavy bedspread was wanted. No yarn size specifics are given in the Anne of Green Gables literature or by L. Maud Montgomery. I provide it here for additional detail and interest.

    Cotton yarn size is given with two numbers and is best explained by Rachel Brown in her book The Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing Book, ed.1987.
    "These are numbers by which yarn size and ply are described.... Cotton, linen, woolen, and worsted yarns can all be described by count. #1 describes the size of the yarn that will be produced when spinning a certain base yardage from 1 pound of fiber.... For cotton, No. 1 is the size thread that results from spinning 840 yards from 1 pound of cotton fiber. #2 would be the size thread if twice this yardage (1,680 yards) was spun from 1 pound of cotton... #10 would be a thread 8,400 yds long weighing 1 pound. So the higher the number, the finer the thread. This is single-ply thread.... When the thread is plied, the number of plies is given along with the thread size, as 10/2 (2 plies of #10 thread) or 6/3 (3 plies of #6 thread). The first number is the size of the thread and the second number tells how many threads of this size there are in the final plied yarn."

    Comparison Chart
    Cotton Yarn Size #Approximate Weight
    8/4DK (double knitting)

    That's it! I now know what Mrs. Rachael was knitting and why they were so highly valued. Someday I wouldn't mind knitting one myself.

    Update 10/3/2015: Read about my adventures in knitting a pattern square for a counterpane from the vintage book A Knitting-Book of Counterpanes.

    Ben & Jerry Ice Cream Pint Cozies

    Monday, September 27, 2010


    I love these! and I had a great time pattern testing them for my friend Heather. There are two patterns and each is named after the iconic ice cream flavor guru's - Ben & Jerry. The Ben pattern (blue cozy) is double-thick and definitely keeps the hands warm as you eat! The Jerry pattern (ombre/cream cozy) is a wonderful rib pattern with a nice long stitch detail that also insulates the cold well.

    Each cozy was knit with worsted weight acrylic yarn from my stash. They were fun and quick to knit but the real pay-off is using them!

    Great job Heather! and congratulations on their publication in the Knitting: 2011 Day-to-Day Calendar.

    Update: The pattern is now available for sale on Ravelry:
    Ben and Jerry pattern


    Thursday, July 01, 2010
    I've shared before that projects and ideas get seared into my brain and don't get out until they're executed with some form of success or failure (anything from a "meh, it's ok" to "I LOVE IT!" or "where do I get these ideas??" to "I will NEVER do anything like that again!!") So when I saw this post from Stitch London, that they were creating a Stitch Yourself exhibit for the re-opening of the London Science Museum's Who Am I? gallery, then making a Mini-Me immediately become one of those projects that I just had to do.

    The details:
  • Body Blank: The stitched self had to be approx. 6" and stitched (no clay, wood, etc. bodies) and a free pattern for a knit, crochet and sewn body "blank" were provided by Stitch London, but you were not limited to these patterns. I wound up choosing and making changes to Jean Greenhowe's Rainbow Babies pattern by working in a sock weight yarn, adding a couple extra rows to the legs and body and decreasing the number of stitches in the head. All of these adjustments brought me to about 6" in height and a more adult doll look.

  • Clothing: I live in New England (Boston suburbs) and for most of the year I wear jeans and sweaters. The sweater is leftover sock yarn dyed during my Independent Study sock yarn project (detailed here) and, of course, I had to work a heart motif into this project somewhere! The jeans were hand sewn from an old pair that were headed to the recycle bin. They're difficult to see but the sock feet are knit as part of the body using left over yarn from my very first pair of knitted socks!

  • Hair: DMC embroidery floss #840
  • Eye Glasses: This was the only part of the Mini-Me not hand stitched but I have been wearing glasses for over 45 years and I really wanted an accurate representation of them. A big thanks to my husband who crafted them for me ;)
  • Face: I HATE doing faces. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to Laura for holding my hand and making me stop when I was suppose to!!!
  • Bracelet: I've been crocheting beaded bracelets for years(I've blogged about a few here and here) and one of my best and favorite designs is one I do of the American flag. Because this an international project and I had to have something representing crochet! I strung seed beads in the basic pattern that I use to crochet my bracelets and sewed them down to the wrist.
  • Misc.: I didn't spend a penny making Mini-Me which is a representation of 1) my stash and 2) I don't throw much out!

    For those who know me in person I think you'll agree that this not a bad representation of myself. At the very least, she is a symbol of what I love to do the most - make things.

    Here are pictures of Mini-Me on her first adventure at the London Science Museum. Stitch London has promised further adventures and I can't wait to live vicariously through her travels ... I'll keep you posted.

    Mini-me is circled - click on photos for a larger picture
    BTW, this was one of those projects where I LOVE IT!

    Update 9/8/2012: The New Adventure of Mini-Me

  • Welcome to the World Baby Girl Natalie

    Saturday, May 01, 2010

    This is my newest granddaughter born on April 17, 2010 and her name is Natalie Rachelle -- Isn't she the most beautiful baby you have ever seen?!! When Rebecca told me that her baby was going to be a girl she also gave me permission to knit with pink :) The first thing I knit was this newborn sweater. Normally, I like to knit baby garments for older babies because they'll usually get a few months of wear rather than the few weeks of a newborn garment, but I had some stash yarn available and I ran across this adorable pattern : Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater, Designed by Carole Barenys. My yarn was fingering weight and, as I knit, I periodically compared it a newborn sleeper. No adjustments to the pattern. A fast, fun and interesting knit with a wonderful ... Oh, it's soooooo cute ending!

    Where's Haden?

    Monday, January 25, 2010
    My grandson loves the Where's Waldo series of books and they were on his wish list for the holidays. When I bought the books I was inspired to add to the fun by knitting him his very own Where's Waldo? hat!

    I've lost my notes with the details for this pattern but basically I "winged" it while making it. I started with a quick Google search for K2,P2 rib hats to get an idea how many stitches to start with for a child as well as how big to make the body of the hat before the decreasing for the crown -- that was about it!