From sea to shining sea

4 Oct

The blanket is finished.  Last stitch was on Sunday the 30th but I was ill and didn’t blog about it.

I’m so glad to finish it but the battle now is to protect it from the moths.

Hanging on the line to get straightened out.

I added the date and a certain someone was scanning the blanket furiously, but, he thought, discreetly, looking for his own permanent marker so I had to highlight South Bend, In too


South Bend, In. probably more accurate a map than you’ll get with an I phone.

The back is not looking  too shabby, I need to work in the loose ends but there are only a few due to the number of balls used and working them in as I went.


The whole thing measures about 70 inches by 38, so big enough for one to huddle  under, looks like the James Dean duvet stays.  It took a lot less wool than recommended by the pattern and my knitting gurus; 9 balls will comfortably do it though I did use long balls of yarn (200 +).  Four balls for the background and 5 colours for the states.  Just break up the colour balls before you start, into 5 or 6 smaller balls which will allow you to start with a new ball on each new state.  I can only take one ball back, I broke open all the rest and only half used them.  So really I should start knitting at  least another 2 blankets.  But I won’t, ever, knit another blanket like this again.

Mistakes, I made a few.  I’m glad I didn’t record every mistake made here, it would be depressing to have them on view.

  • I slipped a stitch in Arizona and was too late to pick it up, still need to fix  that.
  • Like all good map makers I added some trap streets and please don’t try to navigate the Mississippi Delta using my blanket, you may drown.
  • Like all good carper weavers I added some errors.  “It is said that pious carpet-weavers deliberately include tiny mistakes in their fine carpets, because only God has the right to be immaculate.”  Such as a short row of knit not purl off the coast of Alaska, I’ll leave the others for you to find, if there are any.

However I also learned a bit.  I can now unpick at least a row and a half to pick up a dropped stitch, even on circular needles.  Still can’t recognise when I am too tired to knit though.  I would come down in the morning and see dropped stitch after dropped stitch knitted late at night (that’ll be 9pm!) and have to spend the morning unpicking my work.

I was recommended this wool because it would hide errors, but being a map there are no errors, just artistic interpretations.  I would do it again in a less fluffy wool to get cleaner border and coastline joins.  They are a bit too fuzzy for my liking.

I’m considering making it in to a quilt, more thought needed.

Here endeth the knitting a blanket blog, bring on the owl hats in cable.

News just in, someone approves of it.

She never sits on the middle cushion!


Be out of Texas before sundown

16 Sep

Hopefully anyway.  It is very slow going but I have only 14 rows to go on the second set of charts.  I have finished

  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Alabama (its bigger than  you think)
  • Mississippi (skinnier than it ought to be)
  • Louisiana
  • Alaska

I’m 4 rows from the end of Texas and the same from starting Nevada.

But oh, it’s a boring knit.  Once you have mastered the yarn twirl on a colour change and there is a lot of practice it is just a slog along the chart, knit one way purl the other.  Endlessly.  I just hope this tedium in the making of it does not spoil my enjoyment of the  finished blanket.

Progress pictures.

I was thinking I didn’t like the colours but upon reflection and as the blanket grows I think I do.

And for those of you desperate to know how the back is looking here it is:

I have been keeping it all in a box and trying to knit out of it to minimise the unraveling of the wool but these balls have a life of their own and and whether I use the outside or inside thread soon end up a twisted heap rather than a neat ball.  So I’ve put them in socks to keep them more compact at least.  I was working with 12 balls of wool in 6 colours so needed some order.  Socks are the way to go until I can get hold of some of the plastic bottle covers off licenses give you when buying good wine.  I’m drinking swill these days and in the shops I frequent you are lucky to be offered a bag to carry it home in (or to the park) never mind a plastic cover.

Chart update.

Gee it’s great, knitting the 50th state, Hawaii, USA*

8 Sep

* As Elvis never quite said.  I wish I had chosen a more jaunty colour than grey for Hawaii but it is what it is.  It is slow going and I have to stop at the end of each row to mark it off on the chart so I know where I am.  I have added a small ribbon to the Florida end to make it even more clear and have marked the chart with arrows for RW/WS so I know which way I am knitting mid row when I stop to ponder life’s complexities.

I have been using bobbins for the inside passage of Alaska and Hawaii and on my second ball of sea wool have added another bobbin for the Bering Sea.  I am getting to the point where I will need to add another bobbin for the Gulf of Mexico and use the main ball for the Atlantic.  I have been using the same colour for Texas and Florida on 2 separate balls so the delay at the end of each row is also to untangle all the balls of wool.  So far the  front looks a little lumpy but I am pleased with the back, not too shabby.

It was slow going yesterday I spent a lot of time wondering about making my own stitch markers.  The hardware shop does not have any suitable sized rings so I will try a jewelry makers for jump rings that can have charms or beads added.  I have ordered some modeling clay from Amazon to make charms for one set I have in mind.

I want to get the first set of charts finished today, 16 rows is doable and will mean easier knitting as I leave the messy islands and start knitting whole states, less switching colours and no need to carry yarn behind the knitting.  It will also give me an idea of the likely finished size.  I am regretting not listening to the wool ladies about choice of yarn and thinking I will back this one with some quilting material for a more substantial blanket.  But we’ll see, have to knit it first.

One for Texas

6 Sep

I bought my needle, Addi 5mm with 100cm cord.  Very swish and seems to make my knitting faster.  I rushed to the pub to start knitting, managed 4 rows and was very pleased.  When I got home and looked at my pattern I had it wrong, it was stocking when it should have been garter, so I had to pull it all out.  The wool (Rowan Creative Focus) is a bugger to unravel because it has lots of little fibres that tangle.  But I did it and started again.  In the morning I counted my stitches 3 times and got different counts each time.  It’s hard to count on that wire.  So I started again and added markers, as advised in the pattern.  I just used loops of white wool not having any markers, but they have worked well so far.  272 stitches clearly marked out, border, charts 1,2,3 and 4 and more border.

I’m a slow knitter and even with these super fast needles it is slow going.  I have knitted 14 rows so far and that is probably in about 4 hours of knitting, while watching telly and drinking tea.  I wanted to get to landfall on the first day, Texas line 14 of the chart, one stitch, and managed it by bedtime and very satisfied I was too.

Brownsville in wool

This morning I came down to examine it and found I had messed up.  Texas should be on the other side of my marker.  How did this happen?  It is fixable, I’ll fudge it rather than fix it but it is annoying.  As I started knitting I realised it is going to be very hard to correct mistakes unless I see them immediately and back track. This mistake is in the middle of a row and would require unpicking the row and adjusting.  I am not good enough to do this well so I will just adjust the Texas coastline a smidge.  Brownsville is going places people!

The mistake does explain how one knitter managed to knit her blanket backwards, reading the chart on the WS will cause that.  It is an early mistake and I’m glad I made it, I can watch out for it now.  So I press on and will start on Florida, Hawaii and Alaska today.

The State I’m in

2 Sep

So the wool is purchased, John Lewis at Stratford has a good selection and I got three balls of each colour, plus five blue for the sea and one pink for the states I like the best.  We’ll gloss over the price because I could have bought some v fancy blankets for the price of the wool to knit this one.

I have run my colours through this map maker which allows you to test colour combinations and it looks ok.  Obviously the colour options are not as sophisticated as those offered by Rowan but it is good enough to give an idea of how the blanket will look.  It took forever to get the data right because I don’t know the more obscure state abbreviations from my elbow and the in-house expert doesn’t know his MO from his MT on a map.

The real colours are dark green, light green, ivory and a light grey but this gives an idea of the distribution

I knitted my swatch and it came up right for 4.5mm needles; nice wool to knit with too.  So now I just need to purchase a circular needle in 4.5mm, looking at this shop which is open today but don’t imagine I’ll get dressed in time to go shopping.  After all, tomorrow’s another day .

Wooly thinking

28 Aug

I’ve been scouting for wool.  There appears to be price fixing between John Lewis and Liberty’s, for Rowan.  I went along with my chaise arm cover and decided upon Rowan Creative Focus which comes in various shades that match my scheme.

I’m going for:

  • Natural
  • Nickel
  • Deep Rose
  • New Fern
  • Basil and
  • Cobalt for the sea.

The balls are 100g so I will need less of them than the specified 22 balls of colour and 6 of sea.  I have found out that 4 colours is the minimum number of colours needed to ensure no colours touch on a map of the USA.  I will be doing my favourite States in pink (Deep Rose) so will have a total of 6 colours on the blanket.

With the help of the woman at Teasels the calculation is for 3 balls of each main colour, 1 of Deep Rose and 5 of Cobalt.  Teasels don’t carry Rowan and Woolcraft Heritage was suggested as an alternative, the colour choice is wider but would need to be ordered and does not suit my scheme.   I also want to use nice wool because the blanket will be on show.  So I’m off to town to buy what I need soonish.

I’m going to knit a blanket

20 Aug

I’m fed up of sitting under a duvet on the settee so I’m going to knit a nice blanket which can stay out all year. The James Dean duvet has to be put away if we have visitors because it looks scruffy.  My blanket will stay out and be admired.

I am still deciding on colour scheme, I don’t want the gaudy colours specified.  I’m hoping to match it with the chaise cover, tones of green and grey, with a pink Tennessee. But how many shades are required?  I never realised how many other states Tennessee abuts, I could use 10 different colours, but I’m planning on 5-6.  I will take my slip cover to John Lewis once finance is in place and will select and purchase my wool.

Come winter we will be huddled under this.

To do:

  • decide on colours
  • test on map of states
  • buy wool
  • buy circular needle
  • start knitting