Friday, April 23, 2010

Icarus blanket

Once upon a time... this isn't a re-telling of the Greek myth, but rather the story of a somewhat ambitious knitting project. So here goes...

I've always had a thing about sales, and since I took up knitting this has meant an ever increasing stash of yarn, which used to hide (rather unsuccessfully) in a cupboard in our spare room, but now has plenty of space devoted to it in my craft room - known to many as the spare room, or by the husband as 'Jenny's playroom'. In December 2008, a trip to the yarn sale at Liberty of London resulted in two bulging bags full of discontinued Rowan, including 12 balls of Scottish Tweed Aran. I was determined that this would become a lovely warm blanket that we could throw on top of the duvet for those particularly cold winter nights, when our draughty sash windows left us fantasising about lovely warn double glazing.

But what pattern to knit? I trawled through Ravelry, trying to find something that wouldn't bore me to tears, but that was simple enough for a spot of TV knitting - after all, such a big project was invitably going to take a while, so anything requiring me to lock myself in a quiet room for hours on end just wasn't going to cut the mustard.

Nothing caught my fancy. Hmmm. And then inspiration struck - I could convert one of the many tringular shawls I'd been planning to knit into a square, and Bob's your uncle - a blanket! Back to the search, which eventually led me to the Icarus Shawl from MimKnits. I already had a copy of the magazine it had been published in, and with a few back-of-the-envelope calculations, I was ready to start knitting.

And knitting.

And knitting.

By February, my Ravelry notes tell me I'd figured out that 12 balls of yarn wasn't going to be enough. So I needed more. Gah! Luckily, I found some on the internet at Stash Fine Yarns - I ordered three balls just to be on the safe side. Then I started to think about dye lots. Hmmm. When it arrived - it was from the same lot. Hurrah!

More knitting.

And some more.

There then came a period that I seem to have been largely successful in removing from my memory. It involved confusion about quite when I would start the edging chart, forgetting to put a lifeline in, taking the whole thing off the needles and ripping it back quite a way, and then spending an awful lot of time putting it back on the needles. The precise details are thankfully rather fuzzy...

So I eventually got back to knitting it. Then the weather warmed up, and the blanket went into hibernation - by this point it covered my legs entirely when I was working on it, so it definitely wasn't going to work as a summer project. I only had about 25 rows to go (at about an hour a row, due to the ridiculous number of stitches now on my needles - I was very thankful for the fact that the cables on my knitpicks/knitpro needles can be extended by joining them together. I was also a little bit paranoid that one of the joins would break...)

Winter came, as did a move to another city, a Christmas surrounded by boxes and a central heating system that decided to pack up during some of the coldest weather I've ever experienced. Suddenly a knitting project that covered most of my body while I worked on it sounded like a very enticing prospect!

So, over a year since I started working on the project, I picked up the needles again. After a couple of weeks of knitting, I finally cast off what is definitely the biggest project I've ever attempted. But it needed blocking to bring out the stitch definition. So back into its bag it went, to wait for better weather.

Well now April is here, the sun is shining... and my Icarus is finally ready to meet the world!

...of course, it is now too warm for me to need a huge knitted blanket (although knowing the British weather that could change at any time). And since we moved, the colour scheme in our bedroom isn't blue either. Ho hum. I still love it!

More detailed pictures can be found on my flickr page.