I’m just home from teaching at Knitter’s Day Out in Harrisburg, PA. While my voice is a bit worse for the wear after 9 hours of teaching, I always come home from retreats feeling energized. I love meeting new students, watching people sit down apprehensively in a lace or Fair Isle class, then leave bursting with confidence. There was a wonderful marketplace and a few hanks of minimally processed, undyed wool ended up in my bag for some personal knitting. Using the natural colors of the sheep for colorwork is sometimes referred to as “Shetland knitting,” and I’m excited to get that going on my needles.
I’m an equal-opportunity colorwork knitter. While Fair Isle will always be my first love, and I’ll only knit intarsia when forced, I’ve really gotten inspired by mosaic or slip-stitch colorwork lately. What’s the difference? With Fair Isle or stranded colorwork, you carry both yarns across each round with you, making a double-thick fabric that strands along the wrong side. Intarsia is worked with wrapped bobbins over a small portion, and mosaic or slip-stitch has multiple colors, but only one is worked at a time while the other is slipped. This makes a less-dense fabric than Fair Isle, but the elongated stitches that were slipped create an interesting illusion, and in my opinion, it’s faster than the others and creates a unique texture.
Since I assumed we’d be getting into the full swing of autumn around here because it’s October (boy, was I wrong – the heat and humidity just won’t leave) I wanted to design a slip-stitch baby blanket that could double as a “lapghan” – bigger than your average baby blanket but smaller than an afghan. On cool fall evenings, we like to sit outside and watch our son run around the yard, playing on his swing set, the baby cuddled up against one of us and perhaps even a fire going in the fire pit. The leaves are falling, the air is crisp, and we have a lot of critters back there to watch – turtles, chipmunks, squirrels, and snakes. I like the idea of a blanket designed to keep the baby warm, but have it be big enough that I could wrap myself up a bit also and really trap that heat and warmth in.
I’ve knit with the Fiberists Audubon Worsted before and enjoyed the softness of the 100% superwash merino fiber, the bright colors, and the crisp stitch definition. I particularly like working with local dyers and Reggie and Spencer are just a few towns over. Armed with a throwback palette from my childhood – bright pink and purple – the Retrotastic Baby Blanket knits up quickly. Knit on US 8 (5mm) needles and a little over 600 yards of each color, this blanket is worked back and forth in the mosaic or slip-stitch colorwork technique. Each color is worked for 2 rows, then switched with the other. The result is a garter stitch diamond motif with plenty of contrast and texture to keep baby happy. Garter stitch motifs block out well and with a finished size of 31″ x 40″, there’s plenty of room with everyone with this brightly patterned blanket.
With a simple chart and only knits, purls, and slipped stitches, this is the perfect fall blanket (if it ever gets cold, that is). Imagine it knit up in black and white, red and pink, green and yellow… The possibilities are endless! The weather this time of year can turn on a dime, and I can’t wait to wrap my daughter and I up and have a retro-colored snuggle fest.
Download the Retrotastic Baby Blanket here.