Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ugly Acrylic Blanket for the Soul

Max always has to be at a football game 90 minutes before it actually starts, so usually the parent that is *not* going to actually sit through the game will go and drop him off and then the parent that is going to the game goes an hour later. Last week Chris and L.R. were going to the game, so I dropped him off. It was a cool and somewhat rainy day and as I was leaving the parking lot I spied a grandma and grandpa (either that or a couple that really, seriously waited to have that last child) getting their bleacher cushions out of the back of their SUV and a neatly folded ugly acrylic blanket.

I immediately recognized the blanket as my step-mother has that EXACT blanket, probably knit by her mother or one of her relatives or perhaps she knit it herself in college. The blanket is small knit squares (I want to call them granny squares, except that I think granny squares are specifically those crocheted squares with the circles in the middle that hypnotize young children into poking their fingers through all the holes) that are then knit together with black yarn.

Because the yarn is 100% manmade, the colors never fade, it is fire proof (or at least fire resistant), and yet it's still pretty warm. It can be tossed in the washer and dryer--so it's perfect for a cool, rainy Saturday-morning football blanket.

I immediately wanted my very own Ugly Acrylic Blanket (UAB). I took the twins to Michael's. We bought more washable tempra paint, two empty boxes for G'wama Judy and G'wama Donna (sorry G'wama Gaye, but you know your birthday is coming, and that's all I can say), and a bunch of super bulky (2.5 stitches to the inch) Wool-Ease which is 20% wool and 80% acrylic. Although the blanket that I was inspired by has every color under the sun on it--I'm just not that manic right now. I went with Navy Blue and "Fisherman" (ivory). It doesn't say, "1968" in quite the same way that the blanket I was inspired by does--but then, I myself am vintage 1968, so it's okay that my blanket *does* say "State College townie."

Because I am never, ever, ever, ever moving again and so a State College townie is what I am and my UAB can scream that.

I brought it home and dug out my longest set of addi turbos which I got probably two years ago because I wanted to knit the Ruana shawl from the book Folk Shawls.

I didn't end up knitting that shawl because I didn't have quite enough yarn that would go together in my stash at the time, but I did still have this 47" size 10.5 needle that I thought would work. I cast on, knit on it here and there this week--it was slower going than I thought.

So this morning I knit another two rows on it and then had to admit that the problem was that the yarn was too big for size 10.5 needles. I went back to desk, opened up the super secret closet under the stairs and dug through my super secret stash of knitting needles and was super pleased to find a 30" set of size 15 needles. So I pulled out the 4 inches I'd done so far (see, no big deal really--I was busy working on the baby sweaters this week, hadn't made a lot of progress on UAB anyway) and cast on again. Perfect. I've now got 8" done on the new version and although I don't hold out a lot of hope of having the UAB done in time to use it this football season, I'll bring it with me on my painting vacation later this month and work on it when I can't handle the strain of following a chart anymore.

I really, seriously need to make some Orenburg progress or I'm up a creek.

I picked up the red and white sweater that I'm making for Max today, but after a few rows put it down again. I've already finished the sweaters for Ben and Milo--except for the final two seams of mattress stitch. I *hate* finishing sweaters. I think the reason I so adore that raglan-sleeve pattern that I used for all the baby sweaters is because there is one 1-inch seam to sew, two 1.5 inch seams to graft--and some ends to weave in. No LONG torturous seams to mattress stitch.

But the fact is that if there's a serious problem with the pattern, I'm more likely to know that if I actually finish one of the sweaters and put it on a child. So I did. I finished the sweater for Ben. It's fine. It's not perfect--the sleeves are a wee bit long, but Ben doesn't care and in spite of how infernally hot it must be has insisted on wearing it for the remaining hours of the day.

At some point in the manufacturing of the sweater, he heard me say that it would be itchy against the skin, so it's an "outdoor" sweater. The kind you wear over other clothing and just to get from point A to point B--albeit handsomely.

Well, Ben disagrees that it's an outdoor sweater, but he's happy to call it, "My itchy sweater." "This sweater is soooo itchy," I hear him tell Milo, and petting the sweater over his 4-yr-old belly adds, "and it's soooo soft!" When I ask him to take it off at the dinner table so as not to get chili spilled on it, he asks after dinner, "Where is my itchy sweater? I want it back. I want to put it on."

Clearly the boy is a little unclear on exactly what "itchy" is. Whatever. Everytime they fall in love with a sweater I make for them I want desperately to quit my job and do nothing but knit for them full time.

Of course, this created trauma in the form of "Where is *my* itchy sweater?!?" from Milo, so I am under strict orders to sew up the sides of the green and white sweater tonight so that they can wear their "shwetters" (Milo's pronunciation) to preschool together tomorrow. This is a problem as I would really like to wash and block and photograph both sweaters before they get tempra paint on them.

Since I was making so much progress in sewing up things, I even brought up another sweater I'd knit last February and which also only needs to be sewn up to be done--but it's already 9:21. I don't think it's going to get done tonight.


Writing and Living said...

Yep, there's something to be said for the Ugly Acrylic Blankets. I personally am a fan of the harvest gold/orange/avacado green combo crocheted in a zigzag pattern.

Risha said...

I have that UAB too... gold/orange/avocado... stitched together by black yarn. And I wouldn't trade it for anything. My grandma made it for me. It's ugly. But it's warm. And it warms me with love every time I use it.

Aunt Charlotte said...

Hay! Mom and I knit that blanket! It was 1974- Miss Smarty Pants- because it was my quit smoking project. At that time we community health nurses were allowed to smoke at our desks and at meetings. I said I wanted to quit smoking- so they baned smoking at desks (there wen't very many of us smokers) and told me to bring my knitting to work for the meetings (nice, health oriented people that they were)I knit the squares (Mom had already done alot of them) with size 5 needles- it was a scrap yarn afghan- done out of leftovers- I don't think there was much new yarn in it. I think the squares were 3x3. Mom crocheted them together with the black yarn after crocheting one round of boarder. It was patterned after one my Aunt Margaret made. It was all garter stitch. I saved the needles so I could make another if the spirit moved me. I'm glad to hear it is still alive and well!

slawebb said...

oh you make me want to learn to knit! Maybe some day when I have "time." maybe once we're settled in to our very tidy (read small) new apartment. ;)

JAne said...

Wow! I love making one soon but I just don't know how to create  blankets . Thanks for sharing your work.