Next in Line Afghan Update

My Next in Line afghan project for the Fringe and Friends Log Cabin Make-along grows and grows. Right now, it measures about 32 x 36 inches. If all goes according to plan, the finished afghan should measure about 52 x 60 inches. Nice and big — perfect for cozy winter evenings on the sofa, right?

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Knitters have been asking for yardage estimates so they can get their yarn before the pattern is released. But it's really too soon for that. I'm currently knitting Log No. 12, and if I stick to my current plans, there will be 19 logs in all. So hang in there; the end — while not exactly near — is in sight!

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While you wait, you can check out the videos I've posted on Instagram about this project. One shows my method for weaving in ends; the other shows how I pick up stitches along the bound-off edges. I'm @bluepeninsula on Instagram, if you'd like to see them.

Here's a closeup of the wrong side. It's different from the right side, but just as nice:

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The weekend's almost here, and after a week of not one but two Nor'easters, I'm ready to curl up with this project and enjoy lots and lots of non-stressful garter stitch. Hope your weekend brings lots of satisfying knitting time, too!

Logging Along

Have you been following the new log cabin knitalong happening over at the Fringe Association blog? It's nicely open-ended: You can join anytime and make whatever you like using some form of log cabin construction. All sorts of log cabin projects are sprouting up in the #fringeandfriendslogalong Instagram feed, from very traditional to freeform blankets, to beer bottle cozies, to treasure bags, to an utterly genius translation of a Josef Albers painting into a cowl. (Seriously!)

Intrigued (I've never made anything remotely log cabin-ish), I flirted with the idea of joining — then told myself no, that's crazy, I've got too much going on already. After all, I've got my own Treat Yourself KAL going full steam in the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group, plus magazine projects to finish, design submissions to send in, and new patterns to prepare for publishing. In other words, a lot on my plate!

But in spare moments after Christmas I found myself getting more and more drawn in. I started perusing log cabin projects on Ravelry. I pulled out stash bins to see if I had anything that might work. Lo and behold, I had several leftover skeins of Cascade 220 in colors that played really well together. At the same time, I received the happy news that a friend was getting married! Well, that did it. I decided the perfect gift would be a log cabin throw . . .  or afghan . . .  or blanket (that part will get sorted out eventually).

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On New Year's Day, I cast on. With no plan. No sketch. No worrying or fretting in advance. I'm going to improvise and do what looks good, just as I do when painting or stitching abstractly. I may change my mind now and then and have to rip back, but that's OK. It's part of the process.

I'm using three colors of Cascade 220 from my stash (silver grey, straw, and doeskin heather), plus one color of Valley Yarns Northampton (lake heather) — which I did have to purchase.

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There is one recurring design element: each log will have a few contrasting rows of the color that will be the main color of the next log. So the first log was grey, with straw stripes. The second log was straw, with doeskin heather stripes. And so on.

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After binding off each log, I'm reorienting the piece and picking up stitches along another edge. So each log is connected to the last yet knit in a different direction (see photo above). I'm keeping scrupulous notes, so I can write up the pattern later on. (The pattern will be called Next in Line.)

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I've thought about knitting a log cabin blanket before, but one thing held me back: all that garter stitch. I was afraid I'd get bored and never finish. But now that I've begun, I'm pleasantly surprised. So far, it's been a satisfying, joyful knitting project — even weaving in the ends has been fun (I'm weaving them in log by log, so as not to have a gazillion to deal with at the end).

It's a nice change of pace to knit something without referring to a chart, or keeping track of shaping. And it hasn't been boring because each log brings new creative decisions: what color should it be, how long and deep, how many stripes should there be, where should they be placed, etc. 

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Read all the blog posts about the Fringe and Friends Log Along here and see all the Instagram posts here. What do you think? Will you join the party?

Solstice to Equinox Project

It's winter solstice, always a happy day! I love this day so much, because from this point onward, the days will grow longer. As a morning person — or more accurately, a very early morning person — I'm excited that in the weeks ahead the sun will rise earlier and earlier.

I'm also excited to start a new project: Solstice to Equinox — Out of the Darkness into the Light. Organized by the 100DayProject, Solstice to Equinox invites you to "study, document, journal, create, practice, explore, make, observe, or initiate something new each week. This is meant to be a weekly hands-on visual, written, or audio interpretation of whatever interests you during the 13 weeks between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Whatever helps bring you out of the darkness. . . ."

Such a great idea! I already have a daily art practice in the form of a stitch journal, "Presence/Absence" (learn more about it at my Patreon page). So I don't want to add another art project to my already-full days. But one thing I would like to make more time for is swatching. Trying out new-to-me stitch patterns or combinations, or new-to-me yarns, is how nearly all of my knitwear designs come into being. Swatches are essential to keeping design ideas flowing. The more robust my "swatch stash," the better.

Plus, swatching is just plain fun!  I love discovering how a stitch on the page of a stitch dictionary looks "in real life." So with the goals of fun, creative play, and developing new designs, I'm going to swatch as much as possible in the 13 weeks of Solstice to Equinox.

Some of the yarns I want to swatch with, from left to right:  Stitch Sprouts Crater Lake ,  Periwinkle Sheep  Purpose,  Bartlettyarns, Inc. Sport , and  Bare Naked Wools Breakfast Blend fingering .

Some of the yarns I want to swatch with, from left to right: Stitch Sprouts Crater Lake, Periwinkle Sheep Purpose, Bartlettyarns, Inc. Sport, and Bare Naked Wools Breakfast Blend fingering.

There are no rules for the Solstice to Equinox project, other than doing something hands-on with your project at least once a week. So it's not as high-pressure as a daily project — you have some breathing room in when and how much you work on it. 

I'm also doing a personal yoga project. I'll be focusing on one pose a week, studying it in my various yoga books, trying variations, watching videos, and making an effort to learn the Sanskrit name (I'm pretty bad about that).

This week I'm starting with Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose). It seemed appropriate because these 13 weeks will be a bridge from fall, through winter, into spring. And also because I tend to avoid Bridge, and I'm not sure why. Maybe I'll figure that out in the coming week!

Are you joining the Solstice to Equinox Project, or the 2018 100DayProject? Have you done a 100DayProject in the past? I'd love to hear how it went, or what your upcoming project(s) will be.

Happy Solstice!

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