Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Hemlock Ring Blanket

Hemlock Ring Blanket
Originally uploaded by knittaPrince
Many thanks go out to BrooklynTweed for finding/adapting a pattern that offers the maximum effect with minimal amount of technical prowess required. Behold, the first few photos of the aforementioned Hemlock Ring Blanket.

The pattern itself, like any project that begins with a delicate few stitches and then radiates outwards (think top-down hats and beenies), it's the first few set-up rows that cause the most grief. You cast on X number of stitches, divide them "evenly" between 3 or 4 needles (when the beginning number of stitches is divisible by neither 3 nor 4) and then become something akin to a modern day Uri Geller as you attempt to, with only the power of your mind, to balance multiple needles without much substance to hold them together.
Once you make past the first half-dozen rows, then you're mostly in the clear. The center is really the most difficult portion, with the subsequent radial patterns of the Leaf & Fan being a straight forward increase row every fifth round. Outside of the center, the Hemlock Ring itself, it's really just a series of K2togs, YOs and SSKs.
I usually have to pause my Netflix goodness on the increase rounds, but the 4 rows of straight knitting thereafter are nothing but a dream. Pay enough attention to not frakk it up...'cuz once you've gone 3 increases beyond the end of the chart and you discover you missed a SSK, you're really gonna kick yourself if you have to tink all the way back. And, personally, I'm not frogging even the simplest lace pattern.

Moving beyond the given chart isn't nearly as dangerous as it might sound. You only have to study the pattern of the increases and keep to the pattern. One incredibly important consideration to bear in mind is that this is a lace pattern and as such, you will need to block it once it's done. Without being blocked, it just looks like a very big, very frumpy pile of knitted matter. The blocking will really open the pattern to its fullest potential. However, to effectively block a whole blanket, you'll need some seriously open space (and no cats who either will want to lay on top of the blanket while it is being blocked or will want to eat the blocking pins, pulling them out of the cork after you have spent many agonizing hours bent over the blocking surface, perfecting the proportions before securing the blanket in place to dry).

You now have an idea of what I will have to contend with very soon. Miss Peachy won't be the issue. Benson, with his ever keen eye always turned three degrees to the dark side of life, will be more of the challenge. (I love both my kittehs but sometimes, that little dude is just too damn smart for his own good.) I still have at least 4 full skeins I can knit into the blanket before I have to think about the finishing edge. Yarndude, bless his heart, has already warned me that the edge will require a lot of yarn.

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