Most of the knitting I do these days is for work: figuring out new designs, knitting samples for magazine photo shoots, casting on for knitalongs… Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining; I absolutely LOVE my job, and LOVE that a big part of my job is knitting. Somewhere along the way though, I found myself procrastinating in the strangest manner – I washed my windows to put off knitting a sweater that just didn’t excite me anymore. Whoa, this was serious. About a half dozen windows in, it hit me that I hadn’t knit a single thing just for my own joy in over a year. That thought rolled around in my head for a few days and kept nagging at me. I was getting burned out. I had lost my knitting mojo to a deadline and two long visits to sleeve island.
Later that week, I was once again procrastinating; this time organizing my stash room. Yep, you read that right, I said “room;” any other
hoarders extreme stashers in this group? Looking through a cabinet of dormant project bags, I ran across the scrappy blanket I had cast on a few years ago, before the deadlines and work knitting gradually consumed most of my evenings. It’s beautiful, and I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about all the different yarns in it; I could remember each and every project leftover, and so many of the indie yarn dyers I had met, both online and in real life. It was only about a foot long and six feet wide, in linen stitch, on size threes (US 3/ 3.25mm). I rolled my eyes at 2016 me – I had only used single ply yarn, which was no longer convenient because 2019 me was accumulating tons of plied leftovers, having recently awakened a love for sock knitting. The 2020 me might have been tempted to cast on with toilet paper or something equally ridiculous, so single ply seems pretty good from that perspective.
Here’s something you may not know about me: occasionally I get this drive to finish something epic. It’s purely selective and rarely rational: awkwardly-written books whose characters I can’t stand, a poorly-thought-out mixed drink, high school melodrama TV series (damn you, Secret Life of an American Teenager!), long rambling blogs that go on for hundreds of words without getting to the point, a linen stitch scrappy blanket. I can’t get out of my mind just how much I want this finished blanket. I hate mixing bases, so my plied leftovers will continue to feel deserted. Don’t worry about those poor little yarn babies though; I’ve been working on an adorable leftover project – more work knitting – that you’re going to completely freak out over during this year’s Knitmas. So, while I have at least half a dozen nearly-finished WIPs in time-out and another handful in hibernation, I have no desire to finish any of them.
Back to my linen stitch scrappy blanket. If you’re wondering why I keep emphasizing linen stitch, I’d be willing to bet that you’ve never done it before. It’s beautiful, but not altogether easy on the hands, especially on smaller needles. Despite this, a strange thing happens to me when I work on the blanket: I relax. My shoulders drop down from their usual place up around my ears (my default physical state is far from relaxed), I think about all of the finished projects that these leftovers represent, and the most stressful thought in my mind is which color to use next. And on the days when even that thought is too stressful, I can pour another drink and let my husband choose. I already know I like all the colors or they’d still be in my stash and not in my leftovers.
Did I mention that I plan on making this blanket eight feet long? No? Yep, that’s my plan. Eight feet. At that length, it should really have a name, if not it’s own mailing address, so I’ll now be calling her “Scrappy.” I don’t want a small blanket that can’t cover my feet and shoulders at the same time; I want it big enough to snuggle with my husband on the couch for movie night. I picture it as an heirloom that gets passed down to younger knitters for generations, and I will haunt whoever breaks the chain and donates it to a thrift store or a neighborhood garage sale. So far, no one in my family seems promising, and I’m on the lookout for a knitting heir.
I did the math – I love knitting math – and it will take me seven years if I knit twelve inches per year. Here’s the thing, though: the gauge is about ten rows per inch, and each row takes me about 20 minutes. Not to mention that I still have my work knitting, so Scrappy rarely gets consistent attention. I can finish about half an inch a month, on a good month, picking it up when I’m between work projects, or if all of my other WIPs require my concentration and I just need a break. I spend time with Scrappy while I’m reading on my Kindle, or when cocktail hour went too long, or when I’m really depressed and just need soothing stitches. It turns out that linen stitch isn’t really so bad, and after just a few minutes I settle into the rhythm and rarely need to look. Adjusting for all these factors, Scrappy probably won’t be finished for at least fifteen years. I’ll be 53. A lot can happen in fifteen years, and it’s a little comforting to know that I’ll have something unchanging through all that time.
I’ve thought about casting on a second blanket on larger needles in garter stitch with my plied scraps, but then Original Scrappy will probably never get finished, and I’m not ready to go down that road just yet. Check in with me when I’m 45, God willing, to see where I stand on casting on Scrappy Junior.
Since I know you’re all clamoring to cast on a decades-long project, here’s the pattern recipe:*
Using your favorite leftover, a needle 1 size larger than you plan to use for the blanket, and the i-cord cast-on, CO stitches until the blanket is the width you want it to be, ending with an odd number. Mine has 419 stitches.
Change to main needle.
RS: [k1, sl 1 wyif] to last 4 stitches, k1, sl 3 wyib.
WS: knit 3, [sl 1 wyib, p1] to last 4 stitches, sl 1 wyib, sl 3 wyif.
Work previous 2 rows with Color 1.
Continue working previous four rows, changing colors as you’d like until blanket is desired length. Eight feet!
I plan to BO with an i-cord bind-off using the larger needle. I’ll let you know for sure in fifteen to twenty.
PS: The directions have been updated from the original post; it is correct as written.