Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The muse for my burgandy throw blanket




A few months ago this beautiful aran throw showed up in a neighboring cube at work. I ogled it in secret for weeks, gathering bravado like so many days of the week, just so as to speak to my coworker about it. One day when she was out I even poked my head a bit into her cube to ogle it close up. It had at least one cable I never remember seeing before. It was fantabulous.

Eventually, as these things usually are for me, out of nowhere I blurted out my admiration while walking past her cube. (Was it was the stored bravado that paid off, or just some wacky well of confidence from a convergence of hormones? Who can tell these things.) Said coworker was happy to tell me the story of the throw. Her mother made it years ago. When I inquired about the fiber, she told me in what I think was a wistful tone that it was made with acrylic yarn. I got a sense that she felt it's being acrylic threw a pall over it's obvious magnificence.

I remember the dark ages of knitting, when the throw was knit. Acrylic was what any knitter I knew used. It's what the local five and dime sold, as well as the local craft store.

I distinctly remember growing up in the 70's and 80's a sense that there was a great shift in public perception happening regarding fiber. The synthetics that seemed so cool to the modernists of the '60s and '70s gave way to an equally persistent pursuit of cotton, mostly, and wool, eventually, in hip clothing. The garish polyester shirts a la Saturday Night Fever were replaced with layered cotton Izod Lacoste polo shirts, a cotton sweater, and cotton chinos.

Either way the fantabulousness of the throw took root in me and grew. I wanted to make one, and bad. The knitless zone I had been in for a while was receding, and it turns out that I had an inordinate amount of Paton's Classic Merino wool in burgandy, a complementary color to one of our summer quilts. The yarn was part of a poncho project that stalled midway.

I loved the yarn and at the time I started the poncho (early 2005 maybe?) I was knee deep in love with Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting . I think I spent more time swatching cables than actually knitting the darn poncho. Maybe that's what wore me out, but either way the project was left mostly untouched for the past two years. It was time to move on. Classic styled ponchos are definitely on the way out, so why waste good yarn? Really! A good choice don't you think? Me too.

I was so in love with the idea of knitting a throw that I didn't even have patience to design my own. I threw a few ideas around for a weekend and then promptly headed out to a LYS and picked up one of those magazine type pamphlets on knitted throws. Another half day to settle on a pattern, make a few changes, and voila. I'm at least 80% done with this lovely, woolen throw. The picture doesn't reflect the much darker red it really is. Less brick, more cranberry.

The only reason it hasn't been completed is I need my entire lap to work on it and bonding with our new dog, Ripley, has taken precedence. I've been getting in a few inches here and there. I'm almost through the penultimate ball of yarn. I've included the crappy photo, for perspective.

The pattern I chose is far tamer than the eclectic mix of cables in my muse throw, but I'm loving it all the same. I never knitted with two yarns simultaneously. I love the loftiness, and lightness of the fabric weight.

Yum!






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