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I have to tell you something strange — recently I almost stopped knitting. I knit some things here and there, but in general I don’t pick up my knitting every free minute, as I did before. For the last three months, I was spending every free minute online trying to figure out if my home country, Ukraine, still exists. I won’t go into political stuff here, but you can imagine that a question of that magnitude can distract from.. pretty much everything else.

That’s why I was happy to hear that Phoenix Community Center offered me to teach a knitting class to its clients. The class is scheduled for six weeks, every Monday morning. Some people who signed up wanted to refresh their skills, and some wanted to try knitting for the first time. I started thinking about a useful project that would allow my students to practice basic stitches. When I was buying yarn, Louise from LK Yarns suggested making wristwarmers. I thought it was brilliant, and made one when I came home that very day. (There is no pattern — I cast on 40 sts and knit all stitches until the piece wrapped “snuggly” around my wrist. Sew the seam leaving the opening.)

Wristwarmers
My students liked the idea, too and three of them already finished their mitts! Another idea came from an experienced knitter who showed up with a dishcloth in progress. Suddenly, everyone wanted to make one. So we got some cotton yarn and learned to read a dishcloth pattern called Grandmother’s Favourite.

Dishcloth
Teaching knitting techniques to a group of knitters with different skill level is tricky. It’s a bit chaotic, but also very fluid. I am just trying to meet everyone where they are and take it from there. Making samples boosted my knitting mojo a bit, and I was able to finish a sweater that was a WIP (work-in-progress) for almost two years.

DinosaurSweater

I don’t know what it says about me as a knitter, but I have no projects on the needles right now and no interest in starting one. Which is good, because I am going to sew another Ukrainian flag.

Ukrainian Flag

Hello my dear knitters.

Today my post is about embracing things. First, the outcome.

Blanket4_1
I have finished stitching this blanket in less than three hours because I decided to let go of a few things. For the first time, I didn’t arrange all squares into a blanket prior to joining them. I used to do that to “showcase” the squares — and if possible, to create some kind of pattern. This time, I just took two squares that would “go together” and then add two more, and so on, until there was a strip of 12 connected squares. The whole blanket is made of three such strips, 36 squares in total.

Blanket4_3
And I didn’t even look at the whole blanket before the photoshoot. I learned that it’s OK to allow some randomness and that two blue squares won’t fight if they happen to be neighbours. I like the result because it’s a bit unpredictable.

Blanket4_2
Secondly, I used a regular sewing machine to attach the squares. In my previous post I mentioned  the blogger Olgalyn, who suggested using a zig-zag stitch to sew the squares together. Even though it didn’t work for me (maybe because of different knitted textures?), I remembered that she sew up sweaters using a basic stitch. So I tried that and I think it worked. The edges don’t “flare” and there is no visible seam on the “public” side of the blanket. It’s stretchier if compared with the crocheted edge. (I set up 5 mm stitch length, and scrunched up the fabric before feeding it into the machine). And it only took one person and three hours!

Blanket4_5
This is the “wrong” side of the blanket. The seams are quite cushy but if a person finds them uncomfortable, she can flip the blanket and treat the seams as a rugged design element. And I would totally embrace that, too.

The blanket was donated today to the Phoenix Youth Shelter.

Finishing Up

There are many things that I would like to share with you today, and they all are about the blankets. Last Saturday, I attended a Joining Party and spent an hour with awesome ladies at Michael’s stitching blanket squares. (Correction from my previous post — this initiative is called Warm Up Canada, not Blankets for Canada).

BlanketJoiningParty_Halifax
Also, I stitched together granny squares crocheted by a Sister at Caritas and it made a beautiful blanket.

Crocheted blanket 1
Here is the close up of her work.

Crocheted blanket 2
I used my sewing machine to put them together because crocheting them would take me probably a few months.

Crocheted blanket 3
I used a stitch that would allow me to lay the fabric flat side by side, and a contrast white upholstery thread to make it a design feature. The stitching was OK, and it took me only a few hours, but I think a person who crochets very fast would do it even faster. I will be honest with you — some ladies didn’t find it very attractive and preferred the traditional method of stitching/crocheting by hand.

Recently I was looking for alternatives to stitching by hand because I wanted to speed up the process and turn all squares into blankets faster. One reason is obvious — to save time, but also because some of my family members showed signs of allergies that might or might not be caused by blanket squares that come from many different  homes. Allergies are tricky and  it’s really hard to figure out what causes them, so I had to stop having squares laying around the house and working on them one at a time.

During my research of a suitable technology, I came across a blog of NYC designer Olgalyn. I contacted her and we started an email conversation that resulted in her blog post about using a sewing machine and a mock flatlock stitch to connect two pieces of knitted fabric (thank you, Olgalyn!). I tried it on my machine but the zigzag stitch was not wide enough, so it didn’t work in my case. I ended up looking for a substitute stitch and… well, at least I finished one blanket and it went to Phoenix today.

So here is what it all means. First, I would like to thank all people who were a part of the project Blankets for Phoenix Youth Shelter — whether you knit/crocheted squares, stitched them together, or helped me spread the word. Secondly, I won’t be able to stitch the blankets together at home because of suspected allergies. Third, if you are still interested in making squares that later will become blankets for the local shelters, please contact Michael’s Arts and Crafts stores in both Halifax and Dartmouth locations and learn more about their blankets project. Please check the required square sizes, and dates for Joining Parties. I see no reason to have two similar projects in one city, so I instead of doing it on my own, I will help Warm Up Canada, and hopefully you could do it, too.

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