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Lessons from the un-blanket

Several years ago—at least four, if not more—I decided to knit a double-knit blanket. I’d knit a few before, but those were small “throws” rather than full-sized blankets. I wanted to knit a blanket that could cover the top of a queen-size bed.

Double-knitting is a method where you knit a stitch for the front and back at the same time, resulting in a fabric that looks knit on both sides. [Well, actually, you knit one and purl one, but let’s just simplify this for the sake of this post.]  The finished double-knit blanket is thick, soft, and quite beautiful, with each side being a mirror image of the other. They are wonderful, but as you knit two stitches for every one across, they take about twice as long to produce as a blanket made with other simpler methods.

The green-and-white pattern above is Kelmscott Throw, and the green-and-red pattern below is my own design.

After a few false starts along the way, I designed a 6′ by 7′ pattern based on a design by VersaciKnits. I then bought a huge amount of wool yarn in four bold colors, then got to work.

When I started the blanket, casting on more than 800 stitches, I was sitting in my favorite knitting shop in Beaverton, Oregon. When more than one of the highly experienced knitters there commented on how massive the blanket would be, I replied proudly that yes, it would be.

It didn’t occur to me to take that as a warning.

For the next few years, whenever I wanted to knit, I had this one massive project to pick up, but I was already getting tired of it.

Whenever I worked on the blanket, I couldn’t help but think about the years longer that it would take me to complete. And whenever I set the blanket aside to work on a sweater or something else, I had a feeling that I had to hurry—that there was that damn blanket there that had to be finished, too.

Recently, only a few years into the project, I realized that I had at least another ten years to go. And so it was, after countless hours on the project, that I admitted defeat. I pulled the thus-far blanket off the needles.

I then spent just over three hours carefully ripping out the work I’d spent years to knit and rolling up the yarn for use in other projects.

I’m writing up this blog post partly just so I have a place to commemorate this work. But also, I’m sure there’s a moral to this story somewhere. I’m not exactly sure what the lesson is, but two options spring to mind:

  • It’s good to plan big, but make sure your plans are manageable. Start by identifying how long it will take and make sure you’re on board with that.
  • If people you respect question your plans, then open your mind and double-check your project before proceeding (or not).

I’m sure there are more lessons here that I can learn. But for now, it’s time for me to move on. I think my next project will be a hat.