The Never-Ending Garter Stitch Afghan is a wedding gift for my youngest niece and her Beloved who were married last December 5. I know, I know . . . it’s a little late. And I won’t make excuses, but I will tell you what happened.
I’m using Lion Brand Homespun, my first time knitting with it. I have admired the colors for years but I don’t often knit with acrylic. Except in this case. They have 2 fur babies that cuddle with them. One is a sweet canine who has not yet figured out that he’s 58 pounds over the lap-dog limit, so it had to be machine washable and dryable. Then . . . my niece posted a color-palette photo on Pinterest that exactly matches the colors in this yarn. They call the color “Pesto.” I call it “Sunny Day at a Caribbean Beach” which is far more accurate, but they didn’t consult me. Still, it’s my name and I’m sticking to it, mostly because they were married on a sunny day at a Caribbean Beach.
It’s a bulky weight. I started it in September. Size 10 needles. Garter stitch. Hey, sez I to myself, this is a slam-dunk. Except it hasn’t been. But I’ve learned a bunch along the way and my Public Service for the day is to share it with you.
- IT’S A MUCH SLOWER KNIT THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE
Although the yarn is pretty, I find it’s very slow knitting compared to a smooth yarn. Because of the way it’s spun I have to be careful not to split the fibers, and it has a lot of friction as it moves along the needles.
- THE LARGE FABRIC I AM KNITTING BEHAVES DIFFERENTLY FROM THAT LITTLE SWATCH I MADE.
As Queen Nag of Relentless Gauge Measuring, I made a garter stitch gauge swatch about 6″ square, larger than most people recommend. I measured it as if I were a machinist. I got 2.65 sts per inch. I liked the fabric. Not too tight. Not to loose. Enough loft to provide some air pocket insulation and be warm. Plenty of “body.”
The recommended gauge on size 10 needles is 3-5/8 sts per inch, considerably tighter. I can see why. The large fabric is stretchy, springy even. It stretches both widthwise and lengthwise, depending on which way you pull it or lay it out on a blanket.
Garter stitch at a loose gauge does this and I already knew that, but I couldn’t predict how much stretch it would have from my small swatch partly because . . .
Physically heavy. I’m almost through the 7th skein and it weighs about 2 and a half pounds. This weight is partly what’s making its shape so “fluid.” The weight pulls on the stitches. You know those lead aprons they put on you when you get X-rays at the dentist’s office? It’s not as heavy as that, but I’m glad I’m giving this to strong young people.
I made it big enough for two . . . newlyweds and all, you know. And although my niece is petite, her Chris is tall, strong, and handsome. But it turns out . . . and I didn’t learn this until I gave their “gift” to them at Thanksgiving (a ball of yarn and a card) . . . that he always runs hot and she runs cold. He sleeps with the window open and she’s freezing. So it didn’t have to be a blanket built for two. When I found this out I was already 16″ into it and this yarn does not rip out well, even at a loose gauge. There was no where to go but forward.
Why I’m still happy with the project:
- I’ve fondled this yarn for years when I go into a Joanne’s to grab something because it’s soft and pretty. Now I know a little bit about how it feels and behaves.
- I could get that recommended gauge that’s 27% (or is it 37%?) tighter but I wouldn’t enjoy it. It would be hard work for my hands. I prefer my knitting to be fun.
- I don’t think it will wear well. It’s starting to “fuzz” already and not in an especially attractive way. At a tighter gauge I’m guessing it would “fuzz” less . . . but I don’t care so much because . . .
- Although it would have been cheaper and certainly less time-consuming to buy them an elegant throw . . .
- I would not have been able to deliver thousands of sts to them, each made with loving intention for their long and happy life together.
- It allowed me to participate in the wedding . . . sort of. While they were getting married in the Caribbean I sat quietly near the wood stove on a dark and stormy December day and knit on it.
- AND MOST IMPORTANT FOR YOU . . . I would not have remembered to give you a copy of Afghan 101 which is one of the most useful things I’ve ever written.
Go HERE to get your copy and please, please pass the link on to at least one knitting friend, one group on Ravelry, on Knitting Paradise, Facebook, on Twitter if you twit (I don’t) . . . your local yarn shop . . . to anyone anywhere who might make a knitted or crocheted blanket one day. Because at the end of the day, when The Never-Ending Garter Stitch Afghan was 24″ long and I momentarily panicked that it was too huge, I pulled out Afghan 101 and was able to reassure myself that it was OK. Only 68″ wide . . . it will fit nicely on the queen-sized bed in the guest room.
I want everyone to know that it will be OK. Almost always.