This year my garden has been my haven. For the first time in my life I have my own outside space to grow things in and I have been learning all I can about growing vegetables and looking after the abundance of plants and flowers …
It would be gauche for me to say that this is the best sweater in the world that has ever existed, but look at it! It is full of all the joy that knitting a sweater should be. Its simple, colourful wide bands of colour …
In the middle of the first year of the pandemic I designed and knitted one of my favourite patterns to date: The Malia blanket. Everything had been feeling very heavy in a year that had a huge impact on most people’s mental health. I, like many others, found it extremely difficult to focus. Every time I sat down to do something creative thoughts of the unknown consequences of what was unfolding crept in and took up all the space that was usually reserved for invention, imagination and creativity.
Luckily, I had conceived the idea for and cast on a big but simple blanket project some months before, and due to the nature of the pattern I had written (a mosaic knit that required only knitting with one colour at a time and very simple short pattern repeats that even my distracted mind could remember on every second row) it became a wonderfully absorbing bit of escapist knitting, and backed up with an audiobook or TV show it gave my brain a rest from trying to calculate all of the ‘what ifs’.
I knit this blanket as both an exercise in and an object of comfort and protection, so I made it big enough for our family to all sit beneath, but there are options for other sizes too, including a baby blanket measuring 75x100cm (30×40”), a crib blanket measuring 90x125cm (35×50”) and a long throw that measures 125x190cm (50×75”).
Due to the nature of the simple pattern repeat it can also be resized infinitely to suit the dimensions of your chosen size as, knit at the recommended gauge, each pattern repeat measures 9.7 x 11.25cm (about 3¾ x 4½”), so you can calculate how many repeats it will take to meet your favoured size and then just knit to the length given. A simple swatch would allow you to calculate the blanket for other yarns and gauges too, increasing the versatility of the pattern even further. The border instructions remain the same and will work for any size of blanket that you decided to make, at any gauge.
Knitting & Styling
The central panel of the blanket is knit in a mosaic pattern finished with a few simple rows of garter stitch that frame the piece. Because both the main body of the blanket and edging are knit in a form of garter stitch the blanket lays completely flat, even without blocking. As the main body of the blanket is knit in a garter stitch variety of mosaic knitting, every row is knit, with no purl rows, which will increase the speed of the knit for a good number of knitters.
Mosaic knitting also allows you to create intricately patterned pieces whilst never using more than one colour for any given row. You work two rows (front and back) with yarn A, then two rows with yarn B throughout. The patterning is created through simple knit stitches and slipped stitches alone. Another benefit of using slipped stitches to work this pattern with only one yarn at any given time. This means you are never ‘carrying’ an unused yarn, so there are no floats on the reverse of the blanket. This makes the Malia blanket perfect for babies, children and any high use area of the home as there are no loops on the reverse side to pull or get snagged, or to tangle around tiny fingers or get caught on your keys or a pet.
The edging of the blanket is kept purposefully simple to elegantly frame the central patterning. Knit in garter stitch and with a simple mitred corner it is clean and modern, and very easy to achieve.
This blanket is one of my favourite knitted projects to date, and provided me with some much needed balance in my life when everything in the world felt out of kilter. Though the world is far from healed, sometimes a pattern that is meditative and that you can knit your love into can help keep you grounded.
I actually released this pattern a year ago, but didn’t post about it at the time as I had my head down in the world’s troubles. I was thinking a few days ago of the things that helped me last year, and knitting this pattern was definitely one of the things that helped most, and so I have decided to give the pattern the release and support I think it deserves. Maybe it will bring someone else the solace of calm knitting as it did me.
I’d always intended to get around to making gifts for the teachers of my little boy’s nursery, as we have handmade them for every gifting occasion for the past two and a half years that he has attended. This year, however, we did not get …
The first half of July has been full of new things I have put my hands to making. It has taken so long, but I have finally found something of ‘me’ in this experience. After sewing for simple necessity, I’ve been enjoying both hand and machine sewing things less necessary and more for the pure joy of it.
I started to feel a bit more capable as I finished of the little felt Dinosaur kit that had arrived as a cover gift from Mollie Makes magazine. He was the least practical of projects (the best kind) and I think he’ll be joining my Christmas tree decorations this year. He was very easily hand stitched with very simplistic little decorative touches, and only took an hour to complete. It was just the little stepping stone self care project that I needed.
Next, I found a small piece of gingham fabric, just big enough to squeeze a manatee out of. She was an extremely simple piece of sewing, with a couple of safety eyes and some nostrils painted on with acrylics, for personality. I love manatees. They are my absolute, number one, favourite animals ever. manatees are my kind of personality: slow, and happy, and thoughtful. The pattern for this little friend is from DIY Fluffies and is an extremely simple make. She can be made from woven fabric and sewn very, very quickly.
Beautifully times for around our anniversary, Russell finished the tapestry cushion kit that I put together for him back in Christmas of 2017. It took a good two and a half years to finish, though he worked on it quite sporadically. I remember as he was stitching it that I thought it would be the most ridiculously huge cushion ever to be made. I imagined this big cumbersome thing that we threw onto the floor because it had no rightful place on the furniture, but it turned out only to be an average sized cushion, smaller than those that we have on the sofa. Partly this is the transformation of the flat, laid-out piece of needlework into this full and bouncy 3D object, but it is also partly the cotton canvas and yarn shrinking the second it hit the water. It turned out perfectly cushion-sized in the end.
The work is 100% Russell’s. The illustration that I had the canvas printed from was by Hello Hinny, with a few minor tweaks to eye shape (to make them more stitch-able) and to extend the background out to a square. I made a lapped zip back from some heavy cotton drill I bought at Ikea last year (waiting for this very job) and took the opportunity to re-back the handspun crocheted rainbow cushion with the same fabric and matching zip. I need to make a new pad for that one as it has definitely lost a bit of loft over time, mostly because it is my little boy’s favourite cushion and so suffers all of the abuses that an imaginative 4 year old might throw at it as he jumps upon it at great heights.
Finally, a bat. My next door neighbour is just finishing her time at primary school, at the same time my little boy is about to begin his, and I wanted to make a little gift to mark the change for her. I always used to pick up the (now discontinued) £2 polar fleece blankets in various colours any time I went to Ikea, as they were great for making soft toys from. I chose a bat simply as I only had bits of grey and purple fleece left, and the colours seemed to work. Since making the first one I have whipped up a second as my Ma requested one for herself. Features have been appliquéd on and I have given them little beady safety eyes purely because I have a box of them at my disposal and they look rather comical. The pattern for this one is a free one from Choly Knight (who has an absolutely incredible range of free toy patterns available).
So, that’s thats a few little projects completed to brighten up the home or other people’s days. I know that one little bat has found its way into prime cuddling position as it has been taken to bed as a cuddle pal over the last few days. I hope it shan’t be too long before I am able to give the there bat to my ma, as needing to stay at home rumbles on.
I hope that you are well, staying safe, and have a little bit of brightness in your home today.