Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Gwen Steege: Days in a Row — Making a Knit the Sky Baby Blanket

Storey’s fiber arts editor knits a record of the days leading up to her grandson’s arrival.

Photo by Gwen Steege
The sky is such a constant in our lives that we can easily ignore its impact on us. Where I live in New England, it’s not only constant, it’s also constantly changing. I’d never been so conscious of this as when I was captivated by the concept of knitting the sky (which inspired the title of Lea Redmond’s new book), choosing yarns that matched whatever color the sky was on a given day. Last spring, when I discovered that our son and his wife were expecting a baby in the fall, I had the perfect excuse to take on the challenge of a Knit the Sky baby blanket — and I loved every minute of it.

The logistics were simple, all outlined in Lea’s book in a section called “A Bundle of Joy.” I gathered a basketful of lightweight yarns in the colors I thought I’d need to knit the sky in all of its variability where I live: several shades of blue, grays, and even whites. I often held two strands of different-colored laceweight yarns together as I knit, to create even more shades.

Lea leaves the choice of stitch up to the individual knitter and, though I could have just knit garter stitch, I knew I’d get bored doing that. Instead, I decided to knit my way through Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, working a 3-inch square every day. So that I wouldn’t have to stitch dozens of squares together when the blanket was finished, I knit 13 strips of 15 squares each, and blocked and attached each strip as soon as I completed it. The result is a somewhat funky, patchwork quilt sampler with completely random colors: sometimes I’d have 4 or 5 gray days in a row, and in other columns, there are long stretches of blue. I especially loved the days when bright white, puffy cumulus clouds in a deep blue sky inspired me to work 2-color stitch patterns, or throw in a square with a little intarsia-knit whale or sheep.
A section of Gwen’s finished blanket. Photo by Mars Vilaubi
As the weeks went by, I found myself absentmindedly looking at the sky several times a day, planning what color I’d knit with that evening. Now, my grandson Julian is 2 weeks old, and I still check out the sky color each day, but with the new thrill of knowing he shares that constant, yet variable, sky with all of us.

Gwen W. Steege edits books on knitting and other fiber crafts for Storey Publishing. She lives in western Massachusetts.

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