3 Essential Rules to Work on Granny Square Crochet Blankets

Tomorrow morning I’ll be winging off our a week long vacation with my family in Alaska, and then I’ll return to quickly packing up for three weeks of summer camps in Rockville, MD.  So I’ve been trying to wrap up a few long-term finishing projects.

Sometime soon I’m going to write a post on how to properly finish off a granny-square blanket so it doesn’t fall apart in 30 years. (Or really, any blanket for that matter.)  Still, it seems like all I’ve been doing lately is repairing granny squares.

It’s meditative work at the best of times, and dead boring at the worst.  I normally like to put on a book-tape or podcast and crank out the repairs.  This time around I took a few photos to share, and decided to add my 3 rules of working on granny square blankets.

Granny Square blanket with split seams

The first blanket, featured above, had two major places it was broken: the last row of the square didn’t have its ends woven in, and I needed to rework the last row and reattach.

Rule #1: Properly weaving in ends is essential in a blanket that you want to last.  Crocheting over them doesn’t cut it.

Repairing hole in Granny Square Blanket

Repairing hole in Granny Square Blanket

As a corollary to Rule #1, the closer an end is to the center, the more stress it takes.  REALLY weave in the ends at the center of a blanket.

Which brings me to my next rule.

Rule #2: include care instructions when you give a blanket to someone.  Don’t expect them to know how to care for the blanket and the fibers!

Let me show you some examples:

Center of granny square lost of love

Center of granny square lost of love

Slowly adding back the center of the Granny Square

Slowly adding back the center of the Granny Square

Granny square center replaced!

Granny square center replaced!

All the black that's  not a

All the black that’s not a “frame” for the granny square is replaced & repaired.

The blanket above is one that’s been well loved, but also subjected to light and heat damage.  The fibers are very very delicate, and I’m working to repair the largest holes so this can be gently loved again. Still, proper care of textiles can extend their life a hundredfold.

Finally, my last rule.

Rule #3: REALLY, REALLY weave in your ends.  Seriously.  Nearly 80% of the granny square repairs I do is in places where they ends have come unraveled, instead of the fibers degrading.  Weave in the ends.  Use a sharp needle.  Skim them in.

Are there things you can think of to extend the life of your afghans?  What are they?

5 Quick Routines that make my Knitting and Crochet Easier

This summer has been crazy for Tinking Turtle – I’ve been traveling both domestically and abroad. (I’ll be sharing more about the cruise on my next post!)  Finally, though, I’m home for a while, and I’m beginning to settle into a routine.

It’s got me thinking about the routines I have – specifically, for my knitting and crochet.  These are things I’ve developed over time as a designer and as a stitcher to stay organized – or to make sure I don’t forget something important!  I thought I’d share some of these systems I’ve developed over time, in case they might help someone else!

  1. When I go to knit a pattern out of a book or magazine, I always make a photocopy.  They’re always single-sided (so I can take notes on the back) unless they’re really long.  This way, I can make changes in the margins or loose the pattern (and I don’t loose the original).
  2. If I know I’m going to put a project down for a while, I take the needles out of it, and attach a marker that lets me know what size needle I was using.  I use this set from Knitpicks, but there’s also another variation here.  You could also make them using wire and beads with numbers on them.
  3. I’ve bought a whole bunch of measuring tapes and miniature scissors, and I just keep a pair in each knitting bag – so I don’t have to transfer them out.
  4. I have 4 rare earth magnets (kinda like these), which are super-powerful.  I have them in a set of altoid containers, and I use them to store my sewing needles and darning needles.  That way if I’m in a rush I can just put the needle on the top of the container, and because of the magnet, it sticks.
  5. I always keep a handful of locking stitch markers in each of my knitting bags.  You never know when you, or a friend, might need a stitch marker.  They’re also really great for catching a dropped stitch that you can’t fix right away.
What routines do you have that make your life easier?

A helpful tool to Set in Sleeves

I’ve talked before about my love of locking stitch markers.  Today’s tip comes to you courtesy of my rainbow stitch markers, which still fill me with much glee.

When I’m setting in a sleeve, I use locking stitch markers to act as guidelines.  This way, if I have to do some “easing” I know that I’m not going to come to the end of the seam and have extra fabric on one side.

What I do is this:

First, I mark the middle of each sleeve with a locking stitch marker.

Uses for Stitch Markers, pinning set in sleeves together

Then, I pin the ends of the sleeve (where it meets at the armpit on both sides) with a different color.  I pin the two middle markers together also.

Uses for Stitch Markers, pinning set in sleeves together

Then, distributing the stitch markers evenly, I pin every few inches the two sides together.

Uses for Stitch Markers, pinning set in sleeves together

The best part?  Unlike pinning with pins, locking stitch markers don’t poke me.  This makes me happy, and a little less likely to bleed on my knitting.

Another Helpful Tip for Swatching: Steeking Round Swatches for Photography

Look closely at the edges of this swatch.  Notice anything interesting?

Yes, the edges are cut.  And the sides are steeked with my sewing machine.  This is a trick I use when I need to make a swatch in the round, because I don’t like running strands of yarn behind the swatch.  Instead, I work the swatch in the round and then cut it in half, block it and then photograph it for my design submission.

Then, when I’m putting the design submission together, I crop the ugly edges out, leaving just the beautiful picture to show the design idea.  You can also do this for when you are measuring a gauge swatch for in the round.

How do you save time when you are working up a design swatch for a submission?

Tools of the Trade

This morning – before I packed myself off to Weight Watchers, before I even started printing out worksheets for the classes I’m teaching at The Yarn Spot today, I was taking pictures while the light was good for design submissions.

I was using the trusty tools of my trade – knitting needles (no, not for knitting – for blocking!), playing cards (for getting a stitch pattern knit in the round to lie flat and pretty), and a variety of pins and stitch markers.

Since the camera was out, I took a picture, because every once and a while it’s good to notice the small things you use to get to the big things.

Have you went to vote yet?

You should.