With the rush of the Jane Austen festivals over and the holiday season still a ways off, things have been quiet here at Ciarrai Studios. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as some rest and regroup time is definitely helpful at times. I am using this time to do some housekeeping in the store, plan out new design ideas, start getting ready for the fall and holiday seasons (when things really get busy). I have also been learning some new skills and techniques which I think will result in some lovely new additions to the shop, and making arrangements for Ciarrai Studios to be at some great events. But all of this is in the planning stage and so I don’t have a lot of details that I can talk about quite yet.
When I am not working on all of these behind the scenes, upcoming things, I am getting ready for my sister’s new baby. She has decided that her nursery is going to have a monster theme so I decided that my nephew needs to have a monster baby blanket.
I am bit notorious for going overboard when knitting a baby blanket. I hardly ever just pick out an existing pattern and some pretty yarn and knit something straightforward and simple. Instead, I tend to design something myself (or at least heavily modify something) to create something unique and special. Once I made a Goldilocks and the Three Bears inspired blanket with a little cottage in the center and cabled trees all around. I gave that blanket with three teddy bears and a book of fairy tales. Another time, I made an Aran sampler blanket with 16 different cabled Celtic knots and other motifs. My point is, I really go overboard on baby blankets and this one is no exception.
The basic design is a checkerboard where every other block is a monster face. Rob and I have been designing each monster block from scratch (although I created this Pinterest board for inspiration, taking the nose from this monster and combining it with the eyes of that monster and the teeth or horns or whatnot of this other monster) until we get a cute little monster, like this one. Everyone, meet Bob the Monster. (Hi Bob!)
Once we are happy with the design, then we have to translate it into a knitting graph, laying out what colors each stitch will be. Rob’s knowledge of computers (and video games) is very helpful with this project because knitted colorwork has a lot in common with computer graphics. Each stitch acts just like a pixel in a graphic (this is why it is so easy to knit old style video games graphics like these Space Invaders Socks that I made as a Christmas gift for the baby’s father a few years back)
Here’s Bob all done up as a graph and ready to knit:
And then I start knitting until we have Bob in all his yarn-y glory.
Then the process starts all over again with the next monster. I am making it a little bit on the big side so it can transition into toddlerhood with him. One of my friends made a comment about how cute it would be to see a little four year old watching Saturday morning cartoons wrapped up in his monster blanket and I loved the image so much that I wanted to make a blanket that would still be usable for that.
I am a little more than halfway done with the knitting. Once all the blocks are knit, I have to sew them together, weave in all the loose ends of all the different color yarns, and get the back of the blanket (which is not as nice looking as the front) lined in fabric to make it look more finished. But once all that is done, I will have a nifty blanket for my new nephew to curl up in. But here is a sneak preview of what I have done so far:
For every new baby in my life, I try to start them out right with at least one good book to go along with the baby blanket. Whenever possible, I try to match the blanket I make to a book to create a little set. For this blanket, I have decided to give my new nephew this book. It really is adorable and charming and it is a lot of fun to read out loud, especially if you are comfortable hamming it up and being silly.
So that’s is what I have been working on. If we have any knitters, crocheters, quilters, beaders, or other crafters reading this, I would love to hear what projects you have in progress. Leave a comment so we can all ooooh and aah over the awesomeness of handmade creativity!