The Zen of Garter Stitch

My Local Yarn Store (LYS) is Bluebird Yarn and Fiber Crafts. Sophie has run some different charity knits over the years – hats for Russian orphanages, blankets for Afghans for Afghans, nests for birds for Wildcare. This time, she is partnering with UCSF Children’s Hospital to make some blankets for babies and children.

I was in a bit of a knitting slump, so tackling this project was a kind of palette cleanser. The optional pattern was to cast on 80 stitches and then knit in garter through all the colors. While I like a basic garter stitch pattern, that was going to drive me crazy, so I pondering a bit, then remembered this project I knit a long time ago for Afghans for Afghans:

EZ Baby Blanket

complete with a lovely garter stitch border and cat inspector.

EZ Baby Blanket edging

It’s a garter square baby blanket by Elizabeth Zimmermann in Knitting Workshop. Aside: buy the book, like many of her books, there are pithy directions for good projects, you can choose your yarn and gauge and have fun! Plus there’s a lovely new color version that I might have to buy.

The major work in this project was upfront: figuring out what size to make each square ahead of the actual knitting. I am a notoriously lazy knitter, so I wanted to only knit each square once, which meant  I had to use math to calculate this. Fortunately, the photo of the basic garter blanket in the optional pattern gave me the information that I needed to do this.

In looking at the directions, I understood that 80 stitches were cast on, and in counting in the photo, there were 18 garter ridges in each color. Multiplying these two terms, it meant that there were 1440 knit/purl stitches in each color (a one-stitch garter ridge). Since my pattern is a perfect square, I took the square root of 1440, and came up with 37.95, which I – to 38 stitches for two reasons. First, I was pretty sure there was leftover yarn from the 18 garter stripes from the blanket in the photo. Second, the EZ pattern has you stop before the edges to give a slightly rounded corner, so less yarn is used.

And it worked! Yay for math. I put the complementary colors opposite each other diagonally, and used the red for the garter stitch border.

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The blanket came out about 25 inches square, and is a nice cushy fabric for a little one to cuddle under!

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