Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Joplin Blanket: A Saga

Remember this?

Pat and I both like to try to use our knitting to help people out. We can't respond to every disaster -- we'd be curled up quivering in the corner if we even tried. But every once in a while one comes along that makes us feel the urge to do something. The tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, last spring was one of those. It's just one of many in a year of terrible events, but this one hit a nerve, and we decided we had to respond. We recruited some friends, and here's what happened:

My sister was downstashing, and had plenty of Encore (machine washable and dryable was on our list of requirements for this one) from an early fling; she gave us 2 balls each of 6 colors. I added the darker of the two blues from my extensive holdings. I drew up instructions and a diagram, so that each of the five of us (thank you, Ann, Debbie, and Ruth) could see at a glance the color order for our individual strips and where each one fell in the greater scheme. I knit a test square and weighed it. According to that, we should have been able to get 3 blocks from 2 skeins. I set to work weighing out 65 grams of each color for each knitter. Of course, I'm the only one of the group who doesn't live within about a 5-mile radius, so I plunked these lovely packages into the mail. But -- apparently my scale decided it had had enough of being meticulous and fussy.  It wanted to be artistic! It lied. Many of us ran out of colors, or weighed them at home and found out the grams were off by a huge factor. . . extra yarn was purchased (some colors were conveniently in my stash, so extra investment was not too bad) and mailed or swapped around.

It was important to get similar row gauge, so the strips would match, so I went with what the ball band recommends, knowing that my own row gauge tends to be eccentric and assuming the recommended number would be easily obtainable. All of us (all experienced knitters who think we know what we're doing) struggled with that. We started knitting in July; I received the last strip back on October 28 and then sewed many, many miles of seams. (OK, OK, it was only 252 inches. It took awhile. But I felt quite experienced by the end.)

This blanket just looks happy to me. As soon as I get the address, it will be on the way to help someone through a very strange and difficult year.


  1. Oh wow, what a gorgeous blanket and what a worthy cause. I'm very impressed! It looks fantastic.

  2. Really beautiful and definitely happy!