Tag Archives: blanket

Begin at the Beginning – Lots 349-352

…or at least, to begin at the beginning and continue until I came to the end was my intention. To start at the first hand knitting lot number and continue from there, as it were. To wit, “349 – Lap robe, min. size 1444-2699 sq. in.” This is the category that I entered the blanket into for 2015, and the one I won second prize in.

So all that I need to do is select a moderately to majorly impressive project that fits into the category of “approximately twin-size quilt”, right?

Well…the blanket took me four months to knit. I literally knit nothing else (save maybe a hat) while I was working on it. Plus I don’t really need another blanket, seeing as there’s only one bed in my apartment and it already has three hand-knit coverlets to its name. So let’s table that lot for now and consider the other lots.

350 – Afghan, one piece, min. 2700-3800 sq. in.

351 – Afghan, made in strips or modules sewn together 2700-3800 sq. in.

353 – Bedspread, min. size 3801 sq. in.

::breaks out into a sweat::

Okay, so apparently I could spend the next 2-3 years just knitting blankets for the fair. Blankets that I don’t need or want.

Honestly, I don’t want it to seem like I’m fleeing at the first obstacle. However, these lots were the first to have the ‘unreasonable’ label slapped on them in the spreadsheet. The point of this is to knit State Fair worthy items that I will enjoy (either knitting or using or both), not to kill myself to produce 47 items, one for each category, in less than a year.

However, thanks to the rule that allows objects finished in the three years prior to the fair, there are two options.

For 351, the modular Afghan category, I have this:

A blanket made up of seamed, knit squares that I knit over a period of three years. I love all the colors I chose, I love that friends and family all contributed yarn to make it, I…I hate the finished project.

No matter how I tried, I could not figure out a way to arrange the squares to make it look attractive. Eight of the squares that I knit never even made it into the blanket. I’ve often thought of ripping its seams and trying again, which would qualify it for the 2016 fair.

The second possibility stems from a rule stating that “Articles which have won a first prize at a previous Minnesota State Fair are not eligible for entry.” Which would seem to imply that items that didn’t get a blue ribbon can be entered year after year until the three-year rule comes into effect. Which would make the blanket eligible one last time, in 2016.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. I wish I knew more people personally who entered things in the fair regularly. Is it seen as allowed, but calculating? Is it frowned upon? Personally, I sort of feel like the blanket already had its day in the sun.

So! That’s the plan for the first four lots – I’ll be posting about the next four sometime this week. There will even be finished objects for some of these categories!

(That blanket picture is from the Culture Festival in Otobe, Japan, where I used to live.)

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A Year at the Fair

One thing I never got around to doing while I was here for college was going to the Minnesota State Fair. I was either completely unaware of it’s existence (freshman), didn’t know when it was (sophomore), in another country (junior), or too late in arriving to partake (senior).

Last year, however, I was determined to go. And I did  – three times, even! I ate a lot of portable food, discovered fried cheese curds, ignored the part of me that was screaming in horror about being surrounded by thousands of people, and went over the Creative Activities Building with a fine tooth comb.

See, I had heard that you could enter various crafts and get ribbons for them. I’d never participated in anything that handed out ribbons or trophies before and was…intrigued. Despite the fact that the (very flattering) reaction every time I mentioned maybe entering was enthusiastically positive, I wanted to check things out myself first. Also, I had heard it cost money to enter. (Not true.)

There were some absolutely beautiful items in the case last year – stuff that was not only complex in terms of technique, but…well-executed, if you know what I mean. Smooth fabric, tailored details, fine finishing – there were items on display for which the basic knitting had been only 3/4s of the work.

However, I knew that some of my stuff was up to snuff. If not my sweaters and cardigans, then definitely my mittens and other accessories. Plus, the fair allows you to submit work completed in the three years before the start of the fair, so I was able to submit one of my masterpieces.

That’s right, the blanket (the odyssey of which you can start following here) took second in its division this year. A pair of gloves, a hat, and some mittens also placed, in fourth and fifth. The shawls got jack, and I don’t love them anymore. Kidding.

One thing that stuck out this year, however, was that the second, third, fourth, and fifth place finishers (and all other none placing entries) were all crammed into one display case, while the blue ribbon projects got a case to themselves. The displayers had obvious done their best to make sure that every project was visible, but the case was stuffed.

So I thought, next year I want a blue ribbon. I want my stuff in that case, visible as everybody walks in the door of the Creative Activities Building.

Thus begins my year at the fair – a year of knitting to state fair blue ribbon standards, as best I can. Part competitiveness, part personal challenge, part boredom, and part Mauri’s-gone-all-Kaylee-Lee-Frye over those blue ribbons.

Next time…strategy. Yeah, there’s a spreadsheet.


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Finished Blanket

Finished Blanket

Plus two more pictures that I should have posted in March:

Most of the way through the blue section.

Most of the way through the blue section.

Blue section completed.

Blue section completed.

In addition, some of you will be happy to know that the Sweater in 15 Minutes a Day has been found. It has about nine hours on it now and I’m hoping to divide for the armholes by the end of the month (ambitious, I know).




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Getting There

Sorry about the late post. My mild cold from Monday turned into full-on, ‘oh please, just let me die’ illness Tuesday morning. I almost fainted in front of the fifth graders, which would have been a blessing. This year’s batch are a tough crowd, due in part to a teacher who gave up the reins until a little too late in the year. I don’t know whether to be hopeful about their sixth grade year, but eventually they’ll be in junior high school, with multiple teachers to tag-team discipline.

Anyway, lots of time this week, little motivation to do anything besides sit at my desk in a vaguely upright position.

I got back on schedule with the blanket last weekend and hit a major deadline by doing a few mores squares after work in between blowing my nose. The blanket is now 75% complete:



I am five squares into the 31st row, out of 39. There will be eight blue rows total, then five purple rows. On the upper right, you can just see where I’ve started the i-cord edging.

Somebody asked about the sweater. It’s still MIA, until the blanket is more firmly on track for completion by March 31st.

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As you can see, I’ve finished the green section and the first few blue squares are making their appearance. Hard to believe, but the blanket’s two-thirds done already. Just another 13 rows to go (8 of blue, 5 of purple).

Sweater? What sweater?


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Double Update

Both projects continue steadily. I’m headed home to America tomorrow, just for a week. (Though because of how international travel works, I only spend three days at home)

Here’s what another hour and forty-five minutes added to the sweater:

Creeping along…

What you can see here are both saddle shoulders and the back of the neck. The open space is the v-neck that I foolishly hoped to have joined in the round by now. Alas.

The blanket has entered its green period.

Also creeping along.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to churn out Friday’s regular blog post this afternoon, but I’m not super optimistic. I leave on my trip tomorrow and I keep thinking about how lucky I am to have a seven hour layover in San Francisco International Airport. :/ I don’t suppose anyone knows if you can get a hot fudge sundae at SFO? My first hot fudge sundae in six months would go a long way towards distracting me.


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Sweater in 15 Minutes a Day

The beginning of all sweaters - yarn snot.

The beginning of all sweaters – yarn snot.

Last week I posted about being inspired for a knitting project by a book called ‘Japanese in Ten Minutes a Day’. Those kind of books always drove me nuts back in the day. I mean even now, more than ten years after I started studying Japanese, I still study at least 30 minutes a day just to keep my skills up and to learn new vocabulary. Sometimes it’s more like two hours, when I’m studying for the JLPT (just passed N2, whoot!) or the Kanji Kentei. Ten minutes? Not going to cut it, especially if you want to live here.

Despite that, it was that book that I was thinking of last week when I was overcome with the urge to start a sweater. As you may have noticed, my knitting blog posts have been a tad single-minded recently – blanket, slightly larger blanket, even slightly larger than that blanket. That’s not my usual MO. I much prefer to have multiple large projects on the go, along with a couple of smaller, more portable ones. Unfortunately, work limits my time to the point that all of my knitting time has to go to the blanket to finish it before March 31st.

But I really needed a break. And I haven’t knit a sweater in two years (gah).

So I worked it out – there were fifteen minutes a day that I couldn’t knit on the blanket anyway: when I’m giving my daily sacrifice to the stationary bike. I tried working on the blanket while chugging away, but now that it’s half done it was much too cumbersome. So. A sweater. In fifteen minutes a day. What you see above is 2.5 hours of work, over ten days. I decided on Mandel (Rav link), a simple sweater that I’ve been wanting to knit for…about two years. It’s the first saddle-shoulder construction I’ve ever made (I’m a top-down raglan kinda girl), so I’m having fun.

Expect to see a sweater in about two years, at this rate.

What's an update without a blanket shot?

What’s an update without a blanket shot?


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