It’s nigh unto impossible for me to keep a secret, especially about my knitting. The impulse to share it in real time, on MDK and Instagram and anywhere else I can buttonhole other knitters and say: LOOK WHAT I’M KNITTING ISN’T KNITTING THE COOLEST THING EVER—has been reinforced over all these years of nonstop blabbing. It’s an autonomic thing my brain stem just does.
But recently, I managed to keep a project under wraps for six whole weeks. I’m busting to tell you!
But First, Meet the Klatch
Here’s the Klatch.
the klatch in connemara: From left: Niki, Claire, Diana, Sheenagh, Cecily and Laurie.
It’s not my Klatch. This particular Klatch is a Rhode Island-based group of jolly, adventurous, accomplished women. My dear chum Diana is a card-carrying Klatch member.
I had heard about the Klatch for years, with that mix of wistfulness and mild skepticism one feels about the friends of one’s close friends. Last May, when I visited Providence, the Klatch convened a special Saturday lunch to meet me, and to show me Knit One Quilt Too, a shop in Barrington, Rhode Island, because I don’t buy enough yarn apparently.
I fell in love with them immediately of course. It was klatch at first sight.
We talked too long over lunch, and then Diana had to ferry a teenager somewhere, so the Klatch was dispatched to take me to the yarn store.
The Klatch Hatches a Scheme
As soon as Diana was out of earshot, the Klatch unloaded a plan: for Diana’s Big Birthday party coming up in September, they wanted to present her with a log cabin blanket knitted by the group.
I have no idea why they thought I would find this information relevant to my life.
The plan was simple: the Klatch would knit the squares (even though not all of them are knitters, that’s merely a detail if you have the Klatch Can Do attitude). They would send me the squares. I would join up the squares and do the finishing. (The Klatch is good at delegating.)
I would also pick out the yarn and tell them everything they had to do. The Klatch is adventurous, but judicious; it knows its limits.
Oh, all right, I said. I guess I do like log cabin blankets as a gesture of love. I guess I will do this. (Bwahaha; I barely knew them, but they had already played into my hands.)
We cheerfully lurched across the parking lot from the restaurant to Knit One Quilt Too. I’m blaming that glass of pinot gris, or maybe it was the local cheese board, because I chose sock yarn—for a group that included beginners. I threw them right into the deep end. Go fingering weight or go home!
The instructions were simple: knit up 15 log cabin squares. Start with a patch any size, but end up with a square that is 72 stitches/ridges on all sides. Change colors often, stripe if you wish, have fun with it. I left it to the experienced knitters in the group to guide the newbies and make the math come out right. These gals are practically running the state of Rhode Island; how hard could it be to pull together a semi-improv log cabin blanket?
In early August, the squares started to arrive.
By early August I also had over 500 texts in the group text the Klatch had set up for this project. Many many progress shots. I never knew who was talking—to me they all were just caffeinated-sounding 401 area code phone numbers—but I got to know them well as they knit along. These women took a joy in knitting that I remembered from my early blanket projects. WE ARE DOING THIS THING. They took their knitting everywhere. OH LOOK AT ME I’M KNITTING ON THE BEACH HOW CRAZY IS THAT. They got into a few terrible but predictable jams, with squares not being square and Spontaneous Hole Formation, and falling asleep while knitting in bed. All the things that make knitters shake our heads and love our hobby—they were fresh and new to this gang.
Someone always swooped in to rescue the downhearted. I believe some squares were ghost-knit as the deadline loomed.
On my part: all squares gratefully received. No questions asked. If you mailed it, you knitted it. Full credit awarded.
I wasn’t worried. But I wanted to see squares.
Mid-August, this was my coffee table.
Twelve of the fifteen. Not sure I documented the full fifteen.
At this point, it was very hard not to post to Instagram. I mean, really, this was a shameful waste of pixels. I may have relieved the pressure by posting one very close-up black and white shot, but even that made me worry that Diana would catch on. People who are having Big Birthdays are highly attuned to signs and portents.
Despite the lack of internet witnesses, I set to joining up. Instead of sewing the squares together using mattress stitch or whipstitch, I used my tried and true version of the three-needle bindoff method.
The How-To Portion of This Story
It’s easier to show how to do this than to tell how to do it.
What you need: the yarn you’ll be using to join the blocks (and then strips of blocks); and two circular needles of adequate length.
You line up the edges to be joined, right sides up. With the RS facing and a circular needle, pick up one stitch in each garter ridge and bound-off stitch along that edge (just as if you were going to knit a new log cabin strip).
Then—and this is the tricky part—you do not cut the yarn. Using a second circular needle, and leaving a short (one inch, more or less) gap in the yarn, start picking up stitches from the RS along the edge of the other strip to be joined.
Now you have two circular needles with (ideally) the same number of stitches on each needle.
You start picking up with a new needle, but you do not cut the yarn. The most important thing is to ensure that you have the strips aligned the way you want them to be.
Slide all the stitches on both needles to the end where the working yarn is. (On the first needle, this will be the end where you started picking up stitches; on the second needle, it will be the end where you stopped picking up stitches.)
Arrange the strips with the right sides facing each other, and work a three-needle bindoff on the wrong side. (Insert a third needle into the front of the first stitch on each of the two circular needles, knit 1 through both stitches, *insert the needle into the front of the next stitch on each of the two needles, knit 1 through both stitches, bind off 1 stitch; repeat from * until all the stitches have been bound off.)
I used this method first to join the individual blocks into strips, and then to join the long strips into the blanket.
The back of a three-needle bindoff looks as nice as the front.
That wasn’t the end: I still had to work an applied i-cord edging all the way around the blanket.
This was the part that got dicey, because I was doing it right up until a few hours before the party.
The Klatch was Concerned. They were expecting a blanket.
The great i-cord meetup on the afternoon before the party.
The final photo texted to the Klatch, T minus two hours. What, me worry?
It was done, and giving it to Diana was a mountaintop moment for the Klatch and for me.
Joy is blurry.
Happy birthday, dear Diana. I’m right behind you as we head into what I’m calling the Active Dotage phase of life. Pre-dotage? The new getting-up-there?
We are alive, and full of joy. Much knitting, and hopefully many cheese boards, lie ahead of us.