This is the thing I love the most about knitting: falling down a big ol’ rabbit hole and staying there for a good long while.
Cara Davis’s Temperature Project idea has grabbed me by the unwoven-in ends. I’m fighting for my life here. In other words: having a fantastic time!
This post is for anyone else who can’t stop thinking about temperature projects, of the knitted variety. The first few months of the year are prime time to plan and start a Temperature Blanket.
To those who think, “It’s February, isn’t it too late?”—I say: pish, tosh! It’s actually a plus to have a backlog of days to catch up on, so you don’t have to knit just one motif and wait for tomorrow until you can knit the next one. Not that I am doing that. (Every day.)
Reframe for Success
There was a video going around Instagram in January in which someone jokingly told us all to give up on the idea of ever finishing a Temperature Blanket.
I have a public service announcement for that lady: GET OFF OF MY LAWN. I am having fun here. I have finished more blankets in my knitting life than you’ve had hot dinners. Go on now, go, walk out the door!
Here’s the thing. If you are not the kind of person who likes to do a little bit of knitting every day, a Temperature Blanket is not for you.
I don’t think of a blanket with 365 small motifs, each one representing the temperature or temperatures of a day of the year, as a particularly epic project. So far this year, knitting each day’s temperatures into my blankets has been a grounding little moment of joy that starts my day off right, with coffee near to hand and a song in my heart. Reliable moments of joy are what life is all about. The more of them I can seed into my routine, the happier I am.
If you have doubts about your ability to maintain this inchworm-like habit, or worry that you will accumulate weeks and months of un-knit temperatures, I get that. Life can interfere, shiny things can pull focus. Everyone should aim for their own star.
I’m not worried for myself because the stakes are low: I am happy to do it for as long as it gives me joy. I’m pretty confident that I will want to see it through, because I want the finished objects—I’m curious about how they will take shape. And I can put them down if I need to, with confidence that I can catch back up when I’m ready, because I have a plan, temperatures are a matter of public record (I’m using the weather app on my phone, and a NYC weather history site for any days I forget to write down in real time). And most importantly: when I tarry or veer off course, the yarn and needles will always wait for me.
Why I Am Using the Plural Here
As I started to think about the many different ways of doing a knitted temperature blanket, more and more cool ones appeared. I couldn’t decide between my two faves, so I’m doing two blankets for 2022.
Remember: this is a low-stress thing for me. I’m going to be knitting every day at MDK team Zooms, at a minimum. Your mileage and knitting time may vary. I’m sharing this in the hope that it might make a temperature project—if it appeals to you in the first place—feel more achievable.
Blanket Number 1: Garter Stripe Shawl
This was my first idea and I couldn’t let it go. Using Kaffe Fassett’s Garter Stripe Shawl pattern from MDK Field Guide No. 13 as a template, I am knitting one garter ridge per day in the color designated for the high temperature of the day. (See my Felted Tweed shade card in this post.)
This plan is simple and effective and will make a striking visual representation of The Year in Hotness. Or coldness. But I think we know it’s going to be hotness.
Presenting: The 31 high temperatures of January 2022 in New York City. It was a nice, blue month.
Advantages. Easy to understand and execute. No joining of motifs required—at the end of the year, bind off and it’s done! Bonus: It will be so exciting to see stripes form spontaneously, when the high temperature stays consistent over days. I put close colors next to each other in my shade card, to enhance the likelihood of stripes and seasonal washes of color.
Disadvantage. This approach makes you choose one temperature for the day, be it the high, low or average. You could, of course, marl the high and low for each ridge, but I thought I’d be happier with the look of the blanket with single-color ridges, so I’m going with that. If you’re marling your ridges, please show me!
Hot tip. Because I’m changing the color on nearly every ridge, I started spit-felting the new and old strands together so I wouldn’t have so many ends to weave in. I like weaving in ends but I think it would make the Eastern edge of the blanket pretty thick to have extra yarn woven in at the start of nearly every RS row.
Blanket Number 2: Hello, Old Friend
How could I not include log cabin, my all-time favorite knitting technique, in my first temperature project year?
The stitch marker is on Block 1 so I can tell which direction I’m going as I add blocks.
The knitting of each day’s little cabin is short and sweet. I’m using the same Felted Tweed shade card, for organizational clarity and manageability. I also think than in 11 month’ time, the two blankets will look wonderful side by side.
Layout plan: 18 columns of 20 squares each. They will read from left to right, from January to December. 360 squares will make for a scant year that is 5 days short, but I love the proportions (and the number 18).
The center of each square is the high temperature for that day, and the frame is the low temperature. I may tweak the block for each season—log cabin gives lots of options and I think it would be fun to knit, and visually fun, if the motifs change a bit while remaining a consistent finished size: 15 stitches square.
If you’re new to log cabin knitting, we have a Field Guide for that. MDK Field Guide No. 4: Log Cabin will teach you the basic technique, and make you a fan for life.
Log Cabin Recipe
Start with the center patch. Cast on 9 stitches in the day’s high temperature color. (In many traditional log cabin quilts, the center patch was red, said to represent the hearth, so I chose the warmer color of the day.)
Knit every row until you have 9 garter ridges on the RS.
Bind off on the RS, leaving the last loop live. Break yarn.
Using the day’s low temperature color, work 3 garter ridges on all four edges of the center patch. (If you’ve never done log cabin knitting before, the (easy) instructions are in MDK Field Guide No. 4: Log Cabin.)
Bind off; the day is done.
Advantages. You get to use two colors. You get to knit a little log cabin every day for a year. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Disadvantage. You have to join 360 (or more!) dinky log cabins into a blanket. I don’t mind this (I refer you to my lengthy resume of patchwork blankets), but it’s a big additional step to blanket completion.
Knitter, know thyself! If joining up a pile of teeny bits is not your jam generally, it will not be your jam for this project. I will share more here and in the MDK Lounge in case anyone else is going the log cabin route.
One more advantage!
If you quit before finishing out the year, you will have a bunch of awesome little log cabin squares from which to make gorgeous cowls and scarves, lavender sachets–you name it. There is no reason NOT to knit a bunch of little log cabins, when you get right down to it. Nothing bad ever comes from knitting log cabins.
Sorry for the long clip & save, but I couldn’t help it! This is huge Ann!