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This portable knitting project starts with a square, ends with a blanket

 

This week we’ve been looking at 4 fabulous new colorways in Classic Shades Frenzy by Universal yarn. If you look at all 14 colorways of this yarn, you’ll see that several of them have colors in common. This makes it really easy to use 1 or 2 balls of more than one color in the same project. For today, I’ve created a fast and portable knitting project — square blocks that you can finish in just over an hour. You won’t have to lug a huge project bag with you, and in several hours here and there, you’ll soon have enough squares to make a blanket.

Blocks knit in the round and seamed with locking mattress stitch create this unique look, with dynamic color changes in each square.
Blocks knit in the round and seamed with locking mattress stitch create this unique look, with dynamic color changes in each square.

 

To knit this you need the yarn (I used Classic Shades Frenzy in the Fern and Harbor Lights colorways), and your favorite needle or needles to knit in the round. If you like magic loop, then you can have all the stitches on one needle. If you want to use double points, I’d recommend a set of 5 instead of 4, so you can have each side of the square on its own needle. My preferred method is 2 short circular needles, and I divide the number of stitches in half.

The blocks are worked from the outside in. Unlike garter stitch mitered squares, where the almost 1 to 1 tension of stitches to ridges, makes symmetrical decreases the perfect fit for 45° angles at the corners, stockinette stitch, with its ratio of 3 to 4, or 5 to 7 stitches to rows, isn’t quite so forgiving. But I’ve done the hard work for you. While each round of decreases is a little different than the ones before or after, just knit as you read the pattern and you’ll get neat squares that lay flat, especially once they are wet-blocked. By the way, I didn’t aggressively pin these squares when I blocked them and they ended up nice and uncurled.

Paired decreases in each corner bring your stitches from the outside of the square into the center. The rate of decrease is different for each row, so follow the pattern step by step to avoid getting a ruffled block.
Paired decreases in each corner bring your stitches from the outside of the square into the center. The rate of decrease is different for each row, so follow the pattern step by step to avoid getting a ruffled block.

 

I used two size US11 [8mm] circular needles. The gauge is quite loose, but I wanted a blanket with a lot of drape. You can go down in needle size if you wish, but you’ll need to knit more squares to cover the desired surface area.

The Pattern

With size US11 [8mm] needle(s), cast on 89 stitches. If extra yarn after a cast-on doesn’t bother you, it’s useful to leave a 16″ to 20″ tail for sewing up seams later. Just don’t forget to knit the first round with the yarn from the ball and not the tail. I used the twisted German or old Norwegian cast on because it’s nice and stretchy.

Why 89 stitches, you ask? I like to overlap the join of my cast on edge by slipping the last stitch over the first stitch of the cast on. Here’s how I do it:

First, make sure there’s no twist in the cast-on. Then, slip the first stitch on the LH needle purlwise to the RH needle. Pass the 2nd st on the RH needle over the slipped st and then return the slipped st to the LH needle. 88 sts. You’re all set to go.

Rnd 1: Knit.
Rnd 2: Purl.
Rnd 3: [K1, ssk, k17, k2tog] 4 times. 80 sts.
Rnd 4: [K1, ssk, k17] 4 times. 76 sts.
Rnd 5: [K1, ssk, k14, k2tog] 4 times. 68 sts.
Rnd 6: [K15, k2tog] 4 times. 64 sts.
Rnd 7: [K1, ssk, k13] 4 times. 60 sts.
Rnd 8: [K1, ssk, k10, k2tog] 4 times. 52 sts.
Rnd 9: [K11, k2tog] 4 times. 48 sts.
Rnd 10: [K1, ssk, k7, k2tog] 4 times. 40 sts.
Rnd 11: [K1, ssk, k7] 4 times. 36 sts.
Rnd 12: [K7, k2tog] 4 times. 32 sts.
Rnd 13: [K1, ssk, k3, k2tog] 4 times. 24 sts.
Rnd 14: [K1, ssk, k3] 4 times. 20 sts.
Rnd 15: [K1, ssk, k2tog] 4 times. 12 sts.
Rnd 16: [K1, k2tog] 4 times. 8 sts.

Cut yarn and thread a 6″ tail into a yarn needle. Insert the needle through all stitches beginning in the next st in the round. Go through the first 2 sts again. Cinch tight and weave in the end on the wrong side.

By sewing in the back strands of each cast off edge stitch with locking mattress stitch, the seam turns out with a lovely braided look.
By sewing in the back strands of each cast off edge stitch with locking mattress stitch, the seam turns out with a lovely braided look.

 

Using a yarn needle and the locking mattress stitch, join the squares securely through only 1 strand of each bound off stitch.
Using a yarn needle and the locking mattress stitch, join the squares securely through only 1 strand of each bound off stitch.

 

The yarn needle goes through the strand of the top of the bound off edge facing you on one square, then across the gap and through the corresponding strand on the other square. You then return the yarn needle through the adjacent strand on the previous square and back through the original strand on the closer square. Then, you insert the needle under the adjacent strand on the closer square and back through the same strand just used on the far square, and so on. After every 3 or 4 stitches, tighten the yarn gently to close the gap.

For a random look, sew the blocks together. Or, take a more coordinated approach by waiting until they’re all done. That way, you can lay out your squares, sew them into strips, and then sew the strips together.

To prevent gaps at the corners, I picked up a loop at the adjacent corner of each square with the sewing yarn, and cinched them together.

If you run out of yarn to sew with, simply add another length of yarn by travelling through the same strands, but in the opposite direction.
If you run out of yarn to sew with, simply add another length of yarn by travelling through the same strands, but in the opposite direction.

 

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this week, Classic Shades is definitely one of my favorite acrylic wool blends. The colors are exciting and the structure of the yarn is sound. It takes blocking well, and is soft and drapey. I do hope you try some soon.

 

This is part 5 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 4: Eyes will turn to gaze at your chevron knits with this stitch pattern

About Charles Voth

I’m Charles Voth, a crochet and knitting professional. I enjoy reviewing yarns and tools to help others find materials that will help them be happy with what they stitch. I design garments and accessories and items for the home. I teach both crafts at yarn stores, in schools, and at craft shows and retail events. I am also a technical editor of both crochet and knitting patterns and illustrate the charts and diagrams that make pattern reading accessible to so many.

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