The Traveling Afghan: Square #4
Alright Traveling Afghaners, let's do this!
Lion Brand and 49 designers + bloggers from seven different countries have embarked on the 2020 "My Life in Yarn" campaign with the Traveling Afghans project, which I am SO excited and honoured to be a part of. The Traveling Afghans both set sail from NYC in January, and will journey to a new designer every two weeks for the rest of the year. Each designer has been tasked to create a 10"x10" square to add to the blanket, with that pattern published FREE online, before sending it off to the next person. Anyone can follow along and join in the fun at any time, so here's how you can participate:
2. Visit the landing page for the project, hosted by Alexandra Tavel from Two of Wands, for the master list of all designers and links to their sites, the itinerary for the afghans so you can have a peek at the route they will be taking as they travel around the world, and a helpful FAQ.
3. Follow the designers on social media to get updates on their pattern releases and learn about their maker journeys. There may even be some giveaways to enter! - @mylifeinyarn on Instagram does a pretty good job of getting all the major highlights
4. Host a CAL or KAL with your local maker friends! Get together throughout the year in person or online to add your squares. We would love to see YOUR life in yarn too, so make sure to tag Lion Brand Yarn in your posts and use the hashtags #thetravelingafghans #lionbrandyarn and #mylifeinyarn and either #thetravelingknitafghan or #thetravelingcrochetafghan
#4 - 2/12-2/25 - Nova Scotia, Canada - Kelly Brooks of knitbrooks (Hi everyone! The pattern for my square is below)
After I'm done adding my square to the afghan, I'll be sending the project off to the wonderfully talented and sweet Stephanie of All About Ami for square #5.
SQUARE #4: Finding Direction
Phase 1: The Floundering
I kicked off the design process swatching the way I figured most squares are constructed: your typical bottom to top. Originally I had it in my head I would be doing something with fancy leaves - knitbrooks is all about those woodsy nature vibes after all, so it seemed like the obvious choice. Well, all my leaves looked like (very sad) lumps, and my attempt at vines and trees weren't any better. As in, let us never speak of these "designs" again. I'm not sure how many squares were cast on and then cast aside (the only thing accomplished being a hefty afghan square graveyard pile), but I couldn't seem to come up with one I liked. I needed a new idea.
Phase 2: The Panic
The Traveling Afghan had left the NYC station and was making its way to the second designer while I was sitting at home rampaging through knitting stitch books, scouring Pinterest for inspiration, and cruising Instagram for something - anything - that would spark my creativity. Everything I tried was ripped off my needles and shoved aggressively into my project bag, or flung angrily into the corner where it could think about what it had done.
Phase 3: The "ah-ha" Moment
While I was sitting and ripping out what seemed like my 187th square fail, I decided to take another approach - when things don't feel like they're going right, go left...or maybe diagonally! Sticking with the basics of stockinette and garter stitch, with a few yarn overs thrown in for good measure, I tried knitting my square on the diagonal instead of top to bottom. And there it was! Well, by "it" I mean the first of many versions of a diagonally knit square, but I finally felt good about the direction my Traveling Afghan contribution was going.
Phase 4: Signs from the (Knitting) Universe
As the afghan headed off to designer #3, I was relieved knowing I wasn't in a full fledged flounder anymore. And of course, I had to laugh - my square had completely become a perfect representation of the journey I've had as a maker the last several years + the realizations that have slowly dawned. What works for one person, or 100 people, might not necessarily work for you. Just because others have found success doing something a certain way, doesn't mean you're a failure because you can't make it work too. Sometimes the path you end up on is unexpected, and maybe even heading in a completely different direction than you ever thought it would, but if it works + makes you happy it's MORE than OK.
I hope as you knit this square you recognize not just how much trial and error can go into a process (a pattern design, a business, an idea, a career, a relationship, a life) before it feels right, but that you're not alone in these obstacles and failures. Remember to give yourself a little grace if you haven't found the path that feels like "you" yet, because it may just turn up in a most unexpected place.
So, without further ado, it's time to make your square. Happy knitting everyone!
- 1/2 skein Lion Brand Wool-Ease, or approximately 100yds/90m of another worsted weight (category 4) yarn
- Size 5mm (US 8) knitting needles
- Tapestry needle
Finished dimensions: 10" x 10" / 25.5cm x 25.5cm
Gauge: 17 sts + 24 rows = 4"/10cm stockinette (after blocking)
CO: Cast on
KFB: Knit front and back (increase stitch)
K2tog: Knit two together (decrease stitch)
YO: Yarn over
Instructions - Setup Section
CO 3 stitches using preferred method (long tail CO recommended)
Row 1: K1, KFB, K to end of row.
Rows 2-7: Repeat Row 1 (10 stitches)
Row 8: K1, KFB, K1, P until last 4 stitches. K to end.
Tip: You should always have 4 stitches on your needle at the beginning of every row (including your increase / decrease), and will K the last four stitches of every row to create a small garter stitch border around the entire square.
Rows 9, 11, 13: Repeat Row 1
Rows 10, 12: Repeat Row 8
Instructions - Main Pattern (you should have 16 stitches before you start)
Rows 14-17: Repeat Row 1 (20 stitches)
Row 18: Repeat Row 8
Row 19: Repeat Row 1
Row 20: Repeat Row 8
Row 21: K1, KFB, K1, *K2tog, YO; repeat from * until the last four stitches. K4.
Row 22, 24: Repeat Row 8
Row 23, 25: Repeat Row 1 (28 stitches)
Repeat Rows 14 - 25 two more times. Your first repeat you’ll end finishing row 37 (40 stitches). The second repeat you will end finishing Row 49 (52 stitches).
Row 50-53: Repeat Row 1
Row 54: Repeat Row 8
Row 55: Repeat Row 1
Row 56: Repeat Row 8
Note: You have reached the center of your square - yay! You should have a total of 59 stitches. This is a good time to check and make sure your square sides are close to 10 inches, as they won't be growing in length after this. Now you will start decreasing, essentially following the same pattern but with a decrease stitch instead of an increase.
Row 57: K1, K2tog, K2, *K2tog, YO; Repeat from * until last four stitches. K4. (58 stitches)
Row 58: K1, K2tog, K2, P to last four stitches, K4.
Row 59: K1, K2tog, K to end of row.
Row 60: Repeat Row 58
Row 61: Repeat Row 59 (54 stitches)
Rows 62-65: Repeat Row 59 (50 stitches)
Row 66, 68: Repeat Row 58
Row 67: Repeat Row 59
Repeat Rows 57-68 three more times. The first repeat should end finishing row 80 (35 stitches). Second repeat should end finishing row 92 (23 stitches). Third repeat should end finishing row 104 (11 stitches).
Finishing: Repeat Rows 58 and 59 until you have eight stitches left, and then repeat Row 58 until you have four stitches left on your needles. You will now bind off, starting the row with K1, K2tog in to leave three stitches remaining for the bind off process.
Block to 10" x 10" / 25.5cm x 25.5cm dimensions.