Saturday, 25 January 2014

Umaro, Umaro, I love you, Umaro!

One of my dear friends is getting married in August, and she and her hubby-to-be are throwing a social* at the end of March.  As soon as I knew they were having a social, I volunteered to knit something to be included in one of the prize baskets.  The other bridesmaids and I discussed and it was decided that I would knit a blanket and they would chip in to get an e-book, gift cards, and other various things to fill out a "snuggle up and read" prize package.

I had a few ideas for the blanket, but at the top of the list was Umaro by Jared Flood, for a few reasons:

1. I'd been wanting to knit this pattern for a long time.
2. The yarn called for is super bulky and knits up quickly, so the prospect of knitting a blanket didn't seem quite as crazy.

I've knit blankets before, but I have quite a lot of knitting planned this year and some of it has deadlines, so I didn't want to knit one that was going to take multiple months to do.

Immediately I knew that I had to pick a yarn that was machine washable, because as smart and lovely as I'm sure the social-goers will be, I didn't want to inflict a hand wash-only blanket on a random stranger.  Truthfully, I can't fathom even making a hand wash-only blanket for myself.  I'm even getting fed up with hand wash-only yarn for certain other projects, but that's a topic for another post.

I scoured the internet to find a machine washable super bulky yarn that was also affordable.  It didn't take long for me to realize that I was going to have to relax my yarn snob ways for this project.  I wasn't about to make the blanket out of Madelinetosh ASAP (as amazing as it would be), because that would essentially mean that I wouldn't be able to afford to go to the social, let alone buy groceries or heat my house for a month.

I decided on Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, which meant a trip to Michael's.  I stalked the flyer and waited until I knew the yarn would be on sale (the 40% off one item coupon only goes so far when you're buying a blanket's worth of yarn).  Luckily they were on a decent sale for Boxing Week (it's the only Boxing Week shopping that I did, actually), and also luckily they had whole boxes of the off-white colour that this blanket looks so beautiful in.

16 balls of the yarn were now mine.  I bought more than I needed, just in case, with the thought that I could return them if I didn't need them.  I totally wasn't thinking that I could just keep the leftover balls and use them to make something else, because that could be considered cheating on my yarn diet.  I don't think it's cheating, because I still MIGHT use all of the yarn, I don't know for sure that I won't… I could decide to make the blanket longer… you never know!  Regardless, once I'm done, it might be that it's not worth it to return the rest of it because of the time it would take and the gas I'd have to use driving to the store and back, so I might as well just keep it.

What I'm trying to say, is that this yarn is great.  I think my yarn snob ways will be permanently relaxed with regard to this yarn.  It is 80% acrylic and 20% wool, so it's machine washable but still has a lot of the softness and warmth of wool.  I'd wait to buy it on sale again though.  If I'm going to buy cheap yarn I'm going to wait until it's even cheaper.

I began knitting the blanket on New Year's Day.  I had to make my own stitch markers out of loops of yarn since the 10 mm needles are far too thick for all of the stitch markers I do have.

It grew quickly, and pretty soon it was long enough to keep me warm while I was knitting it, which has been especially nice for this insanely cold winter we've been having.

I do have to take breaks every few days now because it's quite heavy.  I'm nearly done the 10th ball out of the 12 balls I estimate it's going to take, and each ball is 170 grams.  That's already 1.7 kilos that I'm having to heave around and flip over every time I finish a row.  It doesn't sound like a lot, but for knitting that's a lot, considering much of the weight is held up by your wrists.

It is a really enjoyable knit though, and I'm liking it so much that I'm planning to make another one (and possibly another one after that).

I'm about 2/3 of the way through the 6th and final repeat of the pattern, so it looks like my goal of having this finished by the end of January is going to be achieved.  Then I have to weave in a million ends (give or take a few), and try to wash it as well as I can to get the (black) cat hair out of it.

Funny thing about knitting with cream coloured yarn is that it's a black cat magnet.  The next one of these is going to have to be a colour that doesn't show cat hair so well.  Either that or I'll have to get rid of the cat.

For those of you that aren't from Manitoba, a social is a big fundraising party where people buy tickets to get in, buy drinks, and buy tickets to win prizes.  Meanwhile, there's music playing and people dancing, and there's always a great spread of food available late in the evening.  All of the proceeds go to the people who put on the fundraiser, which is usually to raise money to help pay for a wedding.

Further to that, if you want a chance to win this blanket, get in touch with me and I'll sell you tickets to the social!  :)

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