Jo’s Ombre Blanket
My good friend Jo made this throw for her granddaughter’s birthday (with my help, I devised the project) and it was such a lovely accomplishment that I’ve been wanting to share it for a while! The blanket itself worked out beautifully (I had no doubt otherwise) so that part of the sharing a was no-brainer, but this one felt like a larger subject. You see, Jo makes the coolest mistakes in her knitting, and one of the first pictures she sent me was of her mistakes. They are seriously funky, very tactile and sometimes look a bit like embroidery, or maybe an interesting scar?
Jo is also really good about accepting her mistakes … which led me to wonder what I was being shown? I thought maybe it was about self-acceptance , or maybe self-compassion, or the benefits of imperfection, or accepting what is. I got a little closer, speculating that it was connected with the simple abundance of taking a basic yarn and combining the colours in a simple sequence to make something that lights up. Yes, it can apply to all the above, but I feel like this blanket is also about GRATITUDE.
The Back-Story on Boo-boos
In order to get to gratitude I need to bring you into some back-story on Jo’s & my relationship with boo-boo’s, because she sort of re-defined ‘boo-boos’ for me. A few years ago she was knitting a very simple, very basic baby blanket in garter stitch. She brought it in to me with a big ‘boo-boo’ that was the size of a loonie (to non-Canadians that’s a coin about an inch/2.5cm in diameter). The boo-boo reminded me of the kind of scar people used to get from smallpox vaccinations; it was big, round, textured, and complex, and I have absolutely no idea how it was created. It was one of a kind, nobody was ever going to be able to recreate that stitchwork. She had already knitted well past it, and fixing it was going to require ripping back a very large chunk of work … the amount of ripping that makes you feel a lot of different uncomfortable feelings, all at once.
My assessment was she had two options: 1. We could rip out all her progress and make the mistake disappear, or 2. Leave it as it was and forge forward. To put it simply, there was no way in hell she was taking out all that work, and she asked me if there was something that could cover it up …. and I thought, no, don’t cover it up, keep it as it is. Sure there was a big, unexpected thing-a-ma-doodle in the middle of the blanket, but I knew that every time her family saw that thing they’d be reminded that she made that for them with all the love she has to give (and she has A LOT of love), and that that blanket is a symbol of the love she gives them, and a placeholder for her love when she’s not there to share it. That ‘boo-boo’ said “I hold you in my heart – ALWAYS”.
Accepting and embracing that imperfection created an opportunity to invest the project with greater meaning. If she ripped back the blanket and made it ‘normal’, it would have been fine, and it would have been well received, but it would just be a blanket. If she had kept the boo-boo but hidden it under a patch or some embroidery it would also have been fine too, but the opportunity would still have been lost. I’ve heard many times, from many sources that until you love and accept yourself unconditionally, you can’t love or accept others unconditionally – this is because unconditional love has to come from your overflow. Jo’s acceptance of that boo-boo was a very small manifestation of her unconditional love for herself, and it speaks to the Niagara-falls of spill-over that she’s able to share with her family and friends (the Canadian side of the falls, she really has an immense heart). In that spirit, I now see that a boo-boo can be more than one thing, it can also be a signature and an ‘I love you’.
When I look at this particular project, it’s about what comes after we accept … the gifts we receive once we are living in acceptance, one of which is an incredibly beautiful sense of unconditional gratitude. It isn’t the kind of gratitude for our things, it’s the gratitude for the stuff money can’t buy. Gratitude for life, gratitude for our loved ones, gratitude for love. I’ve also heard that when our acceptance and gratitude expand so does our compassion, which makes everything in life feel a bit lighter and brings in more ease.
I can’t say that accepting your knitting boo-boos exactly as they are is going to instantly open up a new level of emotional and spiritual awareness for you, but I will say that it might be the road less travelled, but a path worth exploring. If you find you’re given the opportunity, it could be a foot in the door to something much more substantial.
Jo’s granddaughter requested a purple blanket for her bed. The kid in question is in the ‘tween age range and Jo wanted something with stylistic longevity that would suit a soon-to-be teen and an eventual young adult. The project also had to knit up fast on larger needles, be machine washable, and be pretty (that’s a given). The pattern had to be easy to follow and fairly simple in terms of execution (low on deep thought and paying close attention, high on ease, flow, and intuition).
We went with the Garter Squish blanket by Stephen West and made it into a simple ombre colour gradation. I devised a colour palette that ran from grapefruity-pinks to magenta-pinks to plum to purple and ending in dark grey.
Yarn: Berroco Vintage Chunky:
- A: 61193 Guava: 3 skeins
- B: 61194 Rhubarb: 4 skeins
- C: 61176 Fuchsia Heather: 4 skeins
- D: 6167 Dewberry: 4 skeins
- E: 6180 Dried Plum Heather: 4 skeins
- F: 6190 Aubergine Heather: 4 skeins
- G: 6189 Charcoal Heather (dark charcoal): 4 skeins
- Cast on 125 sts for an approximate twin-size width
Ombre Colour Sequence
Knit with two strands of yarn held together. To finish a row you will need yarn that measures at least 3 times the length of the row (for example, if your work measures 50 cm across you will need at least 150cm of yarn to finish a row).
Always change colours at the edge for the work, it makes it easier to weave them in.
- A + A
- A + B
- B + B
- B + C
- C + C
- C + D
- D + D
- D + E
- E + E
- E + F
- F + F
- F + G
- G + G