Yes! It can be done!

A year or so ago, I knitted a mitered square baby blanket for my little nephew, Carson. I am so very lazy, that I simply refused to sew together all of those squares, and promptly figured out how to provisionally cast on so that I'd be able to knit 4 squares together. If you take a look at Carson's blanket, you'll note that the central 4 squares are knitted in one piece, and the outer squares are knitted together in pairs, then the whole shebang sewed together. This method saved me lots of sewing, but didn't eliminate it. Well, I've been thinking about this problem ever since. I just knew, deep in my knitter’s heart, that there was a way of knitting the ENTIRE blanket without any stitching up, and without any piecing at all. I just *knew* that there was a way to knit the whole blanket, in one piece. Here’s proof! As you can see, I’ve provisionally cast on the “backbones” of the squares, then I’m knitting back and forth on all 4 squares at once. This is the only one that I’m going to knit for this particular project – my Log Cabin Gone Awry afghan - but should I ever want to knit a mitered square blanket in the future, this is the way that I’m going to knit it. Knit a bunch of “super squares,” then connect them to one another by another batch of “super squares,” and then end up with one huge, glorious hunk of garter stitch. Of course, this can be done in stockinette, too, but my current afghan is primarily a garter stitch project.

You might also notice something that I noticed only just now, when posting this photo. I can’t believe myself!!! How many times have I picked up and put down this particular square? I never noticed! My knitting buddies didn’t notice (or they were too polite to comment on my foibles?) In fact, I couldn’t believe it, and had to tiptoe upstairs, through a sleeping house, to check for myself. Yep, there it is…one of my blue sections is not the same color blue as the other sections. It’s not nearly so noticeable in person as it is in the photo, but there it is. Oh well. Something that I noticed when I was taking the picture is that my latest red knitting – the red closest to the center – is a different color red. I knit, mostly, in the evenings, during family-read-aloud-time, and my little knitting corner is not terribly bright, and I simply didn’t notice the different red. Ah, what the heck. Maybe I’ll just leave it, to keep the odd-ball blue stripe company?

Want details on how to do this? First, study the instructions here, Psychedelic Squares, on how to make the basic mitered stockinette square. Notice that there are instructions for garter stitch here. Instead of casting on in the regular way, provisionally cast on for one square, then provisionally cast on for the second, third and fourth squares, twisting the different color yarns together when ending one color and beginning the next. When you get to the end of #4, arrange your needles and your yarn as if you are going to join in a circle. (I’m using long circulars. Want to make your own? See my tutorial at Twist the first loop of square #1 and the last loop of square #4 around each other, replace the loops on their original needles (one on the left hand needle, and one on the right) then turn your work around, and knit back in the direction from which you just came. When it’s time to change colors, twist the yarns around each other. If you look very closely, you can see that I’m experimenting with the perfect yarn-twist. I had it in the second round of colors – reading from the outside in, the second round of colors seem to be perfectly joined, and darnit it all, I can’t figure out how I did it! OK, so knit all the way around, and when you get to the beginning… well… what can I say – invent your own way of joining the yarns, lol. I’ve tried everything, and they all are working, but not all perfectly. What seems to work very well is to knit into the row below of the neighboring color – which is a way to “make one” and then pass the previous knitted loop over the newly made loop. This maintains the correct stitch number, and accomplishes the join in an area where you can’t twist the neighboring yarns together, but… well… let’s just say that I hope that blocking will soothe my anxieties. Do you notice the little white stitch markers? This marks the place to do the decreases which accomplishes the whole miter thing. The “end of row – beginning of row” is to be seen on the right hand side of the top photo. See how it’s a bit rumply? I’m working on it.

To sum it up – Provisionally cast on for 4 different mitered squares, making sure that the yarns at the color switch are twisted with each other, so that the square will hold together. Join in a circle by twisting the first and last loops together. Knit across until you’ve knitted across all 4 squares. Twist the loops together – or figure out another way and immediately write to Rosemary at to tell her your invention – and then knit back across to the beginning. Repeat until done.

Provisionally cast on half of one square, then pick up provisional cast on along one side of this super square. Provisionally cast on the remaining stitches to the square that you just picked up, and then provisionally cast on for two more squares. Miter your way to the center of this square, then repeat until your afghan is the size that you want.

Revel in the lack of sewing and revel in the extreme drapeyness of your lovely, large afghan, which has no cast on and no cast off edges. Life is good.


Carolyn said...

Rosemary, by any chance are you trying to reinvent the sliding loop technique? I've never done it, and am not following your directions too closely (because why would I ever knit with two colors and not do Fair Isle?) but it seems to me this loop technique is something you might find handy. It's on p. 96 of A Gathering of Lace, as well as p. 99, and somewhere in an issue of Knitters.

There's also an issue on Intarsia in the Round in an old Threads magazine, and I've read about it somewhere else as well.

:) Carolyn

CatalogK9 said...

Ummm... I hate to say it, as it seems painfully obvious, but... Why don't you just knit the thing in the round? Purling is not that difficult, even on decreases...

Rosemary said...

Ummm... I hate to say it, as it seems painfully obvious, but - this won't work in the round. I'll leave it to you to figure out why. OK, well, in fact, it *is* possoble to do it in the round, if I were willing to have a zillion ends, but um... no, I'd rather not. Oh, and yes, I'm fully aware of the various technical points of knitting. Please read my blog to see that I know how to knit *and* purl!