Kisses and Hugs, Spiders and Bugs

Okay, so I haven’t written every day, as I had hoped, but I did finish another square for the afghan I’ve been knitting, so maybe that counts for something. This square—called Kisses and Hugs, Spiders and Bugs—was almost as much fun to work on as the tree I made last month. It was designed by a woman named Judy Sumner, who says she often gets inspiration for her patterns (or the names of them) from her twin granddaughters, whom she is also teaching to knit.

This Aran square was designed by Judy Sumner, who says she got her inspiration from a birthday card she received from her twin granddaughters. The card had little cartoon bugs and spiders, and Xs and Os.

I finished this square in the car on the way to Lawrence, Kansas, for a contra dance and then immediately began to work on another square. I’m not sure this next one is going to be quite as much fun to work on, but it should at least keep my brain active. Each of the patterns in the book The Great American Aran Afghan shows a photograph of the completed square and presents the instructions in both words and charts, along with complicated keys and descriptions of the various cable stitches. There is also a glossary at the back of the book that explains common abbreviations and a “knitter’s school” that provides steps and diagrams for the basics (cast on, knit, purl, bind off, graft). Most of the patterns have at least three or four charts, each with a different number of rows in the repeat, so the challenge is to keep track of which row you are on for each different chart.

I look at the photograph a lot as I work, but since I am basically a “linear person,” I generally find it easiest to follow the written instructions, not the visual charts. Part of the challenge with following the visual charts is to remember to read the chart from right to left for the odd-numbered rows and from left to right for the even-numbered rows. I use four different colored counters to keep track of the rows, plus markers to identify where each pattern begins and ends.

On the surface, the Tipsy Cable square that I just started seems easier to work on than some of the other squares I have done, because it has two small cables on the outside of the square and two larger cables on the inside, separated by sections of twisted knit and reverse stockinette stitch. However, the tricky bit is that the pairs of matched cables are mirror images of each other, so in essence there are four charts to keep track of, not two, as I had originally thought. For example, the outside cables are represented by Chart A, so I happily started Chart A on row 1, as expected, but when I got to the outside cable on the other side of the square, the instructions told me to start at row 21 of the same Chart A.

The larger inside cables were even more confusing. Again, it started out clearly enough, even if a little complicated, with the first of the larger cables represented by Chart B and the second by Chart C. And I could look at the photograph and the visual representations of the charts and see that they were mirror images of each other, so that made sense. However, I nearly threw the whole thing out the car window when I got to row 2 of Chart C, which told me to follow row 24 of Chart B—which told me to “Repeat row 14.” I felt like I was on some sort of insane scavenger hunt. I just keep telling myself to concentrate on one row at a time and to pay attention, and it should all work out. The curious thing is that this pattern is not considered to be one of the more difficult in the book. At least, the editors of the book don’t consider it difficult. I’m still not convinced. But they thought the square with the Spiders was difficult, and I just thought that was just plain fun.

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