The Chanukah Miracle Blanket is done in what is called Illusion Knitting or Shadow Knitting. It is a technique that manipulates the yarn stitches so you are creating a hologram effect. It can be quite striking and a really big eye catcher. It's fun and easy to do and is a real conversation starter.
Concentric Squares Blanket
The Concentric Squares was originally made for my best and longest girlfriend's eldest daughter's first boy. It creates an embossing design of squares within squares, within squares. It was a challenge to work out, but once it was designed, is an easy to follow design for a beginner knitter who wants something interesting to work on.
Both blankets were designed by Sandra of A Cache of Jewels. Below Sandra takes the time to answer a few questions about the blankets and herself.
Q. What was your inspiration?
A. My primary inspiration is my Jewish faith. I love working with natural fibers to create something out of thin air and manipulate it into a wonderful treasure. I do this most of the time with my knitting patterns. This allows other knitters to enjoy the pattern and the making of something all their own, but I always leave some room for their own creativity to come through.
I am working on a series of Judaica designs that will hopefully capture the essence of my love for the heritage in Judaism I was raised with. Even my non-judaica knitted item patterns have meaning to me, as the love for my dog Cookie is the inspiration for the dog theme items.
Q. How long did it take you to make it?
A. Each pattern, from beginning to end of constructing the sample took close to 3 months. There is a lot of trial and error in making a pattern from scratch and some times the creative process is a winding road that can occasionally lead to a dead end and you have to begin anew.
Q. Did you use any new techniques in the making of it?
A. I graph (on knitting graph paper) the designs for the Illusion knitting, before actually beginning the knitting process. The Concentric Squares was designed using tissue paper that I wove to create the design. I then had to work up the gauge for the yarn I decided to use in order for the squares to actually become "square" however, my girlfriend has subsequently worked it up in a totally different yarn and it came out rectangular and looks just as wonderful.
Q. What made you choose the color(s) for it?
A. For the Chanukah Blanket/Wall Hanging blue and white are the traditional colors of Israel as seen on their country's flag. It is something that would lend itself to the traditions of Judaism, as Chanukah is a very festive, ancient holiday and the blue and white are a great combination. I could have chosen Blue and Gold as well, but I was not as happy with the color choices of the gold that were available to me at the time.
For the Concentric Squares Blanket, I had made a baby jacket and wanted to make a blanket to go with it. The jacket was of a variegated yarn with the celery green in it and with the colors of his room, would be perfect, or so his grandma said.
Q. Do you plan to make any more items similar to this one?
A. Absolutely. The Concentric Squares has been very popular and I am working on new design ideas right now, along with more Judaica theme items including a baby jacket perfect for a bris. Plus I am just finishing up a new Illusion Knitting wall hanging that corresponds to the Dog Bone scarf pattern I'd designed and made for the English Springer Spaniel Eastern Regional Championships fundraiser for the rescue fund. This new one is a Springer Spaniel in the center with dog bones at the top and bottom with a border surrounding it all. It is to be auctioned at the Springer Spaniel National Championships for their rescue fundraiser.
Q. Did you enjoy making it? Why or why not?
A. I love my work and the creativity it allows me. I put my heart and soul into everything I do and I only hope that my customers love working the patterns up as much as I did creating them for them. I just wish that I could knit the samples as fast as my imagination can dream them up.
Q. Anything else you want to tell us about it?
A. My mother was a fabulous knitter and used to make me wonderful garments. She taught me to knit and I am carrying on the tradition of what gifts she gave to me. My mother's mother owned a very successful bridal shop and I grew up around all of the wonderful garments in the store. Her seamstresses were amazingly talented and taught me to sew and create beauty. I worked in the garment district, in the bridal market for a while and learned the trade and how to create a wonderful creation from a glimmer in my mind, to the finished product to go to stores to be worn by the brides. I love the idea of pulling a rabbit out of my hat for people, and yet giving them enough room within my creation for their own creativity also.