In this post, Selma Moss-Ward completes her afghan as a gift for a friend, and delivers good news. Read Part 1 of this story here.
Knitting the Neutral Cabled Afghan for my friend Ana was a swift, but not impulsive decision. Like many knitters, I’m subconsciously prepared to drop my ongoing knitting projects when a friend’s crisis intervenes. There was a health emergency, and Ana underwent a serious medical procedure. Getting results was slow. It was an anxious time for us both.
Working on the Neutral Cabled Afghan provided me with helpful distraction from worry. During this period of uncertainty, I was again reminded of the calming effect of complex knitting—quite similar to meditation. The pattern directions are like a mantra that clears the mind, focusing it serenely on both the immediate process and eventual outcome.
This afghan divides into five panels, each a different knitting landscape. The center panel of diamond-shaped cables and grape-sized bobbles, knitted first, was the largest and most complicated terrain, but I quickly discovered that knitting with size 15 needles enlarges, clarifies, and accelerates everything. This magnification is, of course, helpful and encouraging when you’re learning something new. I’d never knitted such unique bobbles—they’re semi-detached, clustered, and tassel-like—but the clear steps provided by the pattern, as well as the large scale of the stitches, made the process thoroughly enjoyable. As a decorative element the bobbles are whimsical and rich, providing dimensionality and a bit of movement to the afghan’s dominant section.
The other technique the pattern asks for is cabling. Cabling involves suspending a specified number of stitches on a cable needle. You hold that needle above or behind a row while you work a few adjacent stitches. Then you knit the stitches off the cable needle. Cabling generates twined or running motifs that seem magically superimposed on the knitted fabric. It creates a thicker fabric because of yarn layering and air trapping, so cabled knitting is usually warmer than single knitting—perfect for a blanket!
The Neutral Cabled Afghan employs different cable designs to great effect—honeycombs, braids, zigzags, diamonds, and a series of triangles filled alternately with reverse stockinette and moss stitch. While these patterns define individual sections, overall they mesh into a harmonic design. A blanket like this, flat and unseamed, is a direct way—like a huge gauge swatch—for the knitter to really understand the essence of cable stitches.
It took about eighteen days of leisure-time knitting to finish the Neutral Cabled Afghan. By then, Ana’s test results were in. Like many women’s health issues, her problem was triggered by cyclical changes, and even before her doctor delivered the good news, everything had resolved. Nonetheless, it had been an upsetting experience for this self-reliant single mother, who raises her little boy on her own, holds down two jobs, and attends college at night. With such a tightly scheduled life, any deviation from routine can throw everything else off kilter—so I hope there will never be another health crisis detour. Meanwhile, what I can do is offer her emotional support, as well as a beautiful blanket to express my admiration and caring.