I’ve hit a snag in my knitting. In fact, I was working on a post detailing the extent of my frustration, but that’s going to have to wait. Just like my projects are going to have to wait. Because last night the yarn for my first original design project arrived!
Several years ago L.L. Bean had a quilt of Navy signal flags. I didn’t buy it. Why? I ask myself! Perhaps I thought I would buy it from the next catalogue, but as far as I know, it was only offered the one time. I’ve regretted not buying it ever since. Could I make one myself? Nope. I’ve never quilted nor had the desire to. Quilting seems like a time-consuming process and an awful lot of work. I just don’t have the patience.
I thought about asking a childhood friend (Sam, if you’re reading this!) who loves quilting to make one for me. But she’s got her own stuff to make.
Then I thought, I don’t quilt, but I do knit. Why not make an afghan of squares knitted in signal flag designs and colors? After a few years of sitting around (and not knitting, or knitting already published patterns), I finally got off my butt and began the work. (And I’m sure you know who inspired me to do so. 🤩 Hint: the name is spelled out below.)
The first step was designing the afghan itself. What size should it be? Then deciding the layout. And how many squares to make, since 26 does not lend itself to an “x by y” layout. Could I add the numerals 0-9? Thirty-six squares would lend itself to either a 6 x 6 or 4 x 9 layout. (2 x 18 and 3 x 12 would look more like a scarf.) Except that numbers are pennants, not squares (or rectangles, as shown throughout this post).
So I was back to the almost prime number of 26 (divisible only by 1 and 2). A (alfa) and B (bravo), while square in shape, are in fact 5-sided. (See the second and fifth flag in the top image.) I suppose I could fill in the missing triangle, but what color would I use? White is already included in most of the flags. So is black, to a lesser degree. Gray would ruin the integrity of the flags, and look ugly. Leaving the space blank would create holes in my design, do-able but not desirable. So out A and B go.
That leaves me with 24 squares, a much more manageable afghan number. So, if I want a square afghan, 6 x 6 will work. If I prefer a rectangle, I can go with a 4 x 6 design.
Now, how big to make the afghan, and subsequently, the squares? Apparently, afghans are generally 50″ x 65″. So if I divide 50 by 4 and 65 by 6, I get 15.5″ and 10.8″ respectively. Well, that doesn’t make a square, does it? But, if I make my squares 12″ x 12″, I get a total size of 48″ x 72″. That’s good enough.
Next step, determining the number of stitches per inch. With the yarn I plan to use (Red Heart Super Saver) I came up with 51 stitches per row, and 69 rows per square. But some flags have 2, or 3, or 4, or 5 changes of color per swatch), I changed the numbers to 50 stitches per row and 68 rows per square. At least squares with two colors will be equal, if not all the others. Still, I think I can make it work.
Next! How to chart the colors. Knit stitches are not a one-to-one ratio, so ordinary graph paper won’t do. I ordered some knitting graph paper from Amazon, but the damn cells are so tiny I have trouble reading them, let alone designing with them.
Excel to the rescue! Not! Knit stitches have a 4:5 ratio for smaller to mid-weight yarn, or a 2:3 ratio for bulkier yarns. And Excel cells are something else all together. Changing the cell size to the proper ratios was kind of a bitch, but I think I got a close approximation (for both ratios).
Finally, designing the flags. I started with 1 cell for 3 stitches, just to get a rough idea. Then I moved to 1 cell equaling 1 stitch. Most of the flags are fairly easy, but seven are not. They have diagonals, which will be tough to do with a 4:5 ratio, and in one case, a circle. But I’ve mapped them out and should be able to approximate the designs.
It begins… Now!
Huh! There are square flags for numbers, at least as far as NATO is concerned. I may need to rethink my design… 😲🤔🙄 Even so, it still begins Now!