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Colorful blankets to bring smiles and comfort.

  Meet the Winners of the 2011 Patternworks Challenge Contest!

  Oh, what an array of happy entries we received when we challenged knitters and crocheters to bring comfort to a child by creating a handmade blanket to support the Dravet Syndrome Foundation®. We saw all sorts of colorful geometric designs, as well as fish, butterflies, a hot-air balloon, and even a giant (twin-blanket-size) bucket of popcorn.

  The blankets entered in the challenge could be anywhere from 24” square up to twin-bed size and had to include at least a portion of four of the five Encore Worsted colors from the Challenge Pack. Entrants could add as many other Encore Worsted colors as they wished. Entrants were also required to use one of the three knit or three crochet stitch patterns included in the Challenge Pack. The knit choices were fagot stitch, wrapped eyelet and diamond brocade. The crochet stitches were wedges, linked loops and Catherine’s diamond.

 Challenge judges were Gina House, knitwear designer, teacher and knitting-book author; Margaret Maney, former yarn-shop owner and Patternworks designer; and Pat Bjork, knitting instructor and assistant manager of our Patternworks shop.

Meet the Winners

The judges were all oohs and aahs upon seeing the absolutely adorable blanket created by first-place winner Georgia Vincent of Pittsfield, New Hampshire. Georgia came up with her design idea while summering on Lake Winnipesaukee. (By the way, the Patternworks shop overlooks the shores of that beautiful lake.) After Georgia had received the bright yarns in the Challenge Pack, she happened to see ducks paddling about on the lake. In her imagination, those ducks were transformed into coloring-book-style characters, complete with jaunty little sailor caps. Those charming ducks were all done in duplicate stitch against a solid knitted background. Even though the yarns were all Encore Worsted, each color—possibly due to the dyeing process—had a slightly different thickness, making the duplicate stitching a bit more difficult and time consuming. She had to be careful to make sure that each duplicate stitch covered the background. The end result, although it took some time, certainly looked like perfection. When Georgia makes a baby blanket, she doesn’t like to carry the yarn stranded, because she says, “I don’t want the little fingers and toes caught in the back.”

  Georgia didn’t decide to do the border of yellow ducklings until she had completed the large white duck. She says her blankets usually evolve as she goes along. Once the center was completed, she incorporated, within the borders, two of the stitch patterns included in the Challenge Pack—the fagot stitch and the diamond brocade stitch. The diamonds were filled in with duplicate stitches of the bright colors to accentuate the center design. Georgia tried to do the majority of the blanket in the challenge colors, adding only orange for the beaks, black for the eyes and off-white for the large duck.

  The Patternworks challenge is certainly not the only contest that Georgia has entered. This talented lady enjoys entering contests and has won many, which is certainly not at all surprising considering the high quality of her workmanship and her appealing designs. The utterly charming blanket that earned a blue ribbon in this Patternworks challenge is a perfect example.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” exclaimed Gina when she saw the swirling, contemporary design of second-place winner Nancy Hand of Laguna Hills, California. Nancy won high praise from the judges for the lovely flowing movement of her design, artful color arrangement, and fine workmanship. The body of the design is all done in the diamond brocade stitch, with the border knit in a stitch that mimics the feel of the center. Nancy told us that the design was based on a doodle. “I was sitting there thinking, and the pen was moving. I thought, ‘That might work!‘” Well, it sure did. She used off-white for the perfect backdrop, and transformed her doodle into a swirl of intertwining colors. She told us, ”I had umpteen balls of yarn going at the same time!” which must have been quite the challenge!

  Nancy has been knitting for 50 years and was taught by her mother. When we asked her if she preferred to knit blankets or sweaters, she responded, ”I’ll knit most anything!” As a matter of fact, when we called her to let her know that her blanket had won second place, she asked, ”Which blanket?” She had sent in two worthy entries. And knitting isn’t Nancy’s only talent. She’s a trained sculptor, has done drawing and painting, and is currently teaching herself computer animation. It’s no wonder that even the doodles of this creative gal are prizewinners!

  Third-place winner, Judith Black of Pomfret Center, Connecticut, won favor from the judges for doing such a wonderful job of combining knitting and crochet. Judith said she tried all the different challenge stitch patterns before deciding to use the wrapped-eyelet stitch. She told us that when she saw the bright colors in the Challenge Pack, “I thought, oh, my word, what am I going to do with these! My sister knits and said, ‘Those are the most awful loud colors I have ever seen to put together.’” Just wait until Judith tells her sister that she made the most of those bright colors by turning them into a prizewinning blanket. The judges loved how she decided to alternate the colors with white creating a clean, simple design. Judith found inspiration for that design in an old Leisure Arts leaflet. She wrote to Leisure Arts and asked (and was granted) permission to base her blanket on one of their crochet patterns. The blanket in Leisure Arts was all crocheted, but Judith knit all the white strips where she incorporated her wrapped eyelet stitch, a stitch she felt complemented the popcorn-like stitch in the colorful crocheted strips.

  Judith, who’s an avid quilter, fits in knitting and crochet between quilt projects. Last year, Judith made and donated 21 quilts to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Each child who attends the Connecticut camp, which was founded by Paul Newman for seriously ill children, gets to use and take home a quilt. Judith’s cheerful prizewinning afghan will also bring comfort and warmth to a child, since it will be donated to the Dravet Foundation.

  Another lady who uses her talent to help others is our staff’s-choice winner, Marilyn Hernwall of Alexandria, Virginia. Marilyn makes sweaters for Knit for Kids, a program run by World Vision®. The organization sends handmade sweaters to needy children around the world as well as in the United States. Marilyn says she loves to knit, and since she has all the sweaters she needs, she enjoys donating her work to good causes.

  We can only imagine how delighted some child will be to receive the bright and cozy world-map blanket that Marilyn made for the Patternworks challenge contest. The Patternwork staff were certainly won over by Marilyn’s unique design, which was inspired by a bed-size-blanket pattern featured in Vogue Knitting Fall 2002. Marilyn actually knit the Vogue version back in 2002 and donated it to Project Linus. For her smaller 72” x 36” Patternworks challenge blanket—which only showed the continents and not each individual country as in the original version—Marilyn used a different stitch on each continent. Africa was done in the diamond-brocade stitch, one of the required stitch choices. She used all five of the yarn colors in the Challenge Pack and added white for the border and enough other colors to make a bright, cheerful world. We thank Marilyn and all the other needleworkers who are helping to truly make it a brighter, more cheerful world by generously donating their handiwork to the Dravet Syndrome Foundation and to many other worthy causes.

  Two very talented ladies won well-deserved honorable-mention awards for their challenge entries.

  Susan Mattson of Renton, Washington, impressed the judges with her eye-pleasing arrangement of colors, the black and white checkerboard border and the variety of stitch patterns used in the stripes. A soft flannel fabric backs this kid-pleasing knitted blanket.

  Carol Ann Nadeau of Concord, New Hampshire, paid tribute to New Hampshire by including the state insect (ladybug), butterfly (Karner blue) and amphibian (spotted newt) in her remarkable crocheted blanket filled with three-dimensional flowers, mountains and a rainbow.

  Congratulations to all the winners.  Each challenge winner has received a gift certificate for a Patternworks shopping spree: first place, $400; second place, $200; third place, $100; honorable mention, $50; and staff’s choice, $150.

  The winning entries will be on display in the shop until April 30, 2012. The first- and second-place blankets will become part of the Patternworks collection. Blankets made for donation will be sent to the Dravet Syndrome Foundation headquarters. Dravet syndrome is a rare and catastrophic form of epilepsy for which there is currently no cure. Children with Dravet syndrome do not outgrow this condition, and it affects every aspect of their daily lives. It warmed our hearts to know that each blanket made to support the foundation will either cheer a child or be raffled off by the foundation to raise money to find a cure for this terrible disease. For more information about this organization, visit www.dravetfoundation.org.

  We’d like to thank author Donna Kooler and Leisure Arts for giving us permission to feature stitch patterns from Encyclopedia of Knitting and Encyclopedia of Crochet. Books are available directly from Leisure Arts, www.leisurearts.com.


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