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Pink Needles
Knit Picks Swish DK
spacer model:Trella spacer photos:Melissa Dominguez, Alice Dominguez, & Kelly Norby


"Optical Art is a method of painting concerning the interaction between illusion and picture plane, between understanding and seeing." [John Lancaster. Introducing Op Art, London: BT Batsford Ltd, 1973, p. 28.] The Op Art movement of the 1960s played with perspective in very simple shapes, taking advantage of the way that the brain interprets images. The art they produced created optical illusions, making the flat surface of a painting appear to bend and twist. Black and white were especially popular in this movement, as the high contrast helped make the illusions more convincing.

In this blanket, I have done the same thing. By starting at the center and making increases every row in the same spot, the increases end up making a spiraling square. By making the lines thin at the center, and increasing in width as they move outwards, an illusion is created that the center is further away from the viewer than the outside edge. Pretty cool, don’t you think?

This pattern also appeals to the developmental process of infant vision. Babies are born color blind, and with very poor vision (about 20/400 for a normal infant at birth. They are naturally attracted to high contrast, black and white images, since these are more distinct to them. From a distance of a foot or so, a newborn will be able to distinguish only the larger stripes on the edge of the blanket, with the thinner ones fading away into a solid gray, as the baby matures, the thinner stripes will become distinct. To an adult, however, it’s a fun, funky pattern with an optical illusion of a square tunnel spiraling away.

The yarn, Knit Picks Swish DK is a very soft, superwash, merino wool. I used slightly larger than recommended needles, both to allow for severe blocking, and to make sure the blanket wouldn’t be too warm. The breathable, absorbent, and antibacterial qualities of wool make it an ideal fiber for infants, and the fact that it’s machine washable is fantastic for new parents. If the parents are interested in art, vision, or infant development, it’s even better!
Small[Large] (Black and white shown in size Small, pink and white shown in size Large.)
Small: 38 inches square
Large: 48 inches square
Knit Picks Swish DK [100% superwash merino; 123yd/112m per 50g ball ]; 4[6] balls each color
spacer [A] Coal [Petal]
spacer [B] White (both versions)

Recommended needle size:
spacer 2 US #7/4.5mm circular needles, 32 inches or longer
[always use a needle size that gives you the gauge listed below -- every knitter's gauge is unique]

spacer 2 stitch markers
spacer Safety pin or split ring marker (optional)
20 sts/42 rounds = 4 inches in garter stitch, before blocking
[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations and techniques can be found here].

This pattern is written for knitting in the round on 2 circular needles. If you prefer, it can be started using double-point needles, or using one long circular needle and the Magic Loop method. However, as work progresses, it will be necessary to use two long circulars to accommodate the large number of sts.

Don’t be alarmed when the blanket comes off the needles looking all wonky. It will require fairly severe blocking to achieve its square shape.

Information about blocking can be found here and here.


Using A, CO 4 sts onto one needle. Slip 2 sts to second needle and join to begin working in the round, being careful not to twist. After working a few rounds, you may wish to place a safety pin or split ring marker in the work to indicate beginning of round.

Set-up Round: [Pfb, place marker, pfb] twice. 8 sts.
The work is now divided into four sections. Each needle holds 2 sections; ends of first and third sections are indicated by stitch markers, and ends of second and fourth sections are at ends of needles.

Using B, work as follows:
Round 1: [Kfb, k to end of section] four times. 12 sts.
Round 2: [Pfb, p to end of section] four times. 16 sts.
These 2 rounds form Increasing Garter Stitch Pattern.

Continue in pattern, working rounds using colors as follows. After the next 2 stripes, break old color and join new color at each color change.


Work 2 rounds A. 24 sts.
Work 2 rounds B. 32 sts.
Work 4 rounds A. 48 sts.
Work 4 rounds B. 64 sts.
Work 4 rounds A. 80 sts.
Work 4 rounds B. 96 sts.
Work 6 rounds A. 120 sts.
Work 6 rounds B. 144 sts.
Work 6 rounds A. 168 sts.
Work 6 rounds B. 192 sts.
Work 8 rounds A. 224 sts.
Work 8 rounds B. 256 sts.
Work 10 rounds A. 296 sts.
Work 10 rounds B. 336 sts.
Work 12 rounds A. 384 sts.
Work 12 rounds B. 432 sts.
Work 14 rounds A. 488 sts.
Work 16 rounds B. 552 sts.

Size Large Only:
Work 18 rounds A. 624 sts.
Work 20 rounds B. 704 sts.
Work 22 rounds A. 792 sts.
Work 24 rounds B. 888 sts.

All Sizes:
Loosely BO all sts using A.

Weave in all ends, neatening color-change corners.

Wet block to dimension listed in “Finished Measurements”, above.

[Blanket at right is shown before blocking.]
Melissa studied human visual development as part of her dissertation, and is now a very proud new mom to Trella. She finds that ‘knit when the baby sleeps’ is much more entertaining that ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’.

Her home on the web is here.