I need to make one thing absolutely clear about today’s post: I did not grow up a Star Wars fan. I didn’t see any of the movies until I was in my thirties, and didn’t know any of the characters beyond the really famous ones. I’ve caught up on a lot of the media since then, from The Mandalorian to the infamous Holiday Special, but I’m at most a casual fan of the franchise.
Brandon, by contrast, loves Star Wars. He grew up watching the movies, he’s read the books, and leads a weekly gaming session set in the Star Wars universe. He was the one who introduced me to Star Wars, when we spent a long holiday weekend watching all the films following the Machete Order. He’s probably forgotten more about Star Wars than I’ll ever know.
I’m telling you this so that you understand the motivation behind the massive knitting project I just completed. It’s been, to put it simply, a labor of love. Let’s begin.
Not so long ago, right in this galaxy, I decided to knit something for Brandon. Ever since I took up knitting in 2020 (what was your pandemic hobby?), I’ve been wanting to make him something, but the challenge was figuring out the right thing to make for him. He rarely, if ever, uses scarves, beanies, mittens, or those other quintessential knitted accessories, and as much as I’d love to make him a sweater or some socks, I haven’t mastered either of those yet. I have knitted blankets though, and after noticing some Star Wars-themed patterns online, I started considering the possibility of knitting Brandon one. After all, I figured, what better way for him to watch the movies or shows than wrapped up in a cozy rendition of that far-away galaxy?
The first thing I needed to do was figure out which pattern to use. While there are plenty of Star Wars pattern books out there available for purchase, I prefer to use free patterns when I can. I also wanted to stick to imagery relating to the Original Trilogy, as those are Brandon’s favorite films out of the entire franchise (the Prequels in his opinion are interesting but flawed, and the less said about the Sequel Trilogy, the better). No BB-8 or Porgs for this blanket; I needed to stick to R2-D2 and X-wings.
After doing some searching online, I found this double-knitted pattern. From a practical standpoint, I liked that the blanket was composed of multiple, smaller squares that were sewn together afterward, which would be less stressful on my wrists. Visually, I liked that the black-and-white color scheme kept the design from getting too busy or difficult to read. Third, I appreciated the symbolism behind the double-knitting technique, with the two sides of the blanket representing the light and dark sides of the Force. After all, I may be a casual Star Wars consumer, but even I understand the importance of that.
While I initially thought about keeping the blanket a surprise, I quickly decided against it because I didn’t feel like hiding from Brandon every night for the next year to work on it. Instead, I told him outright that I was making him a blanket for his birthday, and showed him the pattern to see what he thought of it. He liked the design, so it was time to begin. For my yarn, I opted for Brava 500, as I knew I’d need a lot of it to complete the project. Instead of black and white, I went for a pale blue and a charcoal gray, which would still offer high contrast but with a softer appearance.
Then I started knitting. I’d done a little double knitting before I started the blanket, so I already had some experience with the technique. Double knitting, as the name implies, enables you to knit two pieces of fabric at the same time. The technique calls for two colors, with each side mirroring the other in terms of color and imagery. It sounds complicated, but it isn’t once you get the hang of it (if you’re interested in learning double knitting for yourself, here’s the video that taught me how to do it). That said, because you are knitting two pieces of fabric instead of one, double-knitted projects take longer to complete. Based on my calculations, I figured if I could complete one panel per month, I’d have the blanket ready by Brandon’s birthday.
And that’s exactly what I did. Each blanket panel consisted of 75-76 rows of 66 stitches. By completing 2-4 rows per night, I was able to finish each panel within a month. I didn’t knit every day, but most days I did. Some days went smoothly, other days I had to undo a few rows because I’d knitted with the wrong color or misread the pattern. Yet little by little, like in my 2019 painting experiments or even my dissertation, the panels came together. Like many of the projects I do, scholarly, creative, or otherwise, I’m at my best when I can do a little work every day rather than try to finish it all at once.
I followed the pattern as illustrated in the charts, with two exceptions. I swapped out the Stormtrooper and Boba Fett helmets in favor of C-3PO and an X-wing. I added C-3PO because as far as I’m concerned you can’t have R2-D2 without him. I included the X-wing because that’s Brandon’s favorite Star Wars spacecraft, and if this is a blanket for him, I wanted to be sure it featured his favorite images. To create these charts, I found some simple line drawings online and had them converted into charts via a converter website. They didn’t translate exactly, so there were knitted “typos” I had to fix along the way, but they were enough of an approximation that I could knit them.
By mid-September, I had a pile of nine panels ready to be turned into a blanket. After blocking them to make their scale more consistent, I sewed them together. I accidentally sewed on the X-Wing panel backward, but I ended up liking the effect and thought it played into some of the symbolism of the Original Trilogy.
So I now had a blanket-sized project, but I wasn’t finished yet because I wanted to add a border to smooth out the edges. After experimenting with a few different options, I settled on a double-stranded garter stitch, as I liked how the contrasting threads of pale blue and charcoal gray suggested the jump to hyperspace. In some ways, this part was the most challenging to knit because I was working with the full blanket instead of one panel, so the project was much heavier and more cumbersome. Yet it also went the fastest because I didn’t have to follow any charts and was using the knit stitch only. I was also so excited to be nearly finished that I found myself completing more rows than I usually would.
By October 1, more than a week before Brandon’s birthday, the blanket was fully off the needles and in his lap. About a year after I first got the idea, and nine months after I started knitting, I had made a Star Wars blanket for Brandon.
It’s by far the most ambitious knitting project I’ve undertaken, and while there are occasional errors here and there, I’m very happy with what I’ve accomplished. I’ve come a long way since I first started knitting, when I struggled to comprehend the knit stitch and make some simple dishcloths. I’m proud that I’ve been able to make something for Brandon that he’ll be able to enjoy for years to come. And judging by his reaction, he definitely approves.
But most importantly, so do the kitties. Because really, it was always going to be theirs in the end.