A Temperature Project – Modern Daily Knitting

Dear Everybody,

It’s a joy to extend a warm (temperature) MDK welcome to Cara Davis.  Cara may be new as an official contributor to these pages, but we’ve been reading her words and enjoying her photography since our earliest days as knitbloggers. We’re in for a treat!

—Ann and Kay

This time last year I was obsessively crocheting granny squares, my lockdown craft of choice, when I began to see temperature blankets pop up all over Instagram. People were finishing projects, planning new ones, and I decided I wanted in.

A temperature project tracks the daily temperature of a location and records it within the parameters of the project.

For example, a scarf where you knit a row based on the average daily temperature for a given year. Or a crochet blanket where each motif represents the high, low, and average temperatures of one day. Perhaps a daily cross stitch square of color. The possibilities for temperature projects are truly endless. (Check out #temperatureblanket on Instagram for tons of inspiration!)

When picking your project, remember, this is a marathon not a sprint! Can you knit long blanket rows every day for a year without losing interest? Maybe a scarf is a better choice. Can you happily crochet a motif over and over again? Experiment to find the one that works for you.

Swatch for success.

I absolutely encourage you to swatch for this project. Take up some yarns and needles or hooks and dive in!

As you swatch yarns, imagine how you will feel about each one after a month. What kind of finishing will this project need? Invest the time swatching yarns and working through the following questions so that you have the best chance of success.

What’s your method?

Will your project will be worked up in real time, collecting data as it happens, or will you commemorate a special year using historical data?

There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of projects. A real-time temperature blanket is exciting because it’s unpredictable. I have become obsessed with the weather in ways I never thought possible—how cold will it get? How hot will it get? Each new temperature means new colors! Also, you don’t know what you’re going to get—you don’t have a lot of control as to how this project develops.

If you choose a historical temperature project, you have more influence over your final product. Because you have all the information at the start, you’re able to strategize color distribution and temperature buckets. I’m making a blanket for my nephew’s birth year and my sister wanted the red colors we chose to be more prominent. I was able to analyze the data and place the reds in the color/temperature groupings where they would be used the most.

Here comes the Fun Part.

OK! You’ve chosen your project and the year you’re going to use—let’s get down to the fun part. Time to gather our temp data and choose colors.

Weather data on the Internet is abundant and easy to access, with any number of reliable sites. I have been using wunderground.com, but weather.com is also very good. And I recently discovered temperature-blanket.com, which has temp data and helps you plan your project—one stop shopping! Pick your favorite and stick with it, maintaining consistency throughout the project.

Now it’s time to match your temperature ranges to colors. Are you making a huge king-size blanket where you want to use as many colors as possible? Did you decide on a scarf where a limited palette will work better? Will you record the low, high and average each day or just one temperature?

I always want as many colors as possible. For my blanket, I looked at the previous year’s data to see the highs and lows. I live in the Northeast United States so it can get crazy cold, ridiculously hot and all the temperatures in between—which for a temperature-based project is like hitting the jackpot!

I decided that one color would represent 19°F and below and and one color would represent 95°F and above. From that low and high it was really easy to add a new color to represent five degree ranges: 20–24°F, 25–29°F, 30–34°F, etc. I ended up with 17 different colors for my real-time blanket.

What if you live in a place where the weather doesn’t change very often? If you are blessed to live in a climate like Hawaii where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate throughout the year—maybe find some other measure to use for your project. Humidity? Dew point? Become an amateur meteorologist and find what works for your climate.

Or make a historical blanket that represents the year you visited Paris and use those temperatures. And don’t be afraid to play with your ranges. They don’t have to be consistent. If you have a lot of temps in the middle range, shorten the range of temps each color represents to three degrees or two. Whatever gets you the color spread you want. You make the rules!

It’s your rainbow.

The most popular color inspiration for temperature projects is a rainbow, from hot reds to cold violets. It makes sense, but it’s not the only way. For my nephew’s blanket I used the color palette of his favorite children’s book. Maybe you’ve been eyeing a gradient you really like. Start with that and add colors as you see fit. I’ve also been dreaming of a really neutral palette. If you can, order a color card for the yarn you’re using to mix and match for your best color range. You might also want to use different colors to represent the change of season, daylight shifts, or special days in the year.

By making lots of decisions up front, it’s easy to just sit back, watch the weather and do the work starting January 1. With less than two weeks to finish my 2021 blanket, I can honestly say this is one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable projects I’ve ever made. It’s extremely personal, unique, and a valuable reminder that I made it through another year. I highly recommend that everyone create their own.

Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click.


Thinking about a knitted temperature project?

Look no further. The MDK Shop stocks a huge range of colors of Rowan Felted Tweed, and Kaffe Fassett’s Garter Stripe Shawl pattern in MDK Field Guide No. 13: Master Class is an easy template for a year’s worth of garter stitch ridges—1 ridge per day, with a few to spare.

Special offer!

To help you get the jump on a 2022 temperature project, we’re offering 10 percent off by-the-ball purchases of Felted Tweed, from now through January 15, 2022. Just enter the coupon code TEMPERATURE.  (Our Felted Tweed bundles are always 10 percent off.)  Fine print: this offer cannot be combined with other coupons.
We’d love to know how you’re organizing your temperature project, so we’ve started a topic in the MDK Lounge for Temperature Project Sharing and Caring. All temperature projects—be they knit, crochet, embroidery, or other—are welcome. Let’s go, 2022!


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