Starting the Geek-A-Long

When we were at Vogue Knitting Live in NYC earlier this month, it came to my attention that there are a lot of people out there who professionally stalk the Geek-A-Long. They follow it on Instagram, are silent members of the GAL Ravelry group, and read the blog posts every Sunday. I’ve actually heard this a lot over the years and when I ask them why they haven’t made their own blanket yet, they answer with some version of:

Oh, I couldn’t. It looks way too hard.

This is YOUR year. You CAN knit/crochet your very own nerdy blanket. For those of you that are new to our corner of the internet, I’m talking to you too. I’m going to lay it all out there from beginning to end and show you that it isn’t as daunting as it appears.

Side Note: If you’ve made a GAL blanket before and aren’t quite sure what to make of the new ‘Options’ for knitting/crocheting the blanket in the patterns this year, this post is also relevant to your interests.

Step One: Double Knitting

If you’re a knitter or even a crocheter who would rather knit the blanket to make it look like ours, learning how to double knit seems to be the largest and most daunting hurdle for people. But, let me lay down a few facts for you:

  1. If you can know how to rib (k1 p1), you can double knit.
  2. If you’ve never done color work before, this is the easiest way to learn since you don’t need to manage any floats.
  3. We have a tutorial! Click HERE to watch Megan-Anne demystify double-sided knitting.
  4. If you’ve never picked up a pair of knitting needles before and aren’t sure where to start, you can get comfortable with knitting on the Tutorials page of our website.

I promise that you can do this. You have it in you. If you run into any snags or just need some emotional support – we’ve all been there – head over to the Geek-A-Long group on Ravelry. They are a passionate and supportive group that would be glad to make your acquaintance.

 

Step Two: Choosing a Size

Before you fall down the rabbit hole of Geek-A-Long squares, trying to decide which ones will become a part of your blanket, you need to decide how big or small your finished piece will be. I know it’s tempting to go through and make one long list of squares and decide from there, which you could totally do, but you should be aware of your options before you do that.

Please note that all yardage estimates below do NOT include the yarn needed for the joins and edging, which can vary wildly depending on what level of finishing work you plan to put into the assembly. 

Option One: Recommended

This is best for a 24-square afghan. This blanket is most commonly made as a gift for weddings, graduations, or Christmas. When it isn’t being made as a gift, this is the size people pick when they want to dip their toes into the Geek-A-Long waters.

I won’t lie to you, a lot of those people end up turning their 24-Square afghans into big ol’ 48-square blankets, which end up being huge and heavy since they started knitting it with worsted weight yarn. If you think you might be one of those people, please consider using the yarn recommended in option two, Geek-A-Long Yarn, from the beginning instead of being filled with regret later. Not only will it create a lighter and much easier to manage blanket, but we donate $1 to Child’s Play Charity for each skein of GAL Yarn sold. You can learn more about Child’s Play Charity in step five.

Depending on your gauge and method of joining your 24 squares, the recommended option will create an estimated 40 by 60 inch sized afghan and will require about 24 skeins of Fandom Yarn to knit the squares. Read more about picking colorways in step four. This will create a nerdy afghan that you or the lucky recipient can get warm and cozy under while being a statement piece for any bedroom, living room, or dorm.

Recommended 24-Square Afghan
Needles (If Knitting): US 7-4.5mm straight or circular
Hooks (If Crocheting): US 7-4.5mm
Yarn: Lattes & Llamas Fandom Yarn
Gauge: 18 sts by 26 rows = 4 inches in double sided knitting | 18 sts = 4” in single crochet

Option Two: Hard Mode

This is best for a 48-square full-sized blanket. And I mean FULL-SIZED. This blanket could envelop a twin-sized bed or be just big enough to put on a full-sized bed. Depending on your gauge and your joining choices, this blanket will be roughly 54 by 72 inches and will require about 24 skeins of Geek-A-Long Yarn to knit the squares.

You get the most bang for your buck with this option, especially since we donate $1 to Child’s Play Charity with each skein of Geek-A-Long Yarn you purchase. While I am forced to recommend Option One to you, I suggest you walk on the wild side and go straight to Hard Mode, especially if you’re knitting the blanket for yourself.

Hard Mode 48-Square Full-Sized Blanket
Needles (If Knitting): US 4-3.5mm straight or circular
Hooks (If Crocheting): 4/E-3.5mm
Yarn: Lattes & Llamas Geek-A-Long Yarn
Gauge: 21 sts by 27 rows = 4 inches in double sided knitting | 21 sts = 4” in single crochet

Option Three: Nightmare

I do not recommend Nightmare Mode. As far as I know, I’m the only one who is currently stupid enough to do it. You see, every December the sample blanket we made containing the new square designs gets auctioned off at the annual Child’s Play Charity gala. Megan-Anne and I have said good-bye to five blankets (in 2015 we split it into two), and this year we’ll say good-bye to the sixth. While it is 100% worth it, sometimes I catch myself wistfully scrolling through pictures and I remember how warm and cozy I had been underneath them while we joined the squares. Then, one fateful night, after too many spiked coffees, I decided that I would knit myself the Geek-A-Long blanket to end all Geek-A-Long blankets: A 156-square nerdy monstrosity.

Have a California King bed? Well, knit on Nightmare Mode and you could have a new quilt for it!

Originally, I had planned to knit every single square we released from 2014 to 2017 for my humongous blanket, but then I realized I would have to knit with lace weight yarn to get it all onto one king-sized blanket. In the infamous words of Randy Jackson:

My mission, if you choose to accept it as well, is to knit 156 squares with Adventure Yarn for a 97.5 by 105 inch king-sized quilt. This will take forever. I don’t recommend it. And while the end result will be a nerdy heirloom that you can pass down to your geeky grandchildren one day, I do not recommend it. Put the needles down. Do not start cackling while you scroll through the squares and colorway choices.

But…

If you do decide to do this stupid thing with me, and you totally shouldn’t, I WILL GET SHIRTS MADE. I’m not kidding. If you knit a 156 square blanket out of Adventure Yarn, I will have a shirt made just for you and me. We’ll match. We will be the only members of an insane and elite club of crazy Nightmare Mode Geek-A-Longers!

Nightmare 156-Square King Sized Quilt
Needles (If Knitting): US 2-2.75mm straight or circular
Hooks (If Crocheting): C/2-2.75mm
Yarn: Lattes & Llamas Adventure Yarn
Gauge: 12 sts by 17 rows = 2 inches in double sided knitting | 12 sts = 2” in single crochet

Step Three: Squares

Once you’ve decided which option you plan to knit, it’s time to go nuts! Head over to the Squares page and start thinking about what you want on your blanket. Will it be nothing but video games or Marvel’s superheroes? Will you pay homage to literature and science with yarn? Or will you knit the ultimate fandom blanket with all the things you love? The choice is up to you.

After you get an idea of what you’d like to do, download either the new GAL Blanket Planner – Recommended or the GAL Blanket Planner – Hard Mode. The margins are justified so that you can print it double-sided and punch holes in them. You can get super fancy and create yourself a Geek-A-Long binder, filled with the printed squares patterns ready for you to knit them. Or, if you have a Big Happy Planner like me and the special Punch, you can add it to your everyday planner. The free printables come complete with a place to track the squares you plan to knit, which year and week they came from in case you plan to come back and download them later, which colorways you plan to use, a check box to mark off when it’s done, and a graph at the end for you to plan out the placement of the squares on your blanket.

Step Four: Picking the Right Colors

The number one rule for choosing the right colorways for your squares is to make sure that each one is knit with two contrasting colors. Take the picture below for an example. You would not want to pair Castiel with Tardis, they aren’t tonally different enough and some of the more detailed designs will become muddled. But, Castiel and Stars Hollow could be used together with no problem since one is dark and the other is light.

When using two different colors, the tone is still important. Pairing brights together is usually a okay if they are on opposite sides of the color wheel, but you should steer clear of using two darks together or two pastels. Stars Hollow and People Eater would fade into each other just as Castiel and Narnia would. A good contrast could be Wario or Narnia with Stars Hollow. Conversely, Castiel would pair nicely People Eater.

If you want to add some speckley-flair to your squares like we did with the Monty Python Killer Bunny one at the top, make sure the two colorways are insanely different. I would recommend laying the them side by side and use your camera phone’s black and white mode to see if they are tonally different enough.

Do NOT use a speckle with a speckle. It will look like a hot-mess regardless of how tonally different you think they are. They most you can get away with is using kettle dyed yarns together like the Geek-A-Long Yarn.

Step Five: Child’s Play Charity

You might have noticed how we have over 200 (and counting!) geeky afghan squares for you to choose from. That’s because the Geek-A-Long supports Child’s Play Charity, which provides video games to children in hospitals and domestic violence shelters, helping them forget their troubles while reconnecting with their families through the power of play. We encourage you to make a donation to Child’s Play Charity via our sanctioned widget in lieu of paying for the patterns. A donation is not required, but please remember that even a couple of dollars will help this awesome charity.

Aaaaand that’s it! I think I covered everything that will help you get started with your first Geek-A-Long blanket. If you have any question that I missed, share them in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them.

~ Jac
There are also a few fandoms I refuse to put on my Nightmare Mode blanket, because they are the worst and I hate them. The only reason why they exist in the first place is because I knew other people wanted them and Megan-Anne made me. And no, I won’t tell you which ones they are.