Tag Archives: knitting

round 4: knitting a baby blanket (with pattern!)

For years I did not like crafting. It seemed like the antithesis of art, and art was what I was after. However, that’s shifted for me in recent years when suddenly things like tying knots with sticks and stitching little squares into aida cloth has seemed strangely satisfying and important. I’ve even developed a few philosophical justifications for crafting. (And I’ve been delighted that people in my own field of study have taken up the subject as well.)

Recently a colleague,  who takes crafting above and beyond anything I will ever do, stopped by my office to talk about the stuff we’re making, and I was motivated to put together this post about my last baby blanket. I made it as a gift for my cousin’s daughter. Her son got one when he was born, but I hadn’t made one for the older daughter. My homemade blankets have imperfections (which makes them unique! which isn’t something everyone values!)), so I was delighted when my cousin’s husband mentioned that their son loved his blanket and used it all the time.

Here’s the blanket that I made for my cousin’s daughter. I’ll be using this pattern again. I think it is my best baby blanket to date.

Loops and Looms—Lavender

skein of Loops and Looms—Lavender Blues

I used four skeins of Loops and Threads: Country Loom – Lavender Blues. To start, cast on 73 stitches and knit five rows.  Then, to create the border, knit four (mark) add increase, then knit across for 63 stitches. Add another increase, (mark) and then knit the last four. In the next row, knit four (mark), add increase, and then alternate between decrease/slip, increase/knit stitch all the way across for for 63 stitches. At the end, add increase (mark), and then knit the last four stitches.

increase/decrease stitch border

increase/decrease stitch border

For the body of the blanket, continue to knit four (to the mark), increase, knit across (for 63), increase, then knit the last four. For the next row, knit four, then decrease, purl across, decrease again, and then knit the last four. Continue to alternate between knitting/increasing rows and purling/decreasing rows. Stitch to the desired length. I ended on knit stitch (with increases on each end before moving on to border).

At the very end, knit four, decrease/slip, increase/knit (for 63), then knit the last four stitches. That creates the last border edge. Then, knit the last five rows, and cast off.

finished and folded

finished and folded

knitting a baby blanket (with pattern!)

I wanted to learn to knit for years before I finally got the chance. It was on my ‘things to do after graduate school’ list. However, I didn’t have to wait that long because in my last year of graduate school a new student offered to teach a group of us to knit. Before the lesson, she instructed me to go out and buy a big pair of knitting needles and a chunky skein of yarn. Later, I would learn that the chunky yarn knits up faster, which is encouraging for new knitters who spend the first few lessons staring at a strange little tangle of knots hanging from a stick. I can’t remember how many times we met (just a few, I think), and, in those sessions, she taught me to knit!

So, I’ve been knitting. In the past few years, I’ve knitted all manner of squares and rectangles and even branched out to a pretty terrible-looking hat (more on hats later). For Christmas, I made a blanket for my nephew, which turned out to be bigger than I originally intended (he’ll grow into it, right?) The blanket was fun through. It was simple, and it didn’t take a lot of concentration—it was something I could do while watching a show or in a meeting. I’ve decided to tackle a few more “baby blanket” projects, and now that I’m a little more confident, I’ve decided to start working more with textures and borders. My first post-holiday project has been a baby blanket for my cousin’s son’s first birthday. Since he’s a year old now, I wanted to make a blanket that was a little bigger than the patterns I was seeing online for newborn baby blankets.

Below is a description of the pattern I created (which is not in typical knitting pattern speak). If you try it out or alter it, please let me know what you think!

The Materials:

I used four skeins of “Loops & Threads Country Loom” in a color called “driftwood.” I chose this color because it has a natural green tone to it that I hope will complement the baby’s current bedding.

driftwood yarn

Loops & Threads Country Loom in Driftwood; image from Michaels

The Pattern:

Row 1-7: I cast on seventy stitches across. Many of the patterns called for 50-60 stitches across for a 32 inch width. Since my blanket is for a one-year old, I went a little bigger, and I’m glad I did because it was none too wide. Back to the pattern: I knit stitched for seven rows. (See notes below for what I would do differently.)

Row 8: I knit stitched seven stitches, marked it, then purl stitched 56 stitches, marked it again, and then knit stitched seven stitches.

Row 9: I knit stitched seven stitches, marked it, then knit stitched 56 stitches, marked it again, and then knit stitched seven stitches.

Row 10-?: I did a regular stitch for the first and last seven stitches, and then I alternated knit stitch and purl stitch until I had almost finished four skeins of yarn. I was aiming for about 36 inches long, but mine ended up being about 45 inches long—which looked about right.

Last 7 rows: I did a regular knit stitch for the last seven rows and then cast off.

Notes: I created this pattern myself, and I really liked the way it turned out. However, if I had to do it all over, I would probably knit ten rows instead of seven before beginning to alternate the knit/purl stitches in the middle of the blanket because the resulting boarder around the edge of the blanket is not quite as long as the border around the sides of the blanket. I was, however, happy with the length of sides of the border, which was the seven stitches that I marked off on either side of the blanket.

The Final Product:

The final product was a bordered baby blanket about 32×45 inches. I should’ve taken better pictures, but I shipped it off too soon! Just trust me that the actual color is a little better than in this photo. Also, the border doesn’t show up very well–though it is a subtle border. Here it is:

20140121_204412

baby blanket with Loops & Threads Country Loom in Driftwood

on learning to knit

I’ve wanted to learn to knit for years. My mom does almost every type of craft and DIY home project, but knitting was never one of them. My maternal grandmother, on the other hand, loved to knit and crochet. One of my most prized possessions is a blanket that she knitted for me before she passed away. She made one for each of her grandchildren. Although the blanket is not tightly woven, it is the warmest blanket I have ever felt.

Last year, a woman in my graduate program hosted a knitting night. I brought a huge set of straight needles, super bulky yarn, and learned how to knit with a small group of women, who were also in grad school. Since that first lesson, I have made many scarves, headbands, and potholders–all things that involve squares or rectangles. I’ve wanted to expand my repertoire for awhile now.

flickr image by Carissa Marie

I had a little break this week, and so I took the opportunity to go down to my local knitting store, where they set me up with one very overpriced set of knitting needles on the round and a very overpriced set of double pointed needles. Paying extra was worth it though because I got two really good (informal) knitting lessons out of the deal–something that would never happen at a big box store like Michael’s or Joann’s.

This week I learned how to knit on the round and was able to make my first hat! Not only did I learn to knit on the round, I also learned how to knit on double pointed needles, how to knit a hat, and how to follow a simple pattern. All of these skills are going to be really useful as I continue to practice. Now, the hat is sort of a monstrosity. It’s terribly misshapen, has a hole where I missed a stitch, and is way, way too big.

 I’ll get better, of course, and I’d eventually like to start making baby blankets and hats as gifts since I’m in the doula business now. I also want to be able to make stuff as gifts for family and friends. My knitted gifts are not very good yet (and I’m not just being modest), but I’m bored by most of the stuff available to purchase in stores. So, family and friends will have to bare with me while my skills improve.