Tuesday, November 29, 2011

IT’S BABY BLANKET KNITTING TIME AGAIN

First of all, I must say that I really think twice (or even more times) about knitting or crocheting big items such as afghans, rugs, and baby blankets. You can guess why. Yes, they generally take several weeks to finish and use pounds of yarn. Nevertheless, from time to time, I convince myself that it’s time to do an enormous needlework project. And that time is here – again. Yes, in less than one month, I’ll be a grandmother for the third time. So, it’s baby blanket knitting time again, and I won’t back out on this project. I’ve knitted baby blankets for my two sons and for the first two grand daughters. And in keeping with that tradition, I’ve begun a blanket for this third grand child – one that I have to hurry up and complete before my daughter-in-law’s due date, less than a month away.

Actually, I began what I thought was a baby coverelt two weeks ago. I was loom knitting a large project with a lacy stitch, but it was taking much too long, and I probably wouldn’t have it put together before January. I need this one in December. It was nicely lacy but, as it turned out, it looked more like a summer weight knit, and I think I’ll leave it that way – as the beginning of a lovely spring-time shawl (to be continued in a few weeks or so after I finish the baby blanket).
Baby coverlet/floor mat/car seat blanket
 So, I’ve started out again to make the baby blanket, using this time large needles and an easy pattern - a tried and true way to knit something large quick. I’m using size 17 needles and four strands of yarn. That makes for a bulky coverlet that could also be used as a baby floor mat or cat seat blanket. Now, the baby covers that I’ve made, up to now, were basically done with one or two classic baby colors – yellow, white, pink, pale green, etc. This time I’ve decided to be more bold and make a distinctly modern looking baby blanket. That gives me the opportunity to use a lot of leftover yarn in a striped pattern with seven different colors – white, purple, orange, and two shades of blue, and two shades of yellow/gold.

I hope to finish this blanket in record time. I pulled together this collection of colors in comfy worsted-weight acrylic yarns. Of course, I had to guess whether or not I had enough of each color to make the stripes. I found four yarns made up balls of at least six inches in diameter for the bulk of the cover and two smaller balls for the shorter stripes. I’m using the simplest of designs – a seed stitch throughout and a simple one color crochet (probably medium blue – I haven’t gotten there yet) edge. The four main color yarns let me use up some hefty amount of the leftovers that I found in my closet stash. (I have three suitcases full of yarn - baby yarns, worsted weight yarns, and bulky yarns for loom projects. It’s my naughty little sin to have so many balls of yarn, but I can’t help it. I just love to collect so many different beautiful textures and colors. It makes me feel good, and I justify myself by thinking that I’ll always be ready for any spur of the moment knitting challenge.

All of us do well to schedule in some relaxation time each day, and for me that means having two or three hours to do something that I really enjoy, usually knitting or reading. The size of the coverlet that I’m making is about 30”x 36".  Now, my usual knitting time is about 3 hours per day – when I’m in the middle of a rush project. That’s one hour just as soon as I get out of bed (only after morning prayers and a 20 minute stretching routine), with two more hours of knitting in the evening while watching TV. Sometimes I fall asleep with my knitting and needles on top of me. I’m always trying to find more time to knit, and some days I miraculously find another hour somewhere. I judge I’ll need about 14 or more hours of knitting and another 4 or more hours of crochet for the edges and the tassels, totaling 7 to 10 partial days of work.

As we have talked about several times, needlework, in general, is an excellent hobby, and knitting baby things is something especially wonderful. I love knitting for the babies and small children of the family, and, naturally, I don’t flinch when its’ baby blanket knitting time. But I sometimes get a bit bored with knitting the same old patterns in what sometimes seems to be endless hours. So I'm always on the lookout for an interesting pattern. Also, I already knitted two standard sorts of blankets for the first two grandchildren, and I hope my daughter-I-law still has those and will be using them for the new baby. Well, the pattern that I’m knitting now is marvelously chunky and modern in its colors and design. Equally important, it knits up fast. I think you’ll like it.

Pattern for a super easy baby coverlet/floor mat/car seat blanket

Materials
4 big balls of worsted weight yarn (can be slightly different weights), 5-6 ounces each, and 2 smaller balls of about 3 ounces - all in different colors if you like.
Another big ball of yarn (in one of the colors) for crochet edging and tassels
Long knitting needles size 17
Yarn needle
Tape measure
Large size crochet hook
Cardboard for cutting the tassels
Scissors

Instructions
Use 3 or 4 strands of yarn throughout. With size 17 needles (6mm), there are three stitches to 2 inches. For example, this blanket is to be 30 inches wide, which calls for 45 stitches, cast on in the first row. You can change the width, if you like. Just be sure to end with an odd number of stitches. (See the picture of what I did if you decide to make the striped pattern and remember to always change colors on the right side of your work.)

Use the seed/moss stitch. It's made with just 2 stitches. For all rows, just knit 1, and then purl 1. Repeat across, with a knit stitch at the end. Continue knitting rows until the blanket measures 36" or whatever length you want.

Cast off stitches and weave in loose ends, using a yarn needle. Take the crochet hook and a double strand of one of the yarns and single crochet or simple shell stitch crochet around the blanket to finish off edges.

Add tassels to all four ends. To make the tassels, cut a piece of cardboard to measure five inches on one side. Wind yarn around it ten times. Cut strands on one side, producing double strands. Cut about 4" of yarn and slip it under the wrapped yarn, against the cardboard. Gather the wrapped yarn together on the cardboard and then bundle it together with the small piece of yarn tied into a loose bow. Untie the bow, and re-tie it in as tight a knit as you can. Use the crochet hook to pull the strands through, so that the strands on both "sides" are equal length. Take about 5” of yarn and make a tight tie just below the knot, to shape the tassel. Hide the ends of the tie inside the strands. Make tassels for all four ends.

Notes: I used four strands of yarn continually. The 4th strand was a lightweight sport yarn in yellow. This gave me a heavier weave, just right for a floor mat. Also, after working on the coverlet for a few hours, I tore out all the rows and began to use the double seed stitch (2 knit, 2 purl, * throughout). I found that the double seed stitch involves less hand movement, and I'm able to knit a lot faster. And, as I was knitting, it occurred to me to do 5 rows of garter stitch (all knit stitches) every time I changed colors and then continue on in double seed stitch. I think it adds a nice variation to the pattern.

Just finished. Yeah! It took me 10 days from start to finish. The end product was 28" X 34".  I guess I either knitted too tight or my stitch count was a bit off. The tassels I added were multi-color because I was running out of blue yarn. Most important, I'm happy with the results, and  I have no doubts that the baby will enjoy it. It's multicolored striped, tasseled, and very warm.

Related posts
UNRAVEL OLD SWEATERS AND KNIT NEW THINGS.
LOOM KNITTED CAPS FOR KIDS
THE VERY PRACTICAL AND HARD TO FIND "DICKIE"
CROCHET A ROUND RUG
BE REALLY “GREEN,” WEARING A BULKY SWEATER
IN PRAISE OF THE SIMPLE DISHRAG.
A LOT CAN BE SAID ABOUT A GOOD SCARF.

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