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Baby Blanket Knitting Tips

Your friend announces that she’s pregnant and you’re a knitter: you know you want to make her something for the baby, but what? There are lots of options – a layette, booties, hats, bibs, mitts, and more. My go-to is a baby blanket.

Blankets are useful and have a long life; they aren’t knit in a size the baby will grow out of in 3-6 months. There’s the possibility that a blanket will become the baby’s favorite blanket or, even more endearing, their security blanket that they may very well keep close into their teenage years and beyond. I still have my favorite blanket and teddy bear!

Things you should take into consideration when choosing a pattern and making a baby blanket:

  • Fabric Care
  • Baby’s Climate
  • Safety
  • Gauge and knitting speed
  • Stripes and colorwork pitfalls

Fabric care

Choose machine-washable yarn. Use a yarn that can be machine washed and dried, whether it’s cotton, linen, hemp, superwash wool, a manufactured fiber (acrylic, etc.), or a blend of these. No new parent has the time or inclination to hand wash a blanket after baby spits up on it for the umpteenth time. Some of those yarns, the natural fibers, will get softer with each wash and with use.

Baby’s Climate

Choose a fiber suited to the baby’s climate. I would choose a natural plant fiber yarn (cotton, linen, hemp) for babies living in warmer climates and a superwash wool for babies in colder climates. I’d also consider the thickness and warmth of the finished blanket fabric; thinner for warm climates, thicker for cold.

Color

Choose a neutral color unless the parents have a nursery theme or preferred colors. Choosing a pattern and yarn can be slightly more difficult if the parents don’t have a nursery theme or aren’t finding out or sharing the sex of the baby. However, there are plenty of gender-neutral patterns that could be made in neutral colors (I’m looking at you, green and yellow) or plain old neutral colors, like white or beige or gray. Neutral colors are a good choice as well if you’re unsure of the nursery’s color scheme or theme, if there is even is one (and there probably is if this is the first baby in the family).

Safety

Choose a stitch pattern without dropped stitches or lace. Babies have tiny fingers that can get caught in eyelets/lace. Toddlers have not-so-small fingers, but they love to poke their fingers in things and pull them out of shape. One of my sons liked to wrap some of the yarn from his blanket fringe around his finger to the point that his daycare asked me to bring a different blanket in for nap time because they were concerned he’d cut off circulation to his finger for too long. Think twice about lace patterns or patterns with long floats, unless you’re planning to make a christening blanket or other blanket that will be used infrequently and stored as a family heirloom.

Gauge and Knitting Speed

Yes, gauge is important, especially since you’re working on a deadline.

I once spent what ended up being 4 months laboring over a blanket I made with sock yarn on size 2 needles for my sister in-law. She appreciated the results and it was machine washable, but it was on the small side for a baby blanket and not in the best colors; she ended up not using it. 

blanket.front
The in-progress sock yarn blanket

I made a cabled blanket for a friend using worsted weight cotton on size 7 needles (pre-Ravelry; I don’t have details or pictures of it). As the date of her baby shower approached, I realized I wasn’t going to finish it in time. I wrapped it up, needles and all, and gave it to her anyway, taking it back to finish – not an ideal situation.

The moral of the story: pick a pattern, needle size, and yarn size that will allow to you complete the blanket in a reasonable amount of time and be honest with yourself about how much time you can comfortably spend working on it.

Stripes and Colorwork Pitfalls

Stripes and colorwork look great but …

Remember, you have to securely weave in all those ends, a task that can be tricky with plant-based fibers like cotton. This is also a task that’s dreaded by many knitters.

gollum

Also, that striped baby blanket looks and feels great until you weave in the ends and discover one edge of the blanket is a bit thicker than the other. To avoid this, knit stripes in an odd number of rows so the ends will be distributed evenly on both edges of the blanket. Or you can cast on & knit lengthwise (instead of width-wise) and turn the yarn tails into fringe.

Do you have any other tips? I’m sure I haven’t covered everything …


Comments

2 responses to “Baby Blanket Knitting Tips”

  1. Giselle Avatar
    Giselle

    I would say to avoid modular designs unless you can sew together plus weave in ends as you go. Otherwise you get all the squares done and still need to do a mountain of work to make them into a blanket. Weaving in as you go is the best advise I ever got. It allows you to keep your sanity, and also let’s you better estimate how much longer it’ll take. Happy knitting! Or crocheting.

    1. madgeface Avatar
      madgeface

      That’s also great advice – thank you!

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