This is a more refined method of the way I created the baby blanket my twins had when they were tiny. They are about to hit five, but it remains popular as a toy, being used as a blanket for various poorly dolls, animals and dinosaurs, as a sleeping bag, and just somewhere cosy to curl up with a book.
I didn’t have a pattern to make this, but I made it up from a stitch pattern. You can design your own crochet blanket, too. Don’t forget to write down your steps – you may find yourself being asked for the pattern, like I was! Here are a few steps to get you on your way.
Decide who and what the blanket is for
It sounds trivial, but you need to consider this, or the blanket you make may be impractical and just won’t be used, wasting your hard work. Nothing is worse than the feeling of putting so much into a peiece, then finding it buried under something because the recipient can’t or won’t use it.
Will it be used in a pram, pushchair, cot, or on the floor as a playmat? Measure it to make sure your blanket will fit. Don’t forget to allow extra for tucking in, if required. No cold toes!
What colour do the parents like?
Does Mum (or Dad) like brights, or traditional pastels, or is there a ‘colour scheme’ for baby (not my cup of tea but some people like to have one, and you don’t want to clash!). Will she ask what she’s having on the scan, or is it going to be surprise? (This is becoming more popular, so don’t assume).
What about the pattern?
Something traditional, a picture or filet, or an off-the-wall, one-of-a-kind, freeform piece?
Scour your books, library and the internet and find a pattern you will enjoy working and Mum will like. Do you like making motifs, granny squares, or want to try a different technique, like tunisian (hint- works up fast!) If it’s going to last, make sure fingers aren’t going to get stuck in any holes. Don’t trust scratch mitts! 😉
What’s the weather like?
Another bizarre sounding one. What time of year will Baby be born at? If it’s warm weather, something light with a lacy pattern might be enough to keep the chill off, but if it’s cold, consider something more substantial, or a snuggly fleece backing (preferably something which won’t fray and is easy to hand stitch). This has been really popular on my own blankets.
Something washable, please! I know there are people who will disagree with me on this. Yes, I know, wool is lovely and warm, organics are great, cottons are cool etc. but for a baby, machine washable and tumble-dryable is absolutely necessary! Acrylics are much better than they used to be, and the best quality ones are not ‘squeaky’ at all. There’s no need to break the bank to make something special, opt for a basic acrylic, or maybe a blend which is easy to launder when it gets full of spit, chocolate, mud, milk, or anything else kids throw at it. Just check the ball label.
Be careful with yarn compositions as there may be allergies in the family. Consider the type of blanket you are making, and the stitch, as some materials have more drape, some have better stitch definition.
As always, remember to check the dye-lot when you buy it, and make sure you buy enough, plus a bit extra for swatching. Don’t count on getting this back.
Work up a swatch about 15cm or 6″ square, using the same yarn, pattern, and hook you will make the blanket in. No excuses for this step, I’m afraid it has to be done. You must use the same hook because you probably hold each one differently, depending on the type, shape, and material, and obviously, it has to be the right size! Experiment with hook sizes and patterns until you get a result you like, then make up a swatch in this way. If you think it might shrink, this is a good time to pre-wash it, so your measurements will be accurate for the finished blanket.
How does it Measure up?
Measure your swatch and find out how many pattern repeats there are in 10cm or 4”. Check both the stitches and the rows and write this down.
Work out how many stitches and rows you will need to reach your original measurements. To keep things simple, remember to include enough for a full pattern repeat, otherwise you will need to work part-repeats. If it’s not quite working out, could you add a few plain rows or a border to ‘fill out’ the parts which are too short? Make quick sketch of your design and measurements.
Work your blanket using this as a guide. Measure your work and check it against the design to stay on track, and of course, weave in ends as you make them. You used an accurate swatch to check you gauge, so you should end up with a good result.
Finishing and Presentation
Now you have finished your masterpiece, give it a wash. You used washable yarn, so you know it’s going to be ok in the washer, just consider this a test-drive. Use a non-biological washing powder or liquid so it won’t irritate delicate skin. When it comes out, you have two options. You could spread or pin it out to block it, and dry flat, or you can shove it in the dryer. If your weather is like mine, this is what will realistically happen. The heat will help to ‘kill’ the acrylic, to make it softer.
Include your lining, if you are using one, so it is pre-washed and won’t end up a different size to the blanket.
When everything is dry, cut your lining to size, fold over the edge, and use a small whipstitch to attach it to the crochet, wrong sides together.
All done! How about wrapping paper, or a piece of ribbon? You might like to make a label so you can include washing instructions, your name and a message. Make a label from card, or embroider something small to stitch it on. If you want the recipient to know the yarn make or composition, you could include the ball band itself, and a little extra for future repairs.
If you’re not confident enough to design your own blanket, you could test this technique with something smaller, like a flat bag, or a facecloth. Let me know how you get on, I would love to see your creations.