Knitting Tips, Project Ideas

Tips for Blanket Knitting Season

This week’s blog really comes to you courtesy of Alex, who gave me a big hunk of meaty content.  Alex is a prolific blanket knitter and she reminded me that this is actually Blanket Knitting Season.  (It’s a real thing!). It’s the perfect time of year for blanket knitting.  Keep your lap warm while you watch TV, all while knitting.  

Plus, blankets always make great gifts.  They are perfect for newlyweds putting together their first home.  Knit up a beautiful blanket for your soon-to-be-graduate heading off for their next stage in life.  Baby blankets are delightful for so many reasons, one being that they are much smaller than a typical blanket project.  When you get down to it, it’s delightful for someone to be able to wrap themselves up in all that hand knit love.  I myself have two mohair blankets my grandmother knit for me after I graduated from college.  They are light as air and warm as can be, and they will always be a daily reminder of the lifetime of love she has given to me.   

Looking at blankets as a way to bone up on your knitting skills, I can think of nothing better.  The sheer repetition required to complete a stitch pattern for a blanket will reinforce those new knitting skills that you use for that blanket.  One of my first knitting projects was a cabled baby blanket, and it was my first cabled project.  I must have cabled two hundred times for that blanket, and I haven’t shied away from a cable since.  Whether it be lace, reading charts, cables or memorizing repeats, you will become more comfortable with these skills if you embark on them in a cable project.  

The Spectacular Spuntaneous Blanket – made using 5 skeins of Cascade’s Spuntaneous

If you’re looking to make a blanket for a holiday gift, it’s not too late.  A favorite at Wool & Grace is a color block blanket using a super bulky yarn.  This season’s version is the Spectacular Spuntaneous Blanket, which uses 5 skeins of Cascade’s Spuntaneous yarn on a US19 nedle.  A garter stitch border keeps edges from curling, and it is otherwise an extremely simple knit.  Lots of our knitters choose to knit it in wide blocks of stripes, using 5 different colors of yarn.  This is the easiest way to add a bit of color interest to your project, but don’t shy away from being creative with your color choices.  Whether you choose to add a shot of color with some leftover yarn or add some intarsia, this blanket is a great canvas for your creativity. 

Other great, quick-knitting blankets include the Railroad Park collection of chunky throws and super-bulky blanket patterns by Fifty Four Ten Studios.

Railroad Park
The Railroad Park Collection

The Railroad Park Collection is a group of four simple blanket patterns, each named for a railroad car.  Each blanket uses approximately 500 yards of super-bulky yarn and is worked on a US35 needle.  Railroad Ties is a very simple stitch pattern that is perfect for beginner knitters, with a simple stripe of purls repeated every handful of rows.  Reversible Cable Cars is just what it sounds like: a reversible cabled blanket – and a great project for any beginner to cabling!  Sharp Curve Ahead is a traditional fan and feather motif (think lots of increases and decreases to create this soft, undulating texture).  Meanwhile, Round up is a seed-stitch scarf that throws in a novelty yarn (held with your super-bulky yarn of choice) to add some fun color.  At 500 yards a pop, it’s very reasonable to think that you could bang out one of these great blankets by the end of the year. 

Meanwhile, Fifty Four Ten Studios is one of my favorite designers to check out when someone is in need of a blanket pattern.  First of all, her blankets are all written for about 6 different sizes of blankets, including sizing from baby blankets to a VERY large afghan (that would cover a king size bed).  I also like that her simple designs have a clean and modern aesthetic.

Game Time
Game Time by Fifty Four Ten Studios

She has numerous patterns patterns written for super-bulky yarn.  A new design is Game Time, a reversible blanket that is worked up in a four-row repeat, and it sounds like it’s ideal to keep in the back of your car for chilly soccer and football games.  Once again, I love that a four row repeat gives you lots of time to get in a rhythm (I am convinced this sort of memorization is good for your mental acuity.  Of course, the fact that it’s a chunky knit means it’s pretty-much-instant-gratification.  For the Railroad Park Collection and Game Time, check outlearns like Spuntaneous, Mirasol’s Ushya, and Loopy Mango’s Merino No. 5.

Prairie Fields
Prairie Fields by Fifty Four Ten Studios

Another great project from Fifty Four Ten Studios is Prairie Fields.  This blanket is worked up in a worsted weight yarn, so it will a little lighter than much of the other options listed above.  This simple combination of knits and purls will require you to follow the pattern, and it will also be a great opportunity for new knitters to become better at reading their stitches.  I highly recommend everyone to check out all of Fifty Four Ten’s designs if they are looking for simple to knit and modern hand knits for the home! I’d love to knit up this beauty in something like Pure Bliss Falkland (that sounds completely indulgent), but some user-friendly, washable and very lovely options also include SimpliWorsted, Sueno Worsted, Spud & Chloe Sweater and Madeline Tosh Vintage.

Heraldry Reversible Afghan
Heraldry Reversible Blanket

The Heraldry Reversible Blanket by Krista Werbil has been a popular blanket at Wool & Grace.  This blanket has a reversible chevron pattern and a seed stitch border.  Once again, knitters are going to lots of practice at reading their patterns and very importantly, reading their stitches.  Made up of lots of knits and purls (and that’s all), it’s a good opportunity to really practice those skills.  For this blanket a yarn like HiKoo’s Simpliworsted is perfect and easy to care for.  

Aspiring cablers looking for a crash course in cables should check out our ever-popular Maggie’s Blanket.  This blanket (designed by our very own Maggie) is remarkably versatile and features one cable repeat that is used throughout the blanket.  Maggie originally wrote this pattern to be a large afghan, using about 3000 yards of Shepherd’s Wool held double.  One can also choose to knit it with a worsted weight yarn held single, which will give you a smaller blanket (a bit larger than your typical baby blanket) or using a super bulky yarn.  Alex made a spectacular version of this blanket a few years ago using Mirasol’s Ushya (she used 11 skeins).  Our store sample is the small size (using a worsted-weight held single) made with HiKoo’s Simpliworsted.

Building Blocks Blanket
Building Blocks!

Let us not forget the ultimate blanket project that doubles as a learning experience: Knit Purl Hunter’s Building Blocks.  This delightful project features 12 blocks of unique designs that are sewn together to make a “patchwork” hand knit blanket.  New techniques are introduced with each block.  Knitters making all 12 blocks will end up with a very generous sized throw, while ambitious knitters wanting a really big blanket have been known to double up on some of their favorite blocks to make a large blanket with 18 blocks.  While Hunter’s book is written to be used with HiKoo’s Simpliworsted (a very popular choice at Wool & Grace), we have oodles of knitters working on it using HiKoo’s Sueno Worsted, Shepherd’s Wool or Spud & Chloe’s Sweater.

Umaro
Umaro ©Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

Thank you to Alex for this week’s blanket inspiration.  There are as many blanket patters as there are fish in the sea, so check out Ravelry if you are looking something a little different!  I happen to love blanket patterns from the likes of Purl Soho or Jocelyn Tunney, which involve fun and novel combinations of color.  Meanwhile, Brooklyn Tweed’s blanket projects like Umaro (pictured above) offer heirloom pieces that will beg to be enjoyed for generations.  

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