Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Puffy Basketweave Baby Blanket

4 skeins Red Heart TLC Lustre 5oz skeins [Solids: 5 oz (141 g) - Approx. 253 yd (231 m)] or any worsted weight yarn.
(US) 8 (5.0mm) and (US) 10 (6.0mm) needles, circulars, 32-40” length to accommodate the stitches. Blanket will be knitted flat, and not joined in the round.
Finished size: ~36” square.
15-20 hours to knit.

Using (US) 8 (5.0mm) needles, cast on 132 stitches. Knit 6 rows, slipping the first stitch as if to knit.

Change needles to size (US) 10 (6.0mm) and begin pattern, remembering to slip the first stitch as if to knit on each row.

1: K4, (K4, P4) 15 times, K8.
2: K4, (P4, K4) 16 times
3: K4, (K4, P4) 15 times, K8.
4: K4, (P4, K4) 16 times
5: Knit
6: K4, P124, K4
7: Knit
8: K4, P124, K4
9: K4, (P4, K4) 16 times
10: K4 (K4, P4) 15 times, K8
11: K4, (P4, K4) 16 times
12: K4, (K4, P4) 15 times, K8
13: Knit
14: K4, P124, K4
15: Knit
16: K4, P124, K4

Repeat rows 1-16 (11) more times for a total of 12 pattern repeats. Then rows 1-4 once more.

Change back to size (US) 8 (5.0mm) needles and knit 7 rows. Bind off in purl. Weave in ends.

© Cathy Waldie, 2004, revised

I would not block this blanket for the charm of it is in the puffiness the pattern creates. When using acrylic yarn, if you spritz it with a mist of water, pop it into the dryer for 10 minutes, it will even out most of your stitches that may have been pulled either too tight or left too loose. Acrylic is forgiving like that.

Now, most of the blankets that I've knitted over the past several years are for charity groups that request acrylic yarn. It's cheaper for them to provide, it's easier for new mother's to toss into the washing machine when you KNOW that little bundle of joy is going to throw up on it, and if you were paying for your own yarn, that donation dollar is going to go farther with acrylic. And, not all acrylics are created equal. Long gone are the days of of the 'non-forgiving, will stretch out and not return to the original shape' kind of yarn that I learned to knit with back in elementary school.

The yarn that I've used to knit up this blanket is no longer being produced from Red Heart. The closest I've found that would be similar is be Caron's Simply Soft. By no means would I end my choices there. NMRCS has provided me with the TLC Lustre and I'm still using what I have on hand for their blankets. If I were making a blanket as a special gift, I might use Lion Brand's Wool-Ease, Plymouth's Encore, or Paton's Decor. Each of those is a blend of acrylic and wool and is very machine washable.

If you wanted to spend a bit more and knew the parents didn't mind the special care needed, Debbie Bliss' Cashmerino Aran would be a lovely choice. Just make sure you pay attention to the amount of the yarn you are purchasing and buy enough from the get-go. I have provided the label information from the yarn that I used so anyone could compare their choices to what I needed to complete this blanket. (Also, if you wanted to make a longer, rectangle shaped blanket, be sure to allow for the additional yarage you would need to lengthen the blanket.)

Another idea, come to think about it, would be to use two strands of a DK weight or a sport weight yarn to approximate the same size I found with the worsted weight. I have used Baby Soft and Wendy Peter Pan double stranded in many patterns as a substitute for worsted and really like the softness it produces. Your choices are endless. And that is where the fun begins!