Monday, November 9, 2015

More Babies - More Blankets

More Babies – More Blankets

As my children get older they are presenting me with more and more grandchildren.  In 2013 and 2014 we had 4 new granddaughters, Cora, Carina, Esther and LaRue.  Of course any knitter knows baby girls mean lots of knitting.  Three weeks ago we got a new grandson, Calvin, and even though little boys don’t take as much knitting as little girls, there’s still the baby blanket. 
A few posts back (which sadly turns out to be a few years back) I posted about several of these baby blankets.  Well, these last 5 are different and interesting.  I’ve learned  a  few things.
  1. Cotton is awesome.  It may not be as pretty or knit up as nice as wool but for babies it can’t be beat.  We all know what babies do.  Everything they put in their mouth either comes right back up and out, or if they do keep it down, it still ends up coming back out – sometimes very unpleasantly.  A cotton baby blanket turns out to be a great baby rag.  You can use it to wipe up the mess and then throw it in the washer and clean the heck out of it.  
  2. Other patterns can be converted into a baby blanket.  I already talked about this using Grannies Favorite Dishcloth to just make a big square blanket, but for 2 of the last I’ve converted a different shape into a square baby blanket.  On the first I converted a triangular shawl into a square blanket – more on this to follow.  I also made one by just making a scarf much wider.
  3. The final thing I’ve learned is never make a baby blanket with fingering weight or lighter yarn.  As you will see from my examples, I haven’t learned this very well.

So here are my last 5 baby blankets in no particular order

Double Knit Play Mat

   My daughter in law found a cool pattern she wanted me to use.  It was very thick and was basically a fancy knit blanket which wasn’t reversible and a plain knit blanket sewn to the back side.  While considering that, I was interested in a scarf I saw on Ravelry, called Moonstone DK Scarf by Luch Neatby.  It was double knit and I wanted to try my hand at double knit.  Then I got the idea of making a thick baby blanket by just doing double knit.  I took the Moonstone pattern and modified it to be a blanket.  I’m very happy with the results but I have one warning, You have to knit every stitch twice – once on the front of the blanket and once on the back.  Also, you have to remember, every time you turn the project, the front and back color switch so you have to take a deep breath before every row and make sure you have the right colors in mind.  The great things about double knit is 1 - it's totally reversible and 2 - it's very thick making more of a mat than a blanket.  

Cotton Hexagon Blanket

Another daughter in law found a pattern with crocheted hexagons connected into a blanket.  Being an old math teacher, I liked the idea of connecting hexagons but was not about to give way to the dark side and start crocheting  so of course I decided to modify it and make a knit one.  I also don’t like the idea of seaming anything together, so I decided to knit the hexagons together as I made them.  You can look at my project page on Ravelry for more details but basically here’s what I did. 
Before I start, I was in a geometric phase in my knitting.  I had just knit a life size soccer ball by connecting hexagons and pentagons and done a couple hexagonal blankets so this seemed to follow naturally.  

The blanket is made by connecting 23 smaller hexagons together to form a square (when you add several partial hexagons to the sides).  Each side of each hexagon is 22 stitches so I did a provisional cast on of 22 x 6 = 132 stiches.  Then I knit these stitches in a circle, Now, every other round decrease 2 stitches (SSK, Ktog)  at each corner (there will be 6 of them since it’s a hexagon).  You keep working into the middle until there are only 6 stitches left, thread the yarn through the 6 and pull them tight.  That’s one.
Now, go back and cast on 5 x 22 = 110 stitches along with 22 stitches from one of  the sides of the previous hexagon.  That makes 132 stitches.  Knit this hexagon.  Now go back and cast on 4x22 = 88 stitches and knit them along with 22 stitches from the 1st hexagon and 22 stitches from the second.  

Keep doing this, adding new hexagons until you have what you want. 

If you look at the picture it doesn’t look like the yellow ones are hexagons, that’s because there is no border around the hexagon like there is with the white ones. 
I also had to figure out how to make the partial hexagons along the side.  Finally, I did a few rows of garter stitch around the whole thing and then did a picot bind off.  NOTE TO SELF – I HATE PICOT BIND OFF.  It’s like take 3 steps forward then 2 backwards all the way around (actually in this case, 5 steps forward - 3 steps back.

Cotton Polka Dot Blanket

 My 3rd daughter in law wanted something with polka dots.  I couldn’t find anything  I liked so ended up making my own.  Basically, it’s a big grey square with rows of large and small dots.  I used a random number generator to decide what color dot to put where because no matter how I tried, I always ended up with blotches of color when I tried to do it myself.

This was just simple intarsia (if those 2 words can be used together).  As you can see from the picture, that means lots of bobbins hanging and then at the end there was a million ends to weave in and since it’s cotton the ends are hard to hide but overall it turned out nice – She’s happy with it.

Rainbow Star Blanket

So, when I heard I was going to have a grandson, finally, I decided to make a Spiderman blanket.  I’d seen this one on Ravelry and was kind of excited to do it.  I got nearly completed with the Spiderman blanket when she announced that she wanted something that looked like the Revontuli –huivi/Northern Lights shawl by AnneM.  That’s a semi-curcular shawl made of 8 wedges.  They are each pointed at the edges created by adding one at the beginning and end of each wedge and decreasing 2 in the middle of each wedge.  You do this every other row, except every 6th row you don’t do the decreases which makes the circle grow.  Well, I knew from doing the spider man blanket that if you did 14 of these wedges you’d end up with a complete circle so I modified the pattern to be a complete circle.

 There are also rows of lace.  I was planning on using using 4 rows of white for the lace sections and alternating 3 different colors between the white rows.  (The colors my daughter-in-law selected).  Well, I didn’t know what I was doing because I ordered fingering.  I totally meant to order DK which is what I used for the Spiderman blanket.  When the order came in I was going to order new yarn when I came up with the idea to hold two strands together.  This would allow me to blend the colors.  I could do a few rows with 2 strands of color 1, then a few rows with color1 and 2 held together, then a few rows of 2 strands of color 2.  You can see from the picture the result – I like it.

Truly Truly

 A few years ago I saw a pattern that reached out and grabbed me.  As I say in my notes, this hasn’t happened with this force before or since.  I simply had to knit this shawl.  Believe me, my picture isn’t nearly as stunning as the one that grabbed me.  The pattern was Truly by Ann Kingstone.

After I finished the shawl, my daughter really liked it.  It also turned out, she was having a baby girl, so I got the idea of doing basically 2 shawls back to back.  The normal triangular shawl consists of a few stitch garter edge, then increase one stitch, knit the first half, increase a stitch, knit the middle stitch, increase a stitch , knit the 2nd half, increase a stitch, knit the garter edge.  Then turn around and knit the garter edges stitches and purl everything else.  Keep doing this row after row and you end up with an ever increasing triangle.
So, if you eliminate the garter edge, and do 4 panels instead of 2 you would knit all the way around.  Now continue, only you’ll stay on the right side, so just knit a round.    So Basically, increase, knit 1st panel, increase, k1, increase, knit 2nd panel, increase, k1, increase, knit 3rd panel, increase k1, increase, knit 4th panel, increase.  Now knit a round.

So, I did that, and was very happy with the results.  Don’t tell anyone, but truly-truly is probably my favorite of all the baby blankets I’ve done so far - the picture doesn't do it justice.  

And of course, no baby blanket is complete without a baby or 2.