A Beginners Guide to Creating an Easy Knitted Baby Blanket
This was my first proper knitting project, and when I started I only had the very basic grasp of casting on, knit stitch and casting off so if you have never knitted before don't worry! All you will need to know to complete this blanket is: ---
- how to cast on
- knit stitch
- purl stitch
- how to cast off - mattress stitch
Now I'm not claiming to be an expert by any means, in fact I am a complete novice but that is why I am confident that even the newest knitters can make this really sweet baby blanket.
The blanket I made was roughly 28x28 inches, before adding a boarder, and to achieve this I used 3 balls of Aran yarn (although if you want to add a boarder at the end then having an extra ball in your chosen colour is recommended).
What you will need:
So lets get started!
Step one: Choosing your yarn.
I was recommended using Aran yarn, which is a medium weight and great for knitters of all skill sets and for all sorts of projects. I already knew I wanted three different colours, but the choice is yours, you can have as many or as few as you like, although if this is your first project too then I'd try not to over-complicate it by having loads of colours. (I know, its easy to get over excited when choosing your yarn, I had to restrain myself too)
Step 2: Casting on.
Once you've decided on your yarn you will know which size knitting needles you'll need. There should be some sort of direction on the back of the packaging, the size of the needle recommended for that yarn, and how many stitches and rows are needed to make a 4x4inch square. This is what I based my blanket on, but obviously you can make your squares bigger if you prefer. So to create a 4x4in square you are going to need to cast on 18 stitches.
To do this, create a 'slip knot' by wrapping the end of the yarn around your index and middle fingers, forming a cross on the back of your fingers. *Remember to leave a length of about 8 inches before you create your knot. You will need this when it comes to sewing your squares together.*
Pull the yarn attached to the skein through to make your knot and slip this loop onto your knitting needle.
Holding the needle in your left hand, take the second needle in your right hand, and slip it through the loop of the knot underneath the left needle to make a cross shape.
While holding the excess yarn out of the way, take the working yarn and wrap it around the bottom needle until it lays across the original loop.
Slip this loop onto the right needle, and pull to create a large loop between the two needles.
Twist the left needle under this loop and hook the loop back onto the left needle.
Pull tight, you should now have 2 stitches on the left needle.
Repeat until you have the correct number of stitches.
Step 3: Knit Stitch
This is the most basic knitted stitch, also known as garter stitch. Now that you have your first row cast on, its time to add the next technique! To do this stitch, you are going to follow very similar steps to casting on, only rather than looping the yarn back over to the left needle, you are going to transfer it over to the right needle.
Again, holding the needle with the stitches in our left hand, slip the right needle into the first stitch, under the left needle keeping the working yarn in back.
Wrap the working yarn around the right needle until it crosses the loop.
Now transfer this loop to the right needle by hooking the stitch over the right needle and slipping it off the end of the left needle. You should now have a stitch on the right needle.
Pull the stitch tight, and repeat the process until the end of the row.
Step 4: Purl Stitch
The purl stitch is what gives a knitted project the little arrow shapes as opposed to the waves of knit stitch. This step is optional, if you are a complete beginner and prefer to keep it simple you can always repeat Step 3 until you have the correct number of rows. But again it's nice and easy, and if you want to give this a go all you need to do is:
hold the needle with the stitches on in your left hand, and insert the right needle into the first stitch from the front
keeping the yarn in front, wrap it around the right/front needle until it crosses the loop
repeat the last two stages of the knit stitch to transfer the stitch onto the right needle and finish the row.
Tip: to know which stitch you need to do next remember, if the knit side is facing you then you need to purl the next row. If the purl side is facing you, the next row will be knitted.
Step 5: Keep it up!
Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you've made a perfect square. If you are following the pattern of a 4in square you will need 23 rows before casting off. (but check your yarn packaging in case they have given you different measurements)
Step 6: Casting Off
To cast off uses the same technique as the knit stitch.
Simply knit the first 2 stitches of the row.
Now instead of knitting the next stitch, you will pull the first stitch on the right needle over the second so that you are left with one stitch on your needle. Pull tight.
Knit the next stitch, then repeat by pulling the first stitch over the second.
Repeat until the end of the row, and once you have the last stitch on your right needle cut your yarn, again leaving about 8 inches as a tail – you're going to use these extra lengths to sew your squares together – and pull through the last loop until its tight to secure the last stitch.
(I used HappyBerry Knitting's videos on youtube to really get to grips with these basic techniques: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0f6_YaSN_9QGpOx1zN0SiA)
** Repeat steps 2-6 until you have a few squares of each colour, now if you haven't already worked out your pattern you can play around and see what looks best.
Step 7: Mattress Stitch
Once you have reached your desired number of squares, (my blanket was 7x7 squares but you could definitely go bigger!) and worked out your pattern, its time to start stitching your blanket together. To do this you are going to need your sewing needle. A tapestry needle is best as it is larger and blunter, meaning it won't damage the yarn.
The stitch we are using is called mattress stitch and it creates an almost invisible seam between your two sections.
So, take your first 2 squares and line them up next to each other with the wrong side facing you.
Thread the tail of one of your squares and join it to the first row of the other square.
You will be joining stitch for stitch on each square so that they line up correctly, so continue with this pattern until you reach the end of the square.
If you are alternating the direction of the squares (vertical next to horizontal lines) then you may not be able to line up exactly, and find that you need to skip a stitch to keep things in line.
At the edge of the square sew through the same stitch 2 or 3 times to secure it, and leave the tail in case you need it later on.
Once all the squares are sewn together tie any loose threads to doubly secure them and weave the ends into the seams.
CONGRATULATIONS!! You've made a baby blanket!
Step 8 (optional): Creating a Boarder.
If you are like me, and worried about curled edges or your edges aren't completely square then there are loads of options for adding a boarder to a project. I originally thought about knitting an extra section with a selvedge edge, but when I made a test swatch I didn't like the finished look. I chose to make an i-cord which is a tube of knitting, that I then sewed onto the blanket. It was actually really easy and quick to make, although you will need double pointed needles for this one: just cast on four stitches, and then knit each row. The difference is that rather than the working yarn being on the right-hand side, it stays on the left and then you work it by pulling it across to the right. This is the video tutorial I used and it was super helpful! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k7UoCNXGLo
What I would do differently
As I have said, this was my first project and I am proud of what I have managed to do, but with the benefit of hindsight there are a things that I would try to do differently if I were to make another one.
I'd definitely consider using a different cast on – 'Cable cast on' looks great, and I found gives a much neater finish to my work.
Applied i-cord – although the i-cord I did look good, by knitting it first then having to sew it on, all I really did was add an extra step. An applied i-cord is knitted directly onto the project and would probably give a much cleaner finish.
Slipped stitch edge – this is a really easy way of neatening your edges, and I can imagine makes sewing your seams easier as well. To do this, just slip the first and last stitch on every row knit-wise, onto the right-hand needle without working it.
Double selvedge edge – this gives the effect of an i-cord without being so bulky, and I did give this a go and really liked how it looked but definitely needed more practise at this before I was prepared to add it to my actual project (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XuddiH-iUY)
This photo is an example swatch of the cable cast on, a slip-stick edge on the left side and a double selvedge edge on the right side --->
I hope this has been useful to some of you. It may seem like a lot but I promise you it's worth it, plus it can be really therapeutic too!
As always, thank you so much for reading and I'll be back on again soon. Chao! Love Jess x