Tips and Ideas for Making Beautiful Crochet Baby Blankets by Hand
Whether you want to make a gift for a loved one's new baby or an heirloom for your own child, a handmade baby blanket is a perfect project. It's something that will be used frequently and not quickly outgrown, it can be made in countless colors and styles, and giving a handmade gift is a loving gesture that's always very much appreciated. If crochet is your craft of choice, you simply need to choose yarn and a stitch pattern that fits your skills, then get going.
Choosing a Crochet Blanket Pattern
There are two different approaches when it comes to picking out a crochet blanket pattern. The first is to find a full pattern for a baby blanket, which will include crochet hook size and yarn recommendations along with complete instructions for the project from start to finish. You can find blanket patterns in crochet books and online, both for free and for purchase.
The second option is to choose a crochet stitch pattern, pick any yarn and hook size you like, and crochet a gauge swatch (a small sample of the stitch). Measure the number of stitches per horizontal inch and rows per vertical inch on the swatch. With some basic math, you can calculate the number stitches and rows needed to make a baby blanket using that exact stitch pattern, yarn and hook size. The standard dimensions for a receiving blanket are 30 inches by 30 inches; for a blanket that goes up to toddler size, they are 36 inches by 44 inches. Of course, you can make any size blanket you think is appropriate. Another reason to crochet a gauge swatch is to examine how the stitch pattern looks in real life. You might want to switch patterns or yarn, or use a smaller or larger crochet hook to adjust the blanket's thickness.
Choosing Yarn for a Baby Blanket
The most important properties to consider when choosing yarn for a baby blanket are softness and washing instructions. Most parents would much prefer a blanket that is machine-washable, so think twice before selecting a hand-wash-only yarn, such as 100 percent wool. The feel of the yarn is also very important, as it needs to be as soft as possible next to a baby's sensitive skin. Avoid any yarns that feel even slightly scratchy, as well as any that look like they might shed fibers, which could be irritating to a baby. Some yarns become noticeably more or less soft after washing. The only way to discover this is to wash a swatch, which can be impractical—online reviews of yarns are quite useful as well.
Be sure to purchase enough yarn for the whole blanket. The total yardage needed will be provided with any full pattern. If you're customizing a blanket using a stitch pattern only, look at the information provided on the ball band to estimate how much you'll need.
Style and Other Considerations
Beginners should know that even the simplest, easiest crochet blankets can be just as beautiful as those with more complicated patterns. You can also add visual interest to a plainer stitch pattern by creating stripes with different colors of yarn or adding a fancy border around the edges. Variegated yarns give the appearance of an intricate color pattern without any need to switch yarns.
When it comes to color choices, don't limit yourself to typical baby blues, pinks or neutral pastels. Bold colors are just as suitable for baby blankets, as are black and white. If the blanket is a gift, ask the parents-to-be about any color preferences, or if they're decorating a nursery with a specific color palette. There are ways to do this without ruining a surprise. You might also look at their baby shower registry to get an idea about their preferred styles. Also consider climate. A baby born in summer, or who lives in a warm climate, won't get much use out of a thick, heavy blanket, so opt for an airier style in a finer yarn.
If you start your crochet blanket project with plenty of time before the baby's arrival, or perhaps a shower date, you should be able to pick any pattern, yarn and hook size and be able to finish on time. If you're on a deadline and need a quick project, choose a stitch pattern that you're already familiar with, and use a thicker yarn and larger crochet hook. All these factors will help the blanket come together quickly.
A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.