Knit a Blanket: Guide to Knitting a Blanket for Beginners
Knitting a blanket can be a big undertaking! Start out with the right planning and tips to get a beautiful, cozy result.
This guide will show you the needed skills for knitting a blanket, how to calculate how many stitches to cast on, the needles and yarn to use and helpful tips.
Before you start you will need to know a few basic knitting techniques:
Cast On and Off
- Knit Stitch
- Weaving In Ends
If you're still learning, a quick YouTube search will give great videos that any beginner can follow along.
Of course, if the knitting pattern is more advanced it will specify the additional skills you will need to practice first.
How Many Stitches to Cast On?
How many stitches do you need to knit a blanket?
The number of stitches you cast on to start your blanket will determine the final width. Most blankets are knit from one side to the other. Sometimes a border is added to the edges of the blanket after casting off by picking up edge stitches. This makes the final blanket size a little bit bigger.
How to Knit A Swatch
Swatches are knit to determine the gauge of the yarn, needles and individual knitter. Make the swatch using the needles and yarn you will use for the blanket. Cast on enough to make a few inches of the swatch and keep knitting until you have a square. Measure the width of the resulting square and divide by the number of stitches you cast on. This will be your stitches per inch. Simply multiply that by how many inches wide you want your final product to be. This is how many you cast on.
Sometime the pattern dictates how many stitches to cast on. Or it will specify that the cast on stitches need to be a multiple of some number. If aiming for a multiple you usually want to add stitches to reach the desired number instead of subtract to avoid making the blanket too narrow.
Best Yarn for Blankets
Beginners, or anyone looking for an affordable, durable wool can use it for a blanket. It's a worsted weight to match 6 - 9 needle sizes (more on that below). It's soft, comes in many colors and is heavy enough to knit up quickly. If you don't know what yarn to choose for your blanket, I highly recommend it.
Wanting to find your own yarn? Let's talk about how to pick a good yarn for your blanket project. The yarn you choose will vary based on your preference and the material you want for the blanket.
The yarn weight or thickness can range from fingering weight (for socks) to chunky yarn. For beginners who are unsure worsted is a good weight to start with. Chunky yarn can be good choice for a faster project.
Always think about the blanket's recipient when selecting material. Wool is warm and durable but can be hard to care for and scratchy. Acrylic and cotton are soft and easy to wash but don't add a lot of warmth.
A wool blend can be a good compromise. It has the warmth of wool but is softer on the skin.
Knitting Needles for Blankets
Circular needles are great for any blanket project. They're long enough to hold a whole blanket and the size 8 is perfect for any worsted weight yarn.
If you went with the yarn listed above for your blanket, these will work great.
Trying to decide if other needles will work for your blanket project? Read on to learn how to select your own needles.
The size (diameter) of needle use will depend on what you need to reach the desired gauge. A smaller diameter needle should be used with finer yarn. Use thicker needles for chunky yarn.
Usually the yarn you choose has a the recommended needle size.
You can make a blanket on either long straight needles or circular needles. If using straight needles, make sure they are long enough to accommodate the entire width of the blanket without bunching up too much. This is probably the best choice for beginners because it makes it easy to handle the needles.
How to Use Circular Needles for a Blanket
Even though a blanket is knit flat, not in the round, circular needles can still be used. To do this you will still knit flat and flip the work at the end of every row. The process is the same as straight needles, they're just connected together.
I use circular needles for all my projects, even flat ones like scarves and blankets. This helps me avoid owning multiple needles of the same size and keeps both needles together.
How to Knit A Blanket - Basic Pattern Instructions
Now you that you're knowledgeable about knitting blankets let's get to the instructions.
This isn't a blanket pattern. Just a general outline of how to knit a blanket on straight needles. You can find free blanket knitting patterns online to make a specific blanket.
The instructions below will give you a general idea that all blanket patterns follow.
Step 1: Cast On
You'll know how many stitches to cast on either from swatching or from a pattern. Cast on these stitches and be careful to not cast on too tight.
Step 2: Knit the Border
Now it's time to knit the foundation rows of the blanket. The first rows will form the border of the blanket on one side. This will be a garter, seed or other stitch that doesn't curl like stockinette.You will also knit a border on the beginning and end of the row as you continue on to the body. This will create a create a border on the other two sides of the blanket as you knit.
Step 3: Knit the Body
Once the border is complete move on to the main body of the blanket. Here is where most of the knitting time is spent. Follow whatever pattern you'd like for the main part of the blanket. You'll memorize even complicated patterns after a few repetitions. Just pay attention to when the pattern changes or you need to create stripes by changing yarn colors.
Step 4: Cast Off
Once the final border is complete you're ready to cast off! Choose a stretchy cast off so the final edge isn't tighter than the others.
Step 5: Finishing
Finishing includes tying in ends, seaming any pieces together and blocking. Knots used to secure the yarn result in loose ends. Weave these ends into the blanket stitches with a yarn needle and then cut them short.
While most blankets are knit all in one piece some patterns use squares or strips. These squares or stripes need to be stitched together to complete the project. Use a blanket stitch or basic seaming techniques to join the pieces together.
Blocking is a process that helps finish a piece by wetting it and allowing it to dry in a certain shape. Blocking a blanket is simple: wet it with water, arrange it on a flat surface and allow it to dry. The edges of the blanket will even out and the pattern becomes more defined.
Blanket Knitting Tips
Now it's time to get knitting! Checkout these tips before you get started so you understand how to make a blanket.
Blanket Construction and Common Stitches
As far as construction goes, making a blanket is just a bigger version of making a scarf. That is: it’s knit flat, you have both the right side and wrong side visible. This type of construction dictates how most patterns are written. Stitches that have an unfinished wrong side like cables and fair isle are harder to find in blanket patterns.
Instead, the more common stitches you’re likely to find in blankets are those that are reversible. The easier stitches that fall into this category are garter, stockinette and ribbing. More advanced blankets might use lace or lattice patterns.
Unlike something like a hat which is knit in the round, all edges of the blanket will be exposed. Variations in tensions result in ragged edges. A simple way to fix this is to slip every first or last stitch in a row. If you’re following a pattern this instruction will likely be included.
The other option to clean up edges is to add on a border after you cast off. These borders are often crocheted so if you’re a crocheter trying to pick up knitting, here’s where you shine!
To avoid adding on an edge many patterns have the edge built into their instructions as you knit. A seed stitch or garter stitch edge is common.
Types of Knit Blankets
How to Knit a Blanket with Squares
Knitting a patchwork blanket with squares can be really fun. It gives you a sense of accomplishment when each one is finished and allows for a lot of fun patterns.
Constructing an item with squares does mean you will need to bind them together somehow in the end. Binding off each individual square and joining later can be super tedious. To reduce the joining work you can knit the squares in one direction on the same live stitches. Then you essentially have a few "scarves" of squares to join together at the end.
Garter Stitch Blanket
Making a garter stitch baby blanket is a common first project. This is because it's the easiest to start with and finishes relatively fast.
When knitting flat garter stitch is accomplished by knitting every row, it’s that easy! You can spice up a garter stitch blanket by alternated colors or using a variegated yarn.
Chunky Knit Blanket
Chunky knits are a cozy trend that has extended to blankets! The nice thing about this for knitters is chunky yarn knits up an item much faster than finer yarns.
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