Katy has been knitting and crocheting for 10 years and selling her items at local craft shows in Colorado for three years.
Knitting a Blanket
Knitting a blanket can be a big undertaking! But with a little planning and these tips, you'll have a beautiful, cozy result.
This guide will show you the skills you need, how to calculate how many stitches to cast on, the needles and yarn to use, and other helpful tips.
Knitting Techniques Required for This Project
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 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.
Sometimes 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 subtracting) to avoid making the blanket too narrow.
The Best Yarn for Blankets
Beginners—or anyone looking for 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.
Read More From Feltmagnet
Tips for Finding Your Own Yarn
Do you want 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 a good choice for a faster project.
Always think about the blanket's recipient when selecting material. Wool is warm and durable, but it can be hard to care for and scratchy. Acrylic and cotton are soft and easy to wash, but they 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.
The Best 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.
The best circular needles for a blanket are ChiaoGoo Circular Needles (US8).
If you go with the yarn listed above, these will work great.
Tips for Choosing Your Own Needles
Are you 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 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.
Basic Pattern Instructions for Knitting a Blanket
Now that you're knowledgeable about knitting blankets, let's get to the instructions.
Note that this isn't a blanket pattern, however; 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 not to 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 another stitch that doesn't curl like a 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 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 stripes. 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! Check out 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, and 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
Let’s take a look at some of your different options when it comes to knit blankets.
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, however, that 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 alternating 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 that chunky yarn knits up an item much faster than finer yarn.
More Articles on Knitting Blankets
- Free Afghan Knitting Pattern: "Sweet Cables" Baby Blanket
- Knitting Project: A Cosy Rug (Blanket) With Leaf Pattern
© 2018 Katy Medium
Katy Medium (author) from Denver, CO on January 16, 2020:
A blanket that big will have to be done in strips or by holding all the stitches on a long (20 inch +) circular needle, which will get heavy and difficult.
Tanja on January 14, 2020:
I would like to knit a cover for my daughters twin size bed, not from patches, one full kniw, but I am wodnering:
How do you keep all those stitches on one circular needle?
I want to make it from Wool-Ease Thick and Quick (Lion Brand), so a chunky yarn.
colleen on November 11, 2019:
thanks for help
Katy Medium (author) from Denver, CO on October 05, 2019:
Hi Cindy, you'll want to match your needle size to your yarn weight.
Just like with the size 8 Chia Goo circulars in the link in the article, I'd choose a size 8 straight needles for most of my blanket projects that i use worsted weight yarn. Hope this helps!
Cindy Burnett on October 04, 2019:
when you say use straight needles to knit a blanket what size of knitting needles??? Thanks Cindy
Katy Medium (author) from Denver, CO on September 06, 2019:
Oh I see, so if it's the same number of stitches then you're probably casting on too tight. My cast on is way too tight naturally so i use needles at least 2 sizes bigger to cast on. You could try that or Google how to do a long tail cast on, sometimes that has better results. Good luck!
Suzi23 on September 05, 2019:
I have the same number of stitches but it just seems the last road is wider than my beginning road and I’m not sure if it’s because my first row is too tight but I can’t seem to cast on any looser. Any suggestions?
Katy Medium (author) from Denver, CO on September 03, 2019:
Hi Suzi, make sure you're not adding or combining any stitches. You can count the stitches after every row to check.
Suzi23 on September 03, 2019:
In knitting how do you keep the ending row of a blanket the same measurement as the beginning row
Katy Medium (author) from Denver, CO on July 29, 2019:
Based on the yarn you have, one method would be for your great aunt to double up the thin yarn you have (hold two strands at once) and use the chunky yarn just single stranded.
Knitting a blanket is a lot of work but the thicker yarn will make it go faster. And she can go at her own pace.
Yes, she'll need thick needles and a pattern. You can probably find a "chunky knit blanket pattern" for free and pick up a set of big needles at any big craft store.
ginelle vogt on July 28, 2019:
I have purchased all kinds of pure wool yarn. It was a sale from a lady who was to rid her wool shop. I don't knit, but when I purchased the wool, I was trying to ask questions and all the wool purchased is natural color. I asked my grand aunt who is a knitter to knit me a blanket with this wool, but she said she needs a pattern. I like the chunky look but after a little homework, it looks like chunky requires only the thicker yarn and thicker needles. Would this be something she could do? Or is this not easy for her. I want to purchase a pattern and whatever she requires, but don't want to stress her as she is older. Also I have a mix of chunky and thin, so not sure what would be suggested
katy medium on May 06, 2019:
hello how are you today . are you doing your knit
my name is amelie
Lillian on May 03, 2019:
I havent tried it yet but I have a feeling it will work. Thanks for the advice and lesson
Katy Medium (author) from Denver, CO on June 29, 2018:
Louise, thanks for reading! I actually haven't made anything larger than a baby blanket in a while. Best of luck if you try again!
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on June 29, 2018:
Thanks for the lesson. It's been ages since I tried knitting a blanket.