I like to knit, and one of the easiest things for me to work on is a baby blanket. They are a bit of a commitment (it takes me several weeks to finish one if I work every evening-which I usually don’t. Then it can take months) but it is pretty mindless-which I like. I’m a tv watching knitter, so I don’t want to have to think too hard about what my hands are doing!
Now knitting can turn into a very expensive hobby-there are plenty of beautiful yarns and nifty gizmos. But it can also be pretty frugal if you keep yourself in check. Needles are a reusuable resource, and there are some nice and inexpensive yarns out there. I’ve found some great yarn at my local dollar store, and you can frequently pick up unused yarn at thrift shops and yard sales. Many knitters have a thing against acrylic yarn, but for baby blankets it is the way to go. Long lasting and easy to wash-with a baby both of those things are important.
One note on buying yarn-always buy more than you need in the same dye lot (look for the number stamped on the label to make sure your yarn matches EXACTLY). Stores usually will take back unused yarn-and running out part way through and then ending up with another skein that almost, but not quite matches can be frustrating. Just make sure you keep your receipt!
So here goes the baby blanket pattern. It is so simple that I almost hate to call it a pattern. This is my first attempt of writing anything like this down, so please be kind! And let me know if anything is confusing.
Basketweave Baby Blanket
Worsted Weight Yarn in your choice of color
Size 10 Knitting Needles (I prefer circular-less crowding)
Cast On 130 stitches
Rows 1-10: Knit (this is your border)
Row 11: Knit 5, Place Marker*, Knit 10, Purl 10 until you have only 5 stitches left. Place marker and Knit last 5 stitches.
Row 12: Knit 5 (this is your garter stitch border) then Knit 10, Purl 10 all the way across to the marker. Knit the last 5 stitches (again, garter stitch border).
Rows 13-20 repeat rows 11 & 12
Row 21: Knit 5, Purl 10, Knit 10, Purl 10 etc till maker. Knit last 5 stitches
Row 22: Knit 5, Purl 10, Knit 10 etc till marker. Knit last 5 stitches
Rows 33-40 repeat rows 21 & 22
Rows 41 and on: repeat the pattern from row 11-40
Continue this pattern until the blanket is as long as you like-then Knit every stitch for the last 10 rows.
To break this down for you-you are basically doing a 10 row garter stitch border, then you are always keeping a 5 stitch garter stitch border on both sides of each row. Inside the border you are doing blocks of 10 stitches in stockinette (all knits when you look at it) and 10 in reverse stockinette (all purls when you look at it). Every 10 rows you switch.
Once you get this started, it really is easy to do. You just look at the row below. If it looks like a knit on the side you are on, then knit. If it looks like a purl, then purl. If this causes you problems you could actually place a marker every 10 stitches-but I find that too cumbersome.
When you finish your 10th row, you just have to remember for a single row to do the opposite of what you see beneath (so if you see a purl, you knit etc) then you are back to the same pattern.
This is an easy pattern to adjust. To make it wider just increase the stitches you cast on in multiples of 10. Or you could do bigger rectangles-maybe 20 by 20 for a different look (or 5 by 5 for smaller). Changing the needles sizes up or down one size, or having a slightly different size yarn won’t affect it too much. I like worsted and size 10 because it goes faster. Don’t even try babyweight on size 6’s or something-you’ll either wind up with a tiny blanket or you’ll have to increase the cast on and knit forever!
If all of this seems too intimidating to start with-just pick up some crochet cotton and cast on about 30 stitches on a size 6 or so needle and follow the basic pattern to make yourself a washcloth and see how that goes.
As a bonus-Basketweave dishcloth idea: Use smaller needles (7 or 8) and cotton yarn (the kitchen cotton they sell at wally world works fine) Cast on about 30 stitches, then follow the basic idea above. Knit 5 rows or so, then knit 5, place a marker, knit 5, purl 5 till the last 5 stitches, place marker, knit 5. Continue the pattern, swapping around the knits and purls after 5 rows. When it looks dishcloth sized, knit a final 5 rows and bind off. Tada! Washcloth.
Or even simpler, just do a solid basketweave with no border and call it good.
*I buy those little plastic rings and use them as markers. This way even if I am zoning out I don’t forget to switch from the 10 stitch knit purl pattern to knitting the last 5 stitches. When I don’t use a marker, sometimes I forget.