In those cold winter months, nothing feels better than throwing on a knit sweater and sitting by the fire. And, when it’s time to go to sleep, you’ll want the same kind of comfort with your very own blanket. However, knitting an entire blanket could take a lot of time—your fingers may freeze before you’re finished!
For a large project like this, consider trying crochet. While similar to knitting, crochet projects tend to build up quicker and have a stiffer form. Crocheting a blanket may seem daunting, but by understanding the basics and following a helpful step-by-step guide, you’ll be as snug as a bug in a rug in no time.
It’s incredible to think that with just a few tools, you can crochet a blanket to fit a king-size bed. Here are the basics you’ll need to get started.
Crochet Blanket Pattern
A crochet blanket pattern provides all the instructions you will need to make your project. Most patterns consist of the following parts:
- A Material List: This guide contains suggested yarn type and hook size.
- A Gauge: This allows you to estimate the final size of your project.
- An Abbreviation Guide: Most patterns are written with standard abbreviations for the stitches, but if you’re ever confused, you can always consult the guide.
- The Pattern: This is a row-by-row guide that tells you every stitch you have to do.
- Pattern Notes: If the pattern uses any specific skills or special stitches, it will usually explain them here.
A pattern is helpful, but it’s not always necessary for a blanket. Because you can make a blanket any size you want and using only one stitch, you can easily freestyle a project. However, if you’d like to create a specific design, stick to a pattern.
Crochet hooks come in all shapes and sizes. In the United States, crochet hooks are measured with a letter/number combination—for example, F/5 or J/10. As the numbers get higher, the size of the hook increases. Your pattern will suggest a hook size that is appropriate for the project.
Crochet hooks are made of several different materials: wood, plastic, aluminum, and steel, among others. Each type has its pros and cons, so you may want to try a few different types to find which feels the best to you. Additionally, some hooks come with an ergonomic handle that helps ease hand strain, which you may find useful on large blanket projects.
Yarn is another crochet essential with an endless number of options. The first and most obvious is color—if you’ve ever been to your local craft store, you’re well aware of the literal rainbow at your disposal. And, while a pattern may suggest yarn colors, the choice is completely up to you.
Like crochet hooks, yarn is measured on a 0-7 number scale; the thickness of the yarn increases as the number increases. Each yarn size has a suggested range for hook size. For example, size 4 yarn has a recommended size range of I-9 to K-10.5. The combination of yarn size and crochet size accounts for how large or small your stitches are.
You can find yarn made from many different fibers. Acrylic yarn is the most widely available and the most cost efficient. Wool and cotton yarns are also easy to find and, while they might be slightly more expensive, are classic materials for warm clothing and blankets. Patterns are not fiber dependent, so the choice of fiber comes down to your personal preferences and budget.
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Modern Crochet: Essential Skills for Getting Started
What Stitches to Use
There are entire books dedicated to crochet stitches. While it may seem exciting to dive into some of the more complex stitches, it’s a good idea to master the basics first. The following are the basis for nearly all stitches you may come across when crocheting a blanket.
The slip stitch (slst) is a technique that allows you to move across a row of stitches without creating a new stitch. Insert your hook into the specified stitch. Yarn over your hook and pull the loop through the stitch and the other loop on the hook.
The single crochet (sc) is the most basic stitch you can do. Insert your hook into the specified stitch. Yarn over your hook and draw it through the stitch. You now have two loops on your hook. Yarn over your hook again and pull it through the two loops on your hook.
The half-double crochet (hdc) builds on the single crochet and is slightly taller. First, bring the yarn over your hook from back to front. Then, put your hook into the specified stitch, yarn over again, and pull the loop back through the stitch. Now, there are three loops on your hook. Bring the yarn over your hook again and pull it through all of the loops on your hook.
The double crochet (dc) continues the process of lengthening a stitch. Follow the same process as the half-double crochet until you have three loops on your hook. Bring the yarn over your hook and pull it through only the first two loops. This will leave you with two loops on your hook. Yarn over again and pull it through the final two loops, completing the stitch.
The treble crochet (tr) is just like a double crochet, except it starts with bringing your yarn over your hook twice before putting it into the specified stitch. Once you yarn over and pull the loop back through the stitch, you will have four loops on the hook. Yarn over and pull through the first two loops. Do that process two more times, and the stitch is complete.
Notice the pattern of pulling yarn through loops on your hook. That is the crux of crochet. Understanding this simple concept will allow you to do any stitch you want. So, if you come across a double treble crochet or a triple treble crochet, you’ll know how they work—just add one more yarn over your hook before entering the next stitch.
How to Crochet a Blanket
Now that you have some of the basics covered, it’s time to dig into the meat of your project.
Step 1: Choose a Crochet Blanket Style
Almost all crochet blanket projects fall into three different style categories.
Row by Row
Row by row crochet blankets build up their length by stitching many rows on top of each other. You’ll stitch across the entire length of your blanket, then turn your work and go back the other way. This style creates classic looking blankets and also lends itself to stripe patterns.
In the Round
For these projects, you will start at the center of your blanket and work outward. The diameter of your project grows because you increase the number of stitches in each round. In the round projects let you create uniquely shaped blankets like circles or hexagons.
If you’re a crochet lover, you’re probably already familiar with the classic granny square look. For these blankets, you make smaller shapes—either row by row or in the round—that you sew together to create the larger piece. These types of blankets are instantly recognizable, and their patterns can be easily adjusted—just add another row of squares.
Step 2: Read the Pattern
Once you’ve found a pattern in the blanket style you like, it’s best to read it before you even pick up your hook. This will allow you to prepare all the materials it requires, as well as get a jump on any stitches you don’t know how to do.
For example, if you’re halfway through a project and the next row requires popcorn stitches or cluster stitches, it will stop you dead in your tracks if you don’t know what these are. Avoid the curveballs, and your project will be smooth sailing.
This is also a great time to create your gauge. All patterns will have a gauge based on the suggested yarn and hook. But if you’re using a different brand of yarn or a hook one size bigger, your finished project won’t match the size of the pattern. If you’re looking to hit a very specific blanket size, the gauge will be your friend.
Step 3: Create a Slip Knot
A slip knot is an adjustable knot that “slips” tight around your hook. Make a loop with your yarn. Insert your hook in the loop and pull through the working end of your yarn. Pull the working end and tail end at the same time, and the knot will tighten around the hook.
Step 4: Create a Chain
To create your chain, simply bring the yarn over your hook and pull it through the loop. Your pattern will tell you how many chains you should do.
When working row by row, your pattern will say something like “chain 197,” which is pretty straightforward. It may also say “chain in multiples of 14 plus 3.” This means that you will repeat 14 chains until you get to your desired length, then add three more chains.
The extra three chains are commonly called turning chains. In this example, you do your first double crochet in the fourth chain from your hook, and those three turning chains will represent your first double crochet of the row. The same goes for the chain 197—there are actually 196 single crochet stitches in the first row, and the 197th chain is the turning chain.
When working in the round, the pattern will say something like “chain 6, then slip stitch in the first chain.” What this does is create a circle in which you will do your first round of stitches. There are other ways to create this circle, but the chain method is very common.
Step 5: Follow the Pattern
The pattern will provide row by row (or round by round) steps for your blanket. As you go through the steps, try to visualize what the final project will look like. This will give you a better understanding of why each row or round is designed the way it is.
Remember: the abbreviation guide is your friend. The pattern is going to rely heavily on it, as well as use symbols for repeating patterns and rows, so if you ever feel stuck, just take a step back and consult the guide.
Step 6: Finish Off
Once you’ve done the final stitch of your final row or round, you have to finish off your yarn. If this is not done properly, your whole blanket can start to unravel.
After your final stitch, chain two. Leaving about a five-inch tail, cut your yarn and pull the tail through the loop on your hook. When you pull on the tail, it will tighten those last two chains, creating a knot. Your blanket is now secure.
Step 7: Weave In Your Ends
In addition to the five inch tail you get after finishing off, there may be several loose ends throughout your blanket. These occur either when you are changing colors or switching to another ball of yarn.
To hide these ends, use a tapestry needle to weave them back and forth in the stitches. This will lock the ends in place so they don’t look messy.
Time to Cozy Up
Congratulations—your blanket is complete! And it really doesn’t take a lot of time—you can make a super cozy blanket in just one weekend.
So, the next time you hear that frigid January wind howling outside your windows, you’ll have nothing to worry about—your beautiful crochet blanket will keep you warm.
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