Blanket Progress and Baby Knitting Plans

I didn’t really do any knitting in January or February because I was struck down with morning sickness. But when I picked up my needles again in March, I started working on a series of baby projects for my sister’s first baby who will be here very soon. (So excited!) I just wrapped up the last of those projects recently, although I can’t share them until I actually send them to their new home in MN. But finishing them meant I could get a start on some knitting for my own baby, and I decided to start with a Pinwheel Blanket.

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I made a Pinwheel Blanket for Jude and found knitting the pattern extremely satisfying. I’ve been really inspired by the Pinwheel Blankets that Cassy from Knit the Hell Out has made using some TFA Palettes from Tanis Fiber Arts, so I decided to make my own and ordered the Turquoise Pop palette. The plan is to simply knit through each color in turn until I run out of yarn completely. Very complex stuff. Lol.

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This photo is a bit outdated now since I’ve just added the fifth color, which means that I’ve passed the half way point. My rough estimate is that the blanket is currently around 31″ in diameter. The blanket I made for Jude ended up being around 36″ once it was blocked, and I was really hoping to get something slightly bigger this time, so I’m pleased that it seems like I’m on track to accomplish that goal. My only concern is that a 40″ circular needle is the biggest I’ve got and I’ve already got 500+ stitches on the needle, which is more than 100″ in circumference. I’m really hoping I can scrunch all of my stitches up enough to fit the full blanket on my current needle–I really don’t want to have to order something larger. I guess I’m playing needle chicken instead of yarn chicken this time?

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Beyond the blanket, I don’t have a ton of baby knitting plans. I knit Jude several baby sweaters and baby #2 is due just a couple of weeks after Jude’s birthday, which means that everything should fit in just the right season. But I will knit a newborn hat from some of my sock yarn leftovers, and I’m planning to finally knit up this kit I bought from Barrett Wool Co. for Susan B. Anderson’s Little Giraffe pattern. I bought this when Jude was a baby thinking I’d make it for him, but I clearly never got around to it. I knit Jude a little stuffed monkey that he now sleeps with every night, so this seems like an appropriate friend for our new little one.

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Originally,  I thought I’d stop at those three projects, but then I pulled this skein of Socks That Rock out my stash and felt like I needed to turn it into a little pair of Rocky Joggers. I bought this yarn so long ago I have no idea what the color way name is and I seem to have lost the ball band, but it’s mostly a royal blue broken up with stretches of light gray and rainbow speckles. I think a pair of Rocky Joggers in this yarn could be really cute. I think there is also an equal chance that they will just look bizarre, but I’m going to risk it anyway because I am very eager to see this color way knit up but I have zero desire to knit socks.

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And while I was rifling through my stash, I also discovered that I have just enough of this color of Malabrigo Arroyo (leftover from a sweater that I made Jude almost a year and a half ago and never blogged even though it’s one of the most adorable things I’ve ever made) to knit a baby-size Beloved bonnet. So I’ll be knitting that too purely because I’ve been wanting to try the pattern forever.

I felt like I had to really push myself to make progress on the gifts for my sister. But I’m finally feeling energized by knitting again. I think a big part of it is that I’m on a break between classes and only need to work for a couple of hours a day during Jude’s naps right now. Just having more time and energy makes a huge difference. But it’s also nice to just be able to have something concrete in my hands while I’m watching Jude play during the day–it keeps me focused on the good things coming up and (mostly) helps me push away all the anxieties fighting for space in my head, at least for a bit.

Cosmic Baby Blanket

One of the last knits I finished before Jude was born was a second blanket. I was so bored with the process of knitting his first blanket, that I swore I wouldn’t knit another blanket until I had another baby. But that thought didn’t last long and I ended up buying 3 skeins of Malabrigo Arroyo and knitting up a quick pinwheel blanket when I was about seven months pregnant.

Pinwheel Baby Blanket

This is made up in the Prussia Blue colorway, which is a really lovely tonal navy. I alternated skeins throughout the blanket to avoid visible changes between skeins. The pattern starts from the center and moves outward, and I used the magic loop method for the first several rounds until I was ready to transfer the blanket to a 24″ circular needle. I increased until I had about 61 stitches in each wedge. Then I improvised a border based on a few different projects I saw on Ravelry. For the border, I worked four rows in garter stitch, one row of k2tog and YO to the end, and then another four rows in garter.

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The finished blanket is about 40″ in diameter, which has been a really useful size. It’s hard to get a sense of how big the final blanket is going to be, so I went back to junior high math and used the formulas for figuring the diameter and circumference of a circle to determine how many times I would increase. There are 10 wedges in the pattern, so you multiple your stitch count by ten and then divide that by your stitch gauge (number of stitches per inch) to get a sense of the circumference of the blanket. You can then divide this number by pi (3.14) to estimate the diameter. That process will give you an estimate of how big your blanket it as you work on it. To get a sense of how many times you will need to increase to get to the diameter you want, you just do the reverse–multiply your desired diameter by pi and then multiply again by your stitch gauge and that will tell you roughly the overall number of stitches you will need to increase to. To make your life easier, just divide that number by 10 to determine how many stitches should be in each wedge.

Pinwheel Baby Blanket

This blanket has been a family favorite. We took it to the hospital when Jude was born, we use it frequently to keep him cozy in his carseat, and it is the perfect weight for snuggles on the couch. This pattern, combined with a nice yarn, made for such soothing and enjoyable knitting that I have completely revised my stance on knitting baby blankets and can’t wait to make another one.

 

Rainbow Baby Quilt

All the knitting and sewing I was doing during the first half of the summer came to a screeching halt in July when I started teaching two summer classes and when my two teen sisters came to stay with us for two weeks. (Although I did teach both of my sisters to knit and crochet while they were visiting. My 17-year-old sister loved knitting and is now deep in the process of making a Doctor Who scarf, while my 15-year-old sister took immediately to crochet and has been pumping out projects at a break-neck pace since she picked up a crochet hook. It’s pretty awesome.) Unfortunately, at the end of the month, I found out that I’ve developed some health issues that mean that our baby is getting an early eviction notice. Everything should be fine, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking or anxiety-producing, so I cast aside the Andy Maternity pants that I was in the middle of and started work on a baby quilt in hopes that some color and simple, straight-line sewing would be soothing.

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Luckily, it worked. This is the first time that I’ve ever made a quilt, and I ended up really enjoying the process. I find that knitting and garment sewing tap into different parts of my brain, so that I tend to want to work on them at different times depending on how stressed I am. But working on this quilt produced the same kind of calming effect that a really good knitting project produces for me—it’s methodical and repetitive and very easy to get completely lost in. It was immensely satisfying to watch the whole thing come together, and it helped me work through many worries.

 

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Since this was my first-ever quilt, I wanted to keep things as simple as possible. I’d been planning this quilt since I found out I was pregnant, and I’m glad I had the foresight to go with something fairly easy since I ended up making this in a bit of a time crunch. The quilt design is based on pictures I found online of the Rainbow Jelly Roll Quilt that is the basis of Creativebug class taught by Heather Jones.

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I confess that I didn’t buy the class, which only focuses on assembling the quilt top. The quilt top is made by simply sewing together strips from a Kona Cotton Solids Roll-Up in the New Brights Palette, and I already knew enough about quilt piecing to feel pretty confident about sewing the strips together. So I just bought the Kona Brights roll-up and winged the top, cutting out almost all of the pink shades in the roll and eliminating a few other shades that looked a bit ugly or repetitive. I found a really cute blue and gray cloud print for the backing (I know it’s a Dear Stella design, but I’m not sure of the specific name or line—it doesn’t look like it’s available from Fabric.com anymore, which is where I bought it.) For the batting, I bought some Warm & Natural cotton batting in a pre-cut baby quilt size from Joann’s. The final quilt ended up being roughly 40″ x 53″.

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Since I really had no idea how to approach any of the quilt-making process beyond piecing the top together, I looked at the class offerings on Craftsy and ended up buying Maria Capp’s Mastering in Minutes: Finishing Quilts. I think this might be one of my best Craftsy class purchases so far. It’s actually categorized as a tutorial rather than a class, and is only about 17 minutes long. I loved this since my biggest issue with Craftsy classes has always been experiencing burn out—so many of the classes are so long and detailed, I end up losing interest. This class efficiently and clearly explained the process of prepping the quilt top, assembling the quilt sandwich, doing the actual quilting, and then doing a machine binding. The machine binding technique was especially easy and gave me a really nice finish.

 

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Because I wanted to keep things ultra simple, I just did straight line quilting 3/8” on either side of the quilt top seam lines. All in all, this is probably the easiest first quilt project I could have taken on. I’m glad I went with something so simple because it let me get the feel for the quilting process without needing to invest in quilting equipment I don’t have (like a rotary cutter, cutting mat, quilting rulers, etc.) or getting frustrated and bogged down by more complicated piecing or quilting. Plus, the end product is freaking delightful. I think this may be one of the most beautiful things I’ve made to date, and I’m really proud of how it turned out.

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While I really enjoyed this project, I don’t think I’m ready to launch into more serious quilting yet. Mixing colors and prints and patterns for more complicated quilt designs isn’t something that really appeals to me at this point—in fact, it seems pretty overwhelming and like it requires a skill set I haven’t really developed. But I definitely think there are some more simple quilt projects in my future. Craftsy actually has some really gorgeous modern quilt kits available for sale that look like they’re the right level of challenge for me. I’m thinking that once the infant fog starts to lift in a few (or many) months, and I’m feeling ready to get back to some simple-ish sewing I can tackle in short bursts, a quilt kit might be a fun and easy project to work on.

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Regardless, I’m glad I got this project done before the baby arrives. I’m looking forward to enjoying some sweet snuggles underneath all these bright colors.

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