A Year of Handwoven Baby Blankets
If you subscribe to Handwoven magazine, you probably noticed Brown Sheep yarn taking center stage on the front cover! They featured a “Yarn Lab” article experimenting with our Cotton Fleece and Cotton Fine yarns (both blends of 80% cotton and 20% merino; Cotton Fleece is a DK weight and Cotton Fine is a fingering weight yarn). Cotton Fleece has been popular with knitters for years but Cotton Fine is still undiscovered for its potential as a weaving yarn. Cotton Fine is excellent for weaving for many reasons: it’s strong, very soft, and holds up wonderfully to machine washing and drying. Plus, Cotton Fine is available on cones of 1000 yards!
This year of my weaving life has turned out to be the year baby blankets. I acquired an excellent book by Tom Knisely called “Handwoven Baby Blankets“. He introduces the idea of baby blankets as the perfect way to experiment with different weave structures and color combinations in 4-harness and 8-harness weaving. My favorite thing about this book is it provides a lot of guidance for planning the project as a whole — how much to warp, how to finish the edges, and so on.
Each of these projects were made with my Schacht 36-inch Mighty Wolf loom and are suitable for a beginner-intermediate weaver with a little bit of experience in multi-harness weaving. I sent each of these blankets with instructions to machine wash and dry the blanket with no special care!
Project 1: I wanted to design 3 baby girl blankets for 3 special mothers-to-be. I selected CF915 Majestic Orchid and CF850 Berry for the main colors and the draft “Rose Garden” from Tom Knisely’s book. I warped 6 yards at a sett of 16 epi, with weaving width of 34″ in the reed. For the weft, I experimented with (1) the same 2 colors as the warp, (2) switching the darker color to CF710 Prosperous Plum and (3) changing the lighter color to CF100 Cotton Ball.
In total, this project of three blankets required 3 cones each of Majestic Orchid and Berry, as well as 2 skeins each of Prosperous Plum and Cotton Ball.
Each blanket was about 48″ in length, with a nice rolled hem as recommended in the book. I liked each of the color combinations equally–the only thing I might do differently with this pattern in the future is to choose 2 warp colors with even more contrast, such as a light pastel and a very dark shade.
Project 2: This set of blankets would be great to welcome either a baby boy or girl. This basketweave draft is called “Tutti Frutti” in Tom Knisely’s book. I decided to replace the variegated yarn in the pattern with 2 solid shades: CF840 Limelight and CF825 Truffle. I used CF105 Putty for the other warp color and also in the weft. My other weft color was CF827 Mink Brown. This pattern was especially enjoyable and soothing to weave, and I liked the color combination so much that I used the same colors for all 3 blankets. Again, I warped 6 yards for 3 blankets and sett this project at 15 epi. In total the 3 blankets (about 32″ x 48″ finished size) required 2 cones of Limelight (with plenty left over), 3 cones of Putty, 1 cone of Truffle, and 2 cones of Mink Brown.
Project 3: For this project, I wanted to experiment with Honeycomb weave. According to the Handweaver’s Pattern Directory (by Anne Dixon; draft on page 147), Honeycomb weave needs a weft at least double the weight of the warp to outline the honeycomb cells. Since Cotton Fleece is twice the thickness of Cotton Fine, these two yarns should work great in combination.
I chose CF762 Bering Sea Blue for my warp and weft, and a variety of fun brights in Cotton Fleece for my outline weft. Honeycomb weave holds you in suspense because the honeycomb cells don’t really take shape until after the cloth is taken off the loom and washed. Here are my before and after photos. Wow!
The washed cloth is very squisy and textured. I was a little disappointed with the way my edges had long floats of weft–although I love the cloth, this one is my least favorite as a baby blanket. This weave structure would probably be more suitable to sew into throw pillows or something else.
Project 4: This set of blankets was made for twins (a girl and boy) by my mom, weaver extraordinaire, on her 48″ Schacht Floor Loom. The draft is an 8-harness pattern called “Sun Spots and Solar Flares” from Tom Knisely’s book. She selected CF762 Bering Sea Blue and CF410 Green Apple for the warp and weft colors of one blanket; for the second blanket she replaced Green Apple in the weft with CF863 Apricot Nectar. The warp length was 5 yards for the 2 blankets, with a sett of 16 epi and weaving width of about 41.5″ in the reed. These blankets were woven to approx. 60″ in length. Total yarn required was 3 cones of Bering Sea Blue, 3 cones of Green Apple and one cone of Apricot Nectar.
A couple knitted hats made with the leftover yarn make the perfect gift set!
I love playing with all the different colors available in this yarn, and especially after washing the blankets are very soft and sturdy. I never had any of my warp threads break, and what I hear from the recipients is these blankets have held up really well to many washes. I hope you’ll give it a try as an alternative to the more traditional 100% cotton weaving yarns.