A K.I.S.S. for Baby
The idea for the "Keep It Super Simple" baby blanket was conceived when I found a soft and machine-washable, variegated yarn.
My loom was begging for a new warp and my niece was expecting her second child.
What better project than a lovely, soft, baby blanket to welcome the new little bundle?
This project is simple enough for even first-time weavers. You weave a length of narrow cloth and then cut and seam it to make a square baby blanket. The finishing touch is a band of crocheted picot edging sewn around the edge.
- Rigid-heddle loom with at least an 20-inch weaving width. (I used a 24-inch Beka loom.) Narrower looms can be used, but you will need to weave a longer fabric and cut and sew together more panels.
- Warping peg (or pegs)
- Sewing Machine
- Crochet hook, size 4.0mm (G)
Warp and Weft: six balls of Bernat Satin Sport, in Seashore, 100% acrylic, 2.4 oz (70g) per 182 yard (166 m)
Wind a warp 90 inches long, with 186 ends (93 loops if you are using the peg-method of warping).
Crocheted Edging: one ball of Bernat Satin Sport in Beige, 100% acrylic, 3 oz (85g) per 221 yard (202 m) ball
10 ends per inch
The finished blanket is 40 inches square: a 34-inch square central woven section, with a 3-inch crocheted border all around.
Note: Two panels are seamed together to make up the central woven section. Each finished panel is 17x35 inches allowing for a quarter-inch hem turned under at each end of both panels.
While I love weaving, I’m not crazy about warping. I find the standard warping process: measuring and chaining the warp, hauling it over to the loom, sleying the reed, and threading the heddles—while meticulously preserving the cross—annoying enough that it soured me on weaving.
Then I discovered rigid-heddle looms and the one-peg method of continuous warping. I fell in love with weaving all over again!
I’ve since adapted the continuous warping method to make it even easier: on wide warps I use three pegs for more even tension across the warp. I mounted three wooden dowels permanently into a 2x4-inch board. Alligator clamps secure the loom to one end of the table and large C-clamps hold the pegged board at the other end.
When the warp loops are sleyed through the slots in the reed they are measured and kept taut by slipping the loops over the pegs at the other end.
I leave the loops in place while winding on the warp. I undo the C-clamps that hold the board in place and reposition them so that they provide weight and resistance as the whole board slides forward along the work surface during the beaming process.
This way, I don’t need a helper when warping. I just go around to the front of the loom and give the board a gentle, even tug to make sure the warp is winding on even and taut.
If your loom (like mine) is not wide enough for the entire baby blanket, you can seam together two or more panels. If you are careful to make your selvedges neat and even, your seams will be reversible and nearly invisible.
The interesting color effect above is caused entirely by the variegation in the yarn. It makes for "super simple" weaving. One yarn for both warp and weft, woven together in plain weave; it's a very relaxing weave and yet interesting as you watch the yarn's colors merge and pool.
When you finish weaving the entire warp, cut it off the loom and secure the weft by sewing a narrow zig-zag stitch along the cut ends. Check for and correct any skips or errors in the fabric, then wet-finish it. I machine washed and dryed my cloth on a gentle, low heat, cycle.
Measure your warp into two panels, each one the full length of your intended blanket, including the quarter-inch needed to turn each hem. Using contrasting thread, hand baste a line where you wish to cut your warp length into panels.
Using a sewing machine set for a narrow zig zag, stitch on both sides of the basting line, avoiding the actual basting.
Carefully cut along the basting line, between the lines of machine stitching.
Using the same yarn as the warp and weft, carefully hand stitch the panels together catching only the weft loops along the selvedge.
Run the seaming yarn up the selvedge loops, alternating from side to side, as though it was an additional warp thread, going over the weft loops where the last warp thread went under.
When the thread is pulled taut it disappears into the surrounding fabric creating a reversible seam that is nearly invisible.
With your panels seamed together invisibly, fold the zig-zagged ends under 1/4 inch to the wrong side and stitch in place with a straight stitch. Don’t worry about turning the hem under more than once as it will be covered by the crocheted edging.
Crocheting the Edging
I finished the project off with a pretty crocheted edging in a coordinating solid colored yarn.
Start: Ch 8.
Row 1: Working in back ridges of beginning ch, dc in 4th ch from hook, dc in next 4 ch.
Row 2: Ch 3, turn; dc in next 4 dc, dc in turning ch.
Row 3: Ch 3, turn; dc in next 4 dc, dc in turning ch.
Row 4: Ch 3, turn; dc in 4 dc, dc in turning ch, ch1, do NOT turn; working in end of rows, skip first row, (3dc, ch2, 3dc) in next row, ch 1, slip st in st at base of next row.
Row 5: Turn; sc in first ch-1 sp and in next 3 dc, (sc work Picot*, sc) in next ch-2 sp, sc in next 3 dc and in next ch-1 space, slip st in next dc, ch 3, dc in next 4 dc, dc in turning ch.
Row 6: Ch 3, turn; dc in next 4 dc, dc in turning ch.
Repeat rows 3 – 6 until the edging is the desired length.
Last Row: Turn; sc in first ch-1 sp and in next 3 dc, (sc work Picot*, sc) in next ch-2 sp, sc in next 3 dc and in next ch-1 space, slip st in next dc; finish off.
*To work Picot, ch 4, sc in 4th ch from hook.
Attaching the Picot Edging
Because the weaving was soft with a fluid drape, I wanted the edging to be similar. To make the edging more pliable, I used a little-known technique for blocking acrylic. I intentionally "killed" the crocheted edging with steam. This was done before the edging was attached to the blanket.
As iron temperatures vary, please remember to do a test piece! You want your iron hot enough to create steam, but not so hot that it melts your edging. Protect your project and your iron by using a wet pressing cloth between the iron and your edging.
The wet cloth will create the heavy steam that is necessary to "kill" the acrylic and make it limp with a beautiful drape much like rayon. Press the iron straight down then lift and move to the next area. Do not slide the iron across the edging as that will stretch it out of shape, lift and press.
While the edging is still warm and pliable, stretch it out with your fingers to the desired shape and width. Let it cool completely before moving on to the next step.
To calculate how long to make my edging, I measured a blocked piece by holding it against the woven blanket down one side and around one corner, and counted the number of repeats of the edging pattern. I then mulitplied that number by four to give me the number of repeats required to go all the way around.
Place the blanket and the edging right side down and carefully pin the edging in place evenly over the hem of the blanket. Be sure to provide enough ease at the corners so that the edging will lie flat.
Stitch the edging in place using two rows of straight machine stitching. One row goes at the inner edge of the crocheted edging, the other row is placed close to the outer edge of the weaving.
You now have a beautiful, easy-care baby blanket that can be frequently machine washed and dryed.
Use your imagination to create variations on this idea. A throw for a full-sized bed only requires more panels. There are many different edgings you can knit or crochet. Not a multi-crafter? Look in sewing stores for premade lace edgings or satin blanket bindings.
Marlene Randall lives in British Columbia, Canada. She is a fiber-crafts fanatic who lives to create. Her current passions are knitting and spinning, with occasional side trips into crochet, weaving, and embroidery. She blogs as Wovenflame.