easy and free: simply beautiful baby blankets to knit

December 02, 2015

A reader asked me for an idea for an easy baby blanket and since there were so many, I decided the answer needed to be put in a blog post.  So here we go--below are the prettiest baby blankets I could find that qualify as easy-- some being easier than others--all gorgeous and all free.  I've read through all the patterns and only included patterns that are well written and easy to follow.  I'm sure you'll find something you like.  You'll be able to find more difficult patterns, but none cuter, and while these are easy to knit, they are also fun to knit. There are no panels to sew and no stitches to pick up. All pattern links are included.

To make a baby blanket you need a pattern, yarn and needles.  But what do you choose first--the yarn or the pattern?  Well, it kind of goes hand in hand. It might be a good idea to print out 2 or 3 of your favorite patterns and go to the yarn shop with an open mind.  See what yarn choices are suitable for each pattern and choose from there.

As for yarn, purchase the best you can afford; you'll save money in the long run. Of course you'll want it to be soft and and machine washable.  If you purchase high-quality yarn that can be washed in the machine, your knit can be used daily, washed often, and hopefully passed on to the next baby. Below are Rowan yarns I love that are perfect for baby.

Cotton Cashmere (heavy DK weight)
Handknit Cotton (light worsted weight)
Baby Cashsoft Merino (sport weight)

I have knit with and can highly recommend all of the above yarns. Some of the ball bands prefer hand washing (and I do too), but if any of these yarns go in the washing machine it will not be a terrible disaster. I have put all of these yarns in the washer and dryer, but garments will last longer if hand washed of course. If gifting a hand knit to a busy new mom, and she does machine wash and dry, at least you'll know the blanket won't felt with the above yarns. 

I try to steer clear of acrylics. I know they are so appealing for their inexpensive price, wide availability, and their alleged softness, but you and your project will likely suffer in the end.  While an acrylic might feel soft when you squeeze the skein, your working hands and the finished product will tell you otherwise.  Acrylics have ZERO life which means tired hands and an unhappy knitter.  Plus, after a few washes, your acrylic blanket will feel scratchy and look ratty and pilly.  There are machine washable wools and cottons and blends out there that are economical, soft, lively, and machine-washable. 

Here are the most common types of baby blankets: feather and fan and other simple laces, chevron, diagonal garter, simple stripes, and knit-purl patterned blankets. I've just heard from a reader that eyelet and lace blankets are better suited for older babies.  Newborns can get their fingers and toes caught in the eyelet holes, not good.  Perhaps a squishy garter stitch blanket is best suited for a newborn.  I'd still knit any lace blanket for a baby but share my concerns with the mother.

Her number one priority was that it had to be soft; however, she did not want wool as this baby lives in Houston, Texas where the temperatures are mild to hot -- REALLY hot, not to mention humid!  I reminded her that the yarn needed to be machine washable and dryable, because after all, no one wants to have a precious baby wrapped in a not-so-clean blanket. While she kept moseying over to gaze at the acrylics, I gently shoved her away, because when you ask for my help, it does not include working with scratchy pilly acrylic, no matter how appealing it may look to a novice. She thought she wanted a super-bulky yarn so it would go fast, but I had to no-no that too.  "Your hands will get tired holding those enormous needles. Let's find something more delicate that will still knit up quickly." - See more at: http://knitionary.blogspot.com/search/label/baby?updated-max=2015-03-23T18:41:00-07:00&max-results=20&start=5&by-date=false#sthash.B3QYhQxr.d
Let's begin with possibly the most popular of all baby blankets, the feather and fan, also known as old shale.  It's a type of lace that looks complicated but it's not at all.  The pattern is just 4 rows, and only one row is a pattern row.  If you can knit-2-together and make a yarn-over, you can make this.  Trust me, it's even easy enough to take as a travel knit.  The feather and fan has an old-fashioned look that is so beautiful when knit in cream, but knit this in a deep shade of grey and the sophistication level will soar.  Of all the feather and fan blankets, I like The Feathered Baby Blanket by Kaye Smith the most.  The designer incorporates waves of simple garter stitch to break up the feather and fan pattern.  Ali-g made this version below in a sandy colored off-white and made Carole Baneny's Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater to match.  Heavenly heirloom. 

The chevron stitch blankets have a modern look and are handsome in stripes. Knit chevron blankets in modern nursery colors for an oh-so-Missoni look.  As with most baby blankets, gauge is not crucial.  Just make sure your needle matches your yarn so you will get a tight enough weave so baby's toe won't be forever poking through!  Below, Purl Soho's Chevron Baby Blanket uses a cotton worsted weight doubled to achieve a bulky weight gauge.

Espace Tricot also has a free pattern for a chevron baby blanket that also uses worsted weight, but single, not doubled as Purl Soho's above which will make it less bulky.  You can make it larger or smaller by adding or removing repeats.

What could be easier than stripes?  Make over-sized stripes like the four blankets below and stripes go from ho-hum to bold and beautiful. The first three are knit in cushy garter stitch (knit every single stitch) and the last one is my pattern, knit in stockinette with a simple garter stitch border.  Either way, color choice here is crucial. Ask the new mom for her nursery color choices and then be inspired by them.  You don't need to, and probably won't want to, match exactly, but rather coordinate your blanket colors to the nursery.  Don't be afraid to add a pop of a surprise color or even black.  Pattern links are in each caption.
Hudson's Baby Inspired Crib Blanket from Purl Soho.

Purl Soho's New Super Easy Baby Blanket.

My girlfriend wanted to knit her first grandchild an easy baby blanket but NOT in garter stitch.  I designed this stockinette stitch blanket with a garter border using Rowan All Season's Cotton.  It's beautifully soft and the wide sophisticated stripes look fantastic with her modern nursery colors.  A Baby Blanket for All Seasons by Kristen Rettig.

Can lace knitting be easy?  Yes.  Like the feather and fan above, if you knit-2-together paired with a yarn-over,  you're making lace.  Lace can be complicated or simple, but this post is showcasing the simple.
Pine Forest Baby Blanket by Ingrid Aartun Boe uses Elizabeth Zimmerman's gull lace pattern.  Gull lace is a very easy 3 row repeat and only two of those rows are patterned.  Perhaps one of the easiest of all the laces, EZ recommends this to be a knitters first foray into lace knitting.

The Leafy Baby Blanket by Leyla Alieva is perhaps closer to intermediate knitting ability, but I included it as it has both written and charted instructions.

Clusters of eyelet daisies dot Allegra's Cover by Emma Fassio.

Next are a few blankets that use knits and purls to create pattern and texture.

Learn to knit a Basket Weave Blanket in this easy-to-follow pattern from Leisure Arts.  Looks tricky.  It's not.  You'll love the result.

Malt from Tin Can Knits is a teaching pattern.  The pattern includes tutorial links for every knitting term used.

Newborn Baby Blanket by Alta Green makes a tiny stroller blanket and uses only 200 yards of Aran weight yarn.

Diagonal blankets are fun to make.  You usually cast on one or two stitches, then increase at the beginning of every row until you have used exactly half of your yarn, or until you have the size you want, then you start the decreasing until you are down to those one or two stitches.  Voila!  You are done!

I think I did promise that you wouldn't have to pick up any stitches, but maybe you won't mind doing that little thing for a sweet picot edge?  Cambria Blanket by Pam Sauser
The Diagonal Comfort Blanket from Lion has a lovely eyelet border. 
The most basic of the diagonals, the Garter Stitch Blanket from Thomas Wermuth comes in two sizes.
Halifax from Hannah Patton incorporates a diamond pattern in her diagonal blanket by placing purls on the knit side.

I'm a Rowan fan. Below are Rowan yarns I love that are perfect for baby.

Cotton Cashmere (heavy DK weight)
Handknit Cotton (light worsted weight)
Baby Cashsoft Merino (sport weight)

I have knit with and can highly recommend all of the above yarns. The ball bands prefer hand washing (and I do too), but if any of these yarns go in the washing machine it will not be a terrible disaster. Garments will last longer if hand washed of course, but if gifting a hand knit to a busy new mom, you'll at least know the garment or blanket won't felt with the above yarns. 

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  1. I'm in the middle of knitting Baby Babar which is available on Ravelry. Don't know if it is a free pattern, but it is darling. It might interest you.

    1. Oh my gosh, I just looked Babar up. It's totally adorable!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! Very soon you'll be wrapping a wee one in a blanket!

  3. Thank you for all the beautiful baby blanket patterns. I do have a question/concern though. I had always heard that you should never give a baby blanket that has tiny holes (lace patterns) to a baby because they can get their tiny toes and fingers caught in the lace hole openings and that can cause their blood flow to get cut off. So while these blankets are all beautiful I think knitters and knit designers should probably include a warning not to give to newborn babies. Mot of these blankets would be better suited for a toddler and child, or make them larger for an adult. Just thought I would let others know because no one would want to harm a sweet little baby unknowingly. Stick to knitting garter stitch blankets for newborns without a lacy edge to be safe.

    1. I've never heard of that, but it makes sense. Perhaps eyelet blankets are best for older babies to avert a horrible disaster! I'll amend my blog post to include that.

    2. I've never heard of this happening. While it is possible, I would think it could only happen to a baby who isn't being watched as it should be.

    3. Here we go!! There's always one!!

  4. Good Morning,
    Thank you for all the beautiful baby blankets. I do have the following question:

    My gauge was 3.5 stitches per inch. The Grandmother wants a dense blanket with 25 x 25 inches ( A Stroller Blanket). So, I was not sure how many stitches to Cast On and the needles. The Mother Loves Black, Grey and I was going to add all the other colors I had ( RED HEART REFLECTIVE YARN, BULKY LABEL SAYS SIZE 10). Can You help? Thanks. I wanted to do your baby blanket in this yarn.

    1. I think with your gauge, and if you wanted your blanket to be 25 inches wide you would cast on 88 sts. and would use the same size needles that gave you the 3.5 sts. per inch. I hope that helps!

  5. P.S. Aran, Black, Grey, Neon pink, Neon Orange, Neon Green, Neon Yellow, Olive, Purple and Peacock. It is going to be very hard to put these in your pattern.

    1. Wowzer! You've got some great colors there! Because you have so many, why not limit yourself to just half of the colors rather than trying to incorporate all of them. I love the idea of adding the grey or black with your brights and hope you still include at least one of those.

  6. Good Morning, Thank you for the baby blankets. I love your blanket. Here is my question: My gauge was 3.5 stitches per inch. The Grandmother wants a dense blanket with 25 x 25 inches ( A Stroller Blanket). So, I was not sure how many stitches to Cast On and the needles. The Mother Loves Black, Grey and I was going to add all the other colors I had ( RED HEART REFLECTIVE YARN, BULKY, LABEL SAYS Size 10) Can You help? Thanks

    Another question: Is the Cast On the Right Side in your pattern? If I can figure out how many to Cast On, I would Love to do yours. So Elegant. Hopefully, it will go fast.

    Hopefully, I'll hear from you either on Facebook or here. Thank you.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Nice meet admin, i have read your blog and it's really a informal blog about
    baby blanket.
    By the away Vist my blog for baby care by colourful baby thanks

  9. Hi Kristen
    Very nice article thanks for sharing.
    Here are some tips that will help you choose the right wool and yarn to make beautiful hand knitting patterns to welcome the little one

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Yes, you had a baby- and that is great, and a big deal to you. Lucy

  12. Nice post,Thank you for sharing this article.
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  13. Beautiful patterns. Where will I find abbreviations?? Beginner!

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  16. Actually, old shale and feathers and fans are different patterns. Similar, different.

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  19. Baby blanketsare beautiful. The colour combination and pattern are great. Thank you


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