Friday, August 2, 2013

Crochet-edged receiving blankets




A dear friend will soon be having her second baby. This baby was a very happy, very welcome surprise. My friend did not think she would ever have the pleasure of welcoming a second child. She and I have a lot in common, especially our love of simple, frugal living. When I asked her what she needed for the new baby, she answered immediately: "Receiving blankets!" She had saved most other things from her first baby and didn't feel she needed more. She insisted that I should not spend much on her gift, however. I like to splurge a bit when I know someone will appreciate it, but with her, it's better to keep things simple. I like that about friendship, you know - you get to figure out exactly what will please the other person.

I shopped a little bit for receiving blankets in the stores; I had especially liked the flannel type that I used when my babies were small (and which are now used for the GB's "babies"). But everything I saw in the stores seemed kind of cheap and nothing really called out to me. So I decided I would make some receiving blankets for my friend instead, and would embellish them with crochet too. I absolutely love vintage baby items, and I'm lucky enough to own a few very beautiful pieces which were handed down to me by my husband's family. I especially love the look of baby blankets with delicate crocheted edgings and I set out to learn how to make some for my friend.

I found a lovely tutorial on Purl Bee, the blog maintained by employee/crafters of the Purl Soho online and brick-and-mortar shops. This is one of my favorite blogs because the tutorials and ideas are always gorgeous. I'm also known to spend a fair bit of time ogling the products in their online shop. Next time I'm in New York City, their shop is going to be one of the first places I visit.  This baby blanket tutorial, by their member Laura, is easy to follow and it was exactly what I was looking for to make special gifts for my friend.

I ordered good-quality cotton flannel in three different patterns from Fabric.com, while they were on sale. One yard of each cost about $6, so it was an excellent value for nice, heavy-weight flannel. They only shrunk slightly when I washed them, and I was able to cut my blankets to about 35 by 35 inch squares. This is a bit smaller than Laura's examples, but larger than the ready-made versions I had looked at. I felt it was a good compromise to keep this project simple and affordable. Laura's tutorial suggests using machine-washable merino wool for the crocheted edging but I opted to use Stylecraft Special DK; I thought it might be a bit more durable for regular use. Plus, I always have tons of it, as it's my favorite acrylic yarn. As with other tutorials I reference on my blog, I won't rewrite Laura's tutorial, but here are some photos I took as I worked.







I hemmed each square of flannel with 1/4-inch rolled hem, using regular cotton thread. Then I used a size E crochet hook, the second-smallest I have, to make the crocheted edge. It was surprisingly easy to puncture the flannel with the hook and I tried to do it at regular intervals along all four sides of each blanket. I think it may have helped that I was using a Boye-brand hook, which has a sharper point at the top than my usual (preferred) Susan Bates hooks have. The edging consists of "granny clusters" of three single crochet stitches with one chain between each cluster. The corners are simple too: 3sc, ch3, 3sc. This covers the square corner of the blanket and gives it a rounded look.

If I could make one suggestion about this technique, it would be to say that your work will be much more pleasant if you guide the hook through the flannel in a certain way. I usually crochet keeping the tip of my left index finger right behind the chains I'm crocheting into. I started out that way with this project and before I had crocheted the first side of the first blanket, my left index finger's tip was rubbed raw by the hook. I would suggest moving the work down that index finger so that the hook is sliding against the middle joint of the finger, where the skin is tougher. I had a much easier time with the puncturing after I switched to doing it this way. Here's a photo, which I hope is helpful.


See how I'm holding the hook between my thumb and the second joint of my index finger? This is as I am first making that puncture. I don't know whether others are already crocheting this way but I tend to use the end of that finger more and sliding down toward the second joint helped me a lot. It was a little awkward at first but it got easier quickly.

Working with the Stylecraft Special DK was a dream, of course. There was very little splitting, even with such a small hook (I usually use a G hook with Stylecraft, this one is two sizes smaller than what I'm used to using with this yarn). I tried to come up with color combinations which were pretty and girly, and I think I was successful. Laura's blankets are much more sophisticated-looking, but I know that my friend is very excited about having a girl (her first child is a boy).


Pink and yellow flowers with minty-green leaves on light pink flannel, with Stylecraft Special DK in Aspen. This one has a 50's feel to me.


Pastel medallion-print on pale aqua with Stylecraft in White, soft and pretty.


Blue, aqua and yellow scalloped pattern on white flannel, with Stylecraft in Saffron. This one reminds me of rubber duckies in the bathtub.


They're plenty big enough for a new baby, to be draped over her while she's in the carseat or stroller, or to set her on for floor-playing or tummy time. They're lightweight, perfect for a baby who will arrive while it's still warm here, but they'll provide a little extra warmth when she's more heavily dressed in the fall.


I gave them to my friend on Wednesday afternoon when we visited them for a play-date. She was so happy and I know she appreciates them. I appreciate having a friend who likes handmade things. Her husband called from work while we were there and she told him all about the blankets. She said he was excited too. It warms my heart to know that these people who love being parents are so happy to receive gifts like this. I know they will raise their children with similar values. And it makes me happy to give good people simple gifts from my heart.

44 comments:

  1. Jennifer, these are lovely and so clever. I never knew that you could crochet not on crochet or knitting. I am sure that your friend will really appreciate them and use them lots, as will her new baby.

    Have a good weekend.

    Amy

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  2. I wish I had these done for my daughter when she was a baby. They're beautiful and look so much better than when first purchased. Thanks for sharing and I know your friend would appreciate it. Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

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  3. These blankets are beautiful. I will definitely keep these in mind the next time I need a baby gift. Practical and beautiful... the perfect gift! Thank you for sharing!

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  4. These are really special. I'm adding them to my list of things to make. I read somewhere about sharp crochet hooks, but haven't seen any to buy. Your idea of a small hook looks like the only way to make these. I like a simple life as well and would have loved gifts like this when my daughter was a baby. They mean more when someone has taken time to make them.

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  5. What a lovely friend you are! These are really beautiful and will become family heirlooms for generations to come ... what a wonderful legacy!

    You've also inspired me into trying this, I've seen it before on other blogs, but didn't know how to make the holes ... I thought a special tool was required, but now I know! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Love Claire xx

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  6. These little blankets are beautiful, stitched with love for a much loved baby! :) x

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  7. They are absolutely gorgeous! What a wonderful gift! The edging is so beautiful

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  8. Lovely gift Jennifer - well sourced materials, beautifully done!
    Joy x

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  9. These are so beautiful! I'm attending a friend's shower next week, too late for me to attempt, darn it. What a great gift!

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  10. I still have most of the baby blankets that my kids rec'd as gifts. I can see that your friend will absolutely love this especially because so much thought went into making these. The edging sure makes it look pretty! Have a great weekend! Jayne

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  11. Love them Jennifer and is wonderful when you hear how appreciated things we
    make for friends or family

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  12. Friends and family who appreciate, and even prefer handmade, make gift giving that much more enjoyable.
    These blankets are stunning. I do love the crochet edge. Pillow slips look lovely too with this technique. x

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  13. What a lovely, thoughtful gift! I know your friend will treasure it forever. You are so creative and talented!

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  14. That's a wonderful gift, which you put your heart into. I know she'll appreciate you each time she used them.

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  15. Oh my goodness, those are just perfectly wonderful! I remember seeing a very pointy crochet hook once in a catalog or something, made especially for puncturing fabric to crochet around it. You did a great job of it! Have a super weekend. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  16. Your receiving blankets are lovely and such a special gift for a new baby. Thanks for the link to the pattern and all the tips to crochet the pretty edging.

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  17. Hi Jennifer,What a great job you did!!!They are so much nicer than anything for sale out there!!!Have a great weekend!!!
    Love
    AMarie

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  18. Oh Jen your friend must be absolutely thrilled - they're gorgeous! I've often thought about decorating the edges of towels in this way so it's really interesting to see the pictures of you doing it. Well done on both the blankets and the lovely thoughts that went into making them x Jane

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  19. These are REALLY gorgeous!! I love the mix of textures and flannelette blankets are so lovely and warm. I've seen pictures on pinterest of this kind of edging but I love the colours you chose to complement the fabric. I'm sure your friend will be delighted (as will the new precious baby!) J9 x

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  20. They are so lovely, what a gorgeous gift. I think I like the aqua one with the right trim the best, but they are all so pretty. I was really interested to see how you crocheted directly into the fabric. I made a crochet trim for some towels a while back and I had to sew a line of blanket stitch all along the edge first with a needle and thread, then work into the stitch. x

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  21. Jennifer, I think it was a perfect gift and I know she was thrilled. i love how you explained everything so clearly. I have wondered how to poke the hole in the flannel to get your hook through it. I know there is a special hook you can buy to do this, and a rotary cutter, but I think you method sounds wonderful.
    Well done,
    Merediht

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  22. Jennifer, the blankets are beautiful! With our daughter I made quit a few things, never thought to make her receiving blankets. Maybe with our next I will do that! These turned out lovely! :)

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  23. Jennifer, these are absolutely beautiful and what a lovely gift, I bet your friend was really thrilled with them. Thanks for sharing how you added the crochet edging too as I was wondering how to do this and it seems really clear to me now after reading your post.
    Marianne x

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  24. these are super gorgeous, love anything with crochet added on it x

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  25. Oh my, these little blankets turned out lovely! Thank you for sharing with us how to make them. I'm sure they will be a cherished gift.

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  26. What beautiful blankets - lovely designs and SO well made! thanks for your message on my blog and I'm happy to have found yours! Also very happy to follow :)
    Mary x

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  27. They are gorgeous and I'm sure your friend will be absolutely thrilled with them.

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  28. What a lovely gift, a lot of work and love went into making them.

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  29. I never knew it was so easy to put a crocheted edge onto regular fabric. Would never have thought of it. All of the blankets are beautiful, and it's wonderful that your friend cherishes them so.

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  30. Hi Jennifer
    your blankets are beautiful and will be treasured. I have seen the same tutorial on purlbee but you have really brought it to life - thank you.I adore trimmed blankets and linens and have been pinning lots of images for ages I think you have given me the inspiration to have a go.
    Sue x

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  31. I love these, Jennifer - they are so pretty and just perfect for a little baby girl! You are so clever and talented, and this is such a thoughtful gift to give to your friend. No wonder she was so excited when she saw these precious blankets and what a joy to have such a like-minded friend too. They are not always easy to find, but when you do, you know you have a friend forever. Have a great weekend. :)

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  32. I love these! What a great idea for a baby gift. There is something so nice about a good quality flannel - it is perfect for next to a baby's tender skin. You are a very thoughtful friend!

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  33. Jennifer, this really did make all of the difference didn't it?
    Store bought ones just lack that "personality", as you know I've been through 5 babies and not once did I have anything as gorgeous as these receiving blankets, these are the kind that can be handed down for years and years...
    You are such a talented woman! I'm moving next door to you :)
    Have a great week my friend,
    Tammy

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  34. They're lovely, and useful, beautifully made, and kinda fun because they're so colourful. What a lovely gift ... your friend is lucky to know you :)

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  35. Your blankets are lovely. Something for them to treasure. Such a lovely idea x

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  36. that is such a awesome idea. My neighbor is having a girl and I would love to do this. My thing about it is it hard to puncture the blanket?

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  37. Those are so lush! I really want to learn to do things like this. I love how homely you make everything. You're a wonderful homemaker :)

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  38. Jennifer,

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

    Really.

    Leanne xx

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  39. Thanks for sharing the details. I will have to try this for the next baby that comes around!

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  40. You did a beautiful job, what a nice gift! I bet she loved them, I think anyone would :)

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  41. Hi Jennifer,

    Just love these with the crochet edges! My fav is the pink floral with the blue edge...so darn cute!

    Hugs, Lynnie

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  42. They are really lovely! Nothing like a homemade gift, something made especially for the person in mind and not mass produced. Pam

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  43. I just Love the crocheted trim on the blankets! My mother knew how to do that and I wanted to learn, but she recently passed away. I am determined to learn as I want to trim some kitchen towels. Love your blog by the way. Please check out my blog at Hesta's Studio!

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Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

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