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What is the perfect baby blanket?

Nanny's Baby Blanket (long shot)
Isabelle baby blanket
My perfect baby blanket is a unique creation that was lovingly hand-painted, hand-pieced and hand-sewn by my maternal Grand-Mother. I was too young to remember when or how I was first introduced to this beloved blanket, but it is firmly woven into the fabric of many of my toddler memories. I adored that blanket. It was played with at home and often came with me when I went out. It provided comfort and distraction as well as warmth.
Nanny's Baby Blanket, Yellow Duck Surrounded By Pink Flowers Square I remember a favourite pastime was to have it spread on the floor while I sat in its middle and carefully examined each square.Nanny's Baby Blanket, Black Poodle On Pink Background Square
I would intently study the detail so abundantly painted into every miniature scene. Nanny's Baby Blanket, Lion With Red Ball SquareMy most love dolls were tucked under it for naps, and it was folded into their cradle, and wrapped around them when they came with me for walks. I happily cuddled with one of those dolls under it while snuggling in the backseat of the car when I got to go with my parents to drive in movies. I proudly brought and showed it to baby sitters, and it came with me on short and long hospital stays. Simply, it was a beloved “companion”, an item I wanted to have with me, as vital as my pyjamas.
Naturally as an adult I have a different appreciation of this truly exceptional blanket. Nanny's Baby Blanket, LiningAlthough I cannot sew or do fabric painting I do craft and think this exquisitely detailed creation is a work of art. Where once it was treasured for the softness of the flannel lining, its pretty colours and fabulous pictures, now it is a quilt of memories as well as a gift from a Grand-mother with whom I had very little time.blanket

 

Isabelle’s Perfect Baby Blanket
Isabelle Baby Blanket
Isabelle’s blanket is a tangible demonstration that perfection can be sturdy simplicity. Her baby blanket is a wonderful 38 by 40 inch rectangle. It appears to have been expertly knitted using very small needles, and is worked in all over moss stitch; many hours of loving labour were spent creating this treasured blanket. Made by her husband’s Grand-Mother it proved to be an invaluable baby accessory. Not only durable, it has a soft dense texture and has stood the tests of time, and four babies. This is what Isabelle writes about it:
Isabelle Baby Blanket3“I used it in different ways for our four children. When the child was a newborn I put the baby in the middle of the blanket and it was big enough for me to swaddle it and so the baby was warm and felt safe being well wrapped. I also used it when I was breastfeeding for discretion. It was wonderful to cuddle in quiet moments with my baby. And finally I used it when I went for a walk to cover the baby in the baby-carriage so it was not too cold and not too hot. This blanket travelled a lot : it came with us from France and as there was a limit to the number of items we could bring to Canada, I just kept a few garments that our children had when they were babies and this blanket is one of those few.
Now, we keep this precious blanket and look forward to when we can use it again for our grand children.”

 While the materials we choose and the methods we use to craft baby blankets are as various as the crafters who knit, sew and crochet them, I expect most of us hope and wish that the blankets we take such care creating are as treasured and will one day figure in the happy memories of the children and mothers who receive them.

Aside from the sentimental value associated with such a gift , what exactly makes a baby blanket Perfect?

So often today we are preoccupied with practicalities such as rugged durability and machine washing. Of course these are considerations, as are size, structure and design, all of which should come in to choosing and planning any project. These factors are of even more importance in some items, like a baby blanket. Not only do you want it to be used and to last, but after all it will probably be a parent who gets to care for the blanket over its first years. However, while it is important to keep ease of care firmly in mind, where and how and by whom it will be used ought to be the primary considerations. It should still be pleasing to look at and most of all to feel! I think the crafter needs to remember that while it is indeed the parents who will be washing and keeping track of it (during a period when time and energy are both in low supply), it is the new little person who will be holding it, cuddling and bonding with it. Presuming it is being given to a real baby (that is a child under one year of age) my own feeling is that the focus should be on texture, a soft fabric that is pleasing to the touch. Light warm and soft are sure to be qualities the tiny baby appreciates and the toddler will still value. But opting to maximize texture does not have to mean plain.

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Dutch Tile Blanket, photo courtesy of http://www.knitspot.com

Anne Hanson of Knit Spot often highlights this very point. This lovely Dutch Tile Blanket is an excellent example of the beautiful effects that can be achieved with a motif knitted in textured stitches ,worked in heavier (worsted weight) yarn. This type of deceptively simple design creates a rich, tactilely intriguing fabric. Such fabric is likely to be thick but not heavy and hold heat well. 

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Filigree Lace-Edged Baby Blanket, photo courtesy of http://www.heartstringsfiberarts.com

An equally effective if more decorative approach is illustrated by Jackie E-S of Heart Strings Fiber Arts’ pattern Filigree Lace-Edged Baby Blanket. Its solid garter stitch centre is practical, creating a cushiony, warm, solid fabric that can be exquisitely soft in the right yarn. The lace edging adds that extra touch of delicacy and charm without compromising the blanket’s essential usefulness.

Of course the truly ornamental baby blankets have there place. Even if they are unlikely to become Baby’s best friend (and given the work that goes into them and the fragility of lace this is most likely for the best) they may well become a much valued piece of textile family history. Two patterns that are near the top of my “want to knit” list are these beauties:

HeartString_babyblankett

Elegantly Simple Baby blanket, photo courtesy of http://www.heartstringsfiberarts.com

Jackie E-S’ Shetland lace inspired Elegantly Simple Baby blanket can be a precious piece of intricately worked lace fibre art used on special occasions in Baby’s infanthood. Alternately, worked in a heavier yarn it can be a pretty lace blanket destined to be loved and used in daily life. (Jackie generously offers this lovely pattern for free on her site, only requesting that those who download it please make a blanket to donate to a children’s charity.)

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Rose Beauty, photo courtesy of http://www.knitspot.com

The other special lace piece I want to make is also by Ann Hanson and once again if worked in a more delicate yarn (to showcase the wonderful lace pattern) it would be a creation to treasure. I believe its name says it all, Rose Beauty.
(And I just have to mention that both of these lace patterns would be gorgeous heirloom quality creations when made in one of Les Belles Bouclettes’ lace or fingering weight yarns.)


In the last few days I cast on a blanket for Les Belles Bouclettes.

Boucle Mohair Baby Blanket In Progress (Purl-Fluffy Side) Larger ImageI am working it in their unbelievably soft natural white (undyed) boucle. This is an exceptional yarn which knits into a fabric that truly needs to be touched before it can be fully appreciated. I have chosen a practical reversible pattern that will focus everyone’s attention (particularly Baby’s) on its texture. When this novelty yarn is knitted in plain stocking stitch its knit side is smooth, almost silky, while the purl side feels Soft and almost furry; handling it is a true delight. It has a garter stitch border with a single row of eyelets between the border and the stocking stitch centre. When it is finished a satin ribbon in a contrasting colour will be threaded through the eyelets for a decorative touch.

Boucle Mohair Baby Blanket In Progress (knit-smooth side) Larger Image

 

This blanket is more like Isabelle’s perfect blanket, and is much simpler than the patterns shown above and the one I hold so dear. But like any blanket that delights a baby it will be soft and comforting , a blanket to warm and soothe. We hope that soon a little Someone will be cuddling under it, feeling safe and secure as they snuggle into it and dream sweet dreams.baby_blanket_folded

 

 

 

 
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This is only the first of many baby blankets I’ll be knitting for Les Belles Bouclettes. So I am very interested in your opinions, they will help me to plan future projects. !
And we do want to hear all about YOUR Perfect Baby Blanket, so please use the comments section to tell us about yours. The one that figures in your childhood memories, or the one you made for your baby or grand-baby! Or just share with us which qualities you find most appealing when you look at and shop for The Perfect Baby Blanket!

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