What is the perfect baby blanket?
“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.”
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.
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.
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:
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.)
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.
I 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.
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.
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!