This post will give you everything you need to know to be able to design your own crochet sampler blanket.
The photographs with this post are of my Spring Flower Blanket. I cannot share my pattern for this blanket as I did not write it down! This is still something that you could do yourself though….. interested? Read on!!
To make a Sampler Blanket
First step – pick your yarn
You will need to make some decisions here. Or maybe you will have some constraints and not need to make any decisions at all.
Yarn choice – are you lucky enough to be choosing new yarn or are you using yarn from your stash? You could be using recycled yarn – see my series of posts on yarn recycling here, Yarn recycling #1, Yarn recycling #2, Yarn recycling #3.
I chose four main colours for my project plus black for the edging and highlights. If you are picking yarn then consider the fact that all the colours will need to work together in pairs as well as overall. Otherwise you are restricting your options with the patterns and stitches you can use.
You might be working with a much larger number of colours if you are using oddments of yarn. If this is the type of project you are starting then consider splitting the yarn into groups of light/dark or by colour groups as part of a bigger design. This gives you the option of an overall design based on two tones with lots of variety in the detail. Eg an overall design that is just two colour types, blue or green. Where the actual blue is from a mix of any you have as is the green. Does that make sense? Or where you have every section either from your light group or your dark group.
Part of the decision on yarn has to be the weight you will work in. If you have mixed weights in the yarn you are using you will need to double up some of the strands and work with the largest gauge. If in doubt make a set of sample squares using the same hook and number of stitches and varying the number of strands of yarn you use until you get to squares of equal size where the feel of the square is similar.
TIP – If the squares are too dense and stiff then you probably need to reduce the number of strands of yarn. If you cannot reduce the number of strands then you should go up a hook size or two. If the square is too open and loose feeling, try adding another strand of yarn or going down a hook size.
Second Step – What size blanket will you make?
What will you use your blanket for? To an extent the yarn choice will influence the type of blanket you make. If you have a thick yarn it won’t really work for a cot blanket but might be perfect for a lapghan for those cold evenings! Next, you will need to check you have sufficient yarn to make a blanket of the size you would like. If you are lucky enough to have lots of yarn then you can skip this step. If not, you can use your tension square for to estimate the maximum size of blanket you can make. Although the measurement will not be very accurate so please allow a lot of wriggle room!
This next bit is the calculator….. you can download a template here to make this a bit easier.Yarn Calculator (13 downloads)
To calculate approximate size of the blanket you can make. Work up a tension square and weigh it with the most accurate scales you have. We will call this weight B – write down this weight. Write down the size of the sample square in square centimetres – Size A. Multiply the length of your sample by its width. If your sample square is 10 x 10 centimetres then your size A is 100 square centimetres.
TIP – the stitch you use to work up the sample square is very important. If you use a ‘dense’ stitch then the square will be heavier and use more yarn than an open or lacy stitch would use. This is one of the reasons that this calculator gives a very rough guide. If you stick to one stitch or stitch pattern and use that for the sample square it will be much more accurate.
Next, take the total volume of yarn you have and weigh it – write this down as weight T. Divide this total weight by the weight of the sample square which will give you another number – write this down as Factor F.
To work out the approximate size of blanket your yarn will make multiply the value you wrote down as Factor F by the number your wrote for size A. This gives you the maximum total area in square centimetres that the yarn will make. If you divide this by the width of your desired blanket size you will get the maximum length your yarn will make. This download gives you a table of typical blanket sizes which might help you.Blanket Sizes (13 downloads)
Once you have your size you will need to work out the number of stitches that will make up the width of the blanket. To do this take your desired width and divide by the width of the tension square. If you are working from the tension square on a ball band this will normally mean dividing by 10. Multiply by the number of stitches on one row of your tension square and you have the number of stitches on a row of your blanket. The download takes you through this calculation step by step. The method works whether you have a ball band or not!
My Spring Flower Blanket is worked in DK yarn and has 250 stitches across each row.
Start the blanket
Start with a long chain. The chain needs to have the number of stitches you calculated above for one row, plus two more.
First row. Work DC into the third stitch from the hook and each chain to the end of the work. Try hard to keep the chain straight – it can twist quite easily and this will result in a twisted, misshapen edge. Not the end of the world if this happens – you can improve matters with the edging later but best to avoid twisting if you can.
Once you get to the end of the first row – you are on your own! No not really but you can decide where you want to go from here. I suggest a few rows at least of DC/Trebles for stability (SC/DC in Us terms). Alternate colours as and when you choose.
- You could keep the stitch simple and base your design around the colours. Working every row in DC (SC in US terms) will be quite slow and will produce a blanket with quite a dense texture. You could choose trebles (DC in US terms) or a more complicated stitch. The design would be based around alternating the colours – stripes or ombre.
- Design the blanket in panels based on one or two stitches. Choose at least one fairly basic stable stitch like DC or Trebles (SC or DC in US terms) and alternate these in panels whilst also rotating the colours you have into an overall pattern.
- Work the blanket as a sampler using any stitch you fancy and alternating colours as you go. This is the approach I have taken with most of my Spring Flowers Blanket. I have also incorporated a fourth complication.
- break up the work by including a row of squares or other motifs. To do this you will need to divide the total number of stitches by the number of stitches in the square or motif. This will allow you to work out how many of the squares or motifs you need. This is quite a lot of additional complication and more making up work. The only thing I would say if you are going down this route is remember to allow for any joining stitches if you are adding a row of squares or other motifs!
As I am writing this I can see that there are more ideas in my head than will fit into this post. I would like to tell you about the stitches that work well and add some tips based on my experience making this blanket. There is also the choice of edging to consider! 🙂 I will plan some follow up posts!!
If the idea of designing your own blanket feels too ambitious (I promise it isn’t) start by keeping things simple. Go for a small lapghan size and maybe only use one or two stitches – alternate one row of trebles with a row of DC (DC and SC in US terms) and change the colour every six rows – that would give you a bit of texture and a striped blanket. It would be your design based on your colour and stitch choices. It would be unique (unless you make more than one the same 🙂 )
I hope you find the calculator helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below or email me. I would love to see examples of your work when you do design your own blanket.