It all started when a friend gave each of our kids a flannel blanket with a crocheted edge as a baby gift when they were born. They quickly became the kids' favorites because they were lightweight (warm but not too warm for summer), didn't take up the entire diaper bag, and they were so soft! I liked them because they were made larger than receiving blankets - 42" X 42" rather than the standard 36" X 36" - especially as they got to be three or four years old and still enjoyed being able to cover up under their own "blankie."
I'm not that crafty, and I didn't know how to crochet, but I was determined to teach myself. "It can't be that hard," I reasoned. I got "How to Crochet" books, and even got a lesson or two from Grandma Betty.
Besides, those preschool years were financially thin (as opposed to now - self-employed - where things are just unpredictable!). I could make a blanket for under $8. A big bonus when all my friends were having babies, and I wanted to do something nice for their little ones. I lay for hours on bedrest with my last two pregnancies making these. I bet I've given dozens of these over the years, the last ones to my friend Sherri's boys. Now I guess it's time for a new generation of moms to get my blankies!
Besides being an heirloom gift, here are a few more reasons I really like making blankets:
- It is a craft that is mobile. I can take it with me to a doctor's office or on a car trip (or watching election coverage), and it is compact, not messy, without a bunch of little parts to keep track of.
- It can be finished in spurts. I never have hours at a time, but I can work on it for a few minutes and pick it up - as much as months later. I have to have interrupt-proof projects.
- It can be finished in just a few sittings. I could never crochet a WHOLE blanket, but an edge? I can do that!
Sometimes you can find instruction cards for these in the yarn section of hobby and fabric stores (Leisure Arts leaflets #83017, 83066 (discontinued) and 2581 are the ones I use). Most instructions call for a yard of fabric, but I buy 1 and 1/3 yards so I have plenty to cut a 42" square (up to 44" if you really want a big one). I don't have a serger, so I zig-zag around the edges and use the thread holes (about 7 per inch) as guides to help me make my stitches even. Here's the first row around the blanket.I am also very picky about my thread. I pay a little more to get Coats Opera crochet cotton in size 5. It is a little thicker than the #10 used in most instructions you'll find on the internet, but very silky and shiny and easy to work with. This is important when you consider this is not just a blanket: it is a Superman cape, hula skirt, Mother Mary shroud, stuffed animal trampoline, and tug-of-war rope. The thicker thread just holds up better to preschooler abuse (and why those wimpy little receiving blankets get thrown out at the first garage sale). It is hard to find but worth it. When I use a size 5, I use a size 5 metal crochet hook.
Here's the second row around the blanket. I suppose I should have ironed it before I took the picture so it would lie flat.
I still have a little crochet thread left, so I might go around the edge one more time and make the stitch "extra fancy." Or I might make a couple of burp cloths (with those nice thick cloth diapers), crocheting a matching edge to complete the "ensemble." I've taught myself how to do several stitches now (all very simple), so every project is different, depending on my "mood," or the new mom's taste.
Do you make something special for baby gifts? What are some nice gifts you've received that would be "do-able" for moms to make?
*Edited to add*
My friend Mary (of salsa fame - I really AM going to post that recipe) just sent me this photo of the blankie I made over 8 years ago for her youngest. It was one of my first attempts, but according to her, it "still looks great after 8 ½ years and lots of love!!" She knows how to butter me up - I probably better make her some chocolate chip cookies now.