Hooray! I’ve been invited to a baby shower.
Some special friends of mine are expecting their first baby, Justin. The shower is only 9 days away, so there’s no time to lose.
Taking a crocheted item to a baby party has been my M.O. since the dinosaurs roamed the earth. I LOVE to crochet for babies whenever I get the chance.
So Many Choices – Get It Right!
Before I pull out yarn and sit down to crochet, I like to make a plan of action– get the answers to a few simple questions–so everything runs smoothly:
- What do I want to crochet?
- What do I have time to crochet?
- What yarn will I use–color(s), thickness, texture?
- What project supplies–hooks, yarn, pattern and so on–do I already have on hand and what will I need to buy.
Baby Justin is due the middle of July. And it will probably be 100+ degrees the day he’s born, so I don’t want to crochet any thing newborn size unless I use Super Fine yarns for a one-time use or special occasion item like his Christening outfit. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to make a whole set.
So I’m leaning towards crocheting in a medium or chunky weight yarn and using bigger dimensions so Justin can get some good use out of his gift in the fall and winter for a year or two. Also, Justin arrives a month after the shower, so I don’t know if he’ll weigh 5 pounds or 10!
To play it safe, I’m crocheting a larger-than-average-size baby afghan.
What’s Your Dimension?
When it comes to the dimensions for baby afghans, there are varied opinions about the “right” size and shape. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been crocheting for so long that I usually just eyeball my chain and stop when it looks long enough. Unless I’m following a specific pattern, in which case I count stitches carefully and keep a measuring tape handy.
I’ve put some numbers together as a general guideline:
- 14 x 17 inches security/cuddle blanket
- 18 x 20 inches small preemie blanket
- 24 x 24 inches preemie blanket
- 28 x 24 inches average newborn blanket
- 30 x 30 inches average newborn square blanket
- 30 x 36 inches average rectangular shaped blanket
- 40 x 40 inches average receiving blanket
- 40 x 60 inches crib blanket
Remember, when you crochet, it is YOUR project and if you want to experiment a bit, go for it. Call it artistic license! For my current project, I’ll use the crib blanket measurements of 40 x 60 inches. This size, the afghan can be used in baby’s car seat, stroller, and bed at least throughout his first year of life.
Wait! Yarn weight
The term yarn weight simply refers to the thickness of the yarn. The number is found on the yarn label along with yards and washing instructions.
There are 8 weight categories:
- 0 or Lace: Crochet thread
- 1 or Super Fine: Sock, Fingering, and BABY
- 2 or Fine: Sport and BABY
- 3 or Light: DK (double knitting yarn) and light Worsted
- 4 or Medium: Worsted, Afghan, Aran
- 5 or Bulky: Chunky, Craft, Rug
- 6 or Super Bulky: Super Bulky, Roving
- 7 or Jumbo: Jumbo, Roving
A nice 4 (or Medium) yarn is what I’m looking for. I want the yarn to be as soft and squishy as possible, to be washable, to remain bright, and in a couple of different solid blues or variegated blues.
I have about a thousand and one baby afghan patterns. Some are quite elegant–intricate and lacy, but most are practical and every-day-use afghans. This time I want a practical for an everyday use afghan. On the sly, I asked about Justin’s nursery–Surprise–It’s blue, blue and more blue.
After choosing my project (afghan) and dimensions (large), I’ll check my yarn stash–I might have the weight and colors I need to get started on the best part-CROCHETING!!
As an avid crocheter, I keep a big collection of yarn on hand. I have various types of hooks in all sizes, scissors, tape measures, large yarn needles, buttons, ribbon, and other stuff.
Later: After looking at my yarn at home, I’ve decided to buy something new.
Going on a Shopping Trip
Walking down the yarn isle of a store makes me almost giddy–I love the colors and textures, and if I had my way, I’d leave every shopping trip with a cart-full of new yarn to work up. So many stores and independent sellers are online. I stock up on my supplies when I get coupons or free shipping for online purchases.
I usually buy my crocheting supplies on Amazon. The shower is only a week away, so I’ll visit a local store today.
Later: Okay, I found this Sweet Roll Blueberry Swirl on Amazon and luckily the store I went to had some too. To be honest, the price on Amazon was better. Check out these great choices and prices at Amazon.com.
It’s soft and feels like it will work up nicely. I bought 8 rolls because I crochet a bit looser and I’m adding inches to the length and width. Most likely, I’ll have extra yarn, so will crochet a matching hat or booties or both.
When crocheting a new pattern, it’s time-saving to take a few minutes to crochet a gauge swatch. This tells you approximately how much yarn you’ll need for a particular pattern.
For example, worsted weight yarns are the most commonly used weight of yarn. They are recommended for projects when the crochet gauge is 3-3.5 stitches per inch.
This is how I make a gauge swatch to measure a crocheted baby afghan:
- Crochet a 3″ chain.
- 1 single (sc) in 2nd chain from hook and sc in each chain across. Turn.
- Chain (ch) 2, 1 half double crochet (hdc) in each stitch across Turn.
- Repeat row 2 (ch 2 1 hdc in each stitch across. Turn) 3 more times.
- Using a measuring tape, measure how many stitches per inch.
- Use the number of stitches and times it by the width you want.
Get Hooked – Most Often G or H for Me
Time to choose the hook. I love Bamboo hooks because they are lighter and not as slick as the steel or glass hooks. Ergonomic crochet hooks are also a great favorite–they have the steel hook and enlarged rubber, plastic or wooden handle.
Hooks are made of aluminum, plastic, rubber, steel, bamboo, wood, and glass. Choosing the right hook is important and depends on your yarn, the stitch you use and your own preference.
Sizing for steel crochet hooks: the higher the number, the smaller the hook.
Plastic are just the opposite: the higher the number the larger the hook.
Remember, to check your pattern. And ask somebody (me!) if you are not sure.
Size H crochet hook will be perfect for Justin’s afghan because the yarn is a #4 weight.
And finally, Stitches – Popcorn Anyone?
There are 5 main crochet stitches:
- Chain Stitch
- Slip Stitch
- Single Crochet Stitch (Double Crochet Stitch in UK)
- Half Double Crochet Stitch (Half Treble Crochet Stitch in UK)
- Double Crochet Stitch (Treble Crochet Stitch in UK
Other more advanced crochet stitches are created using variations of these 5 stitches. Beautiful and fun to do variations.
I’m just going to crochet my favorite stitch–it’s fast and easy. It’s the one my Grandmother taught me when I was 8 years old. So strange though, I’ve searched all over on the internet and in pattern books for the stitch she called the popcorn stitch, but it is not the popcorn stitch we know and love today.
So Long for Now – Gotta Get This Afghan Done!
Well, that’s it. My plan of action is complete: I am crocheting a crib-sized afghan using grandmother’s old popcorn stitch in #4 weight blue yarn with a size H hook. When it measures 40 x 60 inches, I’ll add a simple border of 2 rows of single crochet.
P.S. Use a large tapestry needle to weave in the all ends.
I would love to hear your thoughts or suggestions or questions about crocheting baby afghans. Please leave comments below.
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