A huge thank you to the lovely tribpot for compiling this handy guide for all knitters, it really is a marvellous collection and will be of great use to all those working on the Blanket projects.
How many stitches is 6”? And other ‘getting started’ questions.
The question of how many stitches to cast on comes down to the question of gauge; how tight or loose your knitting is with the yarn in question. Best way is to knit a sample (or a plain square); just measuring how wide it is once you’ve cast on won’t be a very reliable measure because it stretches out once you start knitting. Equally, if it’s already more than 6″ wide you’re on a hiding to nothing. For most people, on 4mm needles, 33-ish stitches and about 45-ish rows should give you a 6″ x 6″ square but don’t do a whole one if you’re not sure or a slow knitter, as it’s mega-frustrating to have to pull it all back down again.
Many of the patterns below are sourced from Ravelry, which is the essential resource for knitters and crocheters; it’s free to register and has gazillions of free patterns to try out. Note: these are not all for 6” squares. Many of them are for larger dishcloths and need resizing before they will be 6” in a double knit yarn in your gauge. They are mostly easy to adjust just by removing the number of stitches inside the border of 3 or so garter stitches each side but if in doubt: ask.
The simplest square of all is garter stitch – knit every row. Remember the motto: simple squares are good, simple squares are essential. And if nothing else, you can use it as a gauge square too!
Next – stocking stitch or stockinette as the Americans call it. This is knit one row, purl one row and creates the flat, traditional surface of knitted garments. Stockinette curls at the edges so you can stabilise the square by knitting two rows (garter stitch) first and then knitting the first and last two stitches of each row.
If you want to start with something more adventurous, why not try the Chinese waves pattern? This is very simple but effective.
The simplest textured pattern is seed stitch which in the UK we would call moss stitch. It’s just knit one, purl one and then in the next row, purl one, knit one. However, it is a bit laborious to do if you’re a slow knitter because you have to move the yarn back and forth between every stitch. Also if you lose your place you can end up on the wrong stitch and not creating the pattern you want. You need an even number of stitches.
- Moss stitch
- is a variation on seed stitch and needs an odd number of stitches to work.
- Rice stitch is very effective – you need to be able to knit through the back of the loop but this isn’t too difficult.
- A lovely pattern is stars – a bit of a trickier one this, but not too hard to master. Daisy stitch is similar but harder!
- Ripple stitch (I think this is more like a purl stitch zig zag patterns than ripples)
- Diagonal stitch (opens a PDF) and Honeycomb (opens PDF), also textured heart and gull stitch (this looks amazing in two colours).
- Twisted Trails
- Alphabet letters – may not be sizeable to 6” without modification
Animals – cats
I got a bit carried away on cat patterns and did six of them. I think they are mostly more suited to two colours (except the final pattern which is three colours!) rather than the pattern being purled on a knit background or vice versa like the sheep (see below). The one exception is probably cat pattern 3. There are currently two written patterns, for pattern 1 and pattern 3.
Animals – birds
We had a request for birds in particular for the last blankets so we have:
- The owl pattern is a great favourite – you need to be able to do simple cables, give it a try!
- Escher bird chart
- Diagonal owl (a bit odd for a blanket square maybe?)
- Cutest bird ever (crochet) and with a heart wing
- Lovely bird fairisle (four colour)
- We had a request for a magpie, so I created a magpie design based on these fantastic mittens.
Animals – mice
We also had a request for mice (which is actually what led to the profusion of cats)
- The cat’s a bit big but the mouse might be useful in this pattern
- Mouse face
- Mouse chart
- Mice peerie (I love this three colour fairisle stylee design with cheese on)
- Another mouse
Butterflies and Bees
- Anything can be used to make a square pattern. These roses are based on pattern B of this sock pattern.
- Camilla pattern (camelia?) for mittens
- Lotus mittens
- Lilac mitten
- Snowdrops have been specially requested on a recent blanket – here is a snowdrop lace square and another (potentially the same design)
- Multi-colour snowdrop chart
- Lotus textured pattern
Hearts were a bitof a theme on a previous set of blankets, when the lovely MinnieBar set us the challenge of working out how to do this heart with double yarn overs in the horizontal borders. We decided we didn’t like it and so I changed the border for something else and the Team Heart was born. We’ve also simplified the pattern to remove the inner border entirely and this is available both as a chart and written instructions.
- Sail boat square
- Come sail away (this is lovely) – a chart and written pattern for a square can be found here
- Rather nifty boat design on this jumper
- The textured stars pattern is mentioned above
- Starlight, star bright blanket pattern
- Stars chart – probably too big to do for a blanket square but can be adapted.
- Moon and stars two-colour chart
- Star of David
- Christmas stars (look nice at any time of year to me)
- Crescent Moon and Star chart
- Star illusion
- Palm Tree
- Oak Leaf
- Fir cones
- There is a nice Norwegian fir lace pattern in the Claire Compton books if you have them (see below)
All three of the next designs are similar and quite challenging to complete
Knitting in more than one colour is a topic in its own right as there are a number of different ways to manage the yarn, of which my favourite is fairisle. If you fancy a bash, here are a few ideas:
- Colourful spiral square – I’ve linked to my own one on Ravelry only because there’s no photo on the pattern’s page!
- Checker square garter dishcloth
- Linoleum dishcloth
- Wavy stripes (crochet) (opens PDF)
- Simple fairisle motifs
- There are all manner of colour charts available for making motifs for squares
- Lacy mock cable
- Harp we used for lemon truffles
- Yarn Clouds
- Lettuce leaf
- Waves of love
- Baby footprint
- Slip cross cable with bobbles – try saying that after a couple of glasses of wine.
- Bobbles and brambles.
- Teddy bear
- Joyful children
- Mountain peaks (nearly as difficult as actual mountains)
- Diamond Rib
- Lean to the Left cloth
- Spring breeze (crochet) (be patient, this is retrieved from the internet archive) A 7” pattern so will require modification
- 16 Circles (crochet)
- Dragonfly (crochet) – 12” square so will need modifying.
Don’t forget to sew your ends in, but don’t block the squares as it makes them harder to crochet. For sewing in ends, take a large blunt needle like a tapestry needle, and basically wiggle the yarn through a few stitches, then cut the end off. There are fancy ways of doing it but for blanket squares, where the edges are going to be covered by crochet anyway, they can just be hidden along the edges.
If you’re wanting to buy books with great patterns in, MNers have suggested:
200 Knitted Blocks by Jan Eaton