One of my favorite books growing up was When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne, a little collection of children's poems. The one I always loved best was called "Lines and Squares". It's about a kid who carefully avoids the lines of the sidewalk, stepping just in the squares while taunting a pair of bears "Who wait at the corner all ready to eat/ The sillies who tread on the lines of the street". I loved the terror and the bravado of that poem!
As I knit this blanket with its red lines crissing and crossing, the verses of that poem replayed in my head, keeping time with my needles and sending me into reveries of times and places where nurseries, rice pudding and knickers were the norm. I think now that the Lines + Squares Baby Blanket with its timeless colors and classic simplicity would have been right at home there!
Although a grid to non-knitters may look like the easiest thing in the world, experienced knitters have to wonder, "How did you do that?" Luckily, there's a trick. The vertical lines aren't actually knitted into the pattern; they're crocheted on top of the knitting, nestling right into the design as if they were born there and making lines and squares a snap!
For this special project I chose one of our most special yarns, Anzula's Cricket. Amazingly soft merino with a touch of cashmere, beautifully hand dyed and machine washable, it's the perfect choice for a precious baby! And here's a vote for the main color I used, Au Natural. In person it glows like the inside of an oyster shell, complex and absolutely stunning. Pick your favorite contrast color and you've got an heirloom!
- Anzula's Cricket, 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon.
- 4 skeins of the Main Color - I used Au Natural.
- 1 skein of the Contrast Color - I used Candied Apple. (And here's a great tip: Look for a little heart on Anzula's labels. It indicates that that color is apt to bleed when you wash it. If you see a heart, soak your yarn in a vinegar bath before you wind it into a ball!)
- A US #6, 24 or 32-inch circular needle
- A size E (3.5mm) crochet hook
5 1/2 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch
29 x 33 inches
Knit the Bottom Hem
With the Main Color (MC), cast on 161 stitches.
Row 1 (right side [rs]): Knit.
Row 2 (wrong side [ws]): Purl.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 five more times.
Next Row (rs): Knit.
Next Row: With the wrong side facing you, cable cast on 12 stitches.
Starting with these new stitches, p12, knit to end of row. (173 stitches)
Next Row: With the right side facing you, cable cast on 12 stitches, and starting with these new stitches, knit to end of row. (185 stitches)
Next Row: Purl.
Next Row: Knit.
Repeat last two rows 5 more times.
Fold the Hem
To fold the hem you will bring the cast on edge up to the needle with the wrong sides facing each other and purl the cast on edge together with the stitches currently on your needle. Here's how:
Next Row (ws): P12, *insert the right needle into the next stitch purlwise, insert the needle also (from the wrong side to the right side) into the cast on stitch directly below that stitch...
...now purl the two stitches together.**
Repeat from * to ** ten more times.
Cut MC , join Contrast Color (CC), repeat from * to ** to last 23 stitches, cut CC, join MC, repeat from * to ** 11 times, purl to end of row.
Here's what the wrong side looks like after you've folded your hem:
Work the Stripes
*Row 1 (rs): Knit.
Row 2 (ws): Purl.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 thirteen more times. (You'll know you're done when there 27 MC rows [or "v"s] between the CC stripe and your needle.)
Next Row (rs): K23, cut MC, join CC, knit to last 23 stitches, cut CC, join MC, knit to end.
Next Row: Purl.
Next Row: Knit.
Repeat last two rows 13 more times. (Again, you should count 27 v's since the last CC stripe.)
Next Row (ws): P23, cut MC, join CC, purl to last 23 stitches, cut CC, join MC, purl to end of row.
Repeat from * three more times (you'll have 9 CC stripes total).
Knit the Top Hem
Row 1 (rs):Knit.
Row 2 (ws): Purl.
Repeat last 2 rows six more times.
Create a False Seam
NOTE: Less experienced knitters may find this section a little intimidating. If you're overwhelmed, don't worry, directions follow for skipping it. The false seam creates a more tailored edge when you fold over the side hem, but your blanket will still be beautiful without it!
If you decide to skip the false seam:
Next Row (rs): Bind off 12 stitches, purl to end. (173 stitches)
Next Row (ws): Bind off 12 stitches (in purl), purl to end. (161 stitches) Continue the pattern from the ** below.
If you are working the false seam:
Next Row (rs): Bind off 10 stitches, remove the next stitch (which should be the 12th stitch of the row) from the left needle and drop it all the way down to one stitch above the cast on edge.
Now with a crochet hook, pick up all the stitches again, by pulling 1 thread through the stitch on your hook...
...then pulling 2 threads.
Alternate the whole way up the seam, grabbing 1 thread, then 2. When you get to the top, you may have to fudge a little by taking one thread twice in row to ensure that your last stitch is created by picking up just one thread. Put the false seam stitch on your left needle.
Continuing this row: Bind off 2 more stitches, purl to last 12 stitches, knit to end. (173 stitches)
Next row (ws): Bind off 10 stitches (in purl), remove the next stitch (the 12th stitch of the row) from the left needle and drop it all the way down to one stitch above the cast on edge. With the right side facing you, create another false seam. With the wrong side facing you, place the false seam stitch on the left needle and bind off 2 stitches (in purl), purl to the end of the row. (161 stitches)
**Next Row: Knit.
Next Row: Purl.
Repeat last 2 rows five more times.
Next Row (rs): Bind off loosely. Cut the yarn, leaving a 2-yard tail.
Sew the Top Hem
First, weave in all the ends except the bind off tail. (For a neater finished look, weave the MC tails into the side hem rather than into the main body of the blanket.)
With a piece of scrap piece of yarn, use Duplicate Stitch to add 11 stitches to each end of the last CC stripe you knit. This will help you keep your hem nice and straight as you sew it down.
Now fold the bind off edge down to the last CC stripe, wrong sides facing each other and thread the 2-yard tail onto a tapestry needle. Starting at the beginning of the duplicate stitch, sew the bind off edge in place, threading under a bind off stitch and then under the purl bump directly below it (located in the middle of the CC stripe).
The row where you will find the proper purl bumps is marked here by little blue dots:
And here is how you'll sew the hem down:
With a nice loose tension, sew down the entire bind off edge. Remove the scrap yarn you used to sew the duplicate stitch.
Crochet the Vertical Stripes
With the right side facing you and the top hem oriented so it is the bottom, insert the crochet hook into the left end of what-is-now the bottom CC stripe.
Join the CC and pull a loop through.
Holding the yarn from behind the blanket, insert the hook two stitches above the starting point and pull another loop through.
Pull the second loop through the first.
Continue to insert the hook two stiches up, pull a loop from back to front and then through the stitch on the hook. Be very sure that you keep a loose tension! If you see that your vertical line is distorting the horizontal lines, just try again with a more relaxed grip.
When you get to the last CC stripe, cut the yarn and pull the tail through the remaining stitch.
Make 6 more stripes, each one starting in the 23rd stitch away from the last one.
Sew the Side Hems
First sew down the side edges of both the top and bottom hems.
Then folding the side hem along the false seam, wrong sides facing each other, sew the end of the side hem to the bind off or cast on edge.
Now sew the edge of the side hem down, right along the outside of the nearby vertical CC stripe. Use the CC stripe as a guide to keep your hem nice and straight.
To sew the hem down go under two purl bumps of the blanket...
...then under two ladders of the hem...
...alternating all the way to the end.
On the right side, the vertical CC stripe should be nestled right along the hem line.
To finish, sew the end of the hem to the cast on or bind off edge.
Do the same for the other side hem. Then weave in all the remaining ends and block your Lines and Squares Baby Blanket!