All you need to knit a blanket is plenty of yarn, the right knitting needles and lots of time.
There are thousands of blanket knitting patterns to choose from. Or you can even knit a simple blanket without any pattern. So how do you get started? Here’s a list of things to consider before knitting your first blanket along with some helpful beginner tips.
TIP: if you want to make a blanket but are only just learning to knit, or haven’t even started knitting yet, crocheting a blanket could be a better option for you. Find out more here: is it easier to knit or crochet a blanket?
Table of Contents
Different types of knitted blanket patterns
You don’t necessarily have to knit a blanket in one large piece. Knitted blanket patterns are constructed in one of 3 ways:
- One piece blankets, usually knit with a circular needle
- Knitted squares blankets made by joining lots of small squares together
- Blankets made by joining multiple long knitted strips or large pieces together
If you have never knit a blanket, it’s best to start small. A beautiful baby blanket is ideal. Or make small squares and join them together to knit a patchwork blanket.
Knitted square vs one piece blankets
If you need a portable project you can take on the go, knitting squares for blankets is ideal. This is also great if you like knitting multiple projects at a time. You can knit a few blanket squares every now and then as a break from other patterns. You will have a big pile of knitted squares before you know it.
However, all those knitted squares will have to be seamed together one day. That takes a lot of time and while some knitters find seaming quite therapeutic, many avoid it like the plague!
If you hate seaming, there are endless gorgeous one piece blanket knitting patterns. Large blankets have a large number of knitting stitches and grow slowly. But many blankets use simple patterns so they can be ideal mindless knitting projects in front of the TV.
How to avoid getting bored knitting a large blanket
Knitting a large one piece blanket can feel neverending, especially with finer yarn. So I recommend alternating it with another project which is quite different – perhaps quick knits like a hat, scarf or to.
Another way to break up the boredom is to knit a multicolour blanket. Even simple 2 colour stripes can make all the difference. Or go wild and knit a scrap blanket with all your leftover stash.
Finally, a great idea for keeping your blanket knitting momentum up is to knit a mood or temperature blanket. You knit 1 or more rows each day choosing the colour based on the weather or how you are feeling. What a cool way to knit a unique blanket you can treasure forever.
What weight yarn should I use for a blanket?
The most popular yarn weights for knitting blankets are aran or worsted weight, followed by DK (double knit).
If you would like to make a lighter blanket e.g. a baby shawl, sport weight and finer 4 ply (also known as fingering weight) yarns are good options.
For a particularly heavy blanket, you could use chunky or even super chunky yarn (called bulky and super bulky yarn in the US). Alternatively, you could use aran or worsted weight yarn held double. You will use very large needles with this so the blanket will work up very quickly.
The thicker the yarn, the bigger the needle & the quicker it is to knit a blanket. However, it can become awkward to work on a large super bulky blanket and such thick, heavy blankets have limited uses.
That’s why worsted weight or aran blankets are most popular. It’s the sweet spot where the blanket is substantial but not too heavy and knits up in reasonable time.
What type of yarn is best for knitting blankets?
Wool and acrylic yarns are the most popular materials for knitting blankets. That’s no surprise because most commercial machine made blankets are made from these too.
Wool is warm, natural and breathable. So it’s perfect for knitting a blanket with. Merino wool is a popular choice for its soft, premium finish. You need a lot of wool for a large blanket, and wool can be very expensive. But knitting a blanket is time consuming and it should last for many years. So if you are knitting an heirloom blanket as a labour of love, it’s worth using the best yarn you can afford.
Acrylic is also popular for knitting blankets with for several reasons. It’s affordable and suitable for vegans or people with wool or other fibre allergies.
Another big plus with acrylic is that it’s easy to care for. You can machine wash your blanket and possibly tumble dry it too. That’s very handy for baby blankets or throws for the couch with pets and kids around.
Cotton is not as popular for blankets but soft cotton is common enough for making baby blankets. It’s natural and soft for baby. It’s also hard wearing and washes well. You can also wash it at a higher temperature if desired.
How much yarn do I need to knit a blanket?
This depends on the size of the blanket and the yarn weight. Use the table below as a general guideline:
|Knitted Blanket Type |
& Size (approx)
|4 ply Yarn||DK Yarn||Worsted / Aran||Chunky||Super Bulky|
|Dolly, lovie or comforter|
16 x 18 inches
41 x 46 cm
|Baby, stroller or pram blanket|
24 x 32 inches
61 x 81 cm
|Square baby blanket|
30 x 30 in
76 x 76 cm
|Medium throw, cot or crib blanket|
32 x 42 in
81 x 107 cm
40 x 48 in
102 x 122 cm
50 x 60 in
127 x 152 cm
What size knitting needles should I use for a blanket?
The thicker your blanket yarn, the bigger the needle size. Aran or worsted weight blankets are the most popular and typically use 5mm or size 8 US knitting needles.
You would use slightly smaller needles, 4mm or size 6 US approx, for knitting a blanket with DK yarn.
Lighter blankets and baby shawls knit with 4 ply or fingering weight yarn need 3 – 4mm needles, most often size 3.25 mm or size US 3.
Chunky blankets made with bulky yarn use large 6 – 6.5 mm needles (US size 10 or 10.5). Super bulky or chunky yarn blankets need bigger needles again: around 8 or even 10 mm (size 11 – 15 US).
Blanket knitting patterns needle sizes
While the needle sizes above are a good rule of thumb, blanket knitting patterns should suggest both needle size(s) and yarn(s). Always use that as a starting point. If you want to use a different yarn, compare the needle size on your yarn ball band with 1) the pattern yarn’s suggested needle size and 2) the pattern needle size. You may need to adjust the needle size a bit based on this.
But one advantage of knitting blankets is that size is often not important. So the needle size doesn’t have to be spot on for your blanket to turn out right.
I highly recommend knitting & washing a test square first though. Once that feels good to you, you’re knitting your blanket with the right size needles.
Should I use circular or straight needles to knit a blanket?
Use a circular knitting needle for large one piece blankets
If you are knitting a large one piece blanket, you need to use a circular needle. This allows for a lot more stitches than straight needles. The weight of your knitting is also on the circular cable rather than the needles. This takes the pressure off your wrists, so it’s more comfortable to knit your blanket as it grows.
If you have never used circular knitting needles before, don’t be put off. They look a bit strange & confusing if you are used to straight needles, but they’re actually quite alike & a joy to knit with. See my step by step tutorial for using circular needles instead of straights (including video demo).
32 or 40 inch (80 or 100 cm) circular needles are popular lengths for knitting small to medium blankets. You can get extra long cables up to 60 inches (150 cm) for larger blankets or if you just prefer working with a longer length circular.
I love interchangeable circular needles, because you can change the cable length to suit your project. Even better you can easily change the cable mid project. So if it starts to feel a bit awkward knitting your blanket as it grows, you can switch to a longer cable for more comfort. Here’s the KnitPro interchangeable needles I use & can recommend. In USA & Canada, these needles are known as Knitter’s Pride dreamz interchangeable needles.
If you are knitting a small baby blanket, you can use standard 14-16 inch straight knitting needles if you prefer. That’s because you don’t need as many stitches, so it’s similar to knitting the front of a sweater. I would still suggest using circular needles for knitting baby blankets though. It’s easier to judge your blanket width and they are more comfortable to use in the latter stages.
Use straight or circular needles for knitting blanket squares
You can use any knitting needles you like to knit a blanket from small squares or multiple long strips.
Each square or piece has a relatively small number of stitches, so both straight and circular knitting needles work just as well. The choice is yours.
Knit & wash a small test square first
Blanket size is usually not vital, so you may be tempted to skip swatching and dive straight into knitting your blanket.
Please don’t do this! Knitting a large blanket takes a long time and a lot of yarn. So you want to be sure you will love the end result. It won’t take long to knit a test square first and it’s well worth doing.
If you are making a knitted squares blanket, your first square can be your swatch – yay! Otherwise, cast on 30 stitches approx and knit in the same stitch pattern as your blanket until you have roughly knit a square.
Once you have knit your test swatch, do the following steps:
- Measure the width and height of your square and write it down.
Also note how your test square feels and drapes.
- Wash your square the same way you will wash your blanket.
Follow the instructions on your yarn ball band for best results. If your blanket won’t be practical to hand wash due to its size, make sure you machine wash your swatch too.
- Dry your square similarly to how you will dry your blanket.
If you will hand your blanket over an airer, you can lay your square out flat on a towel to dry. Check your ball band to see if you can machine dry (tumble dry) your yarn. That’s more likely with acrylic but still unusual. Here’s my list of tried and tested yarns you can machine dry (tumble dry) – super practical for blankets.
- Review your test square post washing and drying.
Compare the width and height with your original measurements. Did it grow a bit or shrink? Blankets tend to grow due to the weight and size, so bear in mind your full size blanket could grow more significantly than your small test square. Has the feel and drape changed? Often it will be softer post washing, but the fabric could also be more or less solid.
Make sure you are happy with your test square before going ahead with the rest of your blanket.
How to make adjustments if your test square goes wrong
Don’t like how your square feels? Change your needle size
If your test swatch feels too loose and open for a blanket fabric post washing, go down a needle size and make another test square with that. Try a 1mm smaller needle e.g. 4mm instead of 5mm.
Conversely, if the knitted fabric feels too dense or stiff for a nice blanket, make another test square with a larger size needle. Try going up 1mm e.g. use 6mm instead of 5mm needles.
Is your swatch the wrong size? Consider tweaking the pattern
If your test square feels good for a blanket after washing, you are using the right needle size.
If it’s a different size than expected post washing, your finished blanket will be bigger or smaller than the pattern dimensions. This may not matter much, unless you are making a blanket specifically to fit a pram or cover a specific size bed etc.
Remember though that a slight size difference for your small test square will multiply up for a large blanket. Also, the weight and size of the full blanket often naturally causes it to stretch and grow.
If blanket size is important for your project, or you are concerned your blanket size differs too much from your pattern, you can adjust the pattern size.
If you are knitting a simple plain or repeating pattern blanket, you could change the number of stitches. For example if your test square is about 10% too wide, you could reduce the blanket stitch count by 10% approx if you want to end up with a blanket size closer to the pattern.
NB if your blanket uses a repeating stitch pattern, remember to still use a number of stitches that divides evenly. So if your pattern has a 6 stitch repeat, you should only add or remove a multiple of 6 stitches e.g. 6, 12, 18 stitches etc.
If you are making a knitted squares blanket, you can easily adjust the size at any stage in your project by changing the number of rows or columns in your blanket.
How to knit a heavier or lighter version of a blanket pattern
If you see a blanket pattern you love but your yarn isn’t the right weight, don’t worry. You can probably still make it.
Blanket patterns can generally be knit with any weight yarn, once you also adjust the needle size to suit.
So if you see a DK blanket pattern, but want to use worsted yarn, that’s totally doable.
Usually, going up 1mm in needle size works well to to knit a DK pattern with worsted weight or aran yarn instead. Using worsted yarn will just mean that you will end up with a blanket that’s a little heavier and larger than the original.
For best results, choose a pattern that is not too far from the weight of your yarn. Anything is possible, but if you try knitting a lacy 4 ply baby blanket pattern in big chunky yarn, it’s not going to work well.
I hope this guide has helped you understand what you need to knit a blanket and the best way to go about it. Have you got any questions? I’d love to try and help. Just leave a comment below.