Calling all Chenille connoisseurs, cat owners, and knitters!
January 10, 2018 3:02 PM   Subscribe

I would like to knit a chenille throw blanket (really, a flat long seat cover) for my sofa. Help me figure out (a) how to knit, (b) what yarn to use, and (c) and all that other stuff.

This entire question is based on my observation that the store bought Chenille throw blanket I got eons ago (too long ago to just buy more) seems to repel cat hair. It has some kind of amazing super powers - no hair will stick to it. It is woven, thin but tightly woven, with a smooth texture.

Assuming the chenille itself is the source of the super powers, I would like to knit a 20" x 200" (ish) runner to lay on the seat of my sofa, to be a barrier between kitty cat fuzzy-butts (both grown up now) and said sofa (which sofa does not have cat hair repelling super powers!) The blue blanket in the background of the cat tax picture is the magic blanket.

(Not interested in other types of cat hair barriers like sofa covers, or cat hair removal methods right now, thanks).

I tried googling some of this but each link leads to more questions. I need help figuring out:

- Assuming Chenille yarn is the source of the super powers, I would like to knit myself the rectangle described above, as a beginning knitter. I tried knitting approx. 35 years ago and it seemed easy enough. ;-) Doable, right?

- how to knit and end up with a smooth texture (which video to watch?) Regular stitch or ?

- what size needles

- Chenille yarn comes in "fine" which I think I want, as well as worsted, which is fatter. Current blanket is quite thin, which I would like to duplicate probably, although I may change my mind. How thick would a knitted blanket of the worsted yarn be? (or does it depend more on the needle size?) I want a thin, dense seat cover not an airy-holey one.

- Chenille yarn seems to come in either microfiber or cotton. Don't know which the super powered blanket is made from. Anybody have experience with one or the other vis-a-vis cat hair? Also, I am a sad sufferer of that "microfiber cleaning cloths feel like nails on a chalkboard to my fingers" phenomenon. Would microfiber chenille have the same effect?

- How do I figure out how much yarn to buy and what's a good cheap place to buy it?

- Do I need any other supplies besides yarn and needles?

Thanks in advance!
posted by bluesky78987 to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would say to use a thicker yarn and a smaller needle for a denser/less holey texture. This will also take way less time than a finer yarn. You would also maybe need a tapestry needle to weave in the ends of the yarn when you’re done. I am not sure about cat repelling qualities, but I bet any big craft store would have bulky chenille yarn in stock so you can feel them and see which feels the nicest. I would get a bulky yarn (but you will need several skeins of it) and maybe size 10 or 11 needles? Universal makes a bulky chenille—I’ve used some of their other yarns and they seem of good quality.
posted by leesh at 3:17 PM on January 10, 2018

Oh now I see that you want a thin blanket— if you are using a thinner yarn and want it not to be holey, you are gonna need a TINY needle and a lot of yarn. It will take a while to knit a blanket that size on tiny needles. But maybe someone else will have a better solution.
posted by leesh at 3:19 PM on January 10, 2018

Stockinette stitch will give you a smooth texture on one side and slightly nubby on the other, but it will also curl a lot at the edges. Stockinette requires only two skills: knitting and purling, nothing fancier. You could get it to curl up less at the edges I think by doing a border of garter stitch all the way around, but that part won't look smooth.

You won't get holes unless you do a lace pattern with yarnovers or I suppose knit very loosely. The size of the needles will go with the size of yarn, and will be noted on the paper wrapper on the skein of yarn.

You don't need any other supplies besides yarn and needles. You can find lots of cheap yarn at Michael's but the majority of it is going to be synthetic and maybe in dumb colors. You can buy closeout stuff for cheap on or Jimmy Bean's but you won't get to feel it first to see if it has good blanket-feel.
posted by Smearcase at 3:36 PM on January 10, 2018

I think you'd want a seed stitch or garter stitch. Stockinette will curl terribly. Garter stitch is the easiest. I would go with worsted or bulky. Worsted will be reasonably thin, bulky obviously won't. If you use appropriate sized needles for worsted yarn it shouldn't be holey. I would use a size 5 or 6 needle which is only slightly smaller than normal for a worsted yarn. If it's been some time since you've knit, you run the risk of having an uneven gauge. I think a fine yarn could make that more obvious and it could look a little more "homemade" than you'd like.

If it matters, you can buy thin chenille fabric online by the yard and hem it to size.
posted by Bistyfrass at 3:40 PM on January 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

FYI, chenille yarn has a tendency towards worming, which you'll want to be aware of.
posted by Lexica at 3:51 PM on January 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

Second vote for seed stitch. It’ll lay flat and has an interesting texture. It’s slower than garter stitch though, which would be the easiest/quickest for a beginner, so it depends how fast you are and how quickly you want it finished.

Most yarn will tell you the recommended needle size and gauge (#stitches per inch) on the label. So from that you can work out how many stitches to cast on. For a width of 20” you may want to look at cable needles, where your work sits on a cable connecting two relatively short needles - they’re nice for wide pieces because you’re probably going to have a lot of stitches (80, maybe? Assuming 4 stitches/in of s fine-ish yarn) which can get unwieldy on regular straight needles.

I would definitely go for a bulkier yarn. Something this size will get boring and monotonous fast, so may end up in your UFO (unfinished object) pile.

It sounds like your primary requirement is hair repelling - i would maybe buy a single ball of several yarns, knit a square and pin it to your existing blanket. Let the cats go crazy and then see which one works best. This is going to be a big time investment (not to mention $ on yarn) so you wouldn’t want to make the thing and then find out it doesn’t repel as you wanted it to. This will also let you experiment with different stitches to see how they look, and also see how fast each yarn knits up.

Ravelry is a great knitting community, I’m sure the folk there would have recommendations on specific yarn and other tips.

Finally I know for fabric you can figure out if it’s a natural vs manmade fiber by the way it burns. You could perhaps figure out what type of chenille your old one is that way, if you can snip off a piece without it unravelling (unless you’re planning on trashing it anyway)

Good luck!
posted by hibbersk at 4:28 PM on January 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

I was going to warn about the worming, too. You'll want a tight gauge and probably not stockinette stitch, either.
posted by praemunire at 4:42 PM on January 10, 2018

Seconding making a swatch and letting the cats decide if it's a cat hair attractor or not.
Seconding Ravelry for pro tips. It may be a finish on the project that helps, rather than the weave or the material content.
Check yarn stores and craft stores. They may be able to identify the material content and hair-repellent qualities. Also check pet supply stores.
FYI -- natural fibers burn, manmade fibers melt. Try this with cotton rope and nylon rope (be careful -- melted rope can cause burns for quite a while as it cools). I'd hate to snip a piece of the blanket and cause it to unravel.

I'm a crocheter, not a knitter. My style would be to get my H / 8 (5.00 mm) hook, scissors, safety pins (for markers) and a tapestry or yarn needle. I'd get a worsted weight yarn with the right fiber content and go nuts with single crochet. Maybe I would use a variegated yarn to break up the monotony.
I enjoy several YouTube tutorials, but this is the one I recommend to others. He also does some stitch videos left-handed.
Pt 1, Pt 2, Pt 3, etc.

The same source has a knitting tutorial series, which I have not used.
Pt 1, Pt 2, Pt 3, etc.
posted by TrishaU at 10:54 PM on January 10, 2018

I knit and I own (and love!) one of those chenille blankets, and I have to say it’ll probably not be worth it to replicate that nice chenille blanket texture with knitting. Depending on the gauge and the price of the yarn, it could run you $100 or more, and it will be tedious. I wouldn’t do it. But if I did, here’s what I’d do:

Shop for yarn in person if at all possible; start with big craft stores (cheaper!) and visit independent yarn stores if you don’t find anything at the big places. Stores often have swatches of different yarns so you can see and feel how they knit up; even if they don’t have the exact yarn you want you’ll get a sense of the yarn weight you want. I wouldn’t recommend anything thicker than worsted; sport weight or sock weight will be nice, but thinner yarns make for time-consuming and often expensive knits.

I don’t know the exact fiber content of those blankets, but microfiber chenille will probably feel too fuzzy. You’ll want something slick and drapey feeling. Rayon chenille looks like it’s the right stuff, but all the rayon chenille yarn I can find online is either bulky or “not intended for hand knitting.” Ravelry will help you find the right yarn, and you might find someone de-stashing the yarn you want.

I’d recommend a linen stitch, which produces a really lovely smooth flat fabric that looks woven and is less prone to curling than stockinette. It’s easy, but a little more time-consuming than garter or stockinette, about on par with seed stitch.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:49 AM on January 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

You may want to check and see if the chenille is a fiber that your grown up kitties like to eat before you commit to the costs of the entire project. As an adult, my cat cannot help herself and eats certain fibers, including chenille, if she's not supervised. I had to reupholster an entire couch.
posted by *s at 10:52 AM on January 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I came in to say mostly what Metroid Baby said. Thinnish rayon chenille sounds like what you're looking for, but it's a pain to knit with because it's so slick and unstretchy. It's pretty thin, so you might want to hold it doubled.

Unless you might want to learn to weave instead? A store that caters to weavers, or a weavers' guild, would be a good place to look for chenille.

I would also suggest a linen stitch, which is smooth, lies flat, is beginner-friendly, and should combat any potential worming. It's also very slow-going, and takes more yarn than stockinette.

(Microfiber yarn doesn't give me the "fingernails on a blackboard" feeling.)
posted by mgar at 11:46 AM on January 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Many good answers here, thank you everybody! Gives me a lot more background to proceed with. Thank you!!
posted by bluesky78987 at 9:47 PM on January 11, 2018

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