Crocheting (or knitting?) baby things
December 15, 2020 4:52 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to crochet a baby blanket and possibly other baby items. A stuffed animal would be great. But is it actually possible to crochet something durable enough that it will survive baby excretions and multiple washings? What kind of crochet stiches should I be looking for? What weights and types of yarn? Do you have recommendations?

My crochet experience is mainly amigurumi and the things I've made would definitely not stand up to baby and small child treatment. Are there stitch types and patterns geared specifically towards durability? I could just do a giant single or half-double or double or whatever swatch but it would be nice to make something that (a) looks a little nicer and (b) is sure to last. Do I need to use thicker yarn? Bigger gauges?

If this isn't possible with crochet I'm also open to learning how to knit.
posted by schroedinger to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have a crochet shawl that my Grammie's neighbor crocheted for me in the late 1970's and it is still going strong. And many crochet afghan's that my grandmother crocheted and a giant crocheted blanket that my sister made out of old yarn from my mother's cache. What I am trying to say is that yes, you can crochet things that will last throughout the years, and don't be discouraged.

I also know knitting and while it's great, crochet is easier and the more you learn the stitches the better you get.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:14 PM on December 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Amigurumi and stuffies can hold up and stay baby safe if you replace the plastic eyes and noses with stitched on ones. Even though it's not as 'nice' I always use acrylic/synthetic yarn for kid stuff. Extremely durable and washable, won't shrink or discolor.
Crochet blankets can be made up of dozens of smaller squares sewn together, too. See granny square patterns for more, and the color combinations are endless.
posted by PaulaSchultz at 7:11 PM on December 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

How do you feel about acrylic? It’s very washable and lasts forever. Worsted/baby weight is the right scale - you don’t want little fingers to snag loops and you don’t want yarn so fine the strand might break. I personally think that crochet looks good for longer as it’s not such consistent little v shapes.

Single or half double seems to be the sweet spot based on items I have / have seen. You can do an entrelac style to make it more interesting, or a zigzag stitch, or stripes, or maybe color work if you’re careful about securing the yarn.
posted by momus_window at 7:12 PM on December 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

I also grew up with indestructible acrylic hand crocheted afghans - one of them went under the wheels of a station wagon in a fairly desperate evening, got the car out, and was only slightly felted once we’d gotten it clean with the hose.

And I bet there’s acrylic that’s nicer to feel than that was! It lived in the car for animal rescue.
posted by clew at 7:30 PM on December 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Hello! Finally, a question that merges two of my favorite things, babies and knitting/crochet!

To make a blanket, knitting or crochet will work fine. (I prefer knitting as it is more soothing and some of the patterns are slightly more sturdy but don’t sweat it.) May I suggest a “ripple” pattern if you crochet?

My favorite yarn for blankets is Encore by Plymouth yarns. It’s about 25% wool and the 75% acrylic. The result is a soft but durable yarn that is neither scratchy nor plasticy! It comes in about 100 different colors. It is machine washable. And not as expensive as superwash wool. Meaning I won’t be upset if a baby ruins it.

Crochet animals is doable but the stitches have to be so tight that it bothered my shoulders. Sigh. Look at “octopus for a preemie” on Facebook for inspiration. And use cotton yarn in case the baby chews on it!
posted by ticketmaster10 at 9:03 PM on December 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

I have crocheted and knitted several baby blankets - and all have survived heavy use (and one is now the stroller blanket for one of the babies' cabbage patch doll).

I would go with stroller size (24-36 inches wide) for a blanket, since no one uses blankets in cribs anymore. But stroller blankets are a nice flexible size.

As noted above, I stick with 100% acrylic, because I like my friends (parents of said babies). And yes, acrylics can be very nice these days - they aren't as warm as wool, so aren't as good for hats, but they make great blankets - and I'm making myself an acrylic scarf right now.

For baby blankets, I tend to use either a baby weight or light worsted yarn. Bernat has some nice baby weight; I'm also fond of the Michael's brand Loops and Threads Soft & Shiny because it drapes really nicely; Carron simply soft is good too. With this weight yarn, you can do lace stitches without creating huge holes. (I also really like that both Soft & Shiny and Simply Soft are available in rich colours and not just pastels - much more interesting).

You can knit or crochet - crochet will work up faster and is more commonly used for blankets (because it makes a firmer and less stretchy fabric). I've used clusters of double stitch with holes - classic granny stitch; I've also done rounds of double crochet when I wanted something a bit more solid (with chain stitches at the corners for decoration and expanding).

In knitting, I've done a double seed stitch which creates a soft fabric that is fully reversible. Old Shale is nice for making a scalloped shape.

Ravelry is, of course, absolutely stuffed with patterns to check out, with all sorts of good stitch ideas.
posted by jb at 9:06 PM on December 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Hello, I'm your crochet blanket person. Here are some ideas.
Simple stripes in single crochet, half-double crochet, and double crochet.
Add some fancy stitches like shells, bobbles, spike stitches, etc.
Do the chevron/zigzag/ripple stitch. I like 5 to 7 stitches per side, one 3-stitch shell at the Peak, and two 2-stitch decreases at the Valley to avoid holes at the top and bottom of chevrons. Start and end the rows with a 2-stitch shell (partial shell).
My current go-to is a super fast Log Cabin pattern in primary colors. The secret is using blanket stitch or block by block stitch for the center block and the rectangles. This creates chain spaces along all sides of the blocks, so working on the "raw sides" of blocks is a breeze. I use this pattern, but you can make it easier by working the first two "squares" as a continuous rectangle with two colors.

I usually use a G, H, or I hook (Crochet Lite hooks for dark yarn), scissors, colored 1-inch safety pins for markers, and big-eye needles to work in tag ends.
I grew up using Red Heart Supersaver yarn and currently machine wash and dry each finished project in a white zippered body pillow (available at Wal-Mart). Red Heart With Love is soft and consistent in diameter, and Hobby Lobby has I Love This Yarn which is a nice alternative (note that Red Heart is "no dye lot" when matching colors).
I use acrylic yarns. For smaller diameter yarns I like Bernat Baby Sport and Softee Baby, and Caron Simply Soft.
Items for children are soaked in baby shampoo in the tub, then rinsed, then soaked in a cheap conditioner (Suave coconut conditioner is white), then rinsed very carefully and air dried. This gets the scratchiness out.
posted by TrishaU at 3:28 AM on December 16, 2020 [4 favorites]

Hi - just a couple bits of details to flesh out some of the other answers, and I think address some of the specifics of the question you're asking.

I'd like to crochet a baby blanket and possibly other baby items. A stuffed animal would be great. But is it actually possible to crochet something durable enough that it will survive baby excretions and multiple washings? What kind of crochet stiches should I be looking for? What weights and types of yarn?

The two biggest factors in making sure that your item survives baby-handling and washings are a) picking a washable yarn and b) choosing stitches that don't have lacy holes. Fortunately, there are loads of yarns and stitch patterns to choose from that would accomplish this.

The reason people above are suggesting acryllic yarn is because it is machine washable; however, there are also machine-washable wool yarns, and cotton is also an option. I'd also pay attention to the specific brands of yarn people are recommending above; the biggest objection some people have to acryllic yarn is that some brands are super, super cheap, and you can tell they're cheap.

If you want to go with a cotton yarn, actually, there's a cheap option that you may want to consider that would be especially durable; anything designed for dishcloths is going to be soft, strong, and durable, since it's designed to be used to create something that will get a lot of heavy use. And you can get a crapton of the stuff in all different colors (dishcloths are a very popular knitting project because they're small and portable).

If you're determined to make a stuffed toy, also, I'd make sure that all of the little legs or ears or other dangly body parts are securely attached (I made a knit toy lobster for my niece when she was one, and within seconds she had ripped out the antennae thing that I'd made by just threading a single string of yarn through its nose). But as long as you choose a stitch pattern that doesn't have any lacey holes in it, you should be fine; with a blanket, you may also want to avoid lacey holes as well (little fingers can get caught in them easy and it might end up freaking out a fussy tot).

In addition to the patterns above, I'd have a look on the Ravelry web site for patterns - you're bound to find a gabillion child-suitable patterns, for blankets OR stuffed toys, in both knit AND crochet.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:22 PM on December 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm a little late to this question, but lovey blankets are a good mix of blanket and amigurumi. See this image search for lots of ideas.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 4:07 PM on December 16, 2020

Coming in to suggest cotton - I have a crochet cotton summer blanket that my mum used for my pram, that I then used for my son 35 years later (it makes a great sunshade when he’s napping, the holes allow the air to circulate. Our sun isn’t that strong). It has been trailed over the side of the stroller, dropped on the ground and used as a napkin, and it still looks great.
posted by tinkletown at 4:37 PM on December 16, 2020

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