Math for Knitting

I've never been particularly strong at math, and it does seem to be a requirement in knitting. I'm constantly looking up mathematical formulas and equivalents when I'm designing.

Knitting circles:
circumference of a circle =  pi (3.1416) x diameter (which is radius x 2)

area of a circle = 3.1416 (pi) x radius squared.
(If radius=2.5 formula would be 3.1416 x (2.5 x 2.5)= 3.1416 x 6.25 = 19.635


Knitting in ATCs

I've just finished my first ATC's (Artist Trading Cards.) I signed up for Swap-bot after reading about it somewhere & signed onto a swap for ATC's featuring vintage photos. Had no idea what I was going to do because I'm really not very inspired in a vintage-y way. Came across an envelope of photos of my grandmother as an infant and girl. The same grandmother who taught me to knit & crochet. Then, while cleaning my "studio" (known to my family as the junk room where everything gets thrown) I came across a little knitted swatch I had done using yarn from one of the suits my grandmother had knit for herself in the 50's. It's hard to see here - but it became the background for the ATC. The baby in the picture is my grandmother - no idea who the elegant lady is - but she's got the nose that says "family member"! I feel like the art itself is pretty unskillful - expect it will improve as I become more accustomed to the process. I sometimes feel that knitting & crocheting gets a bit tight & structured & limited to just the one media - so this was a kind of freeing way to play around with color and texture and design elements.I finished three others using photos from the same envelope. Am going to try to continue using the same photos in other ATCs and see what emerges. Just saw a swap for cow ATC's - this one will qualify there.

I love this photo. My grandmother's smile is the same here as the one I knew when she was much, much older.
The girl's baseball team from my grandmother's high school, Grossmont of San Diego, CA in 1926. Again, I used a bit of knitting using leftover yarn from one of her handknit suits.


Babette Blanket: Day 3

It's going much faster than I'd expected. I'm not loving the yarn - too much acrylic. But it will be easy to take care of & one of the few yarns I could find that has 23 different colors to use. I'm a little worried it will be too many colors. I've never used so many before. Only time will tell.

Other posts relating to Babette:

Crafting With Style: How to turn your unused Babette Blanket Squares into a Scarf
Crafting With Style: Babette Blanket: Techniques to Make Your Squares More Uniform
Crafting With Style: Babette Blanket: 6 Techniques to Improve Your Work

original Babette Pattern from Intewave (click on the image to order the pattern)

Loopy & Luscious Scarf

Loopy & Luscious Scarf

Finished this scarf from Knitty Winter '02 - the Loopy & Luscious Scarf by Natalie Wilson. Breeze to make on size 19 needles using Rowan Kidsilk Haze in color 628 a deep chocolate brown. Other yarn is Crystal Palace Yarns Raggedy Print in color 9165, a variegated blue that looks very denim like. Great to wear. Very light and airy - just keeps the chill off. I've never used Kidsilk before - what a delight! Very soft - not scratchy or itchy at all.

It's super easy to make - just cast on 44 stitches and do garter stitch (knit every row) in Kidsilk for 4 rows, then 1 row of Raggedy. I tied off the Raggedy at each end and left a tail, adding to the well - raggedy appearance. Use circular needles since it's only one row of Raggedy you just push the stitches to the other end & pick up the Kidsilk where you left off.

Loved the first one so much I did a second to give to my friend Hank:

Loopy & Luscious Scarf

closeup of Loopy & Luscious Scarf

Afghan & Blanket Sizes

November 2, 2014: When I published this list back in March of 2008 the world was a different place! Today there are much easier ways to create graphic content that is easily downloaded and I've gained a few years experience with Photoshop & Illustrator. As I scrolled through this page for the umpteenth time looking for a mattress size for a new project, I decided to spend some time creating an infographic that I could pin up in my workroom. 

That ended up being a much bigger project than I would have imagined! I ended up re-researching all the sizes and did find some changes in 6 years. So here's what I've come up with:
a list of popular U.S. afghan and blanket sizes for babies, kids and adults
Downloadable graphic of popular U.S. mattress, blanket, comforter and afghan sizes

If you'd like to save it to your computer or print it and pin it in your workspace you can download a printable pdf file here. And if you'd like to see what I've been up to in my new life as a surface and pattern designer check out my new blog.

Now that you've figured out what size to make your quilts you still need to figure out how much fabric to buy. Here are my favorite books to help with that process: 


And I also found this great system to hang quilts on a wall:

And here's my original post from March 6, 2008 (exactly 65,543 visits ago!):

In trying to figure out what size I ultimately wanted my Babette Blanket to be I did some research on standard mattress, sheet, blanket & comforter sizes. I know I've done this before but I can't find the papers so I'll put it here so I can find it again. Flat sheet measurements are from bedding industry standards. Everything else is sort of an average that seems about right. Crib blankets & receiving blankets seem to have the biggest variances - there's pretty much every size possible available. I listed the most prevalent.

Mattress depths vary widely be manufacturer. Measure the depth of the mattress before designing the blanket/quilt/comforter. Standard & older mattresses average 9 - 12", while newer pillow-top mattresses are 14 - 16" deep and up. These deeper mattresses obviously rquire more depth & width to cover the mattress completely. Be especially careful about making covers for very fluffy comforters such as down-filled. They tend to puff out the fabric, so there is much more area to cover than the dimensions listed on the package. Take several measurements of the comforter after it has been fluffed to decide how big to make the cover.

If you're making a blanket using squares, in addition to figuring out what size you want you'll need to calculate how many squares to make. I've written up notes on the process I use to figure out how many granny squares you need here.

TWIN: mattress top is 39" x 75"
Twin flat sheet: 66" x 96"
Twin Blanket: 66" x 90"
Twin Comforter: 69" x 90"

EXTRA LONG TWIN: mattress top is 39" x 80" ** Most popular size in college dorms
Extra Long Twin Flat Sheet: 66" x 102"
Extra Long Twin Blanket: 66" x 95"

FULL/DOUBLE: mattress top is 54" x 75"
Full/Double Flat Sheet: 81" x 96"
Blanket: 80" x 90"
Full Comforter: 84" x 90"

QUEEN: mattress top is 60" x 80"
Queen Flat Sheet: 90" x 102"
Blanket: 90" x 100"
Queen Comforter: 90" x 95"

KING: mattress top is 76" x 80"
King Flat Sheet: 108" x 102"
Blanket: 108" x 100"
King Comforter: 106" x 98"

CALIFORNIA KING: mattress top is 72" x 84"
California King Flat Sheet: 102" x 110"
Blanket: 104" x 108"

Receiving Blanket*: 
23" x 23", 24" x 24", 29" x 32", 30" x 36" or 36" x 36"
Stroller Blanket: 30" x 40"
Porta Crib (mattress top is 24" x 38") use receiving blanket
Small Cradle Blanket (mattress is 15" x 33") 15" x 30"
Large Cradle Blanket (mattress is 18" x 36") 18" x 33"
Crib Blanket(mattress top is 28" x 52"): 28" x 42" or 30" x 40" or 36" x 42" or 36" x 46"


Infant - 2 years: 24" x 30"
2 - 6 years: 30" x 36"
7 - 11 years: 36" x 42"
12 years and over: 48" x 60"

Lapghan: 36"x 48" often used in nursing homes & wheelchairs
Adult: 50" x 70"

Standard 20" x 26"
Queen 20" x 30"
King 20" x 36"

* Receiving Blankets: I've seen lots of discussion on receiving blankets. Most people seem to think 23 or 24 inch squares are perfect for newborns, as there isn't too much fabric to manage. 29" x 32", 30" x 36" or 36" x 36" are the sizes most often made by manufacturers that are available in stores.

"Janem" also provided the following helpful info: Bev’s Country Cottage website gives suggestions for different size blankets.

This is basically what she recommends….
Blanket Sizes (approximate) For preemies, blankets without ‘holes’ are best.
Small Preemie: 18” - 20” square
Medium Preemie: 20” - 22” square
Large Preemie: 22” - 28” square
Full Term Baby: 28” - 36” square
Baby 30” x 36” = crib sized (6” granny squares= 5 across x 6 down ~ 30 sq)
Children 42”x 48” (6” squares= 7 across x 8 down ~ 30 sq)
Lapghan often used in seniors homes 36” x 48” (6” squares= 6 across x 8 down ~ 48 squares)
Adult Afghan (Will fit across top of bed) 48” x 72” = twin sized. (6” squares= 8 across x 12 down ~ 96 squares)
Adult Double Bed (Will fit across top of bed) 60” x 84” = full sized. (6” squares= 10 across x 14 down ~ 160 squares)

Please post a comment if you have suggestions or real-life experience with any of this!

Shantel R M brought up a great point in the comments below. If you're not happy with the size of a project when you've finished you can always add a border. I think the crochet book I turn to the most is:
I highly recommend it as a book you'll turn to time and time again.

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Babette Blanket: 6 Techniques to Improve Your Work

Babette Blanket (click on the image to order the pattern from Interweave)
 I'm a self taught crocheter. I used a book to learn, and I didn't read very much - just looked at the pictures. And I really only learned enough to do free form crochet - I've only done a couple of crochet projects using a pattern - so I haven't really tried to understand very much.

I'm assuming that's the reason I always have so many problems translating what the Babette Blanket pattern is trying to tell me what to do. There are always so many options on how to do a simple action. Like 2sc. Do I go into the front loop, the back loop, through the chain but not the bar below it, throught the chain & the bar? Each option gives a completely different look to the stitch. When you combine that with all the options for all the stitches in combination and then throw in needle size and tension it's taking me days to get my gauge swatches done. I also find myriad other little issues as I'm working that aren't addressed in the pattern. I'm guessing it's because I never learned "the standards". Or maybe it's just that I'm absurdly picky and have very strong opinions about what I like & I don't like. And then there's the whole problem of remembering what I've decided to do. Usually there are sticky notes on top of sticky notes stuck all over the pattern. Most of it is a matter of personal preference. But in the end consistency is important to me. (Although with so many squares I'm sure I can include all these different techniques into the blanket and no one will notice but me...)

So here's a list of my issues & actions I've decided. I've got to write it down or I'll never remember what I've decided & will be lost when the project gets pushed aside for a while as something new catches my eye....

1. Double Crochet: go through the chain or the chain & the bar?

Here are squares done each way:
The square on the left is just through the chain - not through the bar below the chain. the square on the right is through both the chain & the bar. Needless to say - the first thing that is very apparent is that blocking is crucial. I have no idea why the right square is so much more "tweaked" than the left square. Looking at the two squares side by side I couldn't see much of a difference so decided to block them up & call it a day.

After blocking it was easy to see that I prefer to dc under the chain but above the bar. I prefer the lacey-er look - and there's a bit of a bumpy ridge on the right square that I don't like the feel of. Plus, the rows seem more apparent and the whole structure is more pleasing to me.

2. Blocking - do I really have to?

As soon as I saw the squares this morning I knew the answer to that one. The blocked squares look so much better - and will be so much easier to assemble.

I've got my blocking down - I've got a couple "Quilter's Cut & Press" boards that I picked up at JoAnn's with a 1/2 off coupon. They're just big enough to be useful - but not so big as to be awkward. They stash behind my desk & fit perfectly on the kitchen counter. They've got a grid printed on them so I can pin to perfect squares. As the end of each day I grab the board, pin up the squares, hit them with a little steam from the iron and set them aside. Next morning I wake up to perfect squares. As far as I'm concerned a squares not finished until the last end is woven in & the square is blocked. I crochet the ends in as I go - so all I've got at the end is the last bit I tied off.) If I waited until the end to weave in the ends & block the squares I can say with certainty the thing would never get assembled....

3. What size hook?

The pattern calls for "E". Plymouth Encore DK yarn I'm using says "F" or "G". I used a 5 needle when I knit a baby blanket with the yarn and that looked good. My crochet tends to be pretty loose - so I started with an "E". I realized the squares have to be relative in size. Two 2-round squares have to equal one 4-round etc. The first few squares (2 round) looked good - pretty lacey after blocking. The 4 round square required a fair bit of stretching to get to size, but I thought I could make it work. The 8 round square was impossible to block out to the full size it needed to be. Pulled out the "F" hook. The 2 round squares are a bit bigger than ideal - but the 4's on up are great. I'll go a bit tighter on the 2 round squares & try to be looser on the bigger squares.

4. What's going on where the colors join together?

This is how it looks when I "join with a sl st in top of beg ch-3". The color from the row below goes into the color of the new row. Fixed this by joining the new color, then slipping the stitch in the top of the beg ch-3. Probably something they teach in Crochet 101...

5. What's going on with the holes where the round ends?

For some reason I'm getting a hole where each round ends. I solved this by doing Ch 2 instead of Ch 3 at the beginning of the round. No idea why it works, but it does...

6. What's going on with the corners?

There's an extra little loop showing up in my corners. After looking at it I realize it's because my dc is going under the chain, but over the bar. That's the bar showing through. Solution: in the corner I do 2dc, ch2, 3dc.

Now my corner is clean!

So here's my version of the instructions combining all my changes:

Using "F" hook:

Round 1:
Work over tails as you go!
Ch 4.
(dc, [ch2, 3dc] 3x, ch2, dc) all in 4th ch from hook.
Join with sl st in 3rd ch (hook below the chain, but above the bar) of beg ch4. (For color change: attach new color, then sl st in 3rd ch (go below the chain but above the bar)of beg ch4) Do not turn. (Run the tail up one of the crochet stems to the chain level so you can crochet over it on the next round.)
Check work: each side should have 3 stems. Each corner should have 2 chains.

Round 2:
Ch2. dc in next dc (hook below the chain, but above the bar)
in corner space: 2dc, 2ch, 3dc.
1dc in each of next 2 dc spaces (hook below the chain, but above the bar).
Continue until the beginning. Finish as in round 1.
Check work: each side should have 7 stems. Each corner should have 2 chains.

Continue on in this pattern.

Hopefully this will jog my memory when I've been away from the project for awhile!

Now that you've perfected your squares, have you grown bored with the project before you've made enough for a blanket? When that happened to me I turned them into a scarf. Instructions and a graph for layout are here.

Babette Squares sewn up as a scarf


Babette Blanket: Techniques to Make Your Squares More Uniform

Beginning with scraps from the Garter Stitch Blanket I'm starting the Babette Blanket from the Interweave Crochet Spring 2006 issue. I'm using Plymouth Encore DK and an E crochet hook.

The first few squares caused me to figure out a few tweaks to the pattern that seemed to work better for me. On the color changes I tied on the new color before doing the final slip stitch to join the round. The blue & yellow square on the right shows how it looks - no weird jog. The square on the far left shows what I mean where the purple meets the blue on the top in the middle.

I also think it looks cleaner on the corners to do 2dc, ch2, 3dc in the ch2 space - then dc in each of the dc to the next 2ch space. Again - just looks a bit cleaner (blue & yellow) than the way the pattern is written. Or at least the way I interpret the way the pattern is written. I'm a completely self-taught crocheter & I'm not sure I really understand how to read a pattern. I'm much better at looking at the finished piece & then figuring out how to make my piece look like I want it to.

Here's what the original pattern looks like. Click on the image below to order the pattern online.



Garter Stripe Baby Blanket

Garter Stripe Baby Blanket

Plymouth Encore DK: 1 skein each of 13 colors*
Size 5 circular needle.

I used the "Kiss My Shadow" online stripe generator to come up with the pattern, limited to 1, 2 or 3 row stripe widths. It's a fun toy to play around with - I did it quite a few times until I found a version I liked.

From there its was easy:

Cast on 140.

Knit in garter stitch following stripe pattern to desired length. Mine ended up being 30" wide by 36" long. (See my notes and a list of average blanket sizes if you want to make a blanket or afghan for a child or adult.)

I'm not a big fan of acrylic, but I know moms like it because it's machine washable, and I was looking for something that came in a lot of colors and was relatively inexpensive. The Encore, at 75% acrylic & 25% wool wasn't quite as soft & cuddly as pure wool would be - but it was considerable cheaper and should be easy to care for. The color selection is fantastic. I chose strong bright colors - but it also comes in baby pastels.

The benefit of the garter stitch stripe is that the blanket is interesting from both sides.

*13 colors I used: 4379 (Celery). 1304 (Seafoam) . 999 (Burgundy). 848 (Navy). 9601 (Red). 1382 (Yellow).217 (Black). 515 (Wedgewood Blue). 233 (Lavender). 1384 (Purple). 1385 (Hot Pink). 1383 (Orange). 1317 (Teal)


Artyarns dilemma

I bought two skeins of Artyarns Handpaint Stripe to make the Multidirectional Scarf in Modular Knits by Iris Scheier. I made the scarf once before in solid colors. This time I wanted to try a self-striping yarn since that what was what had propelled Iris Schreier to develop the multidirectional technique. I figured what better than to use than her yarn.

Wrong assumption. I'm not happy with the way the stripes look. They're more blotchy than stripey looking. Fortunately - I have the second skein so I can just set this aside for now and try something new. Maybe it will look better over time...

Time to hit the bookshelf. I found the Misty Garden Scarf in "Scarf Style". It looks pretty in a blotchy sort of way - so it seems like it will work. Not liking this either. Reminds me too much of all the afghans Granny made in the 70's. And the colors are too bold - not blending together. I've still got the other ends of each skein to try something else.