Customization: How to adapt patterns for size and add your own special touches!

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Knitting is a bit like cooking. Some people like to follow the recipe exactly, and some people want to add their own spin on things! Or maybe they need to make changes because of the availability of ingredients, and the number of people they need to feed.

My blanket patterns come in a pretty narrow range of sizes, and there are reasons for that:

  • Loop yarn is not cheap, so I try to limit the number of skeins in each pattern to about $40-60 CAD/USD, which keeps these projects accessible to most knitters.
  • Keeping blankets to a smaller 'throw blanket' size means that I can knit samples in a few days, and create more patterns each month.
  • Because I also sell my own blankets, keeping them to a size that I can vacuum pack and send out in bubble mailers to customers is most convenient for me.

But that doesn't mean that my patterns can't be modified to larger and smaller sizes! And there are many ways to add special touches to make your blanket stand out from others.

CHANGING MATERIALS

Changing materials is the most common modification that customers want to make when using knitting patterns. Whether you can't find the loop yarn suggested in the pattern, or you have a preference for certain brands, knowing how a substitution in yarn will affect the overall dimensions of the pattern is your first step.

To understand the differences between loop yarn brands, I recommend reading my blog post Loop yarn sizes: How do they compare? which includes a Loop Yarn Conversion Chart to guide you on converting from one brand of loop yarn to another.

Can't find your brand in my conversion chart? If you contact me with the details about your yarn, I may be able to do the calculations for you and add it to the chart for everyone!

Or, if you'd rather stick with the original recommended yarn brand, but are having difficulty sourcing it, check out my shopping resource: Where to Buy Loop Yarn, which has links for where to find different brands by country.

CHANGING SIZE

Modifying the size of your pattern can be intimidating at first, and the approach you take when increasing or decreasing the size will depend on the type of design.

Add a Border

The easiest way to make your pattern larger is to add rows and columns to all sides of the pattern. This will turn your original pattern into a centre motif and give the edges of your blanket a more finished look.

You can achieve this by adding more stitches to all sides of your blanket as you knit, or if you prefer, by adding multiple rows of borders around the edge of your blanket once you're done (this second option is also an easy way to switch to a different colour, as you'll see below).

The easiest way to plan out your modifications is by using a spreadsheet like Excel or grid paper, but even sketching your plan on a piece of scrap paper can work, and help you plan your thoughts.

Increase the Repeat

Many of my patterns have repeating rows or motifs. To stretch this style of blanket, you just need to increase the number of repeats horizontally and vertically. Not sure about where the repeat begins or ends when looking at the pattern? Feel free to send me a message and I'll walk you through it!

Add more Ribbing and Cables (to Irish/Celtic designs)

To increase the length of Irish Aran/Celtic designs, you can increase the centre motif using the instructions for repeats as outlined above. To increase the width of these blankets, you have a few options.

One option is to increase the 'blank' space around your centre motifs. Another is to add more cables and ribbing to the side panels - there are so many different cable options available, and it's a great opportunity to customize your design. To see cable options and/or get inspiration - see my blog post on cables here.

For example, one of my customers requested a larger and wider version of my Chunky Celtic Cable Saxon Braid Blanket (original pattern on the left, custom version on the right).

Chunky Celtic Cable Saxon Braid Blanket in mauve chenille loop yarn      Custom Celtic Cable Saxon Braid Blanket in light grey chenille loop yarn

To add width to the original pattern, I kept the centre motif (repeating it upward), but added more ribbing, and a flat cable on each of the side panels. I also changed the columns of ribbing flanking the centre motif to double rope cables, giving them a 'fish-tail' cable look, because I felt the centre of the blanket needed a bit more impact.

Sometimes you just need to play around a bit with combining ribbing and different kinds of cables until you get a mix that 'feels' right, based on your personal preferences. 

Reducing Size

The methods for reducing the size of your blanket are very similar to increasing it - instead of increasing the number repeats, you will decrease them. If you don't have enough room for all the original motifs, pick and choose some to highlight in smaller numbers. Decrease width by removing columns of cables or ribbing.

Once again using my Chunky Celtic Cable Saxon Braid Blanket as an example, when my sister requested a baby blanket using this pattern, I removed columns of ribbing on the sides, and used fewer repeats of the centre motif. You can find that smaller pattern here

Celtic Cable Saxon Braid Baby Blanket

USING MULTIPLE COLOURS

When it comes to using more than one colour in your blanket designs, there are many options. Intarsia knitting can be a bit more complicated with loop yarn, but it's not impossible!

The simplest way to add a second colour to your blanket is to knit in bands of horizontal stripes. This is a technique that most loop yarn knitters can handle easily, because it's just a matter of tying your ends together and starting a new skein.

The second easiest way would be to add a border around the outside of your blanket (as mentioned above in Changing Size).

Knitting with Multiple Skeins

A bit more complicated is the method of adding vertical stripes of colour to your design. This technique tends to work best on patterns that already have ribbing or vertical lines in the design, because it gives you a natural spot to bind the edges of two different colours/skeins where it will appear more seamless and tidy.

Last year, one of my customers requested a custom version of my Wall of Climbing Vines Blanket in a similar size to my original, but using three different colours of their choice. I recommended alternating two of the colours vertically and using the third colour for the border. See below the original pattern on the left, and the finished custom blanket on the right:

Wall of Climbing Vines Blanket in dark grey chenille loop yarn      Custom Wall of Climbing Vines blanket in alternating stripes of grey and pink chenille loop yayrn

Here is how I achieved this look, using 1 skein of mint, 3 skeins of pink, and 2 skeins of dark grey yarn:

  1. Starting with the mint skein (the border colour), I counted out the loops of my foundation row, and did one row of knit stitches. (Having a full row of knit stitches to attach your multiple skeins in vertical stripes definitely helps!)
  2. Because there are five vertical stripes to this blanket, I used five skeins (one for each column of colour). Starting from the left side, I knit left to right until just before the 'seam' of ribbing. 
  3. Introducing the first skein of dark grey yarn, I performed a double knit stitch with both colours to seam them (to do this, you place the loop of pink on top of the loop of grey, and pull them both through the stationary loop of the previous row, so that the pink loop is showing in the front of the blanket, and the grey is showing in the back).
  4. I continued this process all the way across, introducing a new colour at each seam, and then continued with the rest of the blanket in the same fashion.
  5. Once I got to the top, I reintroduced the mint yarn skein and did a two rows of knit stitches at the top. (One row to match the bottom, and the second row as the first border edge).
  6. Continuing with the mint yarn, I fed loops around the other three sides of the blanket, then bound all four sides. You could choose to be done at this point, but I opted to add another border, by feeding loops all the way around the edges again, knitting a second row around, and then binding-off again. This gives almost the same look as the ribbed edge of the original.

Here is a partial look at how I modified my original pattern template to keep track of my different skeins:

Portion of a knitting template
The red lines show the divisions between the skeins. You can see how they fall to the left or the right of the seams (the vertical columns of knit stitches), depending upon which colour is the dominant colour. 

SPECIAL TOUCHES 

There are many ways to personalize your blankets. Personalizing your blankets with special touches is a great way to make your blanket different from others who knit from the same patterns, and really make it your own.

Borders and Edging

Most of my blanket patterns have fairly simple edges or borders, because  choose to focus on creating designs quickly, and frogging and reusing the same yarn multiple times. But there are many ideas and examples out there for giving the edge of your blankets a bit of flair.

For my custom colour stripe Wall of Climbing Vines Blanket above, I used a simple double-bound edge. For my Circular Crochet-Look Throw Blanket Pattern, I created a braided scalloped edge that could be added to any pattern, including square or rectangular blankets:

A close up of knitting detail showing the scalloped edge of a beige crochet-look throw .

Pom-Poms or Tassels

Instagram and Pinterest are great places to find creative ideas for finishing your blankets! Just remember, if you are knitting your items for sale, that coming up with your own signature features is a much better way to set yourself apart from other sellers (and to maintain your artistic integrity!). 
 
Etsy seller BlanketsxB has made pom-poms and tassels one of her signature finishing touches. You can see other examples of her beautiful loop yarn blankets on her Instagram below, as well as for purchase in her Etsy shop

 

Embellishments 

Another option is to add embellishments to your blanket. This can be something as simple as weaving stripes of different colours, like in the Bernat Alize EZ Mad for Plaid Blanket pattern from Yarnspirations, or adding decorative features like stars, shapes or lettering.

LoopsofloveByTara, another Etsy seller, has made lettering one of her signature custom looks! Check out this great sports blanket on her instagram page below. You can find more of her loop blankets in her Etsy store.

 

Tags and Labels

Whether you are knitting blankets for sale, or gifting them to friends and family, nothing says "I made this" more than adding personalized tags. Pre-printed leather labels are probably the most popular way to tag your knitted items right now, and they're especially good for loop yarn blankets, because they feel heavy and substantial and match the chunkiness of the chenille loops. 

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You can find lots of options on Amazon (see my links above), but Etsy is also a great option, especially if you want more flexibility for personalizing the information on your tags.

 

Do you have any favourite products or special touches that you like to add to your knitted blankets? Is there a question about customization I haven't answered that you want more information about? 

 


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