Whether you want to give a friend a handmade gift or create an heirloom for your child, our sweet stroller blanket is the answer. To make sure the pattern was goofproof enough for moms who've never done needlework, we invited the Craft Yarn Council of America to the Parents offices to teach us all how to crochet. After a lunchtime lesson, most staffers were able to crochet a square in about an hour.
To create this 22 x 32 inch stroller blanket, you'll need to complete 24 5-inch crocheted squares. Then, arrange the colored patches in a desired pattern, creating 4 rows of 6 squares each, and weave them together.
FOUNDATION ROW: Chain (ch) 20 stitches: Begin by making a slipknot on the crochet hook (A).
Holding the hook in one hand, bring yarn over the hook from back to front with your other hand, grab it with the hook, and draw the hooked yarn through the slipknot and onto the hook. This makes 1 chain stitch (B). Repeat 19 times. When finished, you should have 20 chain stitches and 1 loop remaining on the hook.
ROW 1: Skip the first chain stitch from the hook, and insert the hook through the center of the next chain stitch (C) and wrap the yarn over the hook.
Draw up a loop. Now you have 2 loops on the hook (D).
Wrap the yarn over the hook again, and draw it through both loops on the hook (E).
One loop remains on the hook, and you have just made 1 single crochet (F). Continue in the same manner, inserting the hook into each chain across the foundation row until you've completed 19 single-crochet (sc) stitches. Keep the yarn tension steady so that all stitches are of similar size.
At the end of the row, make 1 chain stitch (ch 1), and turn your work counterclockwise (G), leaving the loop on the hook.
ROW 2: Now you are ready to begin your second row. Slide the crochet hook under the top two strands of the first stitch next to the loop (H).
Sc into each stitch of the previous row, being sure to work all 19 stitches (I). Ch 1, and turn. Repeat Row 2 for 24 rows or until your section measures 5 inch. Note: Count your stitches often as you complete each row to make sure each one has 19 single-crochet stitches.
FINISHING EACH SQUARE: Sc evenly around the outside edges of your square using the same color yarn, working 2 or 3 single-crochet stitches in each corner. Keep the edges flat. Cut the yarn from the ball, leaving a 6 inch end. Draw the yarn end through the remaining loop on the hook (J), and tug to make a knot.
Thread the end onto the yarn or tapestry needle, and weave the yarn back and forth through stitches to secure (K).
Arrange the 24 completed squares into 4 sections across, 6 sections down, and in the color pattern of your choice. (If you prefer a different size blanket, add or subtract a row of squares.) It is easier to join squares into vertical strips first, and then weave the long strips together. Use Scotch tape to connect the squares as you work.
Thread yarn or tapestry needle with a length of one of the purple yarns. (We used the lightest color yarn to join the squares, but once they are woven together, the yarn will be barely visible.) With the right sides facing you, hold the edges of the squares you want to join side by side. Pass the threaded needle through the first stitch of the left edge and then through the first stitch of the right edge, leaving about a 60 end. Pass the needle through the next stitch on the left edge and then through the next stitch on the right edge. Alternate weaving from edge to edge, pulling the joining thread carefully to close the seam (L). Keep the seam slightly loose and elastic for best results. If your squares vary slightly in size, ease in extra rows or stitches gradually for a smooth edge. Weave in any yarn ends through stitches to secure.
FINISHING: When all of the squares have been joined, crochet 3 rows of sc around the outside edges: With the right side of the blanket facing you, draw a loop of lilac yarn through 1 stitch. Sc around the edges, picking up stitches all around the blanket. Work 2 or 3 single crochet stitches at each corner to keep edges flat. After completing the first round of sc, cut yarn from ball, leaving a few inches on the end. With 1 loop on your hook, draw through a strand of the bright lilac yarn, and make another round of sc. When that row is complete, cut yarn from ball. With 1 loop on your hook, pull through a strand of the deep purple yarn, and make a final round of sc. Cut the yarn, and draw the end through the remaining loop to finish. Using the needle, weave in any yarn ends through stitches to secure.
Copyright © 2003. Reprinted with permission from the October 2003 issue of Parents magazine.