The Uncommon Knitter: Grammy, Nana, Gigi, Bubbe

Here is how the scene unfolds. A woman, usually of a certain age, enters the shop and asks for help. She often has a pattern in hand – a worn piece of folded paper or a handout with black and white photographs. She is going to be a grandmother and she wants to brush up on her knitting skills to make a baby blanket, a special gift for the new arrival.
The last baby blanket our customer made may have been knit in a traditional pastel color, out of acrylic yarn, on long aluminum straight needles! The knitting world has been transformed over the last 30 years, and it is such fun to show off the variety of yarns available today. The easy-care yarn options include 100% machine-washable wool yarn, an organic cotton yarn that can go in the washer and dryer, merino/cashmere or merino/silk blends that are machine washable, and sturdy cotton, acrylic/wool, and acrylic/cotton blends that can pop in the washer and dryer. Malabrigo, madelinetosh and Lang offer beautiful wool-based, variegated yarns in fingering, sport and worsted weights that are machine washable.
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I always encourage returning knitters to try out our bamboo circular needles. Working back and forth on the circular needles isn’t any harder than working on straight needles, and the bamboo is light, with a little bit of flex, so they are easy to knit with. The ChiaoGoo needles we carry come in 24 inch, 32 inch and 40 inch lengths — perfect for baby blankets. We also carry Prym and Addi Turbo metal circular needles in similar lengths.
For true beginners, we recommend a few simple patterns. Churchmouse Yarns has a beautiful Picot-Edge Baby Blanket and Washcloth pattern and a Garter Blocks Baby Blanket that rely on the knit stitch.
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Ann Norling’s Crib Blanket-Afghan #32 pattern can be worked up in different sizes and weights of yarn and offers some simple stitch patterns. More adventurous knitters can try Ann Norling’s Merino Stripes Feather and Fan Throw, a simple lace pattern that knits up quickly in a bulky yarn like Cascade 128. The pattern is free on ravelry.com!
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Grandmothers are some of our most prolific knitters, but we don’t want to give crocheters short shrift! Churchmouse Yarns has patterns for two Vintage Crocheted Blankets, as well as the ubiquitous One Big Granny Square.
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In August, we received our first shipment of crochet toy animal kits from the Toft Shop. All of us fell in love with the amigurumi creatures in Edward’s Menagerie, and we expect that you will too! There are dogs, there are bears, there’s an elephant and a lion and a sheep – and you’ll be able to customize your own animal after a simple crochet class! We’re expecting our next shipment to arrive in October, which leaves you plenty of time to create a few before the holidays.
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This fall, two of our staffers are expecting their first grandchildren. They have been knitting joyously – sweaters and caps and blue jeans – in anticipation of the baby boys. We all have our “go-to” patterns for new arrivals, which we’ll share with you in upcoming blog posts. Stay tuned!

– The Uncommon Knitter