MMMmmmm polka dots on the brain! Do you want to join along with me and knit yourself a POP blanket?
Did you download the pattern only to find that it is gibberish to you? Are you are getting ready to send me a nasty email about how you don’t know any of the techniques required?
Please don’t send me that nasty email. Or do if you like! I will be sure to read it and respond by politely referring you to this tutorial. So if you would like to knit this Norolicious polka-dot blanket of happiness, then grab some beautiful yarn [requirements here], your needles of choice, download the pattern if you haven’t already, and knit one or 20 squares along with me. You will learn some great new techniques and we all know that practice makes perfect!
Because the squares are all made the same way, you can use weight of yarn (and needles to correspond), and your squares will all turn out the same size. For example, Alexa used leftover sock yarn, held double, to form the polka dot. The blanket is a great pattern for using up colourful leftovers!
OK well enough prelude – lets get down to business. How is POP constructed?
Start by casting on a few stitches at the very centre… then increase as you knit in the round to form the CC polka dot… then switch to the MC and work one corner at a time… then bind off and block your square… then make a bunch more the same… and finally sew them all together! It’s not so hard, really.
We can take a closer look at how a single square is constructed:
SO LET US BEGIN (at the beginning)
Using CC (Contrast Colour) yarn, you will do the pinhole cast-on. Don’t know how to do a pinhole cast on? Check out the full tutorial [HERE]
After casting on you will work the square in the round, following the pattern. To knit in the round, you can use DPNs (double pointed needles) or a single long circular needle (and the magic loop technique). If you are using DPNs, you will transfer the stitches you just cast on onto DPNs before proceeding to knit in the round following the pattern. If you are using a single long circular needle and the Magic Loop technique, you can keep the cast-on stitches on the needle that you cast onto.
Don’t know how to knit in the round? In future, I will develop a tutorial illustrating various ways to knit in the round; however, until that time I refer you to the videos at knittinghelp.com [HERE] and the magic-loop tutorial by Leah at Knitting Giraffe [HERE].
Follow the pattern to work the polka dot, switching from CC to MC when indicated.
If you are working on DPNs, you will have started out on 3, and after you have a few more stitches, you can transfer your stitches onto 4 DPNs, in preparation for working the corners. Then you will reach the point where you must turn the circles into squares. This is done by working short-rows at each corner.
The pattern indicates how markers should be placed to indicate the corner locations. If you are knitting on DPNs, you probably won’t use the markers, but will instead have your stitches divided into 4 equal sections, each on a needle, with the start of round at the end of one needle. The corners will be at the gaps between needles.
Each corner is worked the same way, one at a time, following the pattern to work a series of short rows. When working short rows, you work part of the way to the end of a row or round, but instead of completing it, you stop and turn the work, and work back in the opposite direction. In order to avoid having holes in the work where you turned, you make a wrap around the base of the stitch next to your turning stitch. Later, when you come to work that wrapped stitch, you pick up the wrap and knit it together with the stitch that it was wrapped around.
Don’t know how to work short-rows? See a great tutorial at The Purl Bee [HERE]
If you are using the magic loop technique, you can pull the cable out wherever is convenient to allow you to work the short-rows back and forth on the needles. If you are using DPNs, you can either add in another needle to work the short rows on, or else just use the needles that you have in the work already. After you have worked the set of short rows, you will have formed one corner, and you will be at the start-of-round marker, which also indicates the first corner location.
To work the next corner you need to knit around until you get to the next corner location. On the way, you will come to the wrapped stitches created by your short rows. As the pattern indicates, you will ‘pick up wraps and knit them together with the stitches they wrap.
You do this by inserting the tip of the RH needle under the wrap, and then through the wrapped stitch itself, then knit these 2 together with one stitch. Confused about how to pick up the wraps? Again, I suggest you consult the fabulous tutorial at The Purl Bee here.
Once you have reached the next corner, you simply repeat the series of short rows again, and proceed to the next corner, until you have worked all 4. After the fourth corner, you work half way to the first corner, and that is the end of the knitting. Then you proceed to bind off.
In order to achieve a good end result, and have a blanket that can be neatly seamed up and completed, you must use a very stretchy bind-off method, so that the squares can be blocked out nice and flat. The one that I recommend is as follows:
k1, *k1, insert LH needle tip into fronts of 2 stitches on RH needle, and k2tog-tbl, repeat from * until all sts have been bound off.
During your bind-off round, you will come to stitches that are wrapped. In this case, when you knit them, pick up and knit the wraps together with the wrapped stitches (then bind them off as per the bind-off above).
OK so you have completed your first square! Congratulations.
Weave in the ends (except the last BO end) and block the square. I have created a tutorial on how to wet block [HERE]
Once the square is dry, you can assess whether you like the way it turned out. Is the bind-off stretchy enough to allow the square to lie flat? If not, you should try binding off on larger needles, with a looser tension, or another bind-off method entirely.
Once you have created all of your blocks, you can decide how you want them to go together. When I was laying out my POP blanket, I considered 3 different layouts:
In the end, I chose the random option, because both Alexa and I liked it best. This is a fun part, so take your time, and consider your options!
To sew the squares together, I used a slip stitch crochet seam. Don’t know how? Check out the full tutorial [HERE].
Finish by working a round of single crochet around the outside edge of the blanket, then block it once more to get a nice flat and consistent fabric! Then drag it around with you everywhere to show everybody you know what a pretty thing you’ve made!