When chronic overuse of my hands was causing pain while knitting I began working with physical therapist, Victoria Moitoso of Foundry Orthopedics in Providence, Rhode Island. She suggested that I use only very large needles: “The larger the needle, the less stress it will cause.” I found some number seventeens among my knitting notions, and started a blanket for a baby girl due in July.
In the beginning, number seventeen needles, 1.5 inches around, felt about as delicate as shovels. But the blanket they created, with Lion Brand’s Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarn, was adorable, and best of all, the basic stockinette worked up so quickly that I forgot all about the initial clumsiness. I also loved that the project was complete in only a few hours. Whether or not you have a hand problem that might benefit from using large knitting needles, you’ll find that it’s extremely gratifying to make something so beautiful so quickly. Big-needle projects are perfect for summer knitting, since the speedy work means you won’t feel overwhelmed by heat.
To make your own bulky baby blanket you’ll need:
One pair #17 needles (either two straights or one circular)
Four skeins Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarn.
I used the following colors: Fisherman (2 skeins), Eggplant (1 skein), Blossom (1 skein).
Cast on 60 stitches. Knit in stockinette (one row knit, one row purl) until all the yarn is used up, or until you want to start a new stripe. I made solid color-block stripes, using a skein of color for each stripe, but changing colors every four rows will give a different and equally nice look. To minimize rolling at the edges you can knit the first four stitches of every row. This creates a garter stitch border that makes a nice frame.
When I’d used up all the Wool-Ease Thick and Quick, my blanket was about 32” by 37”. It had gorgeous drape and a deep softness. I loved the look of the large stitches and the chunky yarn. It was a blanket with presence! And of course I was overjoyed that using the big needles had prevented my hands from aching, as they had when I worked with smaller sizes. Naturally I was inspired to continue—how could I not be?—and I swatched up a few patterns for the next blanket. My favorite swatch so was four-color stripe, using the colors Fisherman, Blossom, Fig, and Cabernet. It’s an easy pattern to memorize: 4 + 4: four rows of stockinette for each color, four stitches in garter at each edge. The gauge is eight rows = 3 inches vertically and six rows horizontally.
Adapting to the big needles opened the floodgates of my knitting desire. The only question I have now is if I’ll be able to stop this once I get to the end of four skeins. This next baby blanket might just end up becoming an afghan.