Throw Me a Throw!

Here in New England, we’ve been pretty lucky so far with winter this year. Aside from the freak storm in October, the weather’s been relatively mild, and we’re below the normal level for snow. (Last year at this time, we had almost 39 inches of snow)! We’re already dreaming of spring, (got my seed catalogs handy), but it seems so far away. We’re always running, but when it’s time to take a breather, nothing‘s better than to snuggle with a pretty throw or blanket. Grab a cup of tea and come take a pause with me!

Connecticut winters are a great time to work on craft projects, and some of the best projects are also some of the simplest. One of my favorite quick projects are no-sew fleece blankets and throws. They’re such a snap to whip up, and when given as gifts pack plenty of “wow”! Have you ever made one? There’s a young family at my church who recently had a baby girl, so this week I made them a cuddly fleece blanket as a baby gift.

You need two pieces of fleece, the same size. For a small size blanket, use ½ yard each. For a larger blanket, use 1 yard each. (I prefer the larger size, as older children can use it. You can make adult-size throws by just increasing your yardage). The blankets look best when made with one patterned fleece and a contrasting solid.

Place the fabric pieces wrong-sides together, with all sides even. Cut a five-inch square piece from each of the four corners of the fabric (cutting through both pieces of fleece at the same time).

Next, cut one-inch wide “strips” all the way around the entire length of the blanket.

Now tie the strips from the top piece of fleece to the strips on the bottom, making little “knotted” fringe all the way around.

Voila! The double layer of fleece makes it very cozy and soft.

I made one for my niece in Denmark, Christine, when she was born. Her mom Heidi loves elephants, so I was thrilled to find fleece with a pink elephant print. When they came to visit, it warmed my heart to see two years later, it’s still one of Christine’s favorite blankets!

My daughter wanted one for the foot of her bed to snuggle under when she is reading, so a few years ago I made one for her for Christmas, with fairies, to go with her fairy-themed room.

(Speaking of fairies, did you read the latest issue of MaryJanes Farm magazine? I think making “Button Fairies” with my Farmgirl Sisterhood chapter and our daughters sounds like a fun evening)!

For snuggling, well-placed throws and blankets add color, warmth, and coziness to rooms. Accent sofas, chairs, and beds with throws and blankets.

I’m an avid knitter. Several years ago, I made a multi-colored throw to match my bedroom. I hope to give it to my daughter as an heirloom someday. What makes this throw so interesting is it’s only knitting and purling, but uses all different types of yarn and fibers, in different weights, and is knit on circular needles horizontally, as opposed to vertically. I put fringe on one end. I love to curl up with my blanket in my lap in my cozy club chair and read.

When I was pregnant with my daughter almost ten years ago, I had to be on bed rest for part of the pregnancy. That’s when I got really good at knitting! I made these blankets in a checkerboard pattern to pass the time away. Knitting’s really good for the soul! I wonder if someday when my baby’s all grown up she’ll use them for her babies.

I learned to crochet granny squares, and made this granny-square afghan for my guest/sewing room. It took me a long time to do. I can do both knitting and crochet, but prefer knitting. I find that most people prefer either one or the other. I’m curious if that holds true.  Are there any other “Yarn Goddesses” out there? Which do you prefer, knitting or crochet, or do you enjoy both?

This is the granny square throw I made for the guest room.  The picture above the chair is a reproduction of “The Cat in the Ruff” which sits in the den of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT.  Mark Twain used to make up stories for his children using objects in the room, and the stories always included this cat.

When my daughter was four, we took a road trip vacation to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We had lived in Pennsylvania for a few years when we first got married, so we knew to get off the “beaten path”, away from the tourists, and headed instead to the remote areas of Amish farmland. Driving among the beautiful corn fields, we stopped into any farm that advertised goods for sale. We found the Amish to be quite friendly and open to selling their wares to the “English”. At one farm, we found beautiful quilts, about a third the price or less of what the “tourist trap” stores were selling them for. I bought this beautiful quilt, which now rests on the foot of the bed in my guest/sewing room. While I dapple in sewing, near the top of my “bucket” list is learning to quilt, but am not sure where to start. Are there any quilters out there? Drop me a comment and give me your advice on how to get started. Where did you learn and from who?

It may be cold as ice cubes outdoors, but indoors we are toasty and warm! Speaking of warm, thank you to all my Farmgirl friends out there…you all warm my heart like the coziest quilt!

Leave a comment 21 Comments

  1. Michele says:

    Nicole, Love to read your Suburban blog! We have several of the homemade throws. My daughter Katie loves to make them. They really do keep you warm and cozy. Happy Winter, Michele

    Same to you, Michele!  Thanks so much for reading and commenting!  -Nicole

  2. Joan says:

    Oh yeah don’t you just love the fleece throws and such fun gifts. I crochet and knit – well knit at it – never my favorite hand work – I also quilt and do all kinds of hand stitchings. My Grandmother, Great Aunt and Aunt taught me the love of hand work. Like I said, knitting has been my nemesis – Grandma was really good at it – and did the ‘pick’ method – sorry I don’t know any other name for it – she held her yarn as one does for crocheting and ‘picks’ instead of looping over – neither method was my thing. I quilt all by hand – the piecing and the final design. When I was very young – 3-10 I spent a lot of time with my Great Aunt who QUILTED – I have her old home made quilt frame that I still use. I would sit under the quilt frame – she would push the needle down to me and I would push it back up – then she taught me the correct way to do it and well many quilts later I still love doing it. I am getting ready to make a free form quilt of handkerchiefs, tatting, crocheted lace and collars, buttons – all from my Great Greats, Grandmother and Aunt.
    And oh yes the buttons in MJ’sF look like great fun – will be trying those too. So a lot to do – best get myself moving.
    Thanks for your blog – stay warm and God Bless.

    Hi Joan!  Thank you for commenting!  The "pick" method for knitting is the European way of knitting, which I have learned from my Mother-in-Law.  Wow – can she knit lightening fast!  I prefer and teach the "Throw" method.  My wrist does not tire so easily that way and I can knit for longer periods of time.  All of your projects sound so beautiful and inspiring!  I love the story about you and your Great Aunt quilting together.  Thank you so much for sharing it!  Happy Handiwork -Nicole

  3. Cindy says:

    I have always loved sewing so quilting came natural to me. I believe my first "quilt" was for my son and I just tied it instead of quilting (he is 32 now). I would advise finding a local quilt/fabric shop that offers classes for learning how to quilt or a good friend that knows how. That way you have somebody to bounce questions off of and you learn the right way.

    Thank you Cindy!   -Nicole

  4. Kelly says:

    Thanks for this great blanket idea!!! I’m not a sewer but hey maybe I could handle this! What cute and cozy blankets!
    Your pets are so adorable-thanks for sharing their photos too!

    Kelly, thank you!  My pets are the best snugglers for sure!  The cat wasn’t supposed to be in the picture. He’s very social and jumped in!  Have fun making the fleece blanket, and thanks for reading!  -Nicole

  5. Mary M says:

    We’re sewing and knitting here in NE Ohio, too. My daughter is working on a fleece throw right now from scraps of fleece she found in our sewing room stash of fabric. She wanted to make use of what was on hand rather than buy new. She cut 7" squares of two solid fabrics, red and navy, and is sewing them together in a checkerboard pattern for the top. The bottom will be a complimentary color or likely navy. She’ll have to sew the top and bottom together all around the outside edges rather than cutting strips for tying. Then she’ll turn it right side out and hand stitch the opening closed. Good use of scraps of fleece!

    Mary – That’s a great idea, thank you for sharing.  It is also something I could do with the "squares" leftover from the no-sew blankets.  Happy Winter!  -Nicole

  6. Laurie Dimino says:

    Hi Nicole,
    Thanks for such a simple, no sew idea! My daughter and son will surely both love these….I think I will make them each one for Valentines Day! I can crochet a little, don’t know how to knit (yet), and haven’t sewn since I was a little girl with my grandma, but THIS I CAN DO!!!
    Thanks for the great idea!

    Have fun Laurie! – Nicole

  7. Linda says:

    Nicole,I just love your knitted striped throw!
    I have dabbled in all of the cozy crafts your blog describes, but by far my favorite is knitting. There is something very soothing and therapeutic about knitting for me.
    Quilting is my least developed skill. I am self taught and am better at collecting fabric from outgrown clothing for future projects than truly quilting. I believe that my quilting will not bloom until I retire and take some classes at one of our local quilt shops. I do make some very slow progress on a Victorian crazy quilt by embroidering things of significance to my grown children on velvet pieces.
    I have many works in progress. A friend to quilt with is how most everyone I know has started.

    Linda, thank you!  I’m like you, with lots of different projects going.  I think my biggest problem is time to do them all!  -Nicole

  8. Sue McCall says:

    Am I missing a step on your "Throw"? Do you not sew the two layers together & turn? It seems by only tying the two layers there would be gaps between the layers. Thanks for a quick idea.

    No, Sue, there is no sewing involved.  Start at one corner and go around.  The squares you cut in the beginning help avoid a gap, and as long as you start with the two pieces together and smooth, you shouldn’t have any issues.  It’s really pretty easy.  Also, they wash and wear and wash and wear with no problems.  Nothing should come apart as long as the original knots are tight. Thanks for reading and commenting!  -Nicole

  9. Tammy says:

    Hi Nicole I knit and crochet. I, as you, prefer knitting. I also quilt more than anything else. I taught myself to quilt along time ago. The first thing I did was make a drestin plate pillow. I got a book and just read it and went from there. I am not a machine quilter I quilt everything by hand the old fashioned way. I think it is becoming a lost art. Any way grab some fabric find a quilt block you like and make a pillow you won’t be sorry. Take care.

    Tammy, that’s a good idea.  I should start smaller.  I’ll start at the library, and maybe check some books out as a start.  Thanks!  I also did a Farmgirl swap last year and my secret sis sent me some little quilt block kits.  That would be a good start.  -Nicole

  10. Paula says:

    I once lived in Conn. too. I began quilting there because the winters were sooooo long. I grew up in Mobile, AL and was used to short winters. I was pregnant at the time and wanted to make a crib quilt. I took a class at a quilt shop and was hooked! My son is now 18 and we live in TX and I’ve been quilting ever since. Classes at a quilt shop have been the best source of learning for me. You get the experience, expertise, and the friendship of others. It’s well worth the $. Hope this helps.

    Hi Paula, funny you and I have lived in two of the same states.  I started in TX and now here I am!  There was a local quilt shop in my town, but sadly she closed a year or so ago.  I will have to do some scouting!  Thanks for reading!  -Nicole

  11. MaryBeth Schwarz says:

    The throw is one I can make I and want to run out and get fleece right now! Thanks so much for the idea! In the early 1980s I took a quilting class and loved it. The project was a quilt of squares using all the different techniques (piecing, applique, etc) and we had a lap quilting wooden square for doing the final quilting. The applique block of a hummingbird at a flower was a favorite as was Cathedral Window in which you do not have to do quilting. My grandmothers were quilters (have old quilts they made) and my mom liked quilting but not piecing, so I did not learn from her. Your Amish quilt appears to be a double wedding ring which is more difficult because of the curves.

    MaryBeth, yes, you are right!  My Amish quilt is the double wedding ring!  Good eye.  How wonderful you have quilts that your grandmothers made.  My grandmother crocheted, and I have two shawls that she made.  My other grandmother did embroidery and I have a linen tablecloth she did.  Thanks so much for commenting! -Nicole

  12. Lisa says:

    Nicole,

    I love your blog and never miss it. This idea came at the perfect time. I have two teenagers in the family getting ready to celebrate birthdays and I have struggled with what to make. In fact, one of these blankets will be going to my daughter (former high school exchange student) in Denmark!

    I’m learning to crochet and knit. So far I find crochet to be easier but I like the look of knitting better. It is just going to take some practice. Like you our winter in Indiana has been a lot milder than the experts predicted but winter enough to keep me inside and working on projects. I love it!

    Thanks for the inspiration for these gifts!
    Lisa

    Lisa, thank you so much!  Those Danish winters can be really cold…I’m sure your daughter will love the blanket you make her!  Thank you for taking the time to comment.  -Nicole

  13. KimD says:

    My mom crocheted two blankets she always had in her living room, she died 10 years ago and I now have them both and cherish them.
    I learned to knit when I was about your daughter’s age, but than the crochet craze hit and I learned how to do that and didn’t pick up the knitting needles up again and now I can’t remember how to knit and wish I could knit.

    Kim, thank you for sharing the story about your mom.  As for the knitting, have you checked into a class?  If you knitted before, I bet you could pick it back up quickly with a class.  Thanks for reading and commenting!  -Nicole

  14. Chelle T says:

    If you are near Bethel, CT., there is a wonderful quilt shop there with a warm and friendly staff. I have taken several classes there and learned a lot. I think there is a lot less frustration if you at least learn the basics from a qualified instructor. Good luck!

    Chelle, Thank you so very much!  I will check that out.  Sounds like a great place to start.  Quilting is something that has always been on my "bucket list", and the store near me closed before I could get there!  -Nicole

  15. Lisa says:

    You are so clever Nicole!

    Thank you. Lisa!  Hugs, Nicole

  16. alison says:

    I’m turning fifty this year, and, among other things, I wanted to learn to knit before the big day. I’ve always been a crocheter (well, since I learned at 15, not in the womb) and have found the thought of juggling two implements rather scary. However, my brothers girlfriend taught me how to do a simple washcloth in knit stitch and I’ve probably made about a dozen at this point, and just finished my first scarf. Yay! But I still need to branch out into purling, color changes, etc. I really want to make socks, they look so cool! Do you suggest any specific books for teaching oneself these things?

    Congratulations, Alison, on learning to knit.  Isn’t it fun?  I love to knit washcloths.  They last forever!  I’ve got a bunch of books on my shelf, but I will tell you about two of my favorites. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting and Crocheting by Gail Diven and Cindy Kitchel, is a great all-around reference book (just excuse the title, ha ha).  I refer to that every once and awhile when there comes a stitch I haven’t done in awhile.  Another favorite for beginners or for nice, simple patterns that knit up some great projects is The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting by Nancy Queen and Mary Ellen O’Connell.  I love the patterns in there. For socks, try looking for the patterns by Yankee Knitters if you can find them (sold in most knitting stores).  Their patterns are good and pretty straight-forward.  Good luck, and happy knitting! -Nicole

  17. Lisa H says:

    I had to drop you a quick follow-up note. I made a blanket in one night! My current exchange daughter from Thailand and I made it. What fun, and how simple! I loved it. The one we finished is for another student here from Spain. The next one is for my host daughter from Denmark. They will love them! Thanks again for sharing the easy step-by-step instructions and pictures.

    Lisa, thank you for telling me!  Aren’t they fun to make?  I’m so glad you enjoyed this post!  Means a lot to me!  Have fun! -Nicole

  18. Shery says:

    Crochet and knitting are enjoying a surge of interest in recent years. I never learned to do either, but I loveloveLOVE the results. MAYbe one of these days I’ll get around to it. I think it is so nice to have a ‘lap’ craft and one that can easily go with you. Your yarn-art adds such a cozy feel to your home.

    Thanks, Shery!  I like to invite my Sisterhood Chapter pals over and we often knit, crochet, and do needlepoint together.  I even knit when I am standing in line to pick up my daughter from school, ha ha!  Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  19. Diane says:

    Hi Nicole –

    I have made a bunch of the fleece throws, along with a pillow to match. They are so easy and quick to do!

    I am just a beginner knitter and wanted to know if you could share an easy pattern to make a throw for my chair. Currently, my next project is to make a prayer shawl. I got an easy pattern from Lions Brand yarn site. I also live in New York, near Poughkeepsie so we are practically neighbors. I am loving this winter weather so far. Hope that it is here to stay, although the groundhog saw his shadow today and we need to get through 6 more weeks before Spring is official!

    Thank you – Diane

    Hi Diane!

    Thanks for reading.  I will email you directly.  As for that rascal groundhog, I am not happy with him one bit!  After last year’s winter and this year’s storms, we deserve an early Spring!  Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  20. Debra says:

    I quilt, I took a class Quilt in a Day. This was 20 years ago. To me that is the best to get started. Take an easy class first, once you get the basic down you will go to town. I have made over 100 quilts. Have a blessed day.

    Over 100 quilts!  Wow!  I hope you took photos of them all.  That is wonderful.  Thank you for the advice.  I’m looking forward to getting started.  Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  21. Beverly says:

    I am an avid knitter!!!! I take my knitting basket me wherever I go, including church. It is so nice to have something to work on while waiting for appointments, etc. Mostly though, I love to knit because I love to create. I started making baby sweaters about 5 years ago and I have to confess that everyone wants me at their baby’s shower cause they want a homemade sweater. I love being able to design a sweater specifically for that child and their parents.

    Last August we had our first grandchild, a precious boy, and he is now quite decked out with a variety of sweaters. My daughter and son-in-law love them so much that they are always making requests for a style or color or size. Just yesterday she slyly commented on how Ransom had almost outgrown his sweaters. What did I do? I started three new sweaters and two hats as well as a pair of socks. One sock done. They great fun about these little items is that they knit up pretty quickly and are easy to take anywhere!
    Ok — enough of my book of the "joy of knitting". I should share, however, that my eldest daughter is also a knitter but she likes to do washcloths and afghans. I have lost count of how many blankets she has made….probably about 30. Too big for my tastes:) Have a great day.

    Beverly, I bet those sweaters and socks are just darlin’, even more so, since they are made with such love!  I love to knit small items, too, and have put away all the sweaters I made for my daughter for when she grows up as a keepsake.  Thanks for sharing and Happy Knitting!  -Nicole

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