We’re asked a lot what patterns should be used for Schuyler squares. The sky is really the limit here. We rarely have special requests for any type of pattern, but there are some thoughts that could help you decide which patterns would be appropriate.
1. Garter stitch is not a good choice for these squares. The garter stitch pattern that is knit on the bias and used frequently for dish cloths and baby blankets has proven to be problematic when sewn into a larger blanket. Garter stitch is stretchy enough on its own. When knit on the bias, it becomes even more stretchy. It just doesn’t hold its shape well in a blanket. If you like this pattern, try knitting it in stockinette with a garter stitch border. Also, be sure to knit at a tighter gauge than you normally might.
2. Borders are good. Adding a 3-4 stitch garter or seed stitch border to a square is really helpful for two main reasons. One, it makes it much easier for the sponsor to sew the square to another. Two, it gives a nice polished look to the square. Be sure to take the extra stitches into account when measuring your squares.
3. It’s all about gauge. Gauge is that magical thing that allows us to knit something to the right size. It doesn’t take much time to knit up a little gauge swatch and do some simple math to make sure your square is going to be the right size. If you aren’t sure how to make and measure a gauge swatch, there are plenty of articles and tutorials on-line.
4. Yarn matters. Some yarns are better than others when it comes to knitting blanket squares. Obviously, the most important thing here is that the yarn you choose be soft and washable. In addition to that, however, you should choose a yarn that you can knit to an appropriate gauge. For example, there are many beautiful fingering weight (sock) yarns out there. If a pattern calls for a gauge of 4 sts/inch, that fingering weigh yarn is not going to be the best choice. Could you get 4 stitches to the inch on finger weight yarn? Yes. The problem is that you will have to knit on a needle so large that the square will not be strong enough to maintain its shape. A worsted or bulky weight yarn would be better for the gauge listed.
Another thing to consider when choosing yarn is the fiber content. Acrylic is an obvious choice for washable yarn, but it does not block. If you choose 100% acrylic yarns, be sure to measure your gauge and your square carefully as what you knit is what you will get. Superwash wools and wool blends are good choices because they can be blocked. If your superwash wool square comes out to 7.5″x7.5″, simply pin it out to the right size and give it a good shot of steam from your iron. Let it dry and voila! You have an 8″x8″ square that will stay that size.
Stay tuned for a post on where to find patterns.