Blanket yarn: what to buy and how to use it
Choose the best blanket yarn for your next knitting or crochet project with our guide on what to buy, what to make and how to care for it.
If you're thinking of knitting or crocheting a blanket, you need some blanket yarn! But what to buy? There are lots of different options in a wide range of styles and weights, so whatever your need there's a perfect yarn out there for your project.
One of the first things to think about when choosing a blanket yarn is weight. Do you want a lighter-weight blanket for summer evenings, or something super-cosy for winter? Take a look at our yarn weight conversion chart for a guide to the different yarn weights available.
The next thing to consider is the fibre. While you might want to splash out on a natural fibre blend, remember that baby knits and blankets that will frequently be used by the whole family (including pets!) ideally need to be easy to care for and machine washable. Wool roving yarns may be beautifully soft, but they can pill easily, so consider keeping them for luxury blankets and using man-made fibres for the everyday ones.
There are some fabulous yarns out there created especially for blankets, so don't limit your search to your go-to yarns for other projects. Look out for self-striping blanket yarns, super-sized ones, cosy chenilles or flannels, and fun and funky textures.
In this guide we'll help you choose a blanket yarn, and also offer advice on how much yarn you might need, what pattern to choose, and how to look after your finished make. Read on for all you need to know about blanket yarn…
How much yarn for a blanket?
When you're making a blanket it's important to think about how much yarn you need before you start – you don't want to run out half way through! If you're following a pattern, simply take a look at the materials and tools section, which will tell you how much of each yarn you need.
What if you don't have a pattern? Well, with a bit of maths you can still figure out roughly how much yarn for a blanket. First you need to know your yarn's tension, which is printed on the ball band. The tension tells you how many stitches and rows will create a piece of fabric 10 x 10cm square, using the needle or hook size and stitch given. If you'll be using the stitch on the ball band, simply check your tension to make sure it matches (see our guides on knitting tension squares and how to perfect your crochet tension to find out how), going up or down a needle/hook size if necessary. When you have a perfect match, make a swatch that measures exactly 10 x 10cm square. Now measure the weight of the yarn you used.
You can then estimate how much yarn you'll need for a whole blanket. Say you want your blanket to be 100cm x 100cm square, you'll need 10 times the amount of yarn you used for your swatch. If your swatch used 30g of yarn, you'll need 300g in total for your blanket.
What if you'll be using a different stitch to the one listed on the ball band? In this case you can use the same technique, but be aware that the stitch pattern will affect the final tension. You may need to use some trial and error, and make a few different swatches using different size needles, to get the result you want. You can then measure the amount of yarn in a 10 x 10cm square and calculate the full amount required as before.
If you plan to make blanket squares rather than working your blanket in one piece, you could instead create a single square, wash and block it (following our guides on how to block knitting projects or how to block your crochet using a blocking board), and use its measurements to calculate how many squares you'll need overall. Make sure you allow extra for the edging and any joining stitches too.
However much yarn you need, we'd generally recommend buying an extra ball just in case. Even if your calculations are spot-on and it isn't required for the blanket, it's always useful to have some spare yarn for sewing up and future repairs.
How to make a yarn blanket?
If you're a knitter, the easiest yarn blanket to make is a garter stitch one – check out our guide on garter stitch for the pattern. For crocheters, we'd suggest a basic granny square design. You could sew together lots of small squares, or just keep adding more rounds to make one giant square! Find out how to make a crochet granny square with our tutorial.
Have a look at our top five knit and crochet patterns for how to make a yarn blanket below. Plus don't miss our lists of the best modern crochet blanket patterns and best crochet baby blanket patterns.
1. Easy stocking stitch checks
This chequerboard blanket and matching cushion are super-simple to work in stocking stitch. Just make your squares then sew them together! It's the perfect project for a beginner knitter.
Find out how to knit a blanket.
2. Modern baby blanket
This cute pram blanket uses the intarsia knitting technique to create its bold text. One for intermediate knitters (or adventurous beginners!), it would make a fab gift for new parents.
Get the free baby blanket pattern to knit.
3. Cool blue colourwork
Colourwork fans will have a ball making this knitted blanket, with its intarsia blocks and subtle stripes. What shades will you choose? Match it to baby's nursery – or make it as a lap blanket for you!
Get the free baby blanket knitting pattern.
4. A granny square classic
You can't go wrong with granny squares, and we love, love, love this colourful crochet design! If you're new to the craft it's a brilliant starting point – grab your hook and some yarn, and let's go…
5. Gorgeous textured crochet
Snuggly shell stitch makes this sweet crochet blanket so cosy for baby, and the stripes add a touch of colour. A simple stitch pattern makes it a great choice for beginners.
How to wash a yarn blanket?
If you've ever put something in the wash only to have it come out three sizes smaller or a completely different colour, you'll know how important it is to look after your precious creations correctly.
So how to wash a yarn blanket? Well, it depends on the yarn you've used. An alpaca and cashmere blend blanket will need very different care to one that's made from 100% acrylic. To clean your blanket properly you need to follow the washing instructions that are given on the ball band that came with your yarn. If you've thrown it out, have a look on the company's website, as they may be listed there too.
On the ball band you should see washing symbols, which tell you whether the yarn can be machine washed, tumble dried, dry cleaned and hand washed. If you're in any doubt about the fibres your yarn contains, or whether it's suitable for machine washing, we recommend gentle hand washing only – just in case!
When your blanket comes out of the wash it's a good idea to dry it flat so that it doesn't stretch or distort. Big blankets in particular can be very heavy when they're wet! If you have a laundry airer that lies flat over a bath, this is a great option. Or simply place the blanket on some towels on the floor.
To keep your blanket looking its best you may also want to block it. This is the process of smoothing out the finished fabric to reduce curling and make the stitches look more even. Find out how it's done in our guide on how to block knitting projects.
21 best blanket yarns
Take your pick from our favourite blanket yarns. We've chosen a broad mix of fibres, weights and styles, so there's something for everyone. Whether you're looking for a baby blanket yarn, something for pet beds, or a special blanket for you, there's a yarn in this list to suit…
For more blanket yarn ideas, check out our guide to the best yarn for baby blankets.
Wool Couture Epic Extreme
Make a statement with this super-sized yarn from Wool Couture. It's great for arm knitting, or you can buy some giant needles to go with it. Whatever you choose, your blanket is sure to be a head-turner!
This recycled cotton yarn is a fab choice for sustainably minded crafters. Try pairing it with chunky knitted cables or speedy Tunisian crochet for a dense, decorative blanket to use all year long.
We Are Knitters The Wool
The Wool is We Are Knitters' most popular yarn, and for good reason! This social media favourite works up quickly on 15mm needles and hooks to make super-soft and luxurious 100% wool blankets.
James C Brett Flutterby
You can't beat chenille yarns for cosy baby blankets. James C Brett's Flutterby Chunky comes in a variety of solid and variegated shades, and is ideal for quick gifts.
Wool and the Gang Heal the Wool
Go green with this earth-friendly upcycled yarn. It's made from super-soft 100% Peruvian wool, using fibres (such as leftover tops and waste from spinning) that would otherwise have gone to landfill.
Woolly Mahoosive Mammoth
Fancy buying yarn by the 10kg bale? You can with Woolly Mahoosive! The aptly named Mammoth yarn is made from unspun acrylic, and comes in quantities from 1-10kg and more than a dozen on-trend shades. Perfect for arm knitting.
Stylecraft Special DK
This bestselling acrylic yarn is a must-have for blankets, as it's soft to work with, easy to care for and comes in a huge range of co-ordinating shades – so you can pick your perfect colour palette.
Novita Hygge Wool
Create Scandi-style cosiness at home with this super-chunky single-ply yarn from Novita. Choose a simple textured pattern for your blanket, such as moss stitch, and let the yarn shine!
Lion Brand I Wanna Make A Blankie
Blanket making made easy! One 800g cake of this super-soft chenille yarn is all you need to make a cosy lap or baby blanket. It can be machine washed and dried for easy cleaning.
Scheepjes Stone Washed
If it's a lightweight summer cotton blanket you're after, look no further than Scheepjes Stone Washed 4ply. Make the most of the beautiful colour palette with intricate crochet squares, mandalas and more.
With Create and Craft's three-pack of this popular wool/acrylic blend yarn, you'll be able to make a stunning blanket. Each ball of Caron Cakes features five bright, self-striping colours for maximum impact and minimum effort.
Sirdar Cotton DK
Cotton is a great choice for all-seasons blankets, and we're big fans of Sirdar Cotton DK. Its weight makes it ideal for a wide range of patterns, and it comes in a gorgeous collection of solid colours.
Bernat Blanket yarn
We can't talk about blanket yarns without mentioning Bernat! They're famous for their Blanket range, which features yarns for every kind of blanket, throw, comforter and afghan you can think of. Below we've picked a few of our favourites from their line-up…
Bernat Blanket is a true classic. It has everything you need in a blanket yarn: super-bulky weight for quick makes; big 300g balls for good value; easy care qualities; gorgeous chenille-style texture; and loads of shades to choose from.
Bernat Baby Blanket
Snuggle them up in an amazingly soft chenille-style blanket with this super-bulky yarn. It knits up in a flash and is easy to care for too – just pop it in the washing machine and tumble dryer!
Bernat Alize Blanket-EZ
With its clever pre-formed loops, you don't even need needles to knit a blanket with this jumbo yarn! A great choice for crafting on-the-go (particularly if you're flying), as you don't have to carry any tools.
Bernat Blanket Brights
Go bright with the vibrant colours in this super-bulky yarn range. There are eye-catching solids and variegated shades to complement even the boldest of homes!
Bernat Blanket Extra
This jumbo weight version of Bernat Blanket is a hit for super-squishy lap blankets and more. Like the original it has an irresistible chenille-style texture and is machine washable and dryable.
Bernat Blanket Ombre
Colour fades are huge right now, so get in on the trend with this eye-catching Ombre blanket yarn. The yarn gently transitions from one colour to the next, producing a beautiful gradient effect.
Bernat Blanket Pet
Treat your four-legged friends to new blankets with a yarn made especially for them! It features special Everfresh® technology that helps to reduce pet odours, and is ideal for cat and dog bedding.
Bernat Blanket Stripes
Get perfect stripes without the effort of weaving in ends with this self-striping blanket yarn. Each ball features four complementary colours, and you could mix and match them to get your ideal finish.
More blanket patternsTry corner-to-corner crochet with our simple steps on how to crochet a baby blanket; learn how to make a pom pom blanket and use up your yarn scraps with this fun sewing project; and create a beautiful heirloom with the knitted Your Heart's Desire blanket pattern.
As well spending her working life thinking about yarn, Sarah designs knitting patterns in her spare time, too!