After days of research and talking with several yarn makers, I would like to share a bit of information regarding the recently popular Giant Stitch Blankets. Some of the information will be quite disappointing especially concerning the blankets made of roving, but rest assured that we have several wonderful solutions for you.
To begin, there is a consensus among knitters, manufacturers and designers that roving style blankets such as the Giganto Blanket (seen above) and the Extreme Knitted Blanket are very, very fragile. These blankets are made of roving, or unspun wool, which consists of wool fibers laying the same direction with barely any twist to keep them together. Roving is what the manufacturers use to make yarn.
Please enjoy these images. Left: Carded Wool at Green Mountain Spinnery, Middle: close up on roving, Brown Sheep Co., Right: Roving ready to be spun at Brown Sheep Co.
While it is stunning to see, this is not yarn! It is delicate and can easily be pulled or ripped apart (such as accidentally standing up on the corner of the blanket). The shorter fibers in the roving are known to fall right out, and items made from pure roving are known to pill and shed substantially. If you have cats or dogs, they can destroy a roving blanket in a matter of hours just by walking on it.
If you have already made a roving blanket and it is destroyed, I highly recommend that you either spin it into yarn yourself, donate it to a friend who can spin, or contact a yarn company to return the wool so that it can be recycled and made into new yarn. A single blanket can take up to 7 lbs of roving which equates to almost 11 skeins of yarn. We would love to help facilitate this so please contact us for help.
So why do these blankets exist considering how impractical they are? Visually, they are lovely! Also, this is the cheapest way to get that much wool. A large roving blanket to fit a king size bed costs roughly $135-154 for Brown Sheep Wool Top (unprocessed; it still has to be split and felted together into a single strand). To prolong the life of these blankets, use it as a piece of wall art, or place it in a rarely used room. When not in use, store it inside of a large pillow case or trunk to keep the dust out of the fibers.
Now that we understand what roving is, how do they make roving into yarn? Roving is twisted and pulled on industrial machines or spinning wheels to lock the fibers together, and then plied (where 2 or more twisted strands are wound together) for further strength.
Left: Pin Drafter at Brown Sheep Co starting to mix colors together. Middle: Making Pencil roving (roving divided into strands the size of a pencil) at Green Mountain Spinnery, Right: Pencil rovings spun into yarn at Green Mountain Spinnery.
Now the wool is strong enough to take abuse without pulling apart easily. The plied yarns resist pilling the most (that is why we recommend them for sweaters). The strongest wool is felted so that all of the little scales stick together like velcro.
Wool Yarns-Single Ply Jumbo Yarn
Many will still prefer a single-plied yarn for their blanket to give it that fluffy, monotonous texture. This option is my personal preference because it preserves the beauty of the single strand with the strength of real yarn. This is an expensive option, but considering how much you dream of having this blanket, it is worth the price. Luckily, Yarn Loop is sourcing 3 excellent choices for you in Jumbo size!
Wool Yarns-Multi Plied
For a truly usable and washable blanket, especially if you have children or pets, we recommend loosely twisting 3-4 strands of super bulky yarn together to make your own jumbo plied yarn as seen in the Basketweave Arm Knit Blanket (shown in last section by Flax & Twine). Another option is to crochet a long chain to make a chainette style yarn. The Giant Super Chunky Knit Blanket above is a very good example of a chainette bulky yarn that has been knit afterwards. Here are our selections for truly beautiful work:
You will need to weave in the ends or felt the strands together for a seamless join (kits available here).
We also have crochet kits available with hooks or as hand crochet. The Hand Crochet Chunky Blanket also by Flax & Twine shown below is done entirely with your hands while holding 4 strands of yarn together. It is easy enough for a true beginner to create a 36"x46" blanket in about 1 hour!
Wool Blends-characteristics of yarn briefly described
Knit Along to be announced!
Yarn Loop will be hosting its first knit along in the following weeks on a gigantic stitch blanket! Demonstrations on different needles and hooks will be presented, and lucky Texans will have the opportunity to schedule a knitting party to make the blankets in person with a minimum of 4 participants. Each knitting party will have the option to borrow all supplies from Yarn Loop for a minimal fee as well. Knit Along participants and party participants will be entitled to special discounts, so keep in touch and look for the KAL schedule shortly. Until then, use NEWKITS15 for 15% off blankets through Black Friday!
A special thank you to the following sources: Sheep Shed Studio, Flax & Twine, Ravelers, Green Mountain Spinnery, Cascade Yarns, Brown Sheep Co and pattern designers with their respective photographers. For extra information, please see this blog by Brown Sheep Co to see examples of roving.
Comments will be approved before showing up.