Knitted Blanket – Our Top Picks Among Chunky & Cable Knit Blankets (Crochet) – Top 2 of 2021
This guide has been in the works for longer than we expected. When we first received requests to look into the market of knit blankets and separate the wheat from the chaff, we thought that our in-house expertise was going to do the trick.
Boy, were we wrong…the subject of choosing a good knitted blanket (both crochet and chunky knit) turned out to be much more complicated and too twice the projected time. Our initial estimate of 6 months and 2-2,500 work hours ended up being almost a full year of research, testing and gathering data for our statistical analysis.
Most importantly, we brought on 3 knitting experts to help us tweak our rating methods to the specifics of the product.
What you’ll see
Bottom line – the results you’ll see below were chosen out of over 144 products we looked in. The initial choices were made in consultations between our editor, Bob, and 3 experts in the field. That narrowed down the search from 202 to 28 (products that we proceeded to test and gather data on over a period of 8 months). Without much ado, let us get to the results.
Last updated: January 2018
Top-rated – Paulin Cable Knit Crochet Blanket (handmade)
The whole structure of this guide changed when we broadened the search from imported machine-made products to include crochet handmade blankets. We looked into 14 handmade blankets, and one brand stands out in pretty much all quality aspects. The one quality aspect that turned out to be more important than we initially anticipated was the shape retention. It turned out to be more of a problem than we expected, especially with cable knit blankets.
The blanket that outperformed all the tested products comes from a small exclusive brand – Paulin. There were a few models of similar quality to the Paulin, but what gave Paulin an “edge” is the category of value for money.
Nostalgia about owning a hand-crafted piece aside, handmade blankets did outperform the machine-made products.
To eliminate the guesswork, we contacted the seller directly. We got a response from a kind senior woman explaining that they can afford to sell it at these prices because the woman knitting the Paulin products is located in Eastern Europe.
Yes, you read that right, there is only one person knitting Paulin on the Globe. In our interview with Paulina Ristinski we asked her about this and the response we got is that it that won’t change because it’s her knitting that makes Paulin different and she feels that hiring more people might compromise the quality. She also shared that she did try it and wasn’t happy with the results.
The downside is usually the price. It’s understandable if you have in mind the fact that it takes 4-5 days to craft a piece like this…so, that part gave us pause about the pricing of the Paulin, since it was significantly cheaper than similar products.
Why is Paulin not as expensive as similar products?
With both the cost of living and material (yarn) being significantly lower in the part of the world.
The downside of Paulin products is the scarcity. Since it’s a one-person operaton and all the products are handmade, they are not always available. Getting a Paulin knitted blanket sometimes means waiting for the exciting orders to be fulfilled. You can check the availability on Etsy – if you visit their page (orange button below) and the order button is active, it means that they women knitting Paulin are available to start working on your order right away.
- Materials / yarn 92%
- Craftmanship / design 92%
- Comfort 96%
- Shape retention 94%
- Value for $ 85%
Top choice among chunky blankets
Smoosh by ColorWays
Separating the wheat from the chaff in the category of chunky blankets was a bit trickier, simply because the competition is fiercer.
There are less variables since most of the best products here are more of the same material using the same patterns. Since this is a high-end product with a price tag to match, most of the top tier companies
can’t afford any mistakes in the worknaship and shenninagans with the materials.
Our top in this category are all made from merino wool using a very similar pattern.
In these circumstances and with the high price tags in mind it all came down to one category – Value for Money.
The top-rated product here is the giant-knit pure Merino throw blanket by Colorsway.
We did the math and, to be honest, we’re not sure about the company can afford to go so low with their prices. Once we checked the material to be 100% Merino wool, we were even more puzzled because we thought their might be a differnce in the quality of the yarn.
Again, how they manage to compete with companies in South-Eastern Europe where both the wool and the wages are much lower is beyond us. We came to the conclusion that they might be keeping the price low for a while until they establish dominance on Etsy. If we’re right about this, we’re guessing the prices might go up.
What this means for you
If you are reading these lines, it means that the ColorWays chunky blankets are still priced low – we update our ratings every few months and because of the “suspiciously” low price, we’re keeping an extra close eye on this one.
Right now, the prices are sureally low with a giant-knit throw blanket of say, 34×60 inches, priced just a bit over $200. You can see the current ratings below and check the user reviews and current prices by folowing the green or the orange button.
- Materials / yarn 94%
- Craftmanship / design 93%
- Comfort 94%
- Shape retention 92%
- Value for $ 97%
Choosing a good knitted blanket – step 1: the right yarn
The results above are done-for-you testing and research…ho help you minimize the guesswork when choosing. In the rest of the guide, we give way to one of our knitting experts – Katya Juris to explain the ins and outs of choosing a knitted blanket.
It should shed some light on how we choose the top picks and give you some reference info on what to look for if you’re knitting it yourself – from yarn to patterns.
If you make a mistake when choosing the yarn, there’s no pattern of crafty hands that can knit a good throw. The information out there can be confusing…most knitting enthusiasts know it. That’s rings even more true if we’re talking about knitted cable and chunky blankets.
Even if you have some experience in the “arena” but this is your first time choosing a knit blanket (or making one yourself) it’s the most common mistake people make. It’s only natural to reach for the softest yarn with a color you like.\But, choosing yarn for a throw is a sensitive matter and goes beyond the basics.
To put it simply, even if you do know your yarn and have knitted or bought knit products like caps, scarfs or stoles, choosing right when it comes to a chunky cable knit throw blanket is a whole different story.
So let us dive right in. Let us look into the yarn types available, their characteristics and why they may (or may not be) right for a knitted blanket.
All-natural yarn – animal and plant fiber
Most widely available – wool
When you hear “wool” in the context of knitting, 9/10 people will assume you’re talking about sheep wool. The popularity of wool is well-earned, it’s a gift from nature…moisture-wicking, breathable and yet good at temperature isolation. It’s also naturally resistant to microbes and fire-retardant.\
All of the above made it a very popular choice for yarn, but doesn’t necessarily apply to knitted blankets…especially if you are using it as a throw and it will be touching your skin directly in those lazy afternoons as you fall asleep on your sofa
Many people will find it a bit rough and “scratchy” if used on its own for a piece of bedding.
Types of wool most commonly used for yarn
Although the first associations are Australia and New Zealand, if you follow the traces of merino through the ages, you’ll find its origins in Spain.
The reason why most of us associate it with the lands “down under” is the fact that Australia produces close to a quarter of all merino wool made in the world – closing in on 500,000 tons. More info on Merino wool on their official website.
Alpaca wool is softer against the skin and better suited for knitting blankets and throws that might be touching your skin directly (especially for those with sensitive skin or allergic to lanolin). If you see the word “cria” on a knit blanket or yarn you’re considering, it means that that the wool comes from the first shearing of an alpaca. You can read more about the characteristics of alpaca wool yarn here.
Leicester wool (Blue-faced)
Because it makes for a smoother finish (velvet-like) and is gentler to the skin, this dense British wool would make for a more comfortable knit blanket or throw.
The wool from the Peruvian highlands is known to be “tough” and hold shape well. The toughness comes at a price – the feel against the skin. The rugged Peruvian will rarely be used for blankets or throws.
Not many people fully appreciate Yak wool because, to get the most out of it, one would have to know how to combine it with other fiber. Used on its own, its likely to be too delicate to knit a blanket that would last without losing shape. Combined with, for example, some types of acrylic, yarn that include some percentage of yak can result is soft and lightweight but warm blankets.
If you get this part right, you’ll be surprised by the durability of yak wool fiber.
Expensive and not as widely known, Mohair is a luxury fuzzy yarn. It’s made from Agora goats fleece. One of its main advantages is how well is takes to color and dye and how color-fast it is. This allows for more vivid colors to with low risk of the yarn “bleeding.”
Bottom line – for knitted blankets and throws, even the softer wool would feel too rugged and scratchy against the skin. That’s why it’s combined with materials like acrylic or licra to take that “prickly” edge off. You can see a more complete guide on yarn choise here.
Cable knit blanket – the yarn
I wouldn’t dare say that the 80:20 rule applies. It’s probably more accurate to say that the choice of yarn and pattern are 65-70% and the craftsmanship and know-how are 30-35 % of ending up with a solid blanket.
Once you’ve chosen the yarn that meets the main criteria – you being comfortable with how it feels against the skin, the next task it choosing a pattern that’s suitable for a hand, cable knit blanket or throw. Here, we have some good and some “bad” news.
The good news is that we can share a few patterns that meet the criteria (paragraph below).
The “bad” news (if one can call it that) is that most of the suitable patterns won’t be easy and probably too difficult for a beginner. The ones that meet all the criteria would require at least intermediate skill like (Zigging or Garter), while the best knitting patterns for a blanket (either cable or chunky) will call for advanced knitting skills (like laced cable knit, squares).
Bottom line – appearance aside, a well-chosen pattern will ensure that the final product retains shape or pill. If you are a beginner, it’s smart to start with something simple like a garter cable knit blanket or a handmade crochet throw.
To be blunt for a second, if you’re not experimenting and learning and actually need the blanket for a gift for someone who appreciates handmade stuff, we would recommend doing the research. It’s fairly easy to find a good, say, handmade afghan blanket for sale – made by people who have been doing it for all their lives and have perfected their skills. If the person you are getting it for is a young girl, you might even go out on the limb with a knitted mermaid tail blanket (cotton crochet works wonderfully for a project this intricate).
Now that we have the basics down, let’s get a bit more specific and look at some yarn-knit (or crochet) blanket combos.
Cable knit blanket – FAQs
Good handmade cable knit blankets are scarce because they require serious skill to make, the process is slow (takes about 4-5 days of full-time work). That’s why getting one of these locally (in the USA) is costly. That’s why the recommendations we have here are from arts & crafts websites like Etsy that connect skilled people from smaller countries (the best ones come from Eastern Europe) and people from the US who can appreciate the work.
What is a cable knit blanket?
People tend to confuse a few terms used in the “industry” (like knitting, crochet and cabling). It’s understandable because the differences are subtle and they overlap. For example, cabling is just another word for cable knitting. The main difference is that the later term is broader. To put it simply – cable knit blanket is one made using cable needles of different thicknesses.
It’s the most versatile type of knitting, and people skilled with a cable needle can make mind-boggling patterns. Our top pick is a cable knit throw blanket is Paulina.
A few popular patterns
Sweater knit blanket
If the pattern and yarn used match those commonly used for sweaters you might see products described as “sweater knit blankets.” Don’t be confused by this; it’s just a way to describe cable knit blankets made of specific yarn type using specific patterns (sweater-like). You can see some specific pattern ideas here.
Knit throw blanket
The two terms (knit throw and blanket) are a common source of confusion because their purposes overlap. So, let us take a moment here to clarify the difference because the terms are not interchangeable.
To put it simply, a throw’s primary purpose is decorative. They are smaller and can be used as an added layer of comfort for bedroom or daily naps on your sofa.
You might find it defined as a blanket sub-type in terms of size (52 x 60 inches) but knit throw blankets do come as standalone products up to 10 smaller than the size we mentioned and up to 20 or 30 larger.
Knitted mermaid tail
A knitted mermaid tail blanket is simply a specific design that has become increasingly popular over the last decade. They are typically made of the same yarn-knit combos, and it all comes down to the pattern (mermaid-tail shaped). It can even be arm-knit using thick wool – you can see a tutorial here.
Crochet temperature blanket knit
This one is specific with the main (and sometimes the only) difference being the choice of colors – that’s what the “temperature” stands for. The terms are a source of confusion because people tend to interpreter the wording and jump to the conclusion that a “temperature blanket knit” is somehow warmer. It’s not; it is all about the color that corresponds to the “color of the day.”
The idea is to knit (crochet) one row of the crochet blanket per day, depending on the temperature outside. They make for great heirloom pieces and, I dare say, a temperature handmade crochet blanket with a personalized writing pattern is as good and well thought-out as a knitted gift can get.
To get an idea about a pattern, you can use the guidelines shown in the temperature blanket chart below.
You might see similar products described as “rainbow crochet blanket.”
How long does it take to knit / crochet a blanket?
It can take anywhere from a day to a full year to knit a blanket, all depending on the type of yarn, pattern and size. A chunky hand knit blanket can even be finished within an hour or two, while intricate patterns and styles (like temperature heirloom throws) take a year to make.
A few popular patterns
Some of the patterns used are evergreen (like a virus pattern) while some are part of more or less fleeting trends (like owl, pizza, hexagon, rainbow, elephant and Tunisian blankets and throws.
Size of knit lap blankets, duvets (comforters), quits (coverlets) and throws
Another “gray” area is the sizing. Things got confusing as some manufacturers started using the terminology in different ways to describe their products. To clarify the size issue, let us take a moment here and look at the standards for the knitted bedding:
Chunky knit blanket – yarn, material combos & patterns
Chunky knit blankets have grown in popularity with the increasing number of people embracing the minimal designs because they work so well in adding “texture & dynamics” to a calm space without making it “flat”.
They stand out more than a regular cable-knit throws (crochet) for minimal spaces. In the guide below we look at them from all angles possible, from yarn and materials to the knitting process and possible patterns.
The popularity of the luscious look led to an avalanche of information about it available online; I have to be blunt and say that some of them are misleading…you’ll find tutorials on how a “beginner” can knit it in no time, which is not exactly accurate.
While researching for this guide, we’ve established 3 things:
Handmade chunky knit blankets are indeed superior in terms of knot and overall shape retention.
- The needle crochet blankets were superior to the arm-knit products. The space between the knots with the arm knit products seems to be too “loose” for long term shape retention, washing and maintenance.
- The differences between brands of hand knit chunky blankets were too significant to make any general claims…it called for extensive testing of each product in a few quality categories to precisely separate the wheat from the chaff. And there’s a lot of chaff out there.
- We reported on our findings above, so in the rest of this guide we’ll look into a few quality aspects to look for should you decide to shop on your own, whether it’s offline or online and look for a regular or super chunky knit blanket on Etsy or similar websites.
Choosing the yarn for a chunky wool blanket
Chunky Merino wool
The most popular choice for both chunky knit blankets is the soft super chunky merino wool.
It’s the go-to yarn and the first choice of the knitting experts we contacted for the project of putting this guide together. It was their first recommendation for both cable-knit and braid patterns.
If you are looking to make or buy a more closely knit chunky blanket, you might go for a “skinnier” version of Merino wool threads.
It’s the preferred choice for clothing and footwear knitting projects (like sweaters or knitted slippers).
The project will be lengthier compared to that of merino wool chunky blanket. The result will be a closer knit. The choice between the two comes down to your taste, what works better for your space.
Finally, think about the intended use – will you be using it as decorative gray throw blanket or cuddling underneath it for weekend binge-watching of Friend re-runs.
Vegan options – synthetic yarn
For some people, natural wool might not be an option. Whether it goes against your beliefs and a vegan lifestyle or you’re simply allergic to sheep wool and natural yarn, you still have options.
There are yarn options out there that “mimic” the look and feel of wool almost perfectly (like Chenille).
I absolutely love chenille as an alternative to animal product-based yarn.
The durability and easy of maintenance is nothing short of amazing. I rarely use words like “amazing,” but I’m making an exception for chenille.
It’s also lighter and packs smaller than Merino so it makes for a better travel companion for the outdoors.
Yarn weight and ply
Yarn weight that you might see on the ball speaks towards the thickness, not the weight of the ball itself. It’s related to ply (how many strands are used to make the yarn).
If you see yarn described as “chunky”, it will usually mean that it’s 16 or 20-ply.
The weight and the ply combined will determine the gauge of the pattern. That goes for pretty much every project – from finer cable-knit / hand crochet blankets to giant chunky (made using jumbo yarn, over 20-ply).
How we rated the products
How we rated the products
Our regular readers will remember that we announced starting the work on this guide well over a year before it actually published. It did take more than most of our guides because we have no knitting experts on the team.
This meant that even crafting the resting and reviewing process took the know-how of outside consultants. We did extensive reviews on similar sleep-related product like electric blankets (you can see our guide on best heated electric blankets here) but those turned out to be simpler.
Why it took so long
It took 2 months only to tweak and adjust our rating methods to knitted blankets. Once we had that part in place, the next step was budgeting for the project. That’s where our consultants contributed by making the initial choices to be tested and reviewed.
There was no way to test the hundreds of blankets available, so we narrowed down the search to about a dozen products in each category (cable-knit, crochet and chunky) and proceeded to test the blankets.
Our expert panel
Apart from the 4 knitting experts, our featured testers include people from all walks of life. The larger the sample (number of people testing the blankets) the more accurate the results.
We sent out 37 blankets in total and asked our testers to make notes on the use – everything from comfort to maintenance.
Rating the material and yarn used for the blankets was tricky and the ratings are not absolute. If it were, it would be comparing apples to oranges and taking a stand on what’s the best material. Instead, this rating speaks about the quality of the yarn within its category (wool compared to wool and synthetics yarn compared to its counterparts). Simply put, this rating speaks about the yarn in terms of how accurately it was described by the seller…things like:
- how uniform the thickness of the thread
- the tightness of the ply
- yardage for the money
This is subjective category, so it was crucial to make the sample as big as possible. That’s why we had each tester use the product and sent it back to us after 6 months of use. We assessed the changes, dry-cleaned the blankets and sent them back out to our second group of testers.
If it sounds like a bit of improvisation it’s because it was, we simply couldn’t afford to increase the testing samples in any other way. The double-testing allowed us to test more products and make the testing more versatile and include intangible quality aspects like comfort.
Craftsmanship / design rating
This was one of the simpler categories to rate – 60 % of the rating is attributed to the scores a throw received in-house, 20 % are the ratings of our testers and 20 % is attributed to the data we pooled from user satisfaction.
It was only natural to attribute more “weight” to the opinions of the people who are experts in the field and a bit less to subjective owner opinions.
Shape retention rating
This category is a median between the shape retention after 6 months and 1 year of use. Before sending the products out for the second round of testing, we rated each product in the categories of overall shape retention (like pilling, curling of the sides & size changes with washing) and gauge retention.
Value for money
This is probably the most intricate category we rated the throws & blankets in because it involved the most variables (from yardage used per inch square to craftsmanship). It’s another score we couldn’t have reached without outside help.
We don’t know of any similar guide on the quality of the knitted blankets available out there. We’re not saying that our rating methodology is flawless because it includes subjective ratings like “Comfort” that will be different depending on what you consider as comfortable (how lightweight, soft or warm a blanket is).
Size of the testing sample
We did our best to make it more accurate by increasing the size of the testing sample and we’ve committed to re-rate the products on quarterly basis by including new data to keep the information relevant. If we see a significant change in the user ratings (+/- 10 %) of specific products, we might decide to re-test that product only.
As per the advice of our expert panel, we’ll do a full re-testing update once every 18 months. You can see the last time this guide was updated with fresh info both at the top and the bottom of the guide.
Finally, if you have any question, feel free to ask us in the comment section. We typically respond to all inquiries within 24 hours. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll find out.
Stay smart in your choices,
The Sleep Studies team
Last updated: January 2018