Structures for Acrylic Baby Blankets
I am involved in many fiber arts besides weaving and recently was given a truck load (literally a truck load) of coned 100% acrylic yarns for machine knitting. A lot of it is quite fine, similar in weight to 8/2 cotton, and there are also cones of fingering weight. I would like to use up a lot of this yarn weaving children's and baby blankets for a local Project Linus chapter. Could you perhaps suggest specific weave structures that would work especially well with 100% acrylic yarns? I will be working on an 8-shaft 45" loom. Currently, I am studying lace weaves using your videos, and was wondering also if huck lace would be relatively easy to weave with these yarns?
First, wrap a ruler with the yarn you are intending to use. Place the strands next to each other, but don't try to squeeze them together. This will give you the sett for plain weave using that particular acrylic. That would be the sett to use for lace weaves also. If you choose a twill, you'll want to make the sett closer since there are fewer interlacements.
The next issue to consider is the general requirements of baby blankets. Acrylic is actually a very good fiber to use for them since it can be washed repeatedly without shrinking and provides cozy warmth. Usually, long floats are not desirable in a baby blanket, since baby fingers can get caught in them. If you wove huck or Atwater-Bronson lace blankets in a yarn that is about the same thickness of 8/2 cotton, the likely sett would be 20 ends per inch and float length (over 5 threads) therefore about 1/4" long. That would be a bit long unless the acrylic yarn is sticky enough (since it won't "full") to hold the floats in place. I'd weave and finish a sample first (you can even do this on a card, machine sew the edges, and wash) to check float stability. It might be safer to choose a twill for the blanket (if you have colors this could be a twill plaid), one with maximum float length of 3 threads (many 8-shaft twills in Carol Strickler's A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns would work for this).
It is wonderful of you to take on this project!