The Zodiac Constellation Blanket
Wifi Warning: This post has a LOT of photos, make sure you're connected!
This pattern had been floating around in my brain for a good 6 months before I started working on it in earnest. I loved the idea of turning a star chart into a blanket and, as no one else had done it yet, thought I would give it a go.
Originally, there was only going to be one panel - a baby blanket for a yet-to-be-determined recipient. I threw that idea away when my brother and his wife picked “blanket” as their handmade Christmas gift (they were offered choices and picked a blanket together). This was it. The perfect opportunity to go above and beyond what any sane person would take on in Christmas gifting workload.
I decided to do all 12 zodiac signs. That meant charting each constellation, turning the matching zodiac symbol into pixel art, checking everything for scale, and an absolutely obscene amount of crocheting.
I started this project in late August and began crocheting the first panel on September 2, 2021. I finished the border on December 25, 2021. Tight deadline. If you complete the entire project as written using single crochets and using my favorite border, there are 177,870 stitches, not including the starting chains. Total time for me to complete was just over 184 hours of active crocheting and end-weaving time.
I could not be more pleased with how this blanket finally turned out and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
A very important note: Although this pattern was used to make a crocheted blanket, you can absolutely use the charts for knitted colorwork too!
Q: How much does this pattern cost?
A: Two panels - Aquarius and Leo - are available for FREE on Ravelry (Etsy listings coming soon). The remaining 10 panel can be purchased for $2.50 each OR you can purchase the whole e-book for $20. Click here to view the e-book on Ravelry.
Q: Why are Aquarius and Leo available for free?
A: Because I'm publishing so many patterns at once, I wanted to make some available for free. Aquarius and Leo are mine and my husband's sun signs so they seemed like a good choice for the freebies.
Q: What do I get when I purchase this pattern?
A: Due to who I am as a person, the complete set of patterns are not quite finished. Currently, you will receive the standard version pdf document of the pattern which includes a full set of instructions on making the pattern(s), including some tips and tricks for changing colors, blocking, joining, and border options. Each pattern also includes the written instructions by row (e.g. → Row 62 [WS]: 33MC, 3SC, 84MC) as well as a very high resolution chart.
*Coming soon*: As with my other fully published patterns, the Zodiac Constellation Blanket will be available in four versions: the full standard pattern, a printer-friendly version, large print version, and a screen-reader accessible version.
All versions except for the text-only version include descriptive photos and the large print and screen-reader versions include the alt-text below each photo as captions. The printer-friendly version is free of photos and charts. However, there will be a FIFTH document with a printer-friendly chart.
This post as well as the Ravelry listings will be updated once all versions are finalized. Etsy listings will be published around the same time.
Q: Can I sell items made from this pattern?
A: You may sell items made with these patterns, but must link back to (1) the pattern OR (2) the Craftematics website. You may not sell or distribute derivatives or variations on the patterns themselves.
Q: How long does it take to make the blanket?
A: As noted above, the complete blanket took me just over 184 hours of active crochet time, including weaving in all the ends (there are many) and sewing the panels together. Each individual panel took me about 15 hours. How long it takes for you to complete will, of course, depend on your crocheting speed as well as how many panels you decide to make.
Q: How difficult is this pattern?
A: Skills required: chain, single crochet, color changes. That's it!
If you want to get technical, this kind of color change is called intarsia. Basically, you make little bobbins/balls of the colors and carry the yarns vertically instead of trying to carry the colors across the whole row as part of one large skein. If you're new to intarsia colorwork, this is a good opportunity to try it out because you only need a few bobbins at a time and they're pretty small. Remember - space is big and empty! So most of what you'll be working with is your main color.
Overall, I would call this a 3/10 for difficulty because of the colorwork. Beginners, this is a good one to try something new without needing to learn a new stitch!
Q: What materials do I need to make this pattern?
A: You will need....
Yarn in two colors - I used Impeccable by Loops and Threads in sapphire (dark blue) as my main color and smoke (very light blue) as my secondary color
In total, I needed about 2 ½ to 3 skeins of the main color (sapphire) for each panel, 34 skeins in total. I used only 3 skeins of the secondary color (smoke) for the entire blanket including the border.
6mm J crochet hook or whatever size hook is needed to meet the gauge
Stitch markers (optional but highly recommended)
Q: What type of yarn should I use for this project?
A: If you want the blanket to come out in the size described by the gauge below (36 x 36 inches per panel), use a worsted or aran weight 4 yarn. For a smaller blanket, use a lighter yarn with a smaller hook. For a larger blanket/panel, use heavier yarn with a larger hook. I recommend choosing a washable yarn if this will be a functional item.
Q: How big is the blanket?
A: Each panel measures 36 x 36 inches using the gauge below. If you make all 12 and stitch them together in a 3 x 4 grid, the final blanket measures 9 x 12 feet! Of course, you don't need to make all 12 panels. Some suggestions are in the next question to get the size you want with fewer panels.
Gauge: In single crochet, 10 stitches = 3 inches and 10 rows = 3 inches
Q: Do I need to make all 12 panels for this pattern to make sense?
A: Nope! Each panel can be made individually. The finished blanket in my photos includes all 12 panels, but there's no reason you can't use fewer! Some suggestions as you plan which panels to use:
A single panel makes a great baby blanket
Four panels are perfect for a throw or couch blanket
Six panels is great for a twin or twin XL. Add a wide border to make it fit a queen
Nine panels will fit a king size bed well or be slightly oversized for a queen
All twelve panels make a blanket big enough for everyone to cuddle under together!
If you’ve determined to make fewer than the full set, this is a good opportunity to learn some basic astrology. While most people know their sun sign (assigned only by the date of your birth), everyone also has a moon sign and rising sign as well as placements of the other signs. I like this article by Lauren Ash that runs through the big 3 signs for each person and links over to her other post on the big 6. Keep in mind that to figure all this out, you will need the person’s birth date, birth time, and birth location.
Of course, you can always just pick your favorites!
The Design Process and Learnings
Like I mentioned above, this project started off in my head as a single panel. Actually, it was inspired by a coworker's new baby. She sent out a photo of the baby in their constellation-themed nursery and I really like the idea of taking star charts and applying them to yarn. I searched around online and wasn't able to find a single pattern that made a star chart. Plenty of astrology-based patterns, but no astronomical ones. This is not to say they don't exist, but that I did not find any.
I sat down and made some swatches with some scrap Impeccable yarn I had leftover from the Temperature Blanket I made last year. The goal was to get a square of lighter yarn that was tightly woven enough to pop against the darker background and make the pattern show clearly. I tried double, half double, and single crochets using a few different hook sizes and this is the version that won out!
Once I had my swatch, I did a little bit of gauge math to figure out how many stitches I would need to make a standard baby blanket measuring 36 x 36 inches and set out on the actual design process.
To chart the panels, I used a few important tools. The first is Stitch Fiddle. I've been using Stitch Fiddle for a few years and this is the pattern that pushed me into the "I actually need to pay for the premium version now" camp. Totally worth it. The tools available in the premium version made charting this project faster and easier. Importantly, it also let me download the high resolution charts in multiple versions and automatically translated my charts into row-by-row written instructions!
The second invaluable tool is more of a resource. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has star charts of all the zodiac constellations (and more constellations!) on their website. I used my fingers to "translate" distances consistently between the star charts and my pattern charts (4 finger widths = 40 blocks, in case you were wondering). This helped me to be consistent with the distances. You might also notice that some stars are larger than others in the patterns. This is also thanks to the IAU star charts which depict stars/galaxies to scale!
Fun fact: the largest star in my patterns is 5 x 5 stitches! There are two of them, one in Taurus and one in Gemini. The star in Taurus, Aldebaran, also has a smaller hanger-on, making it the largest block of star stitches in the whole blanket.
Turning the star charts into stitch charts took anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the complexity of the constellation. Sagittarius took the longest due to an interesting change in astronomical interpretations of the constellation. In modern astronomy, Sagittarius's distinctive feature is the Cosmic Teapot.
Yes, you read that correctly. To be fair to astronomers, astrologists and artists have been disagreeing about which way the archer is facing for seemingly forever. This also means that people have not agreed on which stars should be included in the "official" constellation. I ended up using an image from a children's coloring book (which I thought made the most artistic sense) to add the stars on the left side of the constellation. If you disagree with my choices, I don't care. The coloring book has spoken.
I didn't do these all at once. I did 2 or 3 at a time from August to December, crocheting panels from completed charts all the while. I don't do a lot of intarsia colorwork and found myself getting frustrated when my designs for the astrology symbols weren't coming out as cleanly as I'd hoped. So I fiddled about on the first few panels, trying to find a way to make the color changes crisp on the right side of the work without needing to employ that oldest crochet method of only working from right to left. And I was successful!
(Learning on Changing Colors) When working back and forth rows (turning the work at the end of each row) and changing colors, the legs of the stitches can cover your colorwork and interfere with the look of the pattern.
A good example of the stitches getting in the way of colorwork is shown here with arrows pointing at the interference in question. This becomes very noticeable when it happens on every right side row, especially when the color changes make a straight vertical line.
To move these stitch legs out of the way, I “pulled” them up into the stitch above on the next row. This extra step is shown in the photos below. A very important note is that on the row being worked in the photos, the light blue needed to start one stitch earlier than it had in the previous row, hence the light blue already being on the hook.
When working the stitch above the errant dark blue stitch leg, I slipped my hook under the stitch leg from left to right, then into the stitch like normal (4 loops on the hook). Making the single crochet, I yarn over, pull through 3 loops (2 loops on the hook), yarn over, pull through both loops. So essentially, a regular single crochet but grab that one stitch leg before going into the stitch properly.
I found that this resulted in much cleaner, more distinct lines of color. I actually did this 3 times across this section of the row, all are highlighted in the photo below for reference.
This was definitely a game changer discovery for me and I may do some more intarsia in the future as a result!
Thanks for reading, friends!
I hope you enjoy making this pattern as much as I enjoyed designing it. If you make any version of this, I hope you'll share it out and tag me @craftematics on your social media!
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See you soon!
Sneak peek: I'm working on re-decorating my craft space - should I do a video tour when it's all done?