My youngest brother is expecting his first baby, and both he and his wife have made it clear they are not into cute-overload, saccharine baby things. I was talking this design constraint over with J-A, and happened to mention my brother is also heavily into NASA, especially the Apollo era. She came up with the idea of making a baby blanket with the NASA logo on it.
We grabbed our phones and found a few examples of the "space meatball" logo done in cross-stitch, but the only pattern for sale involved signing up for the vendor web site before you could even think about paying, and the credentials were, ah, intrusive and nosy. No, I am not going to tell you my life story just so I can buy one cross-stitch pattern.
So I made my own in a spreadsheet, did some math to figure out how to centre it on a metre square baby blanket, and had at it.
As you can see from the photo above, I did the logo's background in intarsia, but embroidered the white and red details over top. This was simply because the idea of knitting in those far-apart white "stars" did not seem like a good functional design decision. Originally I was going to do the embroidery in duplicate stitch, but that was coming out unevenly and making the fabric too stiff, so I took it all out and switched to cross-stitch.
I like cross-stitch on knitting. The stitches provide good coverage, but the fabric stays flexible because most of the embroidery yarn just sort of floats on top. The only thing to remember is that instead of the square stitches one usually gets, these stitches come out wider and shorter because knitting is wider than it is tall (5:7 ratio for plain stocking stitch as used here). My embroidery chart spreadsheet had to take that into account as well.
The border was 4 rows/stitches of built-in garter stitch (ie: knitted as one piece with the rest of the blanket). I like garter borders, but I have a bad habit of making them too narrow to prevent the edges from rolling/flipping. In this case I gave a blanket a quick stretch/block to settle down the flipping, and added a flannel backing.
The backing was necessary anyhow to cover up the embroidery floats on the back of the blanket, and while it hasn't tamed the edge flipping entirely, it has tamed it to such a large extent I don't think any more adjustments are required. Besides, if it's going to be a "NASA" item, shouldn't it be a little overengineered?
This was the first time I'd backed any knitting with woven fabric, and it was much easier than I expected. I found a fabulous technical knitting blog which explained all the considerations very well. Everything from cutting to machine sewing the hem to hand-sewing the backing to the blanket took about half a day, and half of that was comfortably sitting on the couch watching TV while I did the hand-sewing part. I used doubled thread for strength, and matched the overcast stitches to the rows/stitches on the blanket — something you can do when your gauge is in the firmish range like mine tends to be.
The knitted part is all 100% acrylic yarn (yeah, I went there), of various brands. The logo itself is all in Red Heart, which is a little thicker than the Lion Brand Pound of Love I used for the main colour. This worked out well because it means that the logo is a little stiffer and "pops" slightly from the background.
The Lion Brand yarn was a great discovery (more advice taken from J-A). It's soft, and the Oxford Grey I used has enough colour depth people thought it was wool. I used a whole ball plus about 20% of another ball for the blanket, and never ran across a single knot — amazing for about a kilometre of yarn.
The finished blanket came out slightly larger than the square metre I had planned (and despite fussy gauge swatching — oh well). I couldn't get a good photo showing the whole thing, but here's an overhead shot from when I was blocking it for context:
211 stitches x 280 rows for 59,080 stitches in total, and all done on straight needles too. And who knows? Maybe the baby will take it to space when they grow up.