How to knit Simple Blocks (Pattern in 3 sizes)

Jan 15, 2016 | Knitting Pattern | 6 comments

After the success of the Simple Ball Pattern I published last month, I decided to create a basic template for another simple, useful, and adaptable shape: the cube. They make awesome stacking blocks for kids.

I had tons of fun creating this pattern, knitting them up and embellishing the finished cubes into cute alphabet blocks. To create the pattern, I first had to sketch out the flat image I wanted to knit, and it reminded me of those geometry puzzles in school: which of these will fold up into a cube? 

As far as the knitting, these cubes are so easy and forgiving. I didn’t feel like worrying too much about perfect mattress stitch as I was sewing the sides together, and so I didn’t and what do you know, any mistakes or imperfections vanished on the finished blocks. 

Finally, it was in the embellishments that the project really took on a joyful life of its own. I used duplicate stitch to create the letters (I didn’t work out a pattern for this, just did it free-hand) and then used my darning needle to stitch around all the edges. (Does embroidering your knits ever feel like dancing to you? In and out and in and out goes the yarn, and your wrist moves as if to music… ? no, just me? Well that was certainly my experience as I worked on these cubes.)

Added bonus: this is an awesome pattern to use up scrap yarn. I happened to have none of my usual stuffing around, but a lot of knotted bits of scrap yarn that I’ve had for years. Turns out this stuff makes the perfect stuffing!

Simple Block Pattern

The basic idea: The block is knit flat and then folded and stuffed. You knit two faces together first, then cast off half your stitches, knit one face, knit another one face, and then cast on stitches to end knitting two faces. This totals 6 faces for your block.

 

Materials Needed: Scrap yarn, knitting needles that combine with the yarn to create a firm fabric, a darning needle and stuffing

 

Gauge and size: gauge is not important for toys. I recommend picking a needle size one or two sizes below what is recommended for the yarn you use so your finished blocks are firm. My three finished blocks (knit with Simply Soft worsted weight yarn, and size 7 needles) are 3.5 inches (9cm), 2.5 inches (7cm), and 1.75 inches (5cm)

Large Block

Each face is 16 stitches across, and 18 or 19 stitches tall

CO 32 Stitches

Row 1 (and all odd rows through 19): [P1, K14, P1] 2 times
Row 2 (and all even rows through 18): [K1, P14, K1] 2 times
Row 20: BO 16, K across remaining 16 stitches
Row 21 (and all following odd rows through 37): P1, K14, P1
Row 22 (and all following even rows through 38): K1, P14, K1
Row 39: K across
Row 40 (and all following even rows through row 56): P1, K14, P1
Row 41 (and all following odd rows through 55): K1, P14, K1
Row 57: K1, P14, K1, CO 16 (32 stitches)
Row 58: P across
Row 59 (and all following odd numbered rows through row 75): [K1, P14, K1] 2 times
Row 60 (and all following even numbered rows through row 76): [P1, K14, P1] 2 times
Row 77: BO
Fold the 6 cube faces into a cube form, and sew the sides together. Before closing the final seam, stuff your block with fiber fill stuffing, scrap yarn or beans until block is desired density.

Medium Block

Each Face is 12 stitches across and 14 or 13 stitches tall
CO 24 stitches

Row 1 (and all odd rows through 13): [P1, K10, P1] 2 times
Row 2 (and all even rows through 14): [K1, P10, K1] 2 times
Row 15: BO 12, K across remaining 12 stitches
Row 16 (and all following even rows through 28): P1, K10, P1
Row 17 (and all following odd rows through 29): K1, P10, K1
Row 30: K across
Row 31 (and all following odd rows through row 41): P1, K10, P1
Row 32 (and all following even rows through 42): K1, P10, K1
Row 43: K1, P10, K1, CO 12 (24 stitches)
Row 44: K across
Row 45 (and all following odd numbered rows through row 57): [K1, P14, K1] 2 times
Row 46 (and all following even numbered rows through row 56): [P1, K14, P1] 2 times
Row 58: BO

Fold the 6 cube faces into a cube form, and sew the sides together. Before closing the final seam, stuff your block with fiber fill stuffing, scrap yarn or beans until block is desired density.

 

Small Block

Each Face is 9 stitches across and 9 or 10 stitches tall
CO 18 stitches

Row 1 (and all odd rows through 9): [P1, K7, P1] 2 times
Row 2 (and all even rows through 10): [K1, P7, K1] 2 times
Row 11: BO 9, K across remaining 9 stitches
Row 12 (and all following even rows through 20): P1, K7, P1
Row 13 (and all following odd rows through 21): K1, P7, K1
Row 22: K across
Row 23 (and all following odd rows through row 29): P1, K7, P1
Row 24 (and all following even rows through 30): K1, P7, K1
Row 31: K1, P7, K1, CO 9 (18 stitches)
Row 32: K across
Row 33 (and all following odd numbered rows through row 39): [K1, P7, K1] 2 times
Row 34 (and all following even numbered rows through row 40): [P1, K7, P1] 2 times
Row 41: BO

Fold the 6 cube faces into a cube form, and sew the sides together. Before closing the final seam, stuff your block with fiber fill stuffing, scrap yarn or beans until block is desired density.

The version I made is soft and squishy so my small toddler can throw the blocks around without risk of injury. However, I think a set of blocks knit a bit tighter (choose smaller needles for a tighter knit) and stuffed with beans would make an awesome set for a more coordinated person. 

 

I love the way this pattern leaves room for infinite play. For example, use duplicate stitch or embroidery to create not just letters but simple pictures on the sides. Or use intarsia and stripe colorwork techniques to create blocks with a different color for each face. It’s easy to expand the size up or down too – just remember, knitting stitches are a little bit wider than they are long, so you will need to knit a couple more rows than stitches per row in order to get a cube with equal length edges. You may have to swatch a bit to figure out the exact number of rows a particular size will need. 

As always, be sure to share your finished projects on Ravelry, Facebook (@yarnbirdy) or Instagram (#yarnbirdy) so we can admire them!