I'm sorry for the loss of your friend's niece.
I have to tell you that I had printed out CountryKitty's pattern <gulp>, but I think there's a mistake in the number of cast on or something in the pattern. The #'s were off. So, I frogged.
When I got home, I found a Leisure Arts booklet of knit stitches. Inside is a pattern for a cabled pillow, which uses a Saxon Braid. It's really lovely. So, I'm going to use size 17 needles, double-strand the yarn, and make this pattern...but make it long enough for a lapghan.
Here's a picture of the cable:
Thought I would keep you updated...
My friend's surgery is tomorrow @ 8am Central time.