Monday, June 7, 2010

Baby Who Sweater

One of the members of my broad-minded knitting group (includes an awful lot of quilters for a knitting group) is hugely pregnant. We only meet once a month and don't get a chance to see much of each other in between, so it took us a while to wake up to this fact. Once we did, though, we were pretty quick on the uptake. Hey, wait a minute, we knit (or quilt or whatever)! We could make her something!

To get a little extra time, we delayed our next scheduled meeting by a week on a flimsy but plausible pretext -- hoping she wouldn't surprise us by having an early baby -- and got to work. So, now to pick a project.

Our mom-to-be is a happy-spirited sock-knitter with a boisterous color sense. The colors in this cocktail napkin are in the ballpark, though there aren't enough of them and the whole effect is a little too quiet. (That should give you an idea!) I knew pale baby pastels were not for her. She and her husband had also chosen to be surprised, so there were no clues as to the pink-ness or blue-ness of the imminent arrival.

I wanted to make a little sweater, and after a quick mental inventory, I was certain there was nothing in the house to fit the bill. It needed to be colorful, washable, and worsted weight -- for speed of knitting! And I didn't have time for ordering on-line. I found myself near a new local yarn shop with a few spare minutes and dived in to see what I could find.

After a brief mental dalliance with some wildly colored (but not machine washable) Manos yarn, I came upon a basket of Mochi Plus, from Crystal Palace Yarns. It was a merino-nylon blend. *So* soft, washable, not babyish, and worsted weight. Clearly a winner. Though it wasn't violently bright in color, it had nice long-transition colorways. I picked out three different ones and hoped for the best.

Rooting around for worsted-weight baby patterns, I came up with Jimmy's Baby Gift Sweater Set from the nice people at Jimmy Beans Wool. It's a little top-down raglan that's perfect for multi-colored yarn. And, a great advantage when you're in a rush, no seams to sew! (It couldn't save me from buttons, since I did want to do a cardigan, but you can't have everything.) I needed to make the larger, 1-year-old, size, given the exuberant bloom of our sock-knitting mom-to-be. It was cutting things close, with the 285 yards of yarn I had, but looked like it could be done.

I puzzled for a while over how to combine the three colorways and decided to knit wide stripes of each in sequence. Though I wasn't sure how it would look, I needed to get started, and fast. It turns out that knitting a small sweater in a variety of pretty striping yarns is lots of fun and went quickly. And the wide stripe sequence of the three colorways worked beautifully.

As with most projects, I made a few adjustments. I replaced the garter-stitch hem and cuffs with ribbed ones, which seemed to live more comfortably within the gradually striping colors. I changed the neckband and button-band to mainly reverse-stockinette welts.

Knitting the cuffs at first as written, I thought they looked a little small for chubby baby fists. So I redid them adding a few extra stitches to the wrists.

I couldn't resist picking out some extra bright sections of yarn and using them for contrast color-tipping on all the cast-off edges. And I found some bright shiny red buttons.

I got the little sweater done in the nick of time, sewing on the last of the buttons at midnight the night before our knitting group meeting. It was a rushy evening entirely, what with getting a cake, finding suitable wrapping and card, and finishing a little sweater, but it did all get done.

And we did surprise her. I think I even saw some brimming eyes, before she blinked it away. Our little group came through beautifully, with a pile of handmade goods. A wildly colored pompom-adorned knit hat. A crib quilt and quilted diaper bag. A crocheted beanie. Sweet little appliqued t-shirts.

And a pretty fine-looking baby sweater. :)


Knittin' Diva said...

Positively ADORABLE!! What a sweet baby gift!

cathy said...

Thanks, knittindiva! That was a fun project. The baby in question turned out to be a big, hearty boy, so I'm glad I made the larger size, too. :)

Robin said...

So cute! Love the colors!