Babies seem to be like buses. They all come along at once. Other friends of ours have also recently hatched.
There are reasons why it takes nine months for a baby to hatch. It’s so that knitters get a chance to knit whatever they’re plotting to foist upon the unsuspecting, innocent wee victim.
I hadn’t heard from my friend for a while. Then out of the blue she emailed. She had a new job, had moved house and was expecting a baby. Next week.
It’s their first. I was a little surprised (shocked, stunned?!) by the news but joyfully so.
Then I started plotting.
About the same time, I found a pattern in another magazine that I thought would be a good introduction to bigger projects. (I really have got to move on from those bootees!) It seemed especially ideal for beginners and the little jumper had no shaping and was a miracle construction of rectangles. The hat and socks were already on the achievable list, garments weren’t.
I got some very nice yarn for this project because these folk live in the most chic of cities (technically they are just outside but not to this little country bumpkin) in the most chic of countries. I’ve already used this 4 ply wool and acrylic mix before, most recently when I asked my brother to buy DK beige acrylic. He bought 4 ply wool and acrylic in grey. Apparently my brother has no idea what beige is. He didn’t see the need to tell me this before agreeing to make the purchase.
I wish my friends didn’t live in such fashionable places because it does put huge amount of pressure on me. I have no idea what is cool or fashionable or anything like that. And I knit. This may or may not be cool entirely depending on who you are. And I knit things for other people. This may or may not be fashionable entirely depending on who you are. Some people treat handmade gifts much the same way as charity shops. I see both as treasures. I forget others may not.
The pattern used some fancy sock variegated sock yarn but I decided to go with two colours and make it stripy. I chose cream and mint (the manufacturer’s names, not mine) because they were nice and neutral and good with all skin tones. Primrose yellow can make some faces look a bit sallow. And there weren’t many other colours available to choose from. My eye automatically went to the pinks and purples but they’re not good for boys. Shame. It’s a nice colour scheme but strangely in the half-light, they tone together rather too easily when knitting.
Anyway, the pattern was technically easy. There was the small matter of ‘making butterflies’ but I, with remarkable foresight, researched the technique thoroughly before going away and casting on whilst away from a computer and all knitting resources.
Yes, that was how long ago I cast on this project. When we went away camping in someone’s garden (see above!). I had a delightful less than a week of knitting but then when I came back, life, health and birds got in the way.
I finished and made up the hat whilst I was away, barring the tassels. I didn’t need to block it.
And the jumper wasn’t as easy as it should have been.
This wasn’t entirely due to my inexperience.
The problem is that the pattern for a jumper, socks and a hat (a whole three different items) was condensed to less than two pages of A4. That’s not a lot of space for detail.
The hat apparently has a brim. This is not clear from the photos (artistic but not helpful). The instructions are little vague. But with a little bit of knitter’s instinct and a lot of trust, I did get there.
The back rectangle of the jumper knitted up fairly quickly too.
The front? Well, that needs a button band. I have never worked a button band before. It says to work the first 16 stitches. I’m not happy with this because this is a triple rib and working the one extra stitch before the split mucks up the placement of all subsequent butterflies. I like symmetry. This does not make sense.
Then under the ‘making up section’ after the front, back and sleeves the last line is ‘with RS side facing, pick up and k approx three sts for every four rows along neck opening approx 56 sts’. Hm. Is this referring to the button band or to the actual neck?
The next section is called ‘button band’.
The mystery deepens.
So maybe that previous instruction was nothing to do with the button band after all?
However, it does start with ‘next row’. Next row to what?
I made an executive decision.
I split the opening where I felt best and then knitted up a button band according to some vague knowledge that I had floating in my head using garter stitch and yos (yarn overs). I finished the front completely before working the sleeves.
The sleeves are just two (surprisingly wide) rectangles so they weren’t really any problem. (It was trying to fit them against the body later when making up that was the problem, rib is very wriggly).
The sock actually wasn’t much of problem. Except that having got past the heel of the first sock, all my stitches fell off one of the DPNs (if not two) and they refused to be rescued. I had to start all over again. And there still was one more sock to do. Excellent. Don’t you just love those moments?
The ‘foot’ instructions weren’t entirely clear. After making all the heel stitches live again, it asks to knit across the first 24 (for the size I was making) stitches then knit the remaining 24 stitches in pattern. I assumed this meant to knit stocking stitch stripes across the bottom and to work the top in rib with butterflies. It might be glaringly obvious to an experienced knitter but it wasn’t to me.
Obvious things are never obvious to me. I don’t know why.
Then it finished with a w&t (wrap and turn) toe. I have never heard of this being done before. I was suspicious. This pattern had me suspicious all the way through. I used the toe pattern from the Bonbon socks just in case. If you have ever heard of a w&t toe, I would love to hear from you about it.
The foot of the sock looks tiny. It isn’t actually that small. The problem is that these are seriously long socks. They must like knee-highs or something. Proper long. I didn’t think babies wore knee-highs. Anyway …
I blocked the jumper up. I’d love some of those wooden sock blockers (I might have to find some salvageable wood at some point and make some up for myself. (Yes, I’m an inherent upcycler, I was even before it became a trend)) because I can’t block socks at the moment. Or at least I don’t think I can. Can you pin them flat to my blocking boards (AKA sofa)?
All that was left was to weave in an awful lot of ends (I’m getting proper at this knitting thing, you know) then make up the jumper.
Which was rather fiddly work, the rib wriggles something crazy and I hate sewing anyway.
All in all?
The pattern didn’t exactly inspire confidence, although in theory an ideal pattern for beginners looking to grow, I think it required a lot of knitter’s instinct and instruction translation. Maybe it was just me. The brain fog has been bad. However, I love the stitch. Instead of plain, old, boring stripes (don’t get me wrong, stripes are fun but a little routine in baby wear) it created a whole new effect rather simply. But as to whether you think that they are butterflies, well, it rather depends on whether you think farfalle pasta shapes are butterflies or not. I think so, the husband doesn’t. So maybe it’s bow stitch after all.
In any case, I’m looking forward to using the stitch again somewhere else. Bootees anyone?!