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This is the first time since I began knitting and got past the stage of only knitting dishcloths that someone I love is expecting. I find myself suddenly hit by a serious case of knitting fever – do you know how much cute baby stuff you can knit? Did everyone else always know this, and I was just clueless?
Previous baby knitting experience: Baby booties
I’ve only had one opportunity to knit a gift for a friend who was expecting before this, and I knit these itsy-bitsy baby booties – so adorable. The pattern is Baby Hausschuhe by Ines Strickt (a German blog) and the pattern is available for free in English, German, Portuguese, and Danish. The yarn is Malabrigo Rios in the color Reflecting Pool. This yarn is a personal favorite. It’s a worsted weight 100% merino superwash wool, and like all Malabrigo yarn, it comes in the most amazing colors. Soft, washable, durable – definitely baby proof.
I’m knitting a baby romper!
This time I might just knit more than one thing… I have a few more months to go baby-knit crazy before it’s baby due date, so we will see how it goes. To start, I’ve decided to knit Little Sister’s Romper by Petite Knit, a very popular Danish knitting designer. The pattern is available for 30 DKK (less than $ 5) in English, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and German.
Planning a new Knitting project
I really enjoy the planning phase of a new knitting project. I select my yarn, I knit swatches, I change my mind about which needles to use several times, practice techniques, and read through the instructions from beginning to end. For me, it’s all part of the process, and hopefully, it will lead to a fun time knitting the piece, and I will be happy with the end result. Putting a little effort into the preparation is worth it for me, but I know many impatient knitters who prefer casting on and getting started, right away. Whatever floats your boat!
Selecting the yarn
For the baby romper, I’ve decided to go with one of the two yarn suggestions for the pattern: Esther by Permin. It’s a Scandinavian brand. A lovely, yet affordable wool/cotton blend, really soft, with a suggested needle size of 3 mm. I let the mother-to-be choose the color of the yarn, and she went with a dusty light blue which I am totally falling in love with.
Yarn substitute for US readers
I know that a lot of you live in the US, so I’ve done my homework. My suggestion for a yarn substitute would be Rowan Baby Cashsoft Merino. It’s a wool/acrylic/cashmere blend and the gauge is very similar. It’s fine to do a cold machine wash, but keep it out of the dryer. Depending on your personal tension, you may have to knit one size smaller from the pattern than what you actually want, but the pattern has plenty of sizes. If you knit one of the smaller sizes (younger than 6 months) then one ball of yarn should be plenty and that will only set you back $ 7.70.
If you are looking for a bargain, then perhaps Cascade Cherub DK is exactly what you are looking for. It’s a nylon/acrylic blend which means it’s machine washable AND machine dryable, and it’s only $ 2.99 for a 1.8oz ball of yarn. You may have to play around a little with needle size and pattern size to make the gauge work for you, but it’s doable.
And for my UK readers: Both of the above suggestions are also available on the UK version of lovecrafts.com.
Selecting the needles – getting gauge and optimizing knitting joy
As soon as I touched the yarn I knew I wanted to use metal needles. A cotton/wool blend is not a slippery yarn, so smooth and fast needles are the way to go for me. I tried knitting a swatch both with my trusted Lana Grossa Vario’s (brass, soft tip) and with my beloved ChiaGoo Twist Red Lace, and unsurprisingly, the ChiaGoo’s won the day. The sharp points, the ultra-flexible cable, I love it all.
I’ve not yet quite decided if I will knit with a longer cable and use magic loop, or if I will go to my storage unit, grab the UFO (UnFinished Object) which currently has the correct cable size, and frog that project so that I may use the proper cable. Maybe I will transfer the UFO to a piece of string, allowing me to use the cable for my new project while postponing the decision of frogging. At least I can get started right away because the bottom part of the romper is knitted flat.
I’m a tight knitter, so I basically never meet gauge with the suggested needle size. Therefore I knitted the first swatch with 3.5 mm needles, one size larger than the 3 mm suggested by the pattern. Close, but no cigar. I knitted another swatch with 4.0 mm needles, and it’s pretty close to the pattern gauge. Close enough, for such a small item. I did the math for both gauges: I wanted to end up with a size 2-4 months, and for the 4.0 mm needles that was fine – following the pattern I would end up with a romper that’s a tiny bit more narrow (8 mm). For the 3.5 mm needles, I would need to knit following the instructions for 6-9 months in order to end up with the correct size. I would probably have to buy another ball of yarn, so I’ve decided to knit with the 4.0 mm needles. Although I like the fabric a little better from the smaller needles, I really enjoy knitting with 4.0 mm needles – they are the perfect fit for my hands. And, I will be able to complete the romper with a single ball of yarn. Win!
I will at some point in the not too distant future get around to writing a tutorial for how and why to do gauge swatches, but in the meanwhile, let me give you a fun tip. When you are knitting multiple swatches in stockinette, you can mark the swatch with the needle size by purling a number of stitches on the right side of the fabric, corresponding to the size of the needle, you are currently knitting with.
What’s your favorite baby item to knit?
Do you have a go-to knitting pattern that you immediately reach for when someone dear starts showing? Do you knit baby blankets, or do you prefer to knit baby clothes? What’s your favorite yarn for babies? Please leave a comment, I would love to take inspiration from you for my next baby knit.