Monday, 29 August 2016

It's all coming up - Babies

Why do buses all come along at once?

I'm not sure this is a particularly useful question, but in terms of life events, I've certainly hit a 'certain' age: by which I mean that while I'm not yet that woman of that age (whatever age that actually is), I am a woman of child-bearing years, and since our social circles are formed of those of an age with us, I now find myself regularly encountering people wearing slightly larger, more empire-line outfits, quietly taking half-days off to attend doctors' appointments, and finally declaring the start date of their maternity leave.

Unsurprisingly, I've also now gathered around me a small selection of favoured baby knits - simple patterns for effective garments in little sizes, which I can rustle up according to the preferences of the parents. I'm even considering taking this a step further, and beginning a full-on baby trousseau - not for me, but so that I am always ready for a surprise announcement. While I decide whether that smacks a little too much of madness, I'll share my favourites, in case you find yourself in a similar predicament.

For the classic baby set

Stephanie Purl-McPhee's Nouveau-ne comes in one size - newborn; but should that be viable for your climate and the time of birth of the baby concerned, it is an excellent pattern. It includes hat, cardigan, and bootees, all of which share the same classic lines and striking unisex pattern.

It hadn't previously occurred to me to look for a set, but I've knit the bootees and cardigan once already in a pastel green, and am planning a second (white) set for a particularly traditional family.

For an interesting and versatile knit

Ysolda Teague's Envelope Sweater is one of the first baby knits I knit. Knit first from cuff to cuff, and then from the yoke edge down, this will keep your interest throughout, and result in a cushy, warm, garter stitch hug for the baby lucky enough to receive it. It is one of very few patterns for this useful neckline, too, which makes it more unusual than you might expect.


 For a quick garter stitch solution

Stephanie Purl-McPhee's Cutest Baby Bootees are effectively made like tiny socks - which means that they are not only a quick knit for that friend you see all-too-rarely, and whose news reaches you only just in time to whip them up, but you can also make them in the most wonderful range of colours as a stash-busting project!

They also combine well with other garter stitch projects, for those times when bootees alone are not quite enough - I've made them from the same yarn as a Baby Surprise Jacket (wonderful pattern all of its own, of course) and found myself with a modern and stylish set; and held the yarn with another 4-ply/fingering weight for the Purl Soho Garter Hat for a top-to-toe gift.

For simple contemporary style

The range of patterns available from TinCanKnits for babies and children is simply brilliant, and they all reverberate with strong modern lines and contemporary style. My current go-to pattern (in progress) is a Flax - for a little boy due in October, and I think it's a perfectly simple and effective. A little of me really wants to make the i heart rainbows jumper, but I fear my colourwork is not yet good enough to pull it off, and it really needs to be done right.

And a final note for the seamstresses out there:

I've also been stitching for the little ones recently, and can definitely recommend Boutique Casuals for Boys and Girls by Sue Kim. I happened to pick up the issue of Sew Magazine that included this adorable little dress, and after a little wrangling with the pattern pieces (via download etc), and a little googling of details regarding sizing, spent a lovely couple of evenings sewing it up. I'm wondering if the next rabbit hole may not after all be building a trousseau of sewn items with matching knits... there's a lovely little cardigan in What to Knit - The Toddler Years that would look brilliant with one of these.

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