Thursday, January 10, 2008

Baby Knitting

When I found out that I was pregnant back in May, I had grand knitting plans. This kid was going to be covered from head to toe in hand knits the day he came home from the hospital. (Or so I thought...)

Here was my knitting plan of attack (KPoA):
  1. A blanket.
    • Reasoning: Every kid needs a blanket, right?
    • I chose the "Jospeph's Blankie" pattern from Mason Dixon Knitting because I really liked the bright primary colors in the sample. Plus, I could knit this before finding out the baby's sex.
  2. A baby bunting.
    • Reasoning: The baby was due in January, and it gets cold in Connecticut.
    • I found a pattern at Webs using bulky yarns so I thought this would fly by. Plus, I had the perfect heathered green alpaca yarn in my stash that I bought on sale at Rhinebeck the year before.
  3. A sweater set.
    • Reasoning: Babies look cute in sweaters.
    • I figured I would pick out a Dale of Norway sweater from the many books I've been collected from Webs once we found out the sex. When we discovered that the baby was a boy, I chose the hooded cardigan from Dale Baby #162. (It's the turquoise one on the cover.) This was going to be a challenge since I hadn't done any color work before, but who deserves a special knit more than my first baby?
  4. Lots of hats.
    • Reasoning: Eric & I were both bald babies, so this kid is going to need hats!
    • I love all the little hats in Itty Bitty Hats, and figured I would make at least 3-4 of them!
  5. A christening bonnet & booties
    • Reasoning: I have the christening gown that my great-grandmother made out of her wedding dress. My grandmother, father and I were all baptized in it and my baby will be as well. The gown is about 100 years old, so I wanted to add a knit cap and booties to the ensemble so my baby will have something to pass down even if the christening gown doesn't make it.
    • I found the perfect pattern in Simply Knitting magazine for this project.
I figured that I would finish the blanket and bunting in the early summer and then start the sweater set in September after we found out the sex of the baby. The hats would be a good distraction when the sweater got tough. There was plenty of time to get all of this done. After all, I had nine months! So I made a couple of trips up to Webs to purchase the necessary yarn and needles and I set off with my plan.

I started the baby bunting right away and made excellent progress until it was clear that I didn't have enough yarn. I had six hanks of Big Baby yarn from Alpaca with a twist and realized after finishing the front and back that my one remaining hank wasn't going to do two sleeves and a hood. I knew I wouldn't be able to get the same dye lot, so I had to go to a yarn shop in person to buy an extra hank and make sure it wasn't too far off. The only problem? Nobody around here carries this yarn! I ended up making Eric stop at a small shop in Pennsylvania when we were driving through on vacation to pick it up. That was in June. I don't think I picked this project up again until November when I finished the knitting in a couple of days. I sewed all the seams up over Thanksgiving and just put the buttons on last weekend. So this project technically took 8 months to complete. This was not a good sign for the KPoA.

While I was waiting to find the bunting yarn, I started this baby blanket in June when we drove out to Ohio to meet friends at Cedar point. This blanket is knit from the center out, so at first I was flying through the strips. "How fun is this?", I thought as I kept changing colors. Then the strips got longer and the endless rows of garter stitch grew monotonous. September came and I was only half-way through the blanket. We found out we were having a boy! I quickly made another trip up to Webs to buy the yarn I needed for my little boy's sweater. But I knew if I started the sweater now, I would never want to finish this blanket. (Plus, the bunting was still hanging over my head.) So I forced myself to finish this project before casting on for the sweater set. Finishing didn't happen until November. I also stupidly left all the ends to weave in for the end. Those were probably the most boring 8 hours of my crafting life. The good news? The blanket is perfect! I love the bright colors of it and the applied i-cord edging in black really makes them pop even more.

Now that I finished the blanket, I was ready to start the sweater. I also had been invited to Ravelry at this point, so I figured I would ask someone else knitting the sweater if I would be in over my head. Luckily, I was advised to try a smaller project with only 2 colors per row first. So I figured I'd make a different dale hat from the same book to learn the technique. I cast on in early December and managed to screw up three times before getting to the color work. The first time, I had twisted the hat before joining to knit in the round. So I ripped back to the ear flaps and tried again. Then I didn't cast on enough stitches for the back of the cap. Ripped back and painstakingly tried again. Third time's a charm I guess. I did procrastinate for a week or two before starting the charted section. But, when I finally did decide to try it (following the tutorial on knitting help), it ended up being pretty easy. The rest of the knitting was very fast. Once again the project was stalled until last weekend when I finally sewed on the button. Looking back, I must have carried some of the strands a little too tightly because the top mushrooms out a little. When I finally do start the sweater, I'll have to be really careful with that.

Where does that leave us in the KPoA? It's now January and the baby is due any day now. Let's take another look at that list:
  1. A blanket
  2. A baby bunting
  3. A sweater set
  4. Lots of hats
  5. A christening bonnet & booties
Okay, technically it's only one hat, but I'm still crossing it off the list. I might be able to squeeze out another hat from stash yarn this weekend. Either way, he'll have something on his head.

I have come to terms with the fact that the sweater is just not going to happen. Luckily, I have enough yarn to knit the 12 month size, so I plan to wait until summer to see what size he'll be and start that then.

And the christening bonnet? Well, I still have a few months to work that out. I guess I should get started soon though. ;)

In addition to the measly 3 items that I have finished, my knitting friends and relatives have blessed us with 4 crocheted blankets, a gorgeous cabled cardigan, booties, crocheted bibs and a cute knitted teddy bear.

It's not quite what I envisioned, but I think the kid made out just fine.

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