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August 25, 2009

Don't fall over or anything, but Co-worker Baby Sweater #2 ... is finished! Finito! Exclamation point!

If you need any proof at all that I have been gripped by The Knitting Fever here it is, yet another finished baby sweater:

Finished sweater avec morning tea. Also, that little pile on the double-pointed needles is the beginning of a baby booty.


I knitted this whole sweater while I was procrastinating on seaming the little red one. For this sweater, I took my friend Ellen's advice and used a free pattern found online called the Five-Hour Baby Sweater. This pattern is really well-written and I think it explains how to knit the sweater very clearly. There are a few minor errors in the pattern, but I don't mind errors -- even in knitting books -- because we're all just people, and people make typos. What drives me crazy is a pattern that is written in such abbreviated shorthand that it becomes unfathomable and you have to consult experts, books, online help guides and the Magic 8 ball just to knit a row. Writing is writing is writing, folks, make it readable. (Or, in patternspeak: (Wrt)* to end. BO readable.) (Hah.)

Now I am stepping off my soapbox and my high, high horse. Ahem.

So this is a great pattern. Compared to my first hand-knit garment, the little red sweater I knitted for Coworker #1 Also Expecting Girl Child, this was a breeze! It took me longer than five hours to make this sweater but I'm a pretty slow knitter. That's fine by me, I don't plan to compete in the speed knitting Olympics any day soon. Knitting is my relaxing, happy thing and not a competition so I just go at my own pace.

Picking out the yarn was a little challenging but in the end I couldn't be happier with the result. You see, the coworker who is having this baby doesn't want all traditional girly colors like pink and more pink so after standing in the baby yarn aisle at Michaels until it was almost closing time, I finally decided on Patons Decor in the variegated color "First Spring Ombre." Now I know you wouldn't at first glance pick Patons Decor for a baby sweater but the colors were perfect for the mom-to-be and after touching all the yarn at the store, including the baby yarn, I decided this was plenty soft for a little jacket. Plus, it's machine washable and dryable. I wasn't sure what the results would be and I had my doubts but I bought two skeins and started casting on that evening. Leap of faith, etc.

Midway through the second sleeve.

This sweater used only one skein of yarn and knitted up quickly. I worked the body on very long size 7 needles -- vintage aluminum Boye needles in a minty green that I got from a coworker back when I first started knitting. She had bought a pile of knitting supplies in the 1960s and had stopped knitting for decades and one day she dug them out of her attic and surprised me with them and I love them.

The yarn came together so much better than I would have expected and the finished sweater is adorably old-fashioned-looking. I love the colors and the way it stripes irregularly. I found some little buttons for it (I love buttons, the money I can spend on buttons is just silly) but this pattern does not have buttonholes, so first I sewed on tiny snaps then added the buttons on top. Voila!

When I get a chance to write it up I'll share my secret for sewing on buttons and fasteners that will withstand total nuclear annihilation. Trust me when I tell you I can sew a button that would take heavy artillery to remove.

If you decide to knit this pattern you may want to read here what the author says about the sleeve instructions. Also, on the second page of the PDF pattern on row 28: the stitch count given at the end of the row is 150, but I think it should be 152. And on row 30, the final stitch count should be 160 (if you increase one stitch before and after each marker and there are four markers, your stitches increase by a total of eight ... yes?). The rest of the math worked out exactly so I was happy.

I also made the sleeves a bit differently, for one thing I didn't use stitch holders. I used double-pointed needles to hold my stitches so I could easily knit them off later. I waited to seam the sleeves until both were knitted to be sure each sleeve was the same length. And I didn't understand how anyone could stitch up the seams and start knitting with the same ball of yarn because you'd be sewing with half a big ol' skein threaded through the needle, so I broke the yarn and sewed up each sleeve and then re-attached the yarn to knit the body and front. Maybe I did it some weird way but it all worked out great in the end.

This was such a fantastic pattern because I found it easy to follow and well-written, meaning I didn't have to consult six books and a mystic oracle to figure out the pattern. It knits up very quickly even if you're a slowpoke like me and I love the way the yoke has little ridges of stitching detail. Plus, I'm still happily surprised that this yarn worked so perfectly for the pattern. I have a full skein left and I'm using it to make matching booties. BOOTY. Best word in babywear, by far!

It's so tiny!

Posted by laurie at August 25, 2009 9:09 AM