My tiny baby Nate isn’t so tiny anymore, and he’s outgrowing clothes left and right. I tend to get sticker shock when I shop for baby clothes, and there’s no worse offender than the commercially made knit sweater – I just can’t stomach paying so much for a piece of clothing that will only last him a month or three.
Baby knits are satisfying to me for a number of reasons. First, I get to stash bust like a crazy person. The finished garment is small, small enough to only require 3-5 skeins of whatever I have lying around. If I see an accidental grouping of eye-catching colors in the bottom of a yarn bin, they may end up in a teeny sweater.
Second, the actual knitting is fast. As long as I keep focused, I can churn out a sweater in just a couple of days and get it right onto a (little) body. Success!
Finally, and somewhat shamefully, the fit doesn’t have to be as accurate as for me. Babies don’t necessarily need set-in sleeves or short row shaping, and oversized knits are pretty charming too. I secretly love making a sweater for a few months in the future and then unceremoniously stuffing Nate into it. So cozy! So warm!
This little sweater is a design that I made up. I had a jumble of Wool of the Andes Sport colors lying around, and they reminded me of Ernie from Sesame Street but slightly more sophisticated. Nate has a round face and a wild puff of dark hair, so a dapper Ernie sweater seemed perfect. This sweater uses one skein each of Midnight Heather, Hollyberry, Turmeric, and White.
I measured a commercial sweatshirt that was a little too big for Nate for my basic dimensions. I cast on at the bottom edge, knit until the underarms, separated for front and back, and started my neck shaping about two inches before I wanted to end the sweater. I then joined the shoulders using a three-needle bindoff and then picked up stitches around the arm opening for a straight sleeve.
I’m a big fan of 2×2 ribbing for cuffs and hems, as it looks just a little different and is a little more relaxed. For the collar, I picked up around the neck and used 1×1 ribbing for twice the length of the collar, then folded it over and used a tapestry needle to go through one live stitch and then one purl bump in order to stitch down the collar and keep it stretchy enough for a round baby noggin. Baby heads are surprisingly large, and the tighter ribbing for the neck edge hides the fact that it can stretch to accommodate at 19″ head circumference.
Finally, a defense of wool and other non-machine-washable fibers for baby knits. I have made some baby things using superwash wool, cotton, and acrylic, and it’s definitely nice to be able to toss them in the laundry with the regular baby laundry. However, I find that I go to my Wool of the Andes and City Tweed baby sweaters the most often when dressing him to go out. Now that I’m comfortable blocking non-superwash natural fiber garments, it’s not much harder for me to throw dirty baby sweaters into a bucket with warm water and some wool wash, agitate gently to remove any stains, and then dry flat. These natural fiber garments are extremely durable, stay toasty warm when dirty and wet, and are really forgiving about getting wadded up in diaper bags or rubbed repeatedly against carseat straps.