My son Nate is growing like a weed, and keeping up with his increasingly-large clothing is a bit of a challenge. I tend to get all wide-eyed from sticker shock when I see baby and toddler sweaters in stores, so most of my knitting lately has focused on little pullovers and cardigans.
I have a non-pattern for baby sweaters that basically involved making a boxy body, no armhole shaping, making up a crew neck opening, picking up and knitting the sleeves from the armholes with a slight taper, and then picking up and knitting a folded ribbed collar. (For a similar basic pattern, try the sweater in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns). It’s a basic recipe that works with any weight or type of yarn, but sock yarn is at the top of my list for kiddo projects – hard wearing due to the nylon, good texture from the wool, not too thick of a fabric, and I can take my pick from tons of different styles and colors. When the Hawthorne samples hit the office, I knew I wanted to use it to make Nate some fancy-looking-but-reasonably-priced sweaters that would take all of his cheerful daily abuse. My first attempt was in the Laurelhurst colorway, as I have a general weakness for similar indie dyed yarns that combine green, gold, and brown for a verdigris kind of look. I used two skeins for this project, but I had a good sized ball of leftovers and could have made the body and sleeves even longer. While working with the Laurelhurst colorway, I decided that I would just plow ahead and knit from one skein at a time instead of alternating skeins (as is generally recommended for handpainted yarns). I liked the color change on the body so I continued on, feeling that the color shifts would give the sweater a little bit of a devil-may-care attitude. You can definitely see the differences between the two skeins at different points in the sweater – armhole divide, collar, and sleeves. Nate’s currently obsessed with purple, so I grabbed two skeins of Alberta Arts and got to work on a second sweater. This time, I alternated skeins every other row for the entire sweater – body, sleeves, front and back. The overall effect is a completely blended look, as the alternating skeins kept the yarn from pooling and also mixed together the slightly different colors of high-contrast areas for each skein. I knit Hawthorne on size 3 needles because I wanted a slightly looser fabric than what I’d target for socks. Once I was finished, I washed both sweaters on a permanent press setting in cold water and then tumble dried them on low. For the purple sweater, I also tried a second wash where I tumble dried on medium heat instead. Both turned out silky-smooth with even stitches, zero pilling and a plush bouncy feel to the fabric. Most importantly, both have passed the soft-enough-against-a-toddler’s-neck test! Yarn: Hawthorne in Laurelhurst and Alberta Arts, slightly less than 200g per toddler sweater (roughly 2T-3T, 26″ chest and 14″ length)
Needles: US size 3 Gauge: 6.5 stitches/inch
Pattern: my own basic sweater recipe – for a similar version, try The Knitters Handy Book of Patterns.