Thursday, May 25, 2006

Write your letters in the sand

Behold, my first knitted garments. It still spins me out that you can do all this with just sticks and string. The pattern for the vest came from one of Little Sister's op shop finds, 'Make your own Handicraft Gifts' by Sheila Richardson and Eve Harlow, published 1975.

I loved the soft orange (Patons Dreamtime 4ply baby wool) but was worried that it might not work with much else in Nephew's wardrobe, so I picked out this stripey shirt to go with it. Turns out it looks fine with many of his baby boy blue clothes and it fits too.

There was no guarantee of that, not like there ever would be, but especially so since the pattern was sized only for a newborn. I threw caution to the winds and threw in some extra width and length to approximate a 6-month size. The cream one doesn't look all that much smaller, though I made it to the original size in the book, for a friend's baby due right about now.

I also wanted to (finally) learn how to knit in the round on double pointed needles, so I cast on some leftover in the cream. The first time it came out about tennis ball sized. I didn't really know what size I was going for, but I suspected that if baby's heads came out tennis-ball-sized, childbirth just wouldn't be such a big deal. So I pulled it out early and cast on again with a few more stitches. It's surprisingly hard to estimate from a straight line of stitches, or even a square once they're on the dpns, what size circle you're going to end up with. This is an example of why knitting almost always ends up involving maths.

Also yet another example of the magic of blocking and finishing techniques. When the hat came off the needles I was not at all sure I had something that could actually be given to someone. My stitches were uneven, especially sloppy at the turning points between the needles, and the decreases made a pointy, puckering effect. I spent a while poking a needle into various spots to redistribute the yarn to hide the loosey goosey stitches, then threw it in a bucket of warm soapy water to soak for a while. It looked a bit better after drying, but it was a heavy dose of steam from the iron that really smoothed it all out.

I have no idea at what age it will fit, and it's still gappy so may be more of an indoor than an outdoor hat, but I sent it off with the cream vest anyway. I can see why people like knitting little, finishable baby clothes so much. Very satisfying.

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