Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cavalcade of baby sweaters

We seem to be hitting another phase where people we know are having babies. Lots of babies. Two of Tom's coworkers either just had or are about to have babies, both of them girls, so I have two finished objects to show you.

This one is a little short-sleeved jacket from a Sirdar booklet.

The yarn is Paton's Silk/Bamboo, and while it is lusciously silky and has a great shine, and is a nice luxurious yarn for a baby gift, I'm not sure I'd use it again for a pattern with lots of garter stitch. The pattern was written for a yarn that also prominently contained bamboo, but I think the lack of elasticity in the yarn I used made for every teeny inconsistency in my knitting showing up in the garter stitch edgings. (Yep, I did block it, too.)

Sometimes I get in the mood where I just want to follow directions for a pattern rather than figuring it out myself. Even then, I sometimes find myself second-guessing the way it's written. This pattern was written so that you cast on a bunch of stitches for the front left, and then put some of them on a holder after the first row, and knit up the stockinette portion of the front first. Then you go back and put the 10 or 12 stitches from the holder onto a slightly smaller needle and knit the garter stitch edging separately.

I came really close to bagging this and knitting it all together, just doing the first 10 or 12 stitches in garter stitch and switching to st st for the rest of the row, but then I thought "Hey, don't be a know-it-all. Maybe there's some reason not apparent to you now for why they do it this way."

There wasn't. When it came time for the finishing, I had to seam the garter stitch edging that runs up the front to the front, which irked the shite out of me. I tried to figure out what possessed the designer to do it this way, and the only thing I could think of was that s/he really, really wanted to use a smaller needle size for the garter stitch edging than for the stockinette portion. Feh. If I did this again, I'd knit it all in one piece. And I'd use a yarn with enough wool in it that the elasticity made up for the switch between garter and stockinette.

Lesson learned: It doesn't always pay to be humble.

The second jacket was a much more satisfying knit.

Huge thanks to Liz K. for suggesting this pattern a long time ago as a quick and easy baby gift. It's from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and has the virtue of being knit in the round. All you do is graft the underarm stitches together -- no seaming required. It's so easy that you don't even have to do buttonholes; you use little beads that will fit between the stitches on the placket as "buttons." (I'm not convinced the beads will really hold the placket closed but it doesn't matter given the style of the sweater.)

This one was knit in the old stand-by, Plymouth Encore, for wash-and-dry ease. A big thumbs-up to this pattern -- although make sure you find the errata for it, as there is a substantially-revised version of it that changes the way the raglan decreases are done.


Anonymous said...

Well, now that they're done, they are both cute. Guess if they really really wanted that garter in a different needle size, you could just do that part on dbl pts and keep it attached- sorta like socks but not in the round?

Anonymous said...

Those are both beautiful sweaters! Lucky babies to be getting them. :) I love the first one, garter stitch and all. samm

Franklin said...

"Sometimes I get in the mood where I just want to follow directions for a pattern rather than figuring it out myself. Even then, I sometimes find myself second-guessing the way it's written."

You are my soulmate.


rogue1 said...

Carol, couldn't you knit the band on a smaller DP or circ, then leave it hanging (kinda like socks on two DPs) while you work on the body. Sounds clumsy I guess.
Do you block your Encore projects? I figure it has enough wool to shape with blocking, unlike say...
ohh camo Red Heart Moose Antler cozies. (They'd block right on the moose.)

Carol said...

Rogue1, I thought of that, but I was concerned that maybe the switch in needle sizes would make the row gauges different. Then the edging would have to stretch to keep up with the front, since its row gauge would be smaller. I am pretty sure that I knit several extra rows on the edging than I did for the front, even though they ended up the same number of inches tall.

Carol said...

Oh yeah, I do block Encore; this time I steamed it and it did make a difference in the way it looks. It's a subtle difference but worth a quick steaming, I think.

TracyKM said...

Usually Sirdar patterns, although wordy and picture-less, are well thought out. I have knit numerous non-Sirdar patterns for baby sweaters where the garter band pulls in and/or up. The gauges are definately different and to me, it screams "unimformed". What I have taken to doing---even with wools---is to knit the garter band/edging at the same time, BUT, add a short row for the bands every so often depending on what the gauge turns out to be after the first inch or so. I try to keep it methodical, but on small items I just wing it, and when I see the band starting to get out of line with the body, I throw in a short row on the bands. It makes a huge difference.
Many older patterns had you knit the buttonbands (usually in ribbing) seperately and then sew them on for the same reason. Annoying, but the finished result is much better than just knitting the band at the same time.

Unknown said...

That Sirdar one is so cute!!! I haven't seen that one before...