If you've come to the Tuesday night Open Knitting group lately, you know that I’ve been pregnant. My baby made his appearance in the world on January 30, 2015.
This means that any time someone in the knitting group decides to knit for a baby, they ask my opinion first. As the (apparent) resident expert in what to knit for a new baby, I thought I’d offer up my biggest suggestion and top five picks for baby knits.
Do you want to make something out of a lovely, soft merino silk blend? Or some other luxury fiber for someone's little tyke? Ask yourself this: will Mom or Dad be willing to hand wash whatever you’re making? I know that there are some yummy soft yarns out there and they seem perfect for something snuggly for a wee one. But, remember that new parents, especially first time parents, are frazzled and probably don’t want to worry about hand washing much of anything. If it can’t be tossed in the wash with everything else, one of two things will happen. It will never get worn or it will get destroyed in the first washing.
Have a lovely soft hank of Coeur d'Alene Yarns Bravo Alpaca? Keep it for yourself.
You have to remember that babies cover everything in goo eventually. Between explosive poop and spit up, nothing is safe. Even things you wouldn’t think are likely to get nasty, like hats and booties, aren’t safe. If you’ve never had a baby, or it’s been a long time, you may not realize or remember the amount of effluvia that a tiny baby can produce. Let me assure you, it is astounding. Personally, I love dressing my babies in wool. I actually use wool diaper covers, so I do a certain amount of hand washing. However, I am a knitter and used to hand washing hand knits. That said, I still prefer superwash wool for sweaters, hats, blankets, booties, and things like that. I’m willing to lay things flat to dry more than I am to hand wash, especially larger items like blankets. Some good superwash choices are Malabrigo Rios and Cascade 220 Superwash. Sock yarns are also good if you want a finer gauge option. For even easier care, Berocco Vintage is a great choice. It’s an acrylic/wool blend and can go in the washer and the dryer. While that cashmere or merino/silk blend is lovely and soft, I definitely recommend keeping it for a project for yourself. You’ll know how to take care of it and it’s far less likely to get spit up or pooped on.
Now that we’ve discussed yarn choices, let’s talk a little about what kinds of things to knit. Here is a short list of my favorites to knit, give, and use.
1. Baby blanket
Snuggling with the blanket Grandma made with Malabrigo Rios.[/caption] This one’s pretty obvious, and it might seem a little overdone. It’s important to take into consideration whether you think the parents are likely to appreciate a hand knit baby blanket. But, if they will, then you really can’t go wrong with a blanket. No matter where you are, a baby will need a blanket of some variety. Infants can’t regulate their body temperature very well, so it’s important to help them stay warm. New parents are often gifted blankets, but they are pretty useful, so it’s hard to have too many. Plus, you can unleash your creativity a bit with a blanket. It’s a large blank canvas, so you can play with different stitch patterns and color combinations.
My daughter wearing the cabled hoodie I made her when she was a baby.[/caption] If you’ve never made a sweater before, a baby sweater is a great place to start. The construction is nearly the same, though with less shaping in general, and baby sweaters are really quick knits. Here are some of my favorite patterns: Puerperium Cardigan Little Luxury Kimono Sweater Maile Sweater Thora's Cardigan I’m partial to cardigans, especially with newborns and little babies. They’re a lot easier to get on and off than pullovers. Sweaters are also great for putting on a baby or child in a car seat. They’re thin and warm and won’t interfere with the functioning of the car seat. (Bulky coats and snowsuits aren’t suitable for use in car seats. They compress in a crash and can the baby can be ejected from the car seat because of the extra space created by the compressed coat.)
This one is a less obvious choice than some of the others. But, let me tell you, a little baby in knitted pants is undeniably adorable. When made of regular wool, these can be lanolized and used as a diaper cover (which is what I do). But, they’re great even just as pants. They, like anything else, can be made from superwash wool, cotton, acrylic, or a blend. The pattern I use the most is Braided Longies, but there are lots of cute ones available. A couple others I’ve knitted are (cargo pants pattern from Knitty) and (that other one in my queue).
4. Hats and Booties
James's Gansey Booties.
No matter what time of year a baby is born, hats and booties are useful. If you live in the northern part of the country, it gets cool in the evenings even in the summer, so lightweight knitted hats and booties help then. In the southern part of the country, everything is heavily air conditioned to approximate meat locker temperatures in the summer, so hats and booties are good for babies in that climate, too. The sheer number of hat and booties patterns is rather overwhelming. Hats are a pretty easy pick, though. Find a pattern you like, or a basic recipe and play with your own stitch patterns. Booties are a bit trickier. There are lots of cute bootie patterns, but not all of them actually stay on the baby’s feet. I’m a big fan of the Gansey Booties pattern for it’s staying on ability. Other choices that look like they’d stay put are Saartje's Bootees, Closeknit's Striped Baby Boots, or Blue Steps Baby Booties.
5. Toys Newborns don’t really need toys. But, that newborn will eventually get bigger and be more interested in something to play with. Here are some of my favorite patterns: Knubbelchen Gnome Baby Braided Ball Terragon the Gentle Dragon Bunny Nuggets Hopefully this gives you some good ideas to knit for the babies in your life. And remember, babies don't have to be dressed in pastels. Choose colors you know the parents will like. The baby doesn't have an opinion yet.
All the best! Jessica