Knitting for babies is great. They’re small, cute, look good in just about anything, and even a cardigan doesn’t take too long to make. But there is a risk in knitting for anyone old enough to voice an opinion; even if you think it’s the loveliest creation ever made from sticks and a bit of fluff, even if they were involved in choosing pattern, yarn, colour and even buttons, there’s still a chance that the finished treasure will be cast aside without half a thought for the time and maternal dreams that went into it.
But then come the moments when your 18 month old is so keen on her new knit that she’ll take it from you as soon as the final stitch is cast off, and insist on wearing it around the house, unblocked and unbuttoned, trailing the ends in her wake.
Apparently Elma likes her new cardie.
I did eventually manage to retrieve it, sew in the ends, give it a little wet block and attach a few buttons and so I can now officially call it done.
It’s Ysolda’s Wee Liesel pattern, knit in what is quite clearly not enough yarn. I sort of knew that when I started, at least the rational part of my brain did, the rest of me just ploughed on with great optimism because the ripples in the pattern suited the yarn just so beautifully and I was sure it would come out all right in the end. More or less.
The original plan was to knit the body, then divided the remaining yarn in two and use that to knit as long a sleeve as I could get, given that handspun comes in rather fixed quantities. Oh ever the eternal optimist. I realised one repeat before the end of the body that even knitting really really fast (which as you know absolutely definitely makes the remaining yarn grow) I was going to run out before the cast off.
I frogged back one repeat, and cast off, looked at the small garment, decided that the small child is still really rather small, tried very hard to ignore the caring family member who asked whether this latest item was for the new baby, and happily thought of the magical powers of wet blocking.
I had just enough yarn left over to cast off the sleeve stitches and sew up one of the buttonholes when my button jar revealed three absolutely perfect buttons, but only three.
You’d think given that history that it should be a complete mess but for all the tweaking and eking out I’m just as pleased with it as Elma. For starters it is undeniably a gorgeous colour for her, and the pattern and yarn compliment each other rather than fight for dominance. If she wears it over shorts and a t-shirt it does look a bit short, but that’s not just the loss of one repeat, if I were making her a long sleeved winter version (who are we kidding here; when I make her a long sleeved version) I’ll add a couple of extra repeats to the body either side of the increases so that it fits as a nice long cardie, but for the summer, over dresses with poofy skirts the slightly cropped version sits really well.
And as for the lack of sleeves, well it’s (a) summer and (b) my baby who likes to get her hands into everything. In such circumstances sleeves are definitely overrated.
As, it appears, is smiling! I promise she really does love it, she was just in a serious mood. And even if she isn’t smiling, I am – I made that from nothing more than fluff, and I love that about hand making.