Of all of my baby preparations; the finding of the car seat and the newborn insert, the washing and setting up the moses basket, the gentle folding and packing of tiny newborn outfits, this is probably the most frivolous, and yet the thing that means the most to me.
I have finished the Little Bump’s blanket. And it feels really good to be able to say that, and even better to fold it neatly and tuck it in the end of the basket sat waiting on the ottoman in my bedroom.
Worked into this blanket are hours and hours and days and days of my time; hours spent thinking about this baby and our soon to be family of five, hours spent watching cheesy tv with H after the girls were asleep, and a couple of marathon afternoon knitting sessions while the girls were at nursery, watching Blogtacular videos on the iPad and dreaming big dreams that the presence of a small occupant of said moses basket will probably put on hold at least for a little bit, while wondering whether this interminable two colour purling will ever get easier (hint: it does).
And it doesn’t hurt that I think it’s rather beautiful too.
I finished the actual knitting part a week ago, listening to rather than watching the evening commentary on the Commonwealth Games while the rest of the house slept, and I went to bed knowing that if I went into labour right then and there I’d feel that we were ready; even if from a purely practical side of things H would have had to do a fair amount of running around to pull it all together. And as one of the very last things that an August baby really needs is a stranded Fairisle blanket in the warmest hebridean wool, I can only conclude that it’s psychological; well I have always said that I knit rather than nest!
Elma and I were up early on Sunday morning so she helped me to give it a gentle bath in the kitchen sink and then with the very fun task of squishing all the water out of it by rolling it in a bath towel and trampling on it; it’s a very high tech blocking method I know. But if you were ever in any doubt as to the merits of wet blocking; well this is before blocking (with my pyjama clad assistant both for scale and because she couldn’t resist standing on the blanket)
It doesn’t look bad, and it would be perfectly serviceable as a blanket, but the border has a bit of a ripple and the stitches aren’t always lying completely flat, and even though it’s spent the last couple of months living in a box on the end of the sofa, this is a household with small children, I accept knitting encouragement in the form of chocolate, and it could probably do with a wash. So a wash it had and then I laid it out to dry on another clean dry towel for 24 hours in a corner of the house that I was fairly confident no one was going to walk on for a bit. I didn’t pin it or anything aggressive, just laid it out nice and rectangularly and smoothed the stitches with my hands as I did.
And then this is after:
It’s just all even and beautiful and lovely, and looks all perfect when you lay it out in a cot.
As with the girls’ blankets I followed the pattern instructions to the letter right up to the point where you’re directed to trim the steeks and cross stitch them down to the back of the blanket. But so that we matched the girls’ blankets and to keep loose ends from inquisitive fingers I knit little facings to enclose both steeks (using this idea from the Rainey Sisters again).
To make the facings I cast on four stitches, then, with the edge of the blanket away from me, I picked up the other loop of the stitch that I’d picked up for the edging pattern down one side, cast on eight stitches for a little steek at the bottom and repeated the process back up the other side before casting on a final four stitches to complete the top steek and joining to knit in the round.
If it helps to visualise it, I basically pick up stitches as if I’m knitting the facing going the ‘wrong’ way; if I kept just knitting in the round at this point my facings would be in reverse stocking stitch, so I turned the direction of my knitting in the middle of the first steek, just after joining in the round, and worked back the other way, and I used leftovers to replicate the little blue carousel horses from the main pattern.
And so this is what it looks like from the back;
As you see, not a hint of any of the crazy loose ends from all that cut up knitting, just two little rows of horses down the sides, and across the middle the carried strands outlining a herd of horses galloping in the other direction.
And of course, we have the date.
It’s a really good job I’ve never had a baby due on 31 December isn’t it!
Three Starmore blankets for my three babies:
I know it’s not quite the done thing, and certainly not very English to say so, but seeing those three blankets clothes-pegged to my garden fence, I am incredibly proud of them.
They are the very best of my skill as a knitter to welcome to the world the people to whom I want to give the very best of myself as a Mama. And I suspect that is after all why making them truly matters so much to me.