I didn’t start knitting after the phone call came, nor after the news came of my tiny nephew’s appearance in the world, or even after I’d been to see him. He was still in an incubator, only just starting to wear a vest, and the world of a full set of clothing, including knitwear, seemed a very long way off. But this boy likes to keep us all on our toes, and at a week and a half old he’d jumped through every milestone with flying colours and was on his way home.
Which is where I came in. It’s a long running joke among knitters that it’s a good job our families don’t need us to knit their socks and hats and jumpers and the rest because we like making complicated things that can occasionally be abandonned in a fit of pique, rather than churning out workhorse woolies because winter is coming. But when you’re trying to keep a teeny tiny wee boy snuggly warm, the problem is that you can’t get that many teeny tiny little knits. It’s probably a lack of demand because there aren’t that many 3lb 11oz babies out and about needing to be kept warm.
In fact, Rosie thought she’d found exactly one cardigan, and even then it was a bit big. It was never a matter of life or death or anything approaching ye olden days levels of discomfort; they have an excellent central heating system and lots of blankets. But it is true that it’s easier to keep a baby warm if they’re tucked up in something that fits, and it has to be true that when you’re parenting a preemie baby that you’ve only just got to bring home from the hospital, and everyone’s first comment is how incredibly tiny he is, having him in a nice cosy cardigan that looks the right size must normalise the situation. If his clothes fit, then it’s not too scary that he arrived at 34 weeks.
We found a pattern that she thought looked good that Wednesday night, I bought the ball of yarn on Thursday, knit all through Thursday evening and into a teeny bit of Friday until the yarn ran out, bought more yarn on Friday, knit on Friday evening, sewed seams, crocheted ties and sewed on buttons.
On Saturday morning I gave it as good a block as I could manage, hovering the iron just above it and pumping steam through until it looked nice and neat. It isn’t as perfect as a wet block, but there was no time, and by midmorning Saturday it was in the post.
The yarn is Rowan Baby Merino Silk. It’s a great yarn for baby knits because it’s machine washable, it’s as soft as butter, and natural fibres will help its tiny wearer regulate his body temperature.
The pattern is called Baby Kimono, it’s a free pattern and has plenty of small baby sizes starting with preemie, for a baby with a 12″ chest. Aside from the yarn amounts being out by a shoulder and a sleeve, it’s a clever pattern, knit sleeve to sleeve, with a cross over front for extra warmth.
Knitting it took every ounce of willpower to overide my default settings of “just add a couple of inches”, in this case the sleeves are only two inches long, the fronts and back aren’t much bigger and I alternated between fear that it would be too small and fear that it would be too big.
For a sense of scale, I have medium sized hands.
In the end the only thing I could do was to wait; and on Monday I got this picture.
A perfect fit, anda picture that more than anything gives you a sense of just how small he is. The model has now commissioned a second in a pale glacier blue which I’m aiming to put in the post on Tuesday so it’s time to get knitting again.
I’ve said before that to wear handknits is to be wrapped up in the love of the maker and it’s truer than ever in this case. I’ve met the wee nephew but I couldn’t touch him (hospital rules about infection prevention), and I’m too far away now, and surrounded by too many miniature harbingers of germs of my own for us all to go and visit until he’s a bit bigger, both to see him, and to be a support for my sister, but this, this I can do. Even a tiny jumper has hundreds of stitches, each a testament that he, and she, are so very loved.