Thursday, October 17, 2013

Crochet for baby



No, I'm not having a baby. For better or worse, that ship has sailed. I did, however, make a sweater-and-hat set for a new baby soon to enter the world. I really enjoy making things for babies and I only wish my crochet skills had been better when I was having my own two. I did make a small blanket when I was pregnant with the LB and we used it plenty. And I made crib quilts for both of them; I have a long relationship with sewing and had made numerous quilts by the time I was expecting my children. These crocheted items are winging their way to Pennsylvania, where they will hopefully be enjoyed by our friends who are expecting their first baby.

I really love crocheted (or knitted) baby clothes, especially their timelessness. I have some beautiful little things which were made for the Bear when he was a baby and even a few items which were made for his father in the 1940's, and which the Bear and his brother used too. Those are some of my most prized possessions. I didn't use them for my own babies because they were just a little too delicate by the time they were given to me, but I do treasure them. I was given an adorable knitted hat-and-booties set in the hospital when the GB was born and she wore them for the duration of our stay; they had been made and donated by a charity group. With these sweet, sentimental items in mind, I set out to learn how to crochet something for babies and I'm really glad I did.

I started my quest on Ravelry, searching for patterns for simple layette-type items I could crochet. I had made baby hats previously, itty-bitty ones which I donated to a hospital as preemie-loss items (for parents to use for burial). These were really tiny hats and I'm not proficient with changing the sizes of patterns so I looked for a pattern to make a larger hat instead. I really liked the Lickety-Split Crocheted Newborn Hat from a blog called Kelley's Yarns; I started a practice version and it was just right. I also looked at patterns for other garments - booties, pants, sweaters - and decided to attempt a sweater to go with the hat. The only trouble was that I'd never crocheted anything as complex as a sweater so I chose a simple one, the Crocheted Baby Sweater from Bundlesoflove.org and it was exactly what I needed for a first try at sweater-making. 


Our friends have chosen not to find out the gender of their baby before the arrival. I truly admire their patience. I had to know so that I could get ready. I'm envious of people who can wait; that surprise at the birth must be exhilarating. It almost makes me wish we still lived in a time when it was impossible to know before the baby came out. The mom-to-be told me that she had been given lots of yellow and green things for the baby, since those are "gender-neutral" colors, so I decided to do something different and use cream-colored yarn, with gray accents. Both yarns are I Love This Yarn in worsted-weight acrylic. The gray is left over from my Slouchy Daisy hat; I was so pleased with the quality of the new stock of ILTY when I made my hat that I decided to add a few more skeins to my stash. The gray is called Graybeard and the cream is, well, Cream.


Both patterns contain directions for two sizes, newborn and 0-3 months. I followed the pattern for 0-3 months because I think it might be more useful, especially for the hat. I had my reservations about doing this, since my babies were on the smaller side and I didn't have enough really tiny clothing prepared for them. They had large heads, though, and many of their hats seemed small right from the beginning. My friend has been told that her baby may be pretty big, so I took my chances with the larger sizes. There's nothing wrong with having some room to grow, especially with an autumn baby who will need cold-weather clothes for quite awhile.


I did simple stripes of gray on both pieces. I had originally intended to have two gray stripes on the hat as well, but when I did it that way, it just seemed overwhelming on such a small item. So I frogged it and went with one stripe instead. I think they still look like they go together, but if I had to do it again, I might have done just one stripe on the sweater too, or just gray edging on both pieces. I was going for a gender-neutral-but-modern look and I'm afraid I may have gotten a mini-letterman's-sweater look instead. But I like it well enough; my friend knew I was working on something handmade and she was excited about that, which makes me very happy.


The sweater pattern suggested using one button for closure, but I went with two instead. I think it gives the sweater a more finished look. These are just simple cream-colored 7/8" plastic buttons, which I sewed on with white thread. The sleeves may have been the most complicated part of this pattern for me; I had never made anything with sleeves before. I felt that the pattern was very well-written, though, and I didn't have much trouble at all. I like the way the sleeves look where they attach to the body of the sweater; the skipped stitches and chains there give a nice open look, almost lacy. I also like how there aren't really any seams in the sweater; I think it will be both cozy and comfortable for the baby to wear.


The sleeves are worked in the round, turning for each row, which was a bit confusing at first. But I think the finished sleeve looks neat and I like the "cuff" effect given by decreasing for the second-to-last row and finishing off with single-crochet, whereas the rest of the sleeve is crocheted in dc. I think the cuff-like ends will help keep the baby's little wrists and hands warm.


All in all, I really like the way this set turned out. In fact, it's the photos I'm unhappy with; I had trouble getting nice, clear photos of these items because the cream-colored yarn was reflecting the blue sky in the windows so strongly. I know, it's terrible - I live in a place where the sky is always bright blue and the sun is always streaming through my windows. What a pity. Anyway, the crocheting was educational and I'm glad I tried something new-to-me. You can probably tell that I didn't block these items; I've done some steam-blocking with granny squares and triangles and it worked well, but I chickened out with these because they're gifts and I was afraid I'd ruin them somehow. So I skipped that step but I think they look okay unblocked.

I feel rather accomplished. I usually crochet flat things, like blankets, or circular things, like bags and hats. There were moments of frustration with the sweater but I'm proud of myself for sticking it out and for learning new techniques. I can make a sweater now! If I wanted to, I could actually make myself a sweater. I have even considered ways to modify this pattern to make an adult-sized one. I'm sure it could be done, but pattern-writing is so not my area. Yet.

Stats on this baby set:
Hat: Lickety-Split Crocheted Newborn Hat (made following 0-3 month directions)
Sweater: Crocheted Baby Sweater (0-3 month size)
I Love This Yarn worsted acrylic, Graybeard (tiny amount) and Cream (1/2 skein)
Susan Bates Silvalume hooks - size H (5.00mm) for hat, size I (5.50mm) for sweater

29 comments:

  1. Jennifer!

    Kudos, congrats and bravo!!! You are such a creative person, and everything you touch turns to gold! You, my talented friend, have the Midas Touch and your crocheted baby set is simply adorable! It will keep baby warm, cozy and fashionably chic, and I'm sure its parents will think of your kind gesture every time its worn.

    Like your friends, my husband and I also decided against learning the sex of our baby before its birth, and I'm so glad we did. There's nothing like learning that she was, firstly and most importantly, healthy, and secondly, that she was a girl, the sweetest, cutest, gift from God, that we are so blessed to have had. Ah...it's so exciting, isn't it, to be an expectant new mommy?! :)

    Thanks for sharing your lovely pics of this precious gift!

    Poppy

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  2. What a beautiful baby set you have created.. Love it. Hugs Judy

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  3. Absolutely beautiful, your friend will be so pleased with the gift. I love the colours you've chosen, boy or girl will be able to wear this little set. We didn't find out the sex of either of our children, though I somehow knew myself that I was having a boy with Daniel, I even bought boy clothes before he was born as I was so sure. I wasn't too sure with Eleanor but couldn't really imagine myself having a girl. I suppose it was just because I'd already got a boy. I really wasn't bothered what I had with either of them, but it is nice now that I've got a girl, we get to have girl time together and do girly things.

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  4. You have done a terrific job on the baby hat and sweater. They are gorgeous! I have found that pictures of handmade baby items are always disappointing unless they actually have a baby in them. :-)

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  5. That set is just adorable! We didn't have the chance to find out the sex of our kids and it was a wonderful surprise in the delivery room. Our daughter did find out - it's so much harder now. There's not much gender neutral clothing out there.

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  6. That is a really beautiful little set Jennifer, I am sure it will be much loved by parents and baby. It looks really cosy. It's great that you had a chance to improve your skills whilst working on the project too and you have done a wonderful job.
    Marianne xx

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  7. Very pretty hat and sweater. We never knew with our kids if it was a boy or girl. You just couldn't find out back then. It's interesting to see that trend happening again...by choice this time!
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  8. Congratulations on accomplishing a sweater! I have made a couple so far, the last being for my granddaughter when she was a toddler. I used pink and lime green velour yarn and it was a neat project. I think I made it up as I went. I have also crocheted doll and teddy bear sweaters for my little gd's. I'm sure your friends will be thrilled! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  9. Oh this is so adorable! When we had our daughter my mom had a friend who made her a cute coat, and a tiny hat. I love handmade gifts, they truly warm the heart. It turned out lovely Jennifer. :)

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  10. AW so cute! Lovely little hat and sweater. I'm sure your friends will love your kind handmade wears x

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  11. These are really lovely Jennifer, and I am sure that your friends will appreciate these so much. The colours are great and as you say could be either boy or girl. I hope that all goes well with the birth for your friends. xx

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  12. It's brilliant, well done Jennifer. You have inspired me to try crochet again. I am going to look at patterns.

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  13. The set is really cute, Jennifer! Nice job! I have done baby sets before, even with matching blanket. I love yours as it is not so delicate as some. It'll be great for a boy, but a girl could wear it too. Love the colors. Hope life is treating you well. xxoo

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  14. It is a really cute and lovely baby set, very well done.

    Lluisa x

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  15. How sweet are these little tiny crochet garments Jennifer, well done. I am see they will be so loved and appreciated. How I wish I could crochet and knit when Alice was little too....I guess we will just have to wait till we are grannies one day ! xox Penny

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  16. Hi Jennifer! I think you did such a beautiful job with this adorable baby set you crocheted!!! I love the neutral colors you chose to use, instead of green or yellow. It's just precious and I'm sure your friend and her new little one will love it! xox Paulette :)

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  17. Cheers for you, Jennifer! I love the hat and sweater and think that one stripe on the hat really looks great with the two stripes on the sweater! Thanks for taking the time to share the process you went through to create the gifts, and the links and sources you used.
    Gracie xx

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  18. A D O R A B L E !!!!!!
    Great job...I couldn't have done better myself!! ha!
    I am sure the baby will love it...and so will the Mom!!

    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  19. You have done such a great job, they look so warm and soft, just perfect.

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  20. I'm sure your friends will love this little set. I kept the first things I made for each of mine and may be one day when and if they decide to have families of their own I will pass them on. I'm still knitting aran pattens today that I made for my eldest son who is now in his mid twenties. It's amazing how with the right colour they just continue to be fashionable.

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  21. My goodness, I feel like I was right there inside your head as you worked through this! Don't we think & ponder over every step when we're learning a new craft. How wonderful that you've made this sweater ... a great accomplishment! I felt the same when I knit my first hat, and then my first (and only) mittens. I want to knit some baby/child-sized sweaters for practice because I'm a bit chicken to start on one for myself. Your friend is going to love this I'm sure ... perfect colours for either girl or boy too. I chose not to know the gender of my babies either, and it really was a beautiful surprise for all that effort ;) Wendy x

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  22. What a beautiful set I've never attempted a crochet garment you have tempted me to try x

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  23. Holy cow is this gorgeous! My jaw just hit the floor! This is something I would put my beans in in a heart beat! I have just picked up knitting and I have a long way to go!!! I wish I would have learned it long ago so that like you said I could have made the beans things like this! Your work is inspiring!!!

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  24. What a cute outfit, lovely pattern

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  25. Such a gorgeous set, and it looks so soft and warm. You are talented!

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  26. THAT is GORGEOUS! Make thousands of them - put them on a blog and SELL them!!
    Mary x

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  27. It's really, really beautiful. You are so good at crochet - I would run a mile at a project like this! Love the colours, so classic and perfect for either sex.

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  28. Oh how lovely, just perfect. I like handmade babies' clothes and I think young Mum's are now appreciating them once again.
    I will have to look at those patterns, thank you for the links.
    Carol xx

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