Baby knits – a first step to big knits

When we are out and about at craft shows we often meet people who tell us that they have been knitting for a while but they are nervous about trying to make a whole garment. Of course we also meet people whose first project was a jumper but this blog is for the first group.

There are lots of reasons why newish knitters may be nervous about tackling their first jumper even if they have used quite complex colourwork or patterns for hats and scarves. They include:

  • What if I spend a lot of money on yarn and then can’t finish the sweater?
  • I don’t understand how cardigans go together.
  • I’ve never really done any shaping.
  • I’m worried about sewing up.

One way to help someone get past these worries is to suggest they start with a baby garment.

The great thing about baby garments is that you can find pretty much every style of sweater or cardigan you can think of. So you can find bottom-up and top-down designs, raglan and set-in sleeves, colourwork, lace, cables etc. Have a look at the UK Hand Knitting baby pattern collection here for an example of this.

sept-16-collage

So by picking a baby sweater in a similar style to something you’d like to make in an adult size you can learn about shaping, sleeves, picking up stitches for a neckband and all the techniques while only using a couple of balls of yarn from your stash. This is a good way to build up confidence with the techniques and you will always find a grateful recipient for a baby cardigan whether that be a friend or relation or a local charity.

And if you don’t believe there is a relationship between these mini knits and a grown up sweater, check out this blog post from Let’s Knit magazine about baby knits and their adult equivalents.

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Knitting for babies

Those of us who come from big families know that once you’ve knitted for one new arrival, baby knits will become a large section of your projects, and that over the years you will become a fine judge of baby patterns. You also realise that friends and family seem to have babies in groups, so you always seem to have more than one baby project to finish at time.

On the UK Hand Knitting team we have quite a bit of knitting experience for precious little bundles so we’ve pulled together a few tips if you are about to embark on a baby knits odyssey.

Patterns

If you are knitting lots of baby gifts, it can be dull doing the same pattern over – even though baby knits can be quite quick. Luckily there are lots of delicious patterns on Ravelry and UK Hand Knitting is here to help. You can find a wide range of UKHKA baby patterns developed with our members here.

UK Hand Knitting baby patterns

UK Hand Knitting baby patterns

When choosing a pattern for a baby, it is probably best to avoid the ones sized only for newborns, however cute the garments. They simply won’t get much wear. Instead go for 3-6 months or 6-9 months sizes. The baby will grow into them so that little jacket or hat will get a good amount of use.

Equally if knitting for a toddler go for a size up from what they are now – this will mean it will be useful for longer (and allows for any knitting delays).

Toys and blankets

If you don’t want to make garments or would like to make something that will stay with the child much longer. Knitted toys, play mats and cot blankets are a good choice. It is a lovely experience when a young mum tells you that their child is wrapped in a blanket you knitted for them or that their child is playing with a toy you knitted 20-ahem years previously (it can make you feel old though!).

Yarns

Knitting for babies is not really the time for luxury fibres and yarns that need special care. Baby garments and blankets need to be machine washable and toys need to be hardwearing. This is why you will find that a lot of baby yarns have a high proportion of acrylic in them –  these are soft but robust yarns which make it easy to pop a garment in the wash. Also look for cotton baby yarns, great for blankets as well as garments; wool that has been treated for machine washing; and bamboo yarns which are very soft and are naturally anti-bacterial.

baby knits

Clockwise from top left: King Cole Bamboo Cotton; Stylecraft Special Baby DK; Debbie Bliss Ecobaby Print; James C Brett Baby Marble; Rico Baby Classic: Wendy Peter Pan DK Print; Sirdar Snuggly Tiny Tots

There is plenty of choice in baby yarns including when it comes to colour so you are not tied to blue for a boy/pink for a girl. Bright colours and parents favourite colours are often a good way to go.

First garment

And finally if you are a relatively new knitter, a baby cardigan or jumper is a great opportunity to try knitting your first garment. Baby clothes are a lot quicker to knit than adult garments so are a great way to learn how knitted sweaters are constructed.

If you are a regular baby knitter, please share your favourite baby patterns in the comments.