Finishing, ugh

When my boyfriend saw me photographing my shrug yesterday, he gently reminded me that Baby Gabriel was born quite some time ago, to the point where his father is almost done with his paternity leave.

I thought it would not be so bad to finish the sweater of the Cabled Baby Set, but it turns out I am genuinely awful at finishing. Like really, embarrassingly terrible.

Enjoy some more disastrous seams, from the inside.

I thought I was so clever the first time I picked up the stitches for the neckline on the sweater. I used DPNs so that I could knit it all in the round and not have to worry about another bulky seam (having done a number on the preceding shoulder seam). I kept saying to myself “it’s just like socks…”

I did all my ribbing, omitted a turning row, and cast off, only to find that it did not stretch at all. I had cast off way too tightly and I couldn’t get the neck to stay folded down no matter what I did. It’s a pity, because I thought it didn’t really look so bad done in this way, but the baby’s head definitely wouldn’t fit through it comfortably.

Humbled, and more than a bit annoyed, I hastily ripped it all out before figuring out that I could have just tinked back the cast-off row. I followed the instructions this time, knitting it flat, which did go a lot faster. I put the turning row back in, and I knit nice and loosely. I searched around online and came up with the seemingly obvious solution to cast off using a larger needle. I was knitting on size 6’s and actually cast off loosely on a size 10, in pattern, but I still thought it might have been a little stretchier.

The picked-up stitches looked a little nicer this time too.

I then started on what would become literally hours of attempted seaming, and man, it’s a mess. No matter how many videos or tutorials I went through on mattress stitch, I just couldn’t get it right. As I tried to set the sleeve in, I realized that it ends nearly two inches higher than it’s supposed to on the body, which will be incredibly uncomfortable for the baby unless he goes around with his arms raised.

The seam itself is rather alarmingly tight as well, and I’m beginning to suspect some kind of massive gauge issue. No matter how much I stretch the other arm, I can’t get it to come 4 inches down on the body, let alone 3.

So it is official. I hate this project, and I think it looks awful. I dread taking out all the seaming on this arm or knitting a new arm or something to make it less tight, and to be perfectly honest, I already started searching for something seamless that I could knit to complete this set instead.

My boyfriend said it’s too bad because the body and neck look okay. He joked that I could make a turtlenecked vest or muscle tee out of it instead. The baby does live in Brooklyn and his parents are pretty stylish, so he could perhaps pull it off… but I know this is ridiculous.

Also, doesn’t it look like a hot water bottle cover?

If I don’t abandon it entirely, I will have a lot of fussing to do with this sweater, and I’m really not looking forward to it. Bleh.

Beginning of Booties

Experienced knitters would probably find this to be the slowest-moving layette set ever created, and indeed, I’m impatient with my own progress as well. Grad school is leaving me with very little to no knitting time of late, but I did manage to start the booties of the Cabled Baby Set.

How ridiculously cute.

I knit this one entirely, though I have not sewn it yet. I was charmed by the way the top of the foot transitioned into the toes, then became a three-dimensional shape with a bottom and heel. My only point of contention is the two little holes from picking up stitches after knitting the foot flap.

I tried stretching the booties out a little, with my fingers approximating a baby foot, and I was more than a bit dissatisfied with the way the holes look, so I will probably come in through the back to close them up when I am seaming the backs.

I love the way they have a fold-over ribbed cuff. When they’re finished, they’ll look like very cute little socks I think.

I’ve started the ribbing on the second booty, and I look forward to finishing these soon. I found that the rows of the heel flap and the rest of the shaping flew by on the first one.

I also noticed these use very little yarn, so I’m thinking that since this pattern uses worsted weight, I could easily put some leftovers to use making hat and booty sets for charity or friends.

As for the baby, still no word of his arrival. A few days ago the father said he was three days late, which is good for buying knitting time, but for the mother’s sake, I hope our little guy comes along soon!

I made a hat!

I’ve been knitting merrily along on the hat for the Cabled Baby Set (the mother was due Monday, and I haven’t heard news yet). As I approached the shaping for the crown, it occurred to me that I’ve never made a hat before!

The instructions said to decrease 6 stitches evenly spaced over every other row, 6 times. Of course, I had to figure out how to space the decreases, so this is the math that I did:

Decreasing 6 stitches over a row of 80 stitches involves 6 x k2tog=12 stitches. 80-12=68. I then divided 68 by 6, figuring that I should put 11 stitches between each decreasing pair, splitting the remaining 13 stitches at each end, as follows:

7 – (2) – 11 – (2) – 11 – (2) – 11 – (2) – 11 – (2) – 11 -(2) – 6

where the 2 in parentheses indicates a k2tog and the regular numbers indicate knit stitches.

For each subsequent decrease row, I then had to reduce one stitch from one of the ends (I alternated these), then one stitch from each middle section. The next decrease rows went like this:

6 – (2) – 10 – (2) – 10 – (2) – 10 – (2) – 10 – (2) – 10 – (2) – 6
5 – (2) – 9 – (2) – 9 – (2) – 9 – (2) – 9 – (2) – 9 – (2) – 6
5 – (2) – 8 – (2) – 8 – (2) – 8 – (2) – 8 – (2) – 8 – (2) – 5
4 – (2) – 7 – (2) – 7 – (2) – 7 – (2) – 7 – (2) – 7 – (2) – 5
4 – (2) – 6 – (2) – 6 – (2) – 6 – (2) – 6 – (2) – 6 – (2) – 4

Then I was to decrease 6 stitches evenly spaced over the next 6 rows, every row. I used almost the exact same pattern, though because I was turning the work between the rows, I alternated back and forth on how I decreased, reading through the lines as if it were a snake.

3 – (2) – 5 – (2) – 5 – (2) – 5 – (2) – 5 – (2) – 5 – (2) – 4
3 – (2) – 4 – (2) – 4 – (2) – 4 – (2) – 4 – (2) – 4 – (2) – 3
2 – (2) – 3 – (2) – 3 – (2) – 3 – (2) – 3 – (2) – 3 – (2) – 3
2 – (2) – 2 – (2) – 2 – (2) – 2 – (2) – 2 – (2) – 2 – (2) – 2
1 – (2) – 1 – (2) – 1 – (2) – 1 – (2) – 1 – (2) – 1 – (2) – 2
1 – (2) – 0 – (2) – 0 – (2) – 0 – (2) – 0 – (2) – 0 – (2) – 1

The last row basically involved knitting a stitch, then 6 k2tog’s, then knitting the last stitch.

Really rather elegant I think.

It made a lovely set of decreases with a sort of scalloped look before I sewed it together, a snowflake-like expanding shape once seamed.

Seaming it was a little tricky, and I was a bit unhappy with the first go at it. As I was weaving in ends, I decided to reinforce the seam, and that made it a lot neater. I was hesitant about a baby hat that had a seam running up the back, thinking it would be uncomfortable, but it’s a 12 month size hat, so in theory by then, our baby should be able to hold his head up without trouble.

Next up, seaming the sweater and knitting some booties!

Cabled Baby Set

Recently my boyfriend told me about a friend’s baby shower with less than a week’s notice. I wanted to give them something homemade, and I was excited to have the occasion to knit something for a baby, as I’d heard how fast and fun baby sweaters were.

After a ridiculous amount of time searching patterns online, I decided on the Cabled Baby Set from Lion Brand. In case you are not registered with their site, it looks like this:

Pattern: Cabled Baby Set, Lion Brand free pattern #60604A, 12 month size
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft, 100% acrylic, color #9905 Bone
Needles: Susan Bates size 7 straights and Boye size 6 straights
Modifications: Omitted pants from set
Started: March 7, 2007

This was my progress as of the morning of the shower, after several days and nights of practically non-stop knitting. I was incredibly frustrated with garter stitch (which wow, I really hate) and the way that such a small project was dragging so interminably.

It goes without saying, I didn’t finish on time and was extremely relieved that we had another gift to bring. My boyfriend mentioned the sweater to our friends, though, and I promised I’d get the set to them before the baby is born (he’s due April 2nd). I’m knitting a 12-month size, so he’ll have time to grow into it, and by next fall it will probably fit perfectly.

Because I personally am so sensitive to wool and other animal fibers, I completely understood the recommendations I’d read to make baby garments only out of acrylic and non-irritating synthetics. Luckily the Simply Soft is really beautifully plush and cozy – it’s been a pleasure to work with. If only it would go faster!

I decided that if I finish this set by the end of March, I’ll be submitting it in this month’s Craftster knitting challenge, which involves knitting a project using $10 or less of materials. The yarn for this set cost only $5, so it definitely qualifies.