Thursday, May 05, 2011

Got Questions? We Got Answers!

It's spring... and in the spring it always seems we see a big increase in customers coming into the shop looking for things to make for babies. So this question is one we hear often at this time of year!

When you need to make a baby gift for someone, what is your favorite thing to make? Why? If you are making clothing, what size do you typically make so that the item gets the most use? What is your favorite yarn to use for a baby gift?

I love making baby blankets. Unlike full size afghans, baby blankets whip up relatively quickly, and so I feel like they’re a good opportunity to test drive a new technique or pattern that I’ve been wanting to try. They’re also a good opportunity for me to indulge a little in some techniques that I love to knit, but don’t really love to wear. I think colorwork is really fun, but a colorwork sweater is generally too hot for me to comfortably wear.

I had the best time using Berroco Vintage to make a friend the Sleepy Monkey baby blanket. This not only involved some fun colorwork, but it gave me a chance to learn how to steek (knitting your work in the round and then cutting it open -- yikes! I know!). The steeks were terrifying, but because it was a small project, I figured I might as well give it a try -- and it worked!

If I have time, I typically make a sweater, and I try to make a larger size (18-24 mos depending on the time of year the baby is expected) for the baby to grow into. Many moms have said later how they were deluged with tiny outfits that the baby outgrew in a blink, and how nice it was to have something to look forward to.

We have lots of fabulous yarns for kids, and I am still getting familiar with them all. Personally, I am all about machine washable for babies (new parents have enough to do without hand-washing!), so Berroco Comfort and Comfort DK become fast favorites of mine. It is wonderfully soft and has great stitch definition for textured work (think Aran baby sweaters!). I have also been eyeing the Jill Eaton Cottontail for cool summer garments.

When I have occasion to knit something for a new baby I try to keep in mind what I am going to get satisfaction and enjoyment out of knitting, and what sort of project will fit the personality/personalities of the people receiving the present.

I like to focus on items that I believe will be of a useful nature that can be used for long periods of time or passed from one child to the next. Baby blankets that are large enough to become a favorite child’s blanket or soakers for parents who are committed to cloth diapering.

In a pinch I’ll always knit a Fruit Cap from Spud & Chloe Sweater yarn. I try to pick out colors I think will compliment the tastes of the adults and I focus on yarns I love to knit with. I really have enjoyed knitting for babies with the Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and Prima yarns. Both of these yarns are machine washable and this is something I think most parents are thankful for when a new arrival makes an appearance.

Believe it or not Malabrigo Worsted Yarn is great for soakers. This is a super soft merino wool in lovely colors and yes, I like to knit with this too. If I enjoy knitting it then the project will get done on time and if I keep the recipients in mind I know that others will love the project as much as I do when it is finished.

My favorite baby gifts are usually sweaters with some color work involved and matching hat or booties. I have always loved the Roo patterns because there are so many to choose from. I have also knit a few Debbie Bliss baby sweater patterns using the Baby Cashmerino. She does such a nice job with the soft colors and designs.

Right now I am excited about the Sublime booklets and am currently working on a sailor sweater with little matching booties. The yarn is wonderful to knit with and machine washable. The sizes I make usually depend on when the baby is being born and my time frame, but 6-12 month is usually the size.

Great question for me, since I LOVE to knit for babies! I am always happy to make a baby blanket, a sweater (I always do a 6-12 months size, at least!), booties, a hat, a toy... whatever I'm in the mood for. I always use a machine washable yarn, and there are so many great ones to choose from these days, and because I know any mom will appreciate it. My favorite blanket is the Hexie blanket - because it's portable, and I love the way the Jojoland Rhythm Superwash works up.

I think the best yarns to use for babies are Berroco Comfort or Comfort DK, and if you're okay spending a little more for some really special yarn, then I recommend the Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK, the Debbie Bliss Prima or the Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Oh, and Schaefer Nichole makes a super cute Baby Surprise Jacket!

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