When knitting for baby, especially a new baby and even more especially for someone else’s baby, there are a few practical guidelines to keep in mind. Although these tips are common sense they are often only realised after the project is finished when you wince and wonder ‘what was I thinking’!!
Size is an important factor when deciding on a knitting project for a baby. Small is always adorable and quick to knit up, but new mums are often inundated with 1st size baby items as gifts. Babies grow so quickly especially in the first three months that lots of babies never get to wear what has been made for them. You may want to create something that is cherished for some time to come, like that special baby blanket, shawl or afghan, or you may want to consider a larger size baby item. If you do opt to knit an outfit in a larger size bear in mind the time of year it will be when the baby is 6 or 9 months old. A chunky hat, coat and leggings may not be needed in July and August (although with the British summer it might!) and on the other hand a short sleeved lacy shrug may not get much wear in December.
Consider the practicality and design of the pattern. Lacy baby jackets are always pleasing to the eye, but tiny fingers can get caught in the fabric. If you do use a lacy pattern make sure it is a small closeknit one and if knitting for a premature baby lacy patterns are best avoided.
For small babies a yoke design makes for easier dressing, less bending of little arms to fit into sleeves! Fastenings such as buttons etc. should always be securely sewn on. Use a good quality cotton thread rather than woollen yarn as it is more durable. Babies from 5 months onwards do like to pull on thinks and anything loose will go in the mouth!
Choosing a colour for your project can be a tough decision when you are up against such a wonderful range of colours and self striping yarns. If the sex of the baby is unknown you can stick to the old neutrals white lemon and pale green to be on the safe side, or be bold and go for brighter shades. Babies do suit jewel colours as well as pastels and you stand a better chance of your knitted item being truly unique and eye catching!
Which type of yarn to use for a baby is often a big consideration. The old chestnut, wool or acrylic is still a big issue amongst knitters! Natural fibres are always going to be superior to synthetic ones, but I’m no yarn snob, can’t afford to be! Pure wool and wool blends are a delight to knit with, they have a luxurious feel and the fabric drapes well. But the downside is they can be expensive, babies may have an allergy to wool and of course woollen items are not the easiest to launder, a busy mum may not have the time to handwash. Although acrylic can’t rival the natural properies of wool it is cheaper, the superior acrylics can be supersoft and come in a wonderful range of colours which are ideal for baby.
Whichever yarn you do use consider attaching a sample of the yarn to a label with the washing and drying instructions when giving the finished item as a gift.