Baby sweaters are awesome. Really, they are. In about a tenth of the time it would take to knit me a sweater (ok, that’s a generous estimate), I can have a finished project. Plus, baby sweaters get a lot more “ooooohs” and “aaaaaahs” than a sweater for me has ever gotten.
So when friends announced they were expecting their first, naturally I started paging through my pattern library on Ravelry. This was going to require some careful selection, because dad-to-be is a knitter himself, which means the parents will be harder to impress. Fortunately, not long ago a friend shared pictures of the wee Envelope, by Ysolda Teague, that she had knit up, and it was adorable. I liked the unusual construction and the look of the finished item, so I decided to go for it. I had a single skein of Three Irish Girls Kells Sport in Rhys in my stash, which according to the pattern was more than enough. Rhys is a beautiful shade of blue, and although the parents aren’t finding out the gender yet, I think any baby can wear blue, boy or girl (I try to get Lexie into it whenever I can since it really brings out her beautiful blue eyes). Besides, this baby’s parents are both Navy, and if a Navy baby can’t wear blue, who can?
So I wound the yarn, picked up the needles, cast on…and realized I’d been cursed.
The pattern, at least, wasn’t cursed. Well-written, as I expected, and really only one spot where I read the directions a few times and said, “Huh?” A quick trip to Ysolda’s Ravelry group got me enough of an answer that I was able to move on, and that was it for pattern issues. The yarn was mildly cursed, as some of my later purchases of Three Irish Girls yarn (pre-change in ownership) have been – multiple breaks in one ply throughout the skein (no, it’s not bugs, unless I’ve been blessed with moths talented enough to tie the plies back together in small knots). I did end with an ungodly number of ends to weave in as a result…but that was at the end.
The curse during the knitting was all on me.
I decided to make a change to the pattern from the very beginning. I don’t like knitting garter in the round, and I don’t like knitting very small circumferences in the round with magic loop, at least not the first few rows. I decided to solve two problems in one fell swoop and knit the cuff (you start at the end of one cuff and knit across to the other) flat, with two extra stitches for seaming. So I happily knit the cuff then seamed it and happily continued with stockinette in the round for the rest of the sleeve. Once I reached the shoulder I counted my stitches, and…oops. Remember those two extra stitches? I was supposed to decrease them when I started knitting in the round. Of course, my count was still off by a lot more than two stitches. So the whole sleeve was frogged. At least it was a baby sleeve.
On try two for the sleeve, things went crazy wrong after the cuff and it was frogged again. Try three, I discovered I was again off by several stitches halfway through. I mean, we’re talking well less than 50 stitches here; why can’t I count them? It wasn’t until I ripped back to just after the cuff (where I had correctly decreased those two extra stitches) that I realized the problem wasn’t my stitch count: it was my reading skills. I was looking at the numbers for the wrong size. I took a quick break to highlight all the numbers for the size I was knitting (which was the entire reason I’d gotten that PDF editing app on my phone in the first place) and started again.
This time I made it to the garter stitch yoke. This was where I had my one, easily cleared up, bit of confusion, but for the most part the pattern was quite clear once I figured out what I was making (I’d never done an edging like this pattern uses before). It should have been smooth sailing…and would have been if I hadn’t kept dropping a stitch. The same stitch, just three stitches in from the end. I’d be knitting merrily along, and suddenly realize there was a cheeky little loop waving at me from several rows down below the needle. I’d pick up my crochet hook, ladder it back up, keep working, and several rows later, there the cheeky bastard was again.
Eventually, I made it to the end of the yoke, and the second sleeve proved anticlimactic. I even remembered to add in the extra two stitches for the seam of the cuff, since I wanted both cuffs to match.
On to the body! And that’s when an earlier mistake bit me in the rear. I’d knit a stitch that was supposed to be purled on the bottom of the back yoke at one point, and didn’t realize it until several rows later. Because it was an edge stitch, dropping back to fix it would have been a nightmare, and I’d already ripped back so many times I decided to leave it. After all, that’s where I’d be picking up stitches on the body, so that one wrong stitch would be hidden…
…except that the stitches are picked up in such a way that those stitches all show. Oops. Fortunately, it’s on the back. And not smack dab in the middle. The rest of the body was easily knit, other than it being a race between the end of the sweater and the end of the skein. Remember when I said I had more than enough yarn to knit this? I finished up with a tiny little walnut-sized ball. Whew. Anyway, I absolutely love how Rhys knit up – it looks like water ripples.
All it needed to finish it off were buttons, and I was originally planning until we knew the gender to pick them. That way if I needed to girly it up some, I could. But I can’t resist a chance to play with all my buttons, and I started by pulling out my favorites from Tessa Ann Designs…and I found these – an awesome rainbow set with plenty of options in the size I needed (and plenty left over, since it’s such a large set). I chose the two buttons with the rainbow striping across and the two buttons with the full rainbow arching over green grass.
I wanted to show off the sweater at the Prince William Purlers guild meeting that night, so I packed the buttons and thread in my bag to sew on during our social knitting time before the meeting starts. I was pretty sure I’d chosen the right buttons, but as I left my house and started driving, I saw a sign that those buttons were meant to be.