Baby sweaters are one of the most enjoyable garments to make, for both beginner and experienced knitters. If you are just learning to knit, making such a small garment can be accomplished within a reasonable amount of time. In the process of making the little sweater, you will learn a variety of knitting skills such as selecting needles and an appropriate yarn, casting on, casting off, evaluating your gage, and knitting a ribbing. If you have a friend who is a knitter or there is a knitting store near you, you will find the help of an experienced knitter quite valuable. There are lots of patterns available, so you will have plenty of choice in the style of sweater you want to make.
If you are an experienced knitter, you can have lots of fun doing something a little different on a baby sweater. Use a stitch you’ve always wanted to try. Make the cables. When you’re working on such a small scale, it’s a great opportunity to try something new.
When knitting for babies it is important to remember is that a baby has different physical proportions than an older child or an adult. You will not simply be making a smaller version of the same sweater you would make for an older person. A baby’s head and torso are both quite large, and its arms are small and short. When choosing a pattern, make sure that it is proportioned so that it will actually fit the baby.
If the sweater is a pullover style, the neck opening may require an extension such as a buttoned closing along the shoulder seam so the baby’s head can fit through the neck opening. You may find it easier to make a cardigan style sweater to avoid this problem. If the sweater is hooded, the hood will be almost as big as the body. The baby will not be able to dress itself, so it is important to make the sweater sleeves roomy enough that the mom can fit her fingers in to guide the baby’s hand and arm through the sleeve when she dresses the baby.
The pattern will usually tell you what type and size of the needle are required for the garment. Needle size is important to make sure that the sweater you knit comes out to be the size you want. If you are a new knitter, remember that you have a choice of materials when you are buying needles. Most needles are made of plastic, but metal, wooden, and even bamboo needles are also available. Choose a variety you like to hold and find easy to manage. Good tools make good work.
The pattern will also suggest types of yarn. There are many patterns available on the Internet, which specify the type of yarn to be used. If you cannot find the kind of yarn suggested, ask the salesperson at the store which type of yarn is most similar. Yarn types knit up differently and again if you use a different size of yarn, your sweater will be a different size.
A sweater for a baby should be made of yarn that is washable and not itchy. There are many types of attractive synthetic yarns available that will meet these requirements. Another advantage of synthetic yarn is that it does not shrink. However, some synthetics are not very soft, and they may not be as warm as wool, so if you can find a blend that is soft and has some wool in it, you may get a better result. The sweater is so small that it requires very little yarn, which means that you can afford to spend a little more on yarn.
If you’ve never cast on before, find someone to show you how to do it, or find a set of illustrated instructions. It takes a while to get the hang of the technique, but it’s a basic and essential knitting technique. You start knitting by casting on, and in many patterns, you will be adding stitches by casting on to the edge of your work to increase or add design elements like sleeves. Once you’ve learned the basic casting on technique, practice the skill of casting on loosely. Good casting on is much looser than good knitting. If your casting on is too tight, your knitting will be too small and will have no stretch at the bottom.
You will also need to learn how to cast off. Again, ask for help or find illustrated directions. Casting off must also be done very loosely so that the knitted garment is evenly elastic. I personally find a crochet hook helpful in casting off, but it can be done with just the knitting needles.
Before you start the sweater, cast on and knit a small sample piece two or three inches wide and several rows long. Somewhere in the sweater pattern instructions, the gauge is listed. It will say something like Gauge: 4 sts to 1 in. This means that four stitches are equal to one inch. Measure your sample to see if your knitting is the same size.
If there is much variation between your sample and the gauge, the sweater will come out bigger or smaller than the pattern. However, if you’ve used the recommended needles and yarn, you are probably pretty close. If your stitches are smaller, try relaxing a little to make the stitches looser and larger. If they are larger, try knitting a little more tightly. Once you know your gauge you are ready to begin
The knitting pattern is usually written in the following code.
P = purl
Dec = decrease (this can be done by knitting two stitches together, or by slipping one stitch over another knitting only the stitch over which the decreased stitch has been slipped)
You will find it helpful to have a small notebook, some safety pins, and a tape measure in your knitting bag. You are often asked to count the number of stitches, and it’s useful to be able to remind yourself of where you are if you have to stop. Safety pins make great place markers and stitch holders. You will need the tape measure to check the size of your work, as many instructions say something like, Work until 17 inches longť. This means keep knitting until you have 17 inches.
Because each pattern is a little different and each knitter’s mind and hands work a little differently, different problems will arise for different knitters. Once again, turn to an experienced knitter for advice when you are stuck. You may find it helpful to join a knitting club. Such a club will provide you with friends who can help you improve your knitting skills while having fun together. Who knows? This baby sweater may be the beginning of a whole string of knitted projects.Because each pattern