The striped blanket I recently finished was just the first of the handknit gifts for a particular baby. Soon after binding off for that project, I cast on for a sweater. In just a handful of knitting sessions, it was done. (I just love it when a project goes that quickly!)
Pattern: Baby Sophisticate by Linden Down
Yarn: my handspun superwash merino from Crown Mountain Farms in Come Together
Needles: US 8 (5.0 mm) ChiaoGoo Red Lace circulars
Started/Completed: October 30/November 3
Mods: shortened the sleeves by one inch
I will readily admit that I did not swatch for this sweater; frankly, I usually don't for baby sweaters. (The way I see it, babies come in all shapes and sizes, but their sweaters usually aren't very big, and in the time it would take me to swatch, wash the swatch, and wait for it to dry so I could measure it, I could already be halfway done with the sweater.) Generally I err on the side of being too large, because a sweater that is too big can always be worn later when the kid grows into it, but a sweater that is too small won't get worn at all. I selected my needle size using a trick I think I read on Ravelry years ago: I doubled a length of my yarn and pulled it through the holes in my needle gauge until I found a hole that was filled comfortably by the yarn without having to yank it through. As it happened, that method gave me the same needle size specified in the pattern.
I decided to make the larger size after calculating the rough chest circumference using the given gauge to allow just a little more room; if the baby ends up being on the slender side, there will still be a little positive ease to allow for layering. I made the length of the sleeves an inch shorter than specified, though, because babies generally don't need extra long sleeves. The body does look a little long in comparison, but I don't think an extra bit of fabric can hurt for a winter baby.
I'm still kind of amazed at how fast this project went (though it's probably something to do with the fact that I'm used to knitting things at a much smaller gauge). I cast on for it on a Sunday night after putting Rainbow to bed and had completed the raglan increases and put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn by the time I went to bed. I think somewhere in the span I also took a night off from it to do some spinning, so it probably only took about four evenings to do the whole thing. That's a winning project in my book -- now I know I can whip this one up if I need a baby gift in a hurry! The pattern is a free one and is pretty well written; if you've done a top-down raglan before, you'll know exactly what you're doing. The one thing that I really liked about it was the directions for picking up for the button bands and collar; because the first stitch of every row is slipped, there's no counting to do -- you just pick up one stitch in every slipped edge stitch and one for every stitch along the cast on edge at the neck. Easy peasy!
So now this baby has a blanket and a sweater. There's handspun leftover, too, so it looks like he's going to be getting a hat as well!