Saturday, April 26, 2008

So Worth It

Tell me that all the sewing up and pushing ends out of the way wasn't completely worth it.

Pattern: Bear in Lamb Sleep Suit by Debbie Bliss in The Baby Knits Book
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino in colorways Natural Mix (approx. half a skein), Aran (approx. half a skein), and Black (approx. a quarter of a skein)
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) dpns and circs
Started/Completed: April 11/April 25
Mods: eliminated some unnecessary cutting/reattaching of yarn, thereby eliminating unnecessary seaming

This pattern makes for an adorable toy, but I won't lie to you -- it is a lot of work. There are lots of little pieces to knit, resulting in lots of yarn tails and lots of seams to sew. Contrary to popular opinion, I never intended to weave in those ends. I always planned on hiding them inside (and using them as extra stuffing!); my complaint about them had more to do with the fact that they constantly got in the way. Try seaming three small pieces together when there are about 8 yarn tails hanging in the way!

I did eliminate some unnecessary (in my opinion) steps in the pattern. Ms. Bliss asks you to do some shaping by working half the stitches back and forth, cutting the yarn, reattaching it to the other half of the stitches, and then working all the stitches together again. This means two yarn ends to deal with and an extra seam to sew at the end. Considering that you're dealing with four pieces for the head alone, I didn't think it would hurt to simplify things. Instead of cutting the yarn, I simply put a stitch marker between the two sets of stitches and worked the shaping for each side at the same time.

Here's an example, the leg:
Debbie Bliss says: "Cast on 26 sts. Work 5 rows in st st. Next row: P13, turn. Cont in st st, work on this set of sts only. Dec one sts at beg of next row and foll atl row, then at end of foll row. 10 sts. Break off yarn and rejoin at inside edge to second set of 13 sts, p to end." The shaping is then repeated on the second set of 13 sts, and then all 20 remaining stitches are worked together.

Here's what I did: After working the five rows in stockinette (placing a marker at the center of the row), I worked a decrease at the beginning of the row, before the marker, after the marker, and at the end fo the row; repeated that shaping on the following alternate row; and then decreased at the beginning and end of the next row. It requires a little bit of thought and attention to make sure all the decreases are in the right place, but to me it's well worth it not to have to deal with the extra finishing.

I feel I should also mention that part of the difficulty in this pattern is the fact that there's no schematic, so you have to just trust your instincts when it comes time to sew up everything. I'm still not completely convinced that I sewed the bear's head to his neck and not his bum, and I completely had to fudge sewing up the (for lack of a better word) crotch of the sleep suit. That said, if you've had a fair amount of finishing experience with other garments, you can probably muddle through as well as I did. Frankly, the hardest part came at the end, when I couldn't find three matching buttons of the right size and in an appropriate color for the suit! (The ones I ended up with aren't a perfect match, but they were close enough.)

I'm glad I finished this when I did, mostly because it's in time for Aidan's birthday, but also because the weather has been reminding us this week that this is no time to be working on a wool sweater. Even Mr. Bear couldn't stand to wear his sleep suit for very long during his photo shoot earlier today:


  1. I can't blame the poor little guy for wanting to undo his buttons, it was hot out there today!

    The thought of sewing his head to his butt is really funny, but maybe that's just a sign that it's time for me to go to bed.

    I hope Aidan loves Mr. Bear!

  2. I feel your pain regarding seaming and weaving in ends. Mr. Bear is adorable; did you make him a swimsuit for the hotter climes?

  3. So cute! Sure to become an Aidan favorite!

    I've noticed that with DB patterns - they tend to favor knit flat with a butt ton of finishing (much of it, I agree, unnecessary).

  4. Anonymous8:21 AM

    He is soo great. But I think if I was to do him, I would knit each of the legs in the round. Connect them with the body (stopping to stuff when halfway through the body).

    add on the arms almost the same way and do the same with head (only going down) to eliminate all extra pieces but for the ears.

    OTOH - can't see doing him twice, which is what it would take to figure it out.

    Thanks for all the details, it helps!

  5. That little Teddy Bear Snowmobile suit is just the perfect finishing touch!!

  6. Anonymous9:15 PM

    That's adorable!! What a lot of work though. I bow down to you!

    I had a similar issue with a Bliss pattern with no schematics. It makes no sense.

  7. So cute! Definitely worth the effort : )