A baby cardigan is always a lovely thing to knit. A striped baby cardigan is particularly adorable. In these gloomy and sad times, the joy of a new baby makes a teeny cardigan a particularly hopeful garment!
I don’t know about you but I’m finding it increasing difficult to focus on creativity at the moment. And I’m constantly having to rip back or unpick or recut. Or all of the above.
Whilst I’m immensely grateful for my ability to create, and for the calm it brings me, I’m finding it tricky to focus on short rows, a simple design, or sewing anything correctly. This simple and quick little cardigan was a welcome distraction.
When I set to knitting this I dug out my baby knitting books from the archive (box at the back of a cupboard), and found that I didn’t have a single plain v-necked baby cardigan in any of them.
I’m not using Ravelry on principle at the moment. I stand in absolute solidarity with those who’ve experienced health problems as a result of their changes, and have been disappointed that after all the years of support from the knitting community, their response was so lacking.
I’m longing for the day that an alternative to Rav is launched. But to find this I pattern just did a quick Google search for “4 ply baby cardigan” and was directed to a sweet little Etsy shop that sells digitised vintage knitting patterns.
Paula’s Pattern Store is a treasure trove of adorable baby pdfs. My grandmother had box after box of such patterns. And years of Stitchcraft magazines. All of them were consigned to the bin on her death when I was 12. I often mourn their loss! Thanks to Paula, I was able to find exactly what I was looking for. A simple V necked 4 ply cardigan, knit flat and seamed. And for the princely sum of 51 pence.
As an aside, my cousin as been here for the last week remodelling our ensuite bathroom. He commented on how much I remind him of our grandmother. I know from family photographs that the women of our family have a certain look, going back generations. But he also commented that I always have some handwork on the go, whether stitching or knitting, and that very much reminded him of her. Thankfully, he reassured me I don’t have her personality. I don’t remember her as a kind woman, but she was an immensely talented knitter.
Back to the matter in hand. Because baby cardigans are so small, I actually prefer knitting them flat as it’s just simpler, and the seams take no time whatsoever. The seams also give the garment some stability, and thus help it maintain its shape, when it’s being taken on and off a small person with alarming regularity!
A conversation with my knitterly friends helped me decide on grey and white stripes as a good neutral. The sex of the baby isn’t known yet, so this feels like a safe, but modern choice. A two row stocking stitch stripe felt like the right proportions.
The yarn is Drops Baby Merino in White (01) and Light Grey (22). It’s squishy and soft, but also super-wash. Perfect for babies and busy mums. It’s also accessibly priced, which is a bonus these days when many are feeling the pinch.
The grey is coming up slightly green in my pictures, no matter how hard I try to correct it. But it’s definitely grey in real life.
I knit the second size. My babies were not tiny when they came home to us, but even then they grew out of clothes with alacrity (and still do!), so this can have the sleeves rolled up to start with and hopefully will get some wear before being handed on to another new baby in due course. I also swapped a picked up and knit button band for the original sewn on one. That’s a seam too far in my book!
One final decision to make was which side to put the buttonholes on. Another quick Google search led me to putting them on the baby’s right hand side, which hopefully will be easier for mum to wrangle. Turns out there’s a whole, and rather fascinating, socio-gender-historical discussion around buttonholes. Who knew?
This took no time to knit. Every evening I would sit and work on a section. By the time I’d watched a couple of episodes of Lovecraft Country (which is fabulous, if a little ‘splashy’ in parts and definitely recommended) one bit would be done and a second one cast on and good to go.
Simple knitting for troubled times. I highly recommend it. And I think the outcome is charming. I hope the new mum agrees.