How to be a good parent? How do you insert idyllic experiences into your child's life? I mean apart from the love, comfort, shelter, love, security, food, warmth and endless love that you provide on a day-to-day basis. I suppose that our children will look back on their childhoods and the things that they will remember as being special will be things that we provided inadvertently. There was a small orange and brown suitcase with a picture of a clown on it which I kept my matchbox cars in that I think back on with great fondness. I don't think that my mother could have anticipated this. There are also photos of me in handknits and hand-crocheted items, I'm thinking particularly of a multi-coloured matinee jacket that my mother crocheted which I still have. Looking at those photos when I got older let me know that I was special.
So, it is important to me that baby bear have handknits; besides which, I love to knit.
The Vital Statistics
Pattern: 9-12 month size baby bobble jacket from Debbie Bliss' Cotton knits for all seasons : 25 projects for babies, children, and adults.
Yarn: 250 grams of cotton recycled from a Country Road jumper that I bought at a Salvation Army op shop for $4.50. There is quite a bit left.
Needles: 4mm and 4.5mm metal straights. The pattern calls for 2.75mm and 3.25mm needles but as I substituted yarn I changed the needles accordingly. Usually I knit with bamboo needles but found that the cotton caught too much on them so used the metals instead - not as pleasant a knitting experience.
Comments: I'm very pleased with how this project has turned out bc I substituted yarn and played around with the pattern a bit. The pattern calls for Debbie Bliss wool/cotton which knits at a gauge of 25 stitches per 10 centimetres (and which I notice has been discontinued in any case). The cotton that I used knits up at 22 sts per 10 cms (so more of an 8 ply) but this was ok as I want the jacket to fit baby bear beyond 12 months. In terms of how long to make the pieces I judged by the photo in the pattern, although this turned out not to be so successful as I did have to frog back the half repeat on the sleeves. I'm so glad that I did bc as you can see they are still almost a little too long. I often knit the sleeves first but where you are playing around with variables like gauge, knitting the back first would be wiser.
I also cut out the button band and one of central cables from the front, and a garter stitch panel and cable from the back, otherwise the garment was going to be preposterously wide. This obviated the need to make button holes (hooray); what I did instead was knit in garter stitch for 5 sts on one side front, and a 4-st wide cable plus one knit st on the other. I then used clear plastic press-studs instead of buttons.
I think that I may have misjudged a bit with where I started the decreases for the V-neck (I started at the beginning of the fifth pattern repeat) as it could have been deeper. Also, bc I had omitted stitches to make the fronts narrower I ended up decreasing on the actual stitch pattern, rather than across garter stitch and this was a bit tricky.
As for the actual pattern - construction-wise it's pretty simple and I loved the stitch repeat. I really enjoy complex patterns, the trepidation and intense concentration with which you knit the first repeat, the sense of accomplishment on the next couple as you get into the swing, the excitement of understanding the internal logic of how all the stitches fit together, the fact that you hardly even need the pattern by the time you knit the last repeat. Bobbles - I like knitting bobbles, however, I do suspect that the instructions given in this pattern for bobbles (work k1, p1, k1, p1, k1 into next st, turn, p5, turn, k5, pass 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th st over first and off the needle) produce a different bobble to that which is illustrated in the photo that accompanies the pattern.* And there is a bit of short-row shaping in the collar which I hadn't encountered before but think is a great idea - it makes the collar wider at the centre back than it is at either end so that it sits nicely.
Oh yes, baby bear is also a bollewangenhaptoet.
* Nora Gaughan employs a great non-turning bobble technique in her Droplet Hat in Knitting Nature: 39 designs inspired by Patterns in Nature which works on a similar principle to i-cord.