Most of us fiber folk find our fingers itching when we hear about new babies coming. There is something exciting about creating a gift to celebrate a baby’s birth. Of course, if the baby is a new addition to your own family – well, all the stops come out!
When my daughter announced she was expecting, she made me promise I would not knit anything for the baby out of cashmere. “Wool is fine,” she said, “as long as it is machine washable.” My plans dashed (I had just the cashmere), I decided I would knit something that would have a longer life than a baby sweater set. After browsing through stacks of pattern books and magazines, I chose a pattern from a Dale of Norway magazine.
The pattern was unusual. It was knit in a single piece but consisted of a series of 24 patterned squares (6 of each pattern: single heart, tulip, butterfly, and eight little hearts) laid out with 4 squares horizontally and 6 rows of squares vertically. In between each vertical row is a 19-stitch lace pattern. A picot row separates each horizontal row. A simple crochet lace edging borders it.
Many non-fiber people were horrified I chose to knit a baby blanket out of wool. They argued it wasn’t soft, it would scratch the baby, it couldn’t be washed, etc. But we fiber folk know better: Merino is a very soft wool; it would be warmer than any other of his blankets. Many wools are processed so they are machine washable (though I recommend always flat drying). Best of all, use a high-quality wool and it will last and keep its shape very well.
My grandson came home wrapped in the blanket. It was the blanket my daughter used to tuck around him in the jogging stroller on cold mornings. Though he doesn’t use it often now, it is always folded on the foot of his bed.
I knit it out of Dale of Norway’s “Baby Ull” – a machine washable merino wool. I knew my daughter wanted something colorful and away from the pink-blue dichotomy that was popular with earlier generations. So I chose this color I think of as “Granny Smith Apple” green.
When his sister joined the family two years later, I knit her the same blanket out of the same fiber but this time in a strong raspberry color. A very vocal four-year old, my granddaughter still calls the blanket her “mi-mi” – why, I have no idea. As it’s not English, Norwegian or Arabic (she has a paternal grandparent from Lebanon), I guess it’s just child-speak. 🙂
If you are a new(er) knitter and reluctant to knit a baby blanket out of wool, remember wool is a wonderful natural fiber for babies. Making a blanket or layette set out of a wool spun for baby yarn will ensure the baby stays warm and comfy. And as long as the yarn is machine washable, the new parents will be happy too. (I also suggest that when giving your hand knit gift, include a little card explaining the wool you selected and recommended washing!)