Five Tips (…and then some) for Yarny Baby Gifts

It is over halfway through 2021 and I’m debating if people even still ‘blog’. However, I have lots of projects and patterns in the queue that I want to publish on here, if only because then *I* will have access to them all over the globe, instead of in memo form on my phone, which I’m pretty sure will either spontaneously combust or be destroyed by one of my 3 small kids much sooner for which I’m mentally prepared.

Speaking of kids, I found this draft written in 2014 (!!!) and don’t know why I never published it. I wrote it as a brand new mom of a 3 month old baby at the time. Since then, I had two more babies in the space of 2 years, bringing our household (at the time) to 3 babies 3.5 and under, and I still vehemently agree with everything I discovered below. I’ve also added a few more lessons I’ve realized since then. Of course, every parent is completely entitled to their own opinion, but I’ve yet to meet a new parent that’s like “ooh yeah, doing up 85 buttons is like my most favorite thing ever…”

And now… all the way back from 2014…

For the two people that may see this post, I’ve got several patterns percolating in the queue coming soon, I promise!  I packed up all of my pattern schtuff in April when we left China, I’ve moved four times since, gave birth, and have finally arrived in Chile Dominican Republic for the next two years.  Turns out the State Dept can change plans on you whenever they want, so instead of the land of the llamas, I’m now in the craziest city on a tropical island of average daily temperature of 85 degrees.  Not so conducive to all the sweaters and hats I’d planned for my own baby.  Meh.  More gifts to give away!

Speaking of gifts, I’ve been making baby gifts for about six years now.  When I first started, I operated under an ‘everything is an experiment’ mode since I didn’t have my own baby or baby-donning experience.  Over the years I obsessively researched patterns, making what I thought was super cute.  Now, after three months, I’m totally a baby expert (right?), but I will say that a few things have come to my attention as a Really Lazy Clothing Mom.

1) Shoes/booties.  I don’t know about you, but my baby kicks.  And when he kicks, he doesn’t like, flail his little legs cutely in the air (at least, he didn’t at first, but he’s just now flailing his legs cutely and grabbing his own feet and pulling everything off), he smashed and rubbed them against the surface of whatever he was laying on, and all his socks immediately get frictioned off.  So when I made cute little kimono booties recently and showed them to my husband, his response was ‘I dunno, they look nice and all, but knowing how easily everything comes off baby feet they’re totally useless’.  Yep.  They totally are. (2021 update: booties are still pretty useless on babies. They’re cute for photo ops and photos of the actual booties themselves.)

2) ANYTHING that buttons up the back.  I’ve seen tons of darling sweaters with ‘cute buttons’ up the back.  Turns out, buttons suck in general.  Snaps are also annoying, but at least they’re doable down the front. (Note: trying to change a diaper in the middle of the night with a frantically kicking, starving baby and THEN trying to do up all. those. snaps. made me purchase all future sleepers with zippers only.)  I’ve had a few shirts that had two snaps on the collar to stretch over the baby’s head and I usually don’t end up doing them since my baby basically has no neck.  Don’t try to be all French-stylish and make clothes with buttons up the back.  Do your moms a solid and put them on the front so they can lay their babies down.

(2021 update: I still don’t like buttons up the back, but when the baby can sit up I suppose it’s technically an option. I did once have a friend who showed me a knitted romper her mother in law made… it had long pant legs and about 40 buttons all up and down the legs. My first thought was, ‘How long did that take?!’, quickly followed by ‘it’s such a shame the baby will never wear it.’ Do yourself a favor and don’t spend the time knitting all those buttonholes and sewing the buttons on. Not worth it.)

3) Hats with rolled or folded brims.  I’ve been told several times that my crocheted hats stayed put when other hats all fell off, and I was flattered and all, but it’s true – loose brims = loose hat.  I lovingly knit this cabled beanie for my baby in the hospital, turned up the cuff as per newborn, and that darned thing never stayed on.  Try to keep your hat brims tight, like those baby swaddles so your baby doesn’t keep waking himself up twelve times a night by punching himself in the face…

4) Anything using fuzzy yarn that they might put in their mouths.  I found these gorgeous balls of alpaca/acrylic (is there such a thing?) yarn at A.C. Moore for $1 and originally was going to make a baby sweater, but a Chinese lady at the Chinese yarn shop admonished me to reconsider, since you don’t want lots of sheddy things in your baby’s mouth.  That makes sense, especially now watching my innocent child suck on anything and everything and finding lint between his fingers from being wet all day.  The baby birdy rattle I made out of Caron Simply Soft may have to be re-rendered in cotton.

5) I’ve said this before, and my view hasn’t changed – please don’t give a new mom anything that can’t be washed and dried with everything else unless she specifically requested it or is a fellow yarner.  There simply isn’t enough time to sort out delicates when doing baby laundry, and given the potential bodily fluids that can erupt all over your handmade creation, you as the creator have to be okay with it being scrubbed and pounded and ferociously agitated.  That, or thrown away.  Your choice.

Some additional experiences I’ve had, now that my ‘babies’ are all grown up with opinions of their own:

  • If you’re looking to make your baby adorable sweaters and jackets etc., recognize how much time it may take you vs. how lightning fast babies grow. I can’t tell you how many unfinished projects I have because I foolishly thought I would have time to make my babies things AFTER they were born. Turns out… I never have time. Ever.
  • Make the cutesy stuff you’ve always loved for your babies before they can talk. Because then they can talk, and usually the first words they say are ‘NO I don’t WANT IT!’ and then your poor maker/parent heart is all sad and broken (wait what?)
  • One day, you’ll envision yourself making this nice, sophisticated blue sweater for your daughter and she’ll come back with ‘I want pink sleeves and purple trim and UNICORN BUTTONS EVERYWHERE’ and said item will be hideous, and she might not ever wear it… but keep it anyway. It’s a moment of time when your daughter loved pink and purple and unicorns that you’ll never get back.

As I wipe away my tears of nostalgia, what are some tips you as yarny makers have for little ones??

Hat Not Hate Pattern Lineup

Hat Not Hate Pattern Lineup

Here is a list of all the patterns I used for my recent contribution to Lion Brand Yarn’s #hatnothate campaign. You can read more about it on their website. (Left): Bulky Knitted Hat by Close Knit Portland (@closeknitpdx) (Right): Ribbed … Continue reading

Bulky Knitted Kid’s Hat

In late 2018, I stumbled across Lion Brand’s #hatnothate campaign, a movement geared towards anti-bullying. The founder requested blue hats (the color against bullying… I didn’t know this was a thing, but there it is) to be worn or mailed to their offices. It was too late for me to mail any hats in, but I made a few blue hats and vowed to be more timely this year.

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Early 2018 coincided with both 1) the birth of my (miracle!) third baby in 3.5 years and 2) the diagnosis of my 3 year old with autism. It also followed closely on the heels of moving to Slovakia in late 2017. Suffice to say I was quite overwhelmed with life, but the well-being of my children is the first and foremost important priority, especially in a lifestyle as hectic as ours. Thankfully, we have been blessed with a marvelous pre-K teacher for my son, along with friendly and loving classmates. I know the road ahead won’t be easy for him, and his beloved personality quirks may be met with resistance by his future peers. I am ashamed to admit that I have been both bullied and a bullier. The best I can do is to teach my own children to be compassionate and understanding, with the hope that they will grow up to be better adults than me.

I purchased ten #hatnothate wooden tags from the Lion Brand website with the ambitious task of mailing ten blue hats to their New Jersey office before the first of August. My first step was to gather all of my blue scraps. I was thrilled to find that with just a few small balls of Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick, I was able to squeeze out three hats!

Here is the ‘quick and dirty’ pattern below, for my own future reference and for you!

MATERIALS

Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick (or other super bulky yarn) – I used scraps of two contrasting colors to make a striped hat

Size 13 circular knitting needles 16″

DPNs, size 13

PATTERN

Using main color, cast on 38 stitches to circular needle

Rows 1-6: alternate k1, p1 (1×1 ribbing)

Rows 7-8: knit around

Rows 9-10: switch to second color, knit around

Rows 11-12: switch back to main color, knit around

Continue with stripes until you have seven stripes total, ending with a stripe of main color

Row 21: switch to second color, knit around

Row 22: continuing with second color, k2, k2tog (you will have 2 stitches at the end of the row, knit each stitch individually)

Row 23: switch to main color, knit around

Row 24: k1, k2tog (knit last two stitches individually)

Row 25: switch to second color AND knit onto DPNs

Row 26: k2tog

Cut yarn, weave tail through remaining live stitches and cinch tightly. Fasten off.

Notes: when knitting stripes in the round, carry the alternate color up on the right side every time you switch colors. This prevents gaps. Give the yarn a little tug to tighten up the last stitch from 2 rows below and with the bulky yarn there was barely a noticeable jog in the stripes.

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The joins on the inside of the hat

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The seam runs down the middle of this photo

Enjoy this pattern!

Crochet Owl + Kitty Hat Pattern

This owl has been one of my favorite hats to make over the ten years of my crocheting history. I’ve finally written up an official pattern to share with all of you! It can be easily modified to create a kitty hat, and can use either double crochet or single crochet (or really, half double crochet or any other stitch you want). The detailed PDF is available for purchase on Ravelry, Etsy or directly from my website. Hope you have as much fun making these hats as I have!

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Preemie Crochet Baby Hats Day 3: The Animals

Today’s hats are my favorite of the bunch… the cute animals!! I love that these can be unisex and I think it’s a truth universally acknowledged that tiny ears and eyes on anything baby related is just too adorable.

I’m saving the ducky hat for another day and cover the ‘ears/eyes’ today.

Pattern

The body of the hat is the basic beanie hat. Today’s ‘pattern’ is essentially finishing instructions.

Birdy

The birdy hat is super simple. Make the basic beanie body. As a little touch at the end, I changed the last row to very thin ‘fluffy’ white yarn. Some hospitals are very sensitive to anything other than plain acrylic, so you could also just use regular white yarn.

I sewed on tiny black buttons (make sure they are super secure) and used about 12″/24cm of yellow to stitch on a small beak. That’s it!

Teddy Bear/Frog

These ears are a modification of my original little bear ears pattern. I made them a bit differently for the frog and bear, you can decide which you like better.

Teddy Bear

Make your basic beanie body. With bears I like to use two shades of brown, dark for the body and tan for the trim and insides of ears. Fasten off and weave in all ends.

Ears (make 2):

Row 1: Using tan yarn, ch2, 9 hdc into first ch (or use a magic circle).

Row 2: Switch to dark brown, ch1, turn, *2 sc in first st, 1 sc in next st*, repeat to end of row.

Row 3: ch1, turn, 1 sc in each st across. Fasten off, leaving long brown tail to attach ear to hat. Weave in all the other ends.

Sew ears firmly to hat. I fold the ears a little bit while I’m sewing so they stand up better.

Frog

Make your basic beanie body. I like to use light green for the body and red for the trim. For the frog I wanted the middle part to be larger to make space for the black button eyes so I modified the pattern a bit.

Eyes (make 2):

Row 1: Using white yarn, ch3, 9 DC into first ch (or use magic circle).

Row 2: Switch to green yarn. Ch1, turn, 1 hdc in each st across. Fasten off, leaving long green tail to sew to hat.

I like to use one of the white yarn ends to directly sew the black buttons in the middle of the eye(s), it saves me less ends to weave in. If you choose to do the same, make your starting white tail about 8 inches long to accommodate the extra sewing.

That’s it! Super cute itty bitty animal hats. Happy crocheting!!