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Jack & Rams

Jack O. with Rams & Yowes blanket, designed by Kate Davies. Knit by Jennifer Heinlein using Brown Sheep Nature Spun Fingering.

Okay, so he’s really more of a WIP, but Baby Jack arrived safe and sound on January 22 — just one day ahead of his due date.  He’s sweet and cheerful, sleeps while the dogs are yodeling, and even lets me knit occasionally!  John and I are positively smitten with our little boy!

The second most amazing thing to happen to me this year has been the outpouring of fiber love for Jack.  My friends, students, and customers are truly amazing — case in point is the Rams & Yowes blanket knit by Jen!  Ready for a story?  We’d intended to have our own knitalong for this project during our 2012 TKGA Grand Retreat trip, and planned far in advance how we’d modify the original neutral palette with shades of blue.  We downloaded our patterns, packed up all the yarn, made sure we had lots of needle options, and set off on our journey halfway across the country only to find that we’d made a mistake in figuring out the contrast between colorways — or so we thought!  Jen came to discover that our addled, road-weary brains were wrong, and our color choices would work just fine — and she didn’t tell me.  Fast forward nearly two years later, and I haven’t had the chance to work on this epic knitting project at all.  I’ve been meaning to sit down and look at the colors, but it just hasn’t happened yet.  Last month, Jen came out to visit and meet Jack.  She nonchalantly hands me a gift bag. . . and inside is the MOST EPIC BLANKET EVER.  Beautifully knit, perfectly steeked, and masterfully backed with super cozy fabric, perfect for little fingers to stroke while falling asleep.  What a lucky baby — what a lucky me!  Touché, my friend.  Epic knitting touché.

As a knitter, I know how much love and effort goes in to every project.  I can’t imagine a more generous gift than a handknit (or crocheted!) blanket for a new baby.  The countless stitches, hours of focused concentration, and of course the cost of materials are all things I think about when preparing to give my own handmade gifts, and I am so deeply appreciative of the amazing items Jack has received.  Think about it — who better to understand your efforts than another knitter?  Thank you all so much!  I promise to drive you crazy with lots and lots of photos of Jack in his handknits!

Things to consider when knitting for baby (or any gift item, really!)
How will the item be used, and for how long?
Newborn sweaters are adorable and so handy for winter babies, but don’t fit for long — if it’s important to you to see the baby wear it, knit a larger size to increase your odds!
What kind of care will it require, and is the recipient up to the task?
I love wool and am happy to handwash items, but this isn’t true for everyone!
For garments: how chunky is the yarn, and what size are you making?
I’ve found that anything heavier than worsted yarn used for a winter sweater makes it difficult for Jack to move his arms around comfortably — he’s just too small!  Save the thicker yarns for 12 months and up, or make sure that the yarn you choose and the final fabric of your knit is nice and flexible.
How will you feel if the recipient passes the item along to a friend or family member or offers to return it to you when they’re done with it?
This is an interesting situation that has arisen a few times in my knitting circles.  While I would be honored that someone treasured my work enough to share it with people they care about, not everyone feels the same.  I’ve also had items returned to me when they’re outgrown, with the idea that I might want it for my own children.  I think that this is quite considerate, but again, not everyone agrees!  I’ve known a few knitters to be deeply upset by similar offers.  How might you react?

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