Friday, May 2, 2014

The Sweetest Thing

This design started a few months ago.  I was stuck on a name for a design I was going to publish soon.  I don't even remember which pattern it was...maybe the Cobblestone Hat & Cowl?  Anyway, I was lamenting to my husband that I had hit a creative block and was having trouble coming up with a name.

When the two of us are in need of a little uninterrupted time for conversation, we like to head to a little coffee shop near our house.  We like it because it's an easy date and it includes coffee and chocolate muffins (ok, they're just cupcakes without the frosting!).  The kids like it because they can play computer games and eat junk food without their pesky parents trying to harsh their mellow.  It's win-win.

Once at the coffee shop, we staked out claim on the big couch in front of the little fireplace.  As I often do, I tried turning to music for inspiration for naming the pattern I was stuck on.  My husband was throwing out gobs of names that night, and though none of them were right for the pattern du jour, many of them were great names and conjured up images of future patterns.  Today's release was one of them: The Sweetest Thing, inspired by the U2 song of the same name, was an easy pattern to imagine.  What are the sweetest details I could imagine for a baby dress?  Well, it would have to start out a simple shape - nothing fussy.  So I went with the classic "empire-waist bodice with a full skirt" outline.  OF COURSE it would have to have tiny puffed sleeves.  And after browsing a number of stitch pattern books, I knew this hem of lacy scallops would be just the right detail to really set it off - still simple to do and not fussy-looking, but striking.

I also knew just what yarn I wanted to use.  A couple summers ago I was in a yarn shop near my sister's house in Wisconsin and I bought two skeins of Manos del Uruguay "Serena" yarn.  It's a baby alpaca/cotton blend.  It's so soft to the touch, with a mild the photos it looks just as soft as it is in real life.  My only frustration with this yarn is that it's labeled as "sport", but when I knit it on side 3 and 4 needles, the fabric was really thin and full of holes.  It was only when I went down to a US 2 1/2 (and I'm a pretty "average" knitter in terms of stitch tightness) that I got a fabric I was happy with - and it was 28 stitches to 4".  To me, that's a lighter fingering weight yarn, not a sport.  So don't be confused when you look at the yarn recommendation - I labeled it as a lighter fingering weight because that's how this yarn acts, in my opinion, regardless of what it says on the label.

The little wooden buttons I used were from a shop we visited during our trip to Ontario last summer.  Knitca is located in Mississauga, right outside Toronto.  They are an on-line retailer as well, and man, do they have buttons!

So with my dress plan all written up, I needed to find a baby who could model it for me.  Fortunately, I belong to a little "mom's club" where I am one of the few "old ladies" of the group.  Where my kids are junior-high aged, the vast majority of the moms in this group have kids who are still in grade school or younger.  And a few of them are still in their baby-having years!  One mom was blessed with twins last fall, and was willing to let her baby girl be my little model for this dress.  And the timing worked out well - we got our photo shoot in just before Easter, so this little pixie got a special handmade Easter dress!

So between the cuteness of this baby and the sweetness of the dress, I've been very excited to share with you my new pattern: The Sweetest Thing.  It's written for babies & toddlers sized 3 mo - 24 mo.  I'm on my second one now, this time done in Lorna's Laces "Solemate".  Plenty of stockinette if you like "tv knitting", with just enough details to make you feel like you've really made something special.  Keep it in mind next time you need a first birthday dress, something for baby to wear to church or a summer wedding, or, with a little extra length added in the skirt, I can see this as a gorgeous baptism gown!