As much as I adore Elizabeth Zimmermann, until recently I didn’t have a single EZ FO to my name. You may remember the Tomten Disaster of 2007. What? You don’t commit to memory every woe I blog about? Well, there was a Tomten Disaster that involved running out of yarn, moaning about it all over the internets, and having a very kind person coming to my rescue. Only, by then the Tomten Mojo had weakened, and I couldn’t finish before warm weather arrived and obviated the need for bulky hooded sweaters. I still have high hopes for a pair of Tomtens (this spring, perhaps?).
Many nights I bring one of my three EZ books to bed. I don’t know why, but I find it endlessly entertaining to read the same chapters over and over again, and stare at those same dim black-and-white photographs, and imagine them in colors of my choosing. I finally decided to do something about it, and in December joined a Knitter’s Almanac KAL on Ravelry. I don’t know if I’ll actually follow the book month-by-month, because I’ve got plenty of other knitting goals this year, but for now I’m having a lot of fun letting Mrs. Zimmermann lead the way for me.
So when I realized that my sons’ Co-Op Preschool would be having a Silent Auction in February, it didn’t take me long to figure out what I’d be making. With no babies in my own life to knit for, especially of the female persuasion, I jumped at the chance to make my first ever February Baby Sweater….
pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles (February Baby Sweater) from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac
yarn: Socks that Rock, Heavyweight, in Tanzanite, ~3/4 skein (~262 yds)
needles: KP Options, size 5
cast on: January 15
finished: January 22
modifications: I didn’t make buttonholes as I went along, primarily because I forgot (the pattern doesn’t make them explicit when you would expect). When I realized I had left the first one out, I decided to keep going and add afterthought buttonholes later. Only once I got done with both the sweater and the matching hat, I had approximately 10 inches of yarn left. I didn’t think that would be enough to do the buttonholes. So I went a different route, and tried snaps for the first time ever.
In the end, I was pleased that I had forgotten the original buttonholes, because it gave me the opportunity to consider my preferences for buttons after the sweater was complete. I got to try out multiple options before committing, and I quite liked the effect of the two buttons at the top. The buttons themselves were so sweet – little lilac shell buttons that were ridiculously hard to photograph.
[For a truly inspired February Baby Sweater closure, check out Minty’s amazing version.]
In terms of other mods, I also knit the body first, just because that’s what feels most natural to me, and then knit the sleeves in the round, because why seam? (I’m still a little perplexed as to why the Queen of Seamless would have us knit these flat).
verdict: There’s a reason this pattern is so popular. It knits up quick and easy, and the final effect is what I would actually call heirloom quality. Such a beautiful baby cardigan, and not in a frilly or frou-frou way. This is going to be my new go-to baby sweater, at least for baby girls.
The Socks that Rock was a great squishy option for this sweater, and the color was amazing. Yardage is great too, but I overestimated how much stuff I could make from one skein. My original plan was a sweater, a hat, and a pair of Saarjte’s bootees, but as it was I barely had enough to finish the hat. Next time I might use Dream in Color Smooshy, which looks to have enough yardage for all three.
Speaking of the hat:
pattern: Just a basic baby hat with garter brim and gull lace. I cast on 63 (9 pattern repeats) and decreased based on how I estimated I was doing yardage-wise. If you’re looking to do one of these, teeweewonders has great instructions in her Ravelry notebook.
yarn: Socks that Rock, Tanzanite (color not true in above picture), heavyweight, ~1/4 skein (~88 yards)
cast on: January 24
finished: January 25
verdict: I love it, especially with the shell button embellishment.
fabric: Folklore Doily in lilac for front, Full Moon Forest Rabbits in purple for the back, both from reprodepot
started: January 25
finished: January 28
modifications: none that were intentional
notes: I screwed up in multiple ways in the beginning and never fully recovered.
#1 – I failed to take into consideration the directional nature of the rabbit fabric when cutting. There were two ways to deal with this once it was done (given that I did not buy extra fabric). I could’ve kept the dimensions as they were and let the bunnies run horizontally across the back (as opposed to vertically, which is how I’d envisioned them). Or I could cut all the fabric smaller to make the rabbits run vertically. That’s what I did, which resulted in a blanket that was smaller and more squarish than the pattern indicates. That was not ideal but it was all right (it also means I got to keep a few scraps of the yummy rabbit fabric).
#2 – When I traced the template onto the front fabric, I didn’t get it square. So the scallops on the final side did not meet up right. Instead of completely re-drawing, I tried to fudge it. So a couple of the scallops on one side were not quite the same size as the rest. I thought it wasn’t that noticeable, but when I look at pictures now I realize it was more noticeable than I thought.
#3 – After this mess, I – for reasons I can no longer recall and surely make no sense at all – decided to disregard the directions and cut the fabric along the scallops instead of using the scallop line as my sewing line and then cutting. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. This made for nearly disastrous sewing, as I attempted to sew all the scallops 1/8″ from the cut edge. It would have been soooo much easier (and faster!) to sew on a drawn curve than that close to a cut curve. This made making the blanket not near the joy it could’ve been, and it made the scallops turn out less even than they should’ve been.
verdict: If you can avoid making stupid mistakes, this pattern could not be simpler or more delightful. It makes a super-cute little blanket. And I am totally in love with the front fabric:
In retrospect, I should not have contributed this to the auction, as I am completely embarrassed now when I look at the photos. I thought perhaps I could make another one just like it, but better, to send to the person who bought it, but now I see that the rabbit fabric is no longer available. I still might try again, with a different back fabric. I know now that the key to getting it right is making sure to square up everything when drawing the scallops from the template.
In the end, the Silent Auction was a success. The school raised several thousand dollars, I got a steal on a child-sized solid wood table and chairs, and my little baby set sold, for $50. Less than the cost of materials, but I had feared it wouldn’t sell at all.
I am sold, too.
On Elizabeth Zimmermann!