Learning from Elizabeth, the February Baby Sweater

I’ve been remiss about posting my February Zimmermann project, The February Baby Sweater.  It was finished last month but lacked photographs which were finally taken this morning.  This is a classic baby sweater and there is not much I can add to the scores of knitters going before me who have sung its praises.

I knit it exactly as the pattern was written without any modifications because I wanted to experience the two needle sweater.  Since I was aware that Elizabeth Zimmermann never shies away from circular needles I figured there must be a reason she chose to knit this sweet sweater on straight knitting needles instead of circular needles.  It was also a rare opportunity to use my beautiful Harmony Needles which have ideal tips for knitting lace, sharp and pointy!

Elizabeth says that one fact all grandmothers agree upon is that no daughter-in-law knows how to wash wool.  Now I’m not a grandmother but I do knit for my grown daughters who have two different ideas about washing their woolens.  One just throws her socks in the washing machine with her clothes and then puts them in them in the dryer.  She loves her socks and thinks there is nothing better for cold feet than a pair of hand knit wool socks.  The other daughter thinks her woolens should be washed properly by hand.  Unfortunately, this daughter is my very busy daughter who has deemed this as an inconvenience in the laundry routine.  Guess which daughter has socks knit for her more often?

So, when I read Elizabeth’s opinion about daughter-in-laws I had to chuckle.  She does go on to say that it is better for the handmade offering to be shrunken and yellow than to be wrapped in tissue paper and never worn.  I guess we must resign ourselves to the fate of our knitting and rejoice in the fact that it is, at least, being worn.

Elizabeth gives the practical suggestion that baby things be knit in darker and less delicate colors to help the mother out.  I would agree but………..I can’t resist a baby in white, whether male or female.  White is just classic in my opinion.  But I did select a washable yarn to make the care of this sweater easier.

As stated above, I knit the sweater exactly as the pattern specified.  The sweater is described in the book as ‘practically seamless’ which was true.  The only seaming is the two inches on each sleeve, easy peasy.  I used the backward loop M1 (make one) on the yoke to do the increases in the yoke.  The buttonholes were placed one stitch in from the front edge and worked by doing a yarnover followed by a knit two together.

I enjoyed the process of how this sweater unfolded from my needles.  It is a brilliant design and one that I think I will make every February.  Babies are always being born!  The only modification I think I would do is with the buttonholes.  Instead of one stitch in from the front edge I think I would opt for two stitches in.  And next time, I will step out of my white box and knit a dark baby sweater!

The February Baby Sweater is a classic that will grow with the newborn infant for a surprising number of months – even years.

Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles, Practically Seamless

Source: Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac (February)

Needles: US 6 Harmony Straight Needles

Yarn: Rowan Cashsoft Baby DK, color 800, 2 skeins


7 Comments on “Learning from Elizabeth, the February Baby Sweater

  1. Awesome! I love, love, love it in white. It looks like a snowflake. I almost made those for my twin grand-nieces, but their mother isn’t all that keen on handknits. I’ll have to wait for a step-granddaughter.

  2. Lovely! No matter how many times I knit this sweater or see it knit, it never fails to enchant me.

  3. This is seriously adorable ! I have a new step grandchild about to be born in April. I am finishing up a rather dorky crib blanket this morning , and have decided two things : I hate knitting with cotton (dead fiber to knit, lovely to wear though) and, I need to try some baby clothes now !

  4. When I first read about your two daughters treatments of socks I was torn who I’d knit more socks for. But the more I thought about it, the more I decided I would do the same. My mom is constantly asking for a handknit of some variety or another, but everything I’ve made for her sits on a shelf because “it’s too precious to wear!”

    The sweater is lovely, BTW!

  5. Its absolutlely precious. I had forgotten about that sweater and need a baby present for someone at work. Fortunately she’s a knitter so understands the treatment of wool. 🙂

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