FO: Umaro baby blanket

Hello, Woollydaze here…

As I mentioned in my last post, our farm worker and his wife had a little baby girl at the beginning of lambing. Obviously we’ve known that she’s on her way for quite a number of months. So how come her handmade knitted present was, as usual, being made at the very last minute? Mr Woollydaze is very tolerant of the ‘I must knit 10 rows a night!’ proclamations and has learnt to make encouraging noises at suitable moments.

I think problem number one was that this is a special baby who required a special present. This means research, thought and planning. Searching of Ravelry. Conversations with Woollydaze Too about the suitability of a pattern or the wool. Eventually something clicks – in the case when Brooklyn Tweed published his Umaro blanket pattern in December 2010 – and I knew I’d found the right gift.

Problem number two was finding the right wool when I planned to use completely the wrong wool. I did start off looking for a super chunky or chunky wool but couldn’t find anything that was machine washable, so in the end I went to my local wool shop and bought two big balls of cheap and cheerful aran in an ‘earthy’ shade.

Problem number three was the other knitting that needed to be done first. Things that perhaps aren’t so interesting or challenging, but have closer deadlines. Christmas present knitting, winter knitting, and ‘I must finish this before I start something else’ knitting. All must be completed.

Eventually it dawned that the due date of the baby was now about six weeks away and that, really, any responsible gift-giver would have the item finished, washed, blocked, dried and wrapped by now. And so the pattern was scrutinised, the needles were found, the first tentative casting-on was done. This is a lace pattern that uses techniques I’ve not used before: yarn overs between knit and purl stitches, for example. After knitting about 20 rows, it was clear that I wasn’t doing it properly and anyway, I’d lost track of where I was in the pattern.

So the whole thing was tinked and the clock was still ticking. I cast on again, consulted Mr Google about how to knit, and figured out what I was doing with the pattern. Then the midwife proclaimed that the baby was going to be early. Early? EARLY? There was no time for this baby to be early! And so the frantic knitting stage began.

Knitted in a super chunky wool as the pattern is written, this blanket would knit up quickly. In aran, it takes longer. I had increased the number of stitches width-wise and repeats length-wise and calculated that each row took about six minutes to knit, so an hour of knitting a night might get the job done in time. Mr Woollydaze, ever practical, reminded me that the present didn’t have to be finished for the birth of the baby. I claimed that was not the point, whilst knitting.

By about repeat three of eight, I had the gist of the pattern and it was rattling off the needles quite nicely. Time was the only factor; why must we work? Why can’t we sit and knit all day? Does Little Woolly really need a bath tonight? Minutes were clutched whilst drinking tea, whilst waiting for potatoes to boil, whilst driving to a work photoshoot (although that last one wasn’t a great plan as the roads were windy and I ended up feeling car-sick).

And then suddenly, almost magically, the lace patterning was done, the moss stitch edging was done, the blanket was cast off. I washed it (in the washing machine), blocked it, photographed it, wrapped it, and twiddled my thumbs waiting for the baby to arrive. She was not early. She was not particularly late. She was practically on time. And once she decided it was time, she really got on with it. And I’m delighted that her present was ready and waiting. I almost feel like I planned it that way.

Ravelry link here.

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