If I am to believe various online design resources,
- children require approximately 6″ of positive ease in their garments to be comfortable
- a three-month-old baby has a back waist length of 6″ and a chest size of 16″
- a baby of approximately that age also has an armhole depth of 3.25″, leaving the distance from armpit to waist 2.75″
- Nobody is very forthcoming about an appropriate neck size for a baby sweater, but thankfully this is a cardigan and I can put off such decisions for a later date, should I ever decide that I simply MUST design a baby pullover. Elizabeth Zimmermann suggests a neck size of 50% of the chest size, but I think even the most diminutive 3-month-old probably has a skull larger than 8″ in circumference. (Perhaps I am mistaken.)
Looking at these numbers, I must be misunderstanding something, like the definition of “underarm” or “length” or something, because I feel like a baby of these proportions would be incredibly wide, squatty and bizarre, like a wombat or a bulldog. Possibly a Dr. Moreau monster wombat with gorilla arms.
The basic point I’m getting to is that based roughly on these measurements, I came up with a quick-n-dirty baby sweater pattern (to be further refined) for a friend who’s expecting this week. About 3/4 of the way through the body (which I sized at 4″ from hem to underarm), I discovered I’d cast on 10 sts less than I thought I had, i.e. the chest measurement was about 1.5″ less than what I thought I had: about 16.5″ total, for only about 1/2″ ease instead of about 2″ ease as I’d planned.
Then, 3/4 of the way through the raglan, I realized I had accidentally forgotten to include the back stitches in my calculations for the decreases, and would wind up with a Tempting-style neckline if I didn’t take some fast action, and knit a Frankensteined compound raglan out of necessity.
The result, while apparently more or less adhering to the Yarn Standards idea of 3-month-old baby size, seemed drastically wrong in shape. The arms seem super long (though the cuffs can be rolled up, of course), the body seems super wide (despite being a couple inches smaller than I had planned for) and short–and this design is not one that is easily lengthened by picking up stitches and knitting downwards. I have a hard time believing babies are really this shape!
The sweater will be gifted as-is, but I’d like to write up the pattern and refine it for use with future babies. If you know of any good resources for accurate baby sizing, or if you have any helpful tips for sizing for babies, please do share! I have a few books with baby patterns in them (Last Minute Knitted Gifts, Knit 2 Together, The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, Knitter’s Workshop) but have little idea of how well these books actually reflect normal baby sizes, and the schematics are of varying degrees of detail and helpfulness.
I’m thinking that checking out some Debbie Bliss books from the library might be a good place to start for compiling a non-wombat baby schematic, as she’s famous for her baby designs, but really my master plan consisted of going to Target and measuring some baby clothes in various sizes. I know babies are not just shaped like miniature adults, but are their torsos really almost 3 times as wide as they are long? It should be easier to design for babies, because they’re small and not very sartorially sophisticated or demanding, but the free resources out there for baby sizes are much more scarce than the ones for adult women, it seems.
In other news, I’ve decided that manicures are vastly overrated. I got a manicure and pedicure tonight; hadn’t had either one in years and had forgotten all the unpleasantness that can go along with a manicure. I cut my nails very short, but they felt obligated to “shape” my nonexistent nail stubs, i.e. diligently apply an emery board to my fingertips like I was a safecracker on the lam and they were trying to rub off my fingerprints as a favor to the Don. I was kind of terrified when they started trimming my cuticles, as I don’t have a lot of cuticle to trim and was imagining painful, open cuticle wounds resulting from overenthusiastic, well-intentioned snipping; and as the final blow, I had forgotten how long the smell of nail polish lingers. I enjoyed the pampering, having my hands rubbed with lotion, having pretty pink nails to look at, etc.; but it’s been five hours since the polish dried and the smell is still coming off my hands in thick chemical waves and making me feel kind of sick.
Pedicures still have my seal of approval, since I am in no danger of smelling offgassing from my polished toes, and I guess my callused toes can take a little tiny bit of sanding. But manicures, ugh, thumbs down.