August 02, 2013

Preemie Dress in Record Time

You haven't heard from me this week because my hands have been so busy with a rush custom knit order that I haven't had time for much else. Last Monday morning, I got a FB message asking me if I could dye some yarn and then use it to knit a preemie dress by Saturday.  Let's break that down so that you know how struck I was by a moment of insanity why I said "Sure, I can do that."

I dyed the yarn on Monday afternoon.  That left part of Monday afternoon and Monday night for it to dry--and I think the humidity was about 65% so that means that wool doesn't really dry, even in the sun, because it's basically raining from the ground up.  Overnight it was about 88% humidity, I think--one of those occasions when the humidity level is waaaay beyond the numerical temperature when you wake up in the morning.  Needless to say, I wound damp yarn into a skein on Tuesday around lunch time, but it dried nicely as I knit feverishly on the porch swing.

While I was hoping that my yarn would get with the program and dry, I sat down at the computer to pull up a simple preemie dress pattern.  Well, about an hour and a half later, I was at my wits end because, as luck would have it, there is NO SUCH THING as a preemie dress pattern.  None.  Not even in vintage patterns with British instructions that require using size 12 "pins".  None.  So then I said to myself, "Well surely there are baby doll patterns that I could use."  Nope.  None.  Turns out baby dolls don't wear knitted dresses unless the plan is to knit something up in worsted weight acrylic on size US 11 needles.  Really.  It's about to be the hottest month of the year.  What am I going to do with a pattern for worsted weight? Don't be a clod like me.  Make sure there is a quick pattern available before you agree to "quickly knit" a project for someone.

So then the plotting began.  I say "plotting" because I didn't have time to swatch and plan since I was now down to 2 and 1/2 days.  (Did I mention that I also stupidly said I could have it done by Friday morning?) I had to just work it out as I went.  Thank Heaven for Heartfelt Angels for at least providing me with a general idea of measurements because all that I had to work with was a birth weight of 5 lbs.  That's it.  No other measurements.

After much frogging and re-knitting (there are so many invisible rows associated with this project that I probably could have knit two dresses!), what I ended up with was this little number that was finished exactly 43 minutes before I was due to deliver it to my customer.

Hand dyed 100% pure wool (light fingering) in butter-yellow (soon to also make an appearance in the Etsy shop) in a top-down seamless design with seed stitch neckline, button band, empire waist band, and hem with picot edging at the hem of both the skirt and the short sleeves. Two tiny vintage 7mm pearl buttons for the back closure.  Fits up to 7.5 lbs (I hope).  Collar to hem, it's about 11 inches, which works out nicely because the baby, apparently, is not as long-legged as I anticipated for its weight, so it will look like it's wearing a dress (that was the point) instead of a gown.  Which, by the way, there are plenty of patterns for knitting; however, I didn't think that a burial gown pattern would be good Karma for a living baby. You know what I mean, Vern?

I was smart enough to write down instructions as I went, so hopefully, when I get a little more time and the kids are back to school (5 days, 15 hours …), I will be able to knock out test-knits for other sizes and make this pattern available.  But I wouldn't recommend trying to set a knitting record and knit it up on US #3 needles in 2 and 1/2 days.

And now I'm going to go work in the garden and give my hands a break from knitting with needles not much bigger than toothpicks.  


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