May 1960: Dear little matinee coat

baby2My first project for May was a “matinee coat” for a 6-month old baby. The baby I knit it for hadn’t been born yet, but I always like to make a six-month size for a newborn. Of course it will be too big at first, but eventually the coat will fit.

Don’t you love the positioning of the baby in the photo? “I’m 6 months and almost sitting up!” means it was probably pretty difficult to get any sort of picture of the baby wearing the coat in a way that you could see it, not to mention without crying, flailing around, spitting up, etc. I have a real respect for anyone who can get a decent photograph of a small baby, especially one where you want to see what it is wearing. Sadly, there is no colour photo.

The coat is made in one piece from the top down with raglan armholes. This kind of construction was pretty rare in mid-century knitting patterns — most baby clothes, like almost all adult clothes, were meant to be made in pieces and seamed. This garment does have seams, though — after the division for the fronts/sleeves/back at the underarm, you are supposed to work each bit flat and then sew the side and sleeve seams.

IMG_1753 I actually did just that, because the written pattern was very difficult to follow on the first few rows after the underarm divide. The raglan increases at the top are done with eyelets and make-1 increases on a each side of a bit of moss stitch, and after the underarm divide, the same type of increase is done on the fronts and back to make a flared skirt. That all makes perfect sense, but the way the pattern was written made it difficult to find the placement of the increases if making the fronts and back all in one. So I just went ahead and followed the pattern exactly. Except for the sleeves, which are supposed to be long, but I ran out of yarn.

As with many early baby things, the tension/gauge was 8 stitches to the inch — on No. 11 (3 mm) needles — much smaller than I can ever manage to get no matter how small the needles or how thin the yarn. I used Lang Merino 200 Bébé, which is wonderful, but my gauge was too big even on 2 1/2 mm needles. No matter, the coat will be a little bit bigger and hopefully fit a little while longer.

matineeblockIf you are looking at the first picture and wondering what went wrong, let me assure you that it was NOT a tangled mess! As long as the sleeve stitches were on holders, there was no way to make the thing sit down flat for a photo. Kind of the same problem with the baby, if you think about it… Here’s a picture during blocking (at left) and here’s a picture of the finished garment. I am very happy with it!


P.S. Yes, it is supposed to have long sleeves. I ran out of yarn.

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