Can’t buy me love

When Lou was born I was, naturally thrilled. Not as thrilled as I could have been if he as a girl, but I’ve clearly gotten over it in absolutely every way but one.  The knitting.  As little as I care what babies wear, or who thinks they are what gender, most parents find it uncomfortable to have little girls and boys taken for each other, and I still live in a world where there are a lot of limits on what kind of babies wear what… particularly boys.  There was just no way, no matter how much I wanted to knit one, that a flowered sweater in pastel colours was going to end up on Lou, for anything other than a minute, and for any reasons other than politeness or hypothermia.  I’ve dutifully enjoyed knitting him sweaters that play by (most of) the rules, but when my niece Myrie was born,  my knitters heart leapt and out came all the patterns that I had been saving for years just waiting for another baby girl to come along.  This one was at the top of the list.  Lanett Baby #0714, and it’s #1 "White/Blue Set"  (I just love their names.)  I used Lanett Baby superwash, and I am so freaking in love with this sweater, and I feel proud of it too.  It’s just about perfect, and it was all in the millions of little details.

My friend Denny has a thing about finishing. She’s the polar opposite of knitters who are willing to sit with an unfinished project for months, just to avoid weaving in a few ends, or tackling a seam.  Denny? Show Denny a project with so many ends to weave in that it looks like a shag carpet and Denny will clap her hands like a kid at Christmas, put on the teakettle and whip a darning needle out of nowhere while beaming at you and saying "There, there… give it to Denny." She loves it, I tell you, just straight up adores it and takes satisfaction from it and well.. I can’t quite identify with Denny – but I’m not that other kind of knitter either. 

I fall right in the middle, I think.  I don’t actively avoid finishing, but I don’t quite love it. It’s a part of knitting, and I’m cool with that, I sort of feel that it’s like casting off or purling three together through the back loops.  It happens, it’s a part of knitting that comes up and I take some pride in doing it as well as I do the other parts, but it’s not like generally speaking, I look at a cardigan knit in pieces and think "Oh man – now there’s some juicy seams to sew up" and not once in my life have I looked at an intarsia sweater and exclaimed "MY GOD THE ENDS WILL BE THE BEST PART", but I’ll do them if that’s what it takes.

All of this does nothing to explain what happens to my feelings about all that finishing if you make it tiny. Maybe it has something to do with how cute things are when they are smaller (babies vs adults, puppies vs dogs, organizing a doll kitchen vs scraping dried yogurt off your full size fridge) but if you make that finishing little, if it just gets fiddly enough that doing it is like hitch hiking around the city limits for Crazyville, then I’m your knitter.  Bring. It.  This sweater did. Little cable details on the sleeves, little cables round the tiny itty-bitty sewn hems, that bodice tuck, each little stitch sewn down. 

Don’t get me started on the colourwork.  That’s duplicate stitch, what felt like oceans of it, and I can’t even tell you how long the weensie teeny button band took.  (I did it three times, but it’s perfect.) The fussy seams that sew in the puffed sleeves, the Lilliputian cuffs at the little gathered wrists…

I feel bad that these pictures were taken pre-blocking, because it was even prettier afterwards.  When I gave it to Myrie (her mother opened it, what with Myrie still just perfecting bodily functions, never mind present opening) Robyn started to say something, and then stopped. She thought for a minute and said "I hope this isn’t the wrong thing to say, but this is so beautiful, it looks like it came from a store."

I was thrown for one half secon, and then I realized that I know just what she means. She means it looks hand-made in a way that’s top notch,  the knitting is good enough to sell, she’s saying, and I get it.  She means that I could go pro, and she would buy what I was putting out there,  and it’s a compliment.

I didn’t tell her she would never be able to afford that sort of sweater, not even if you paid me minimum wage and I ate the cost of the yarn.  There’s only one currency she can use to get this stuff. 
Love. It’s just not worth it for anything else.

140 thoughts on “Can’t buy me love

  1. That sweater is so beautiful I literally started to cry when I saw it. I don’t know anything that says love more than that sweater.

  2. She’s so lucky to have you as a knitting friend! And YOU’RE so lucky to have a sweet little one to knit for with a mommy who “gets” it!

  3. It really is gorgeous — gorgeous pattern, gorgeous yarn, gorgeous knitting. I’m only a little disappointed not to see Myrie wearing it, but the adorable Louie pictures from yesterday are still killing me with cuteness. I wish you were my aunt.

  4. That is the sweetest, most perfect bit of knitting I have ever seen! Thank you for sharing it. I know what you mean about girls. I have 3 grandsons and while they enjoy a good hoodie, you could not force them into this lovely. Have a great time knitting for this little girl!

  5. I made a baby sweater for a family member who is expecting, and she said the exact right thing to make me knit more for her…”Oh, the fist handmade item for the baby!” She knew the difference between homemade and handmade! I love people who “get it”.

  6. It’s so pretty! But all that finishing…? Oy!
    One day, I will have to befriend the lovely Denny and have her teach me the wonders of seaming and weaving and such. As it stands now, even picking up stitches to put a thumb on mittens makes me twitch.

  7. Absolutely GORGEOUS! You know I kind of see what Robyn means–it is actually a very different piece of knitting for you—over the years I have seen so many of your knit items and they are all just wonderful, beautiful and amazing—but this is in a league of its own—just PERFECT—-I can hardly wait until your daughters get married and you get to knit for grandchildren—now that will be something else altogether!!!!

  8. I have to agree with her, as I had the exact same first immediate thought upon seeing the last photo. That dress is so incredibly perfect that it is something I would strive to find a close enough approximation to at the store (knowing it would still be nowhere close) because there is never going to be enough time, skill, or patience in my possession to knit such a thing. Beautiful! I think it is also a nod at the tiny perfect stitches that look like they could only be achieved by machine.

  9. Hitch hiking around the city limits of Crazyville. Perfect. My new favorite expression.
    I agree though, many have tried to pay me to knit things but I will only knit for love. It is the only way it is worth it.

  10. I agree – that looks like it could be found in a boutique or very upscale children’s store. It’s gorgeous. And it deserves love as payment, because it’s clear that love is part of it’s making.

  11. Beautiful.
    I wish I had a baby to make one for.
    I dont’ think making a baby to knit one for would be terribly practical, but it’s tempting!

  12. That is the most beautiful baby sweater I’ve ever seen. It is perfectly designed and perfectly executed. I’d love to see a closer up shot of the wee cable detail sometime, and, of course, Myrie wearing it! Her name is wonderful too! What will you knit for her next!?

  13. oh! it is just so beautiful! Undoubtedly feminine but soooo understated and sophisticated. the soft neutral color palette and the half flower. JUST divine. And the workmanship – I can’t even imagine the hours! Lovely, lovely work Auntie Steph!

  14. I have to confess that when I saw the pieces I thought it was a waste of yarn. But now that the duplicate stitch is done and the finishing perfected I wish I had a wee one to knit it for. The whole thing says “cherished” and what baby could hope for more than that?

  15. I have to confess that when I saw the pieces I thought it was a waste of yarn. But now that the duplicate stitch is done and the finishing perfected I wish I had a wee one to knit it for. The whole thing says “cherished” and what baby could hope for more than that?

  16. I have to confess that when I saw the pieces I thought it was a waste of yarn. But now that the duplicate stitch is done and the finishing perfected I wish I had a wee one to knit it for. The whole thing says “cherished” and what baby could hope for more than that?

  17. This is simply stunning and georgeous! What a work of love from you to the baby. I hope you’ll post pictures of the baby wearing it someday. I had to go and look up the pattern and was sad to learn it’s in Norwegian. I would love to knit it for a co-workers newborn baby girl. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful work of love.

  18. Its what I call the difference between homemade and hand crafted.
    Its the same thing I tell my gift recipients when the all say “you should sell these!” No one would pay what they’re worth.
    You have to earn something hand crafted, and you do that by being someone I love.

  19. Love is the best currency, and the only way I do knits. Even the knits that my soon to be ex-husband is taking with him, I still can be proud of the love that was knit in to them when we were happy.

  20. Ooo, I like the term “crafted” that Sandra used.
    Yes, the love currency is really the best part. Even if people can’t always see it. I can’t help but be very superstitious about knitting something with love. I can’t help but believe that it forms some kind of protective magic around the baby. As unbelieving as I am about most stuff, I believe that down to my toes.

  21. This is the definition of Labor of Love. Whether it’s a wee sweater or a bowl of chicken soup…made with love is always warmest and most satisfying. Beautiful on all counts, Stephanie. Even with all of your accomplishments, you have done yourself extra proud with this one.

  22. Yup. Love. That sweater is all about love.
    A friend has a saying “Knitting is like Sex. If I love you, it’s great. If I don’t love you, there is no amount of money that makes it worthwhile.”

  23. Such a sweet sweater! I wish I had a new niece to knit for.
    And I wish I had a friend like Denny. I’ve had a striped sweater languishing in the time out basket because I can’t bring myself to weave in the last eight inches of ends. I am going to have to force myself to have a finishing day so I can finish that sweater and an Einstein coat and get my friends off my back. I am going to pretend to ignore the two sweaters that need to be sewn up for a little longer. We won’t talk about the sweaters that are still on the needles…

  24. It’s so beautiful, and the muted palate definitely contributes to the heirloom feel of the piece.
    I must say thought, that if you keep the same colors, I could almost envision a young boy wearing this if the flower was replaced with a sailboat. The gathered sleeves might be a bit feminine, but for a wee one (0-3 mos), I think you can push the boundaries since they are all so delicate. 🙂
    Besides, someday when you have another little nephew/grandson you can remake it and revel in the fussiness all over again!

  25. I like that she paused because not sure if she was saying that right thing. That shows that she wanted to make sure it was clear how much she loved it, but not sure if it translated into knitter-speak appropriately. 🙂
    Also? Freaking adorable sweater!

  26. Do you think Denny might want to move to southern Georgia (USA)? I know some knitters who would love to have her around to finish up projects, including me. 🙂

  27. It’s beautiful! I know exactly what you mean about baby girls. My family has been cranking out boys and I’ve knit them some cute things, but come on, when is someone going to have a girl for goodness sake? I have a stack of patterns for baby girls and I’m itching to cast on.

  28. Cathy@11:52 said it right, you have a mom who “gets it”. Sadly neither my daughthers in law do so grand children no longer get any knitted items unless made of acrylic and very little of that

  29. It truly is beautiful and I’m glad you have someone who “gets it” so that it is worth it for you to spend all that time & love on this project- because it is very obvious it was made with love.
    I have to say though- I clicked on the link to the pattern book & looked at the pictures and I have to say “what- no booties”? Those booties are adorable and we all know how you feel about booties! 🙂

  30. Steph. That’s stunning. I had to de-lurk just to say it. Just… beautiful.
    (And as an aside – I have a nephew, and it makes my knitterly heart weep that there are so few ADORABLE knits out there for little boys [not to mention the fact that my dear sweet sister-in-law has NO appreciation for hand-knits – just pour some salt in that wound]. I can only hope that by the time I have a little niece to knit for [whose mother appreciates handknits!] I can do something half as amazing as this.)

  31. Whenever anyone asks if I sell my knitting I’ve always responded that I don’t knit for money, I only knit for love…

  32. Ha. I have one brother and 3 cousins. All in our forties. I FINALLY get a nephew…..he lives in tropical Florida. Now that is being ripped off as a knitter.

  33. It’s lovely! Lucky little girl.
    As someone with a lot of nephews – let me recommend for Lou (in about a year) “Dino Mite” mittens from Interweave Knits (it’s on Ravelry). A good pattern – the mittens are warm, each hand is a different dinosaur and the thumb becomes the mouth so they can “roar” away. They are a hit with boys and an interesting knit for the knitter too!

  34. Wow! That is absolutely gorgeous!! I knit baby blankets for every niece and nephew that is on the way. Since my husband is one of 13 kids, I am pretty much always knitting a baby blanket! Haha! I have gotten the compliment a few times that it looked like it could have come from a store and I love that compliment!

  35. Christian knitters might want to consider “spiritual adoption.” I pray for a baby I will never meet, while I knit baby things that will go to a baby who needs them.

  36. Beautiful. And I agree with Presbytera: it’s an heirloom. I was curious about what a “bodice tuck” was and now I know. Lovely work, and your skill at executing the tiny details is amazing.

  37. In the past few years, I have begun to think of knitting gifts in a different way. All the time I am knitting, I find myself thinking of the intended recipient. That single thread, knitted into something warm, pulled over my finger the whole time I stitched, becomes a blessing, doesn’t it? And so, when I read your last line, about LOVE being the only thing that was worth it, I cried. Really. And I could barely pull myself together to read it to my husband, who was immediately interested when he heard my physical response. You are a dream, thanks for putting it all out there and being a voice. And now, I must go sooth my tears with tea. And chocolate, and the thumb of a 1/2 completed mitten.

  38. As I started reading this I thought, ” Wow! You’re in luck.” I just found out last night that I will be having a granddaughter in May. And if you really, really want to knit for a girl, have at it!” Then I saw that you don’t need another girl to knit for, you have one. And now I must go knit tiny, tiny things. (I only hope they are as lovely as yours. Well done!)

  39. Seeing this is the only time I’ve wished my entirely perfect grandson were a girl. No, he is a Peter and is perfect.
    But I second the wish for a shot of Ms. Myrie modeling it, while understanding that some mothers don’t want their baby’s face out on the net. Could someone hold her up to a shoulder, and we could see the back of her head and the back of this lovely knitting? That would be such a pleasure. But her mother’s choice.

  40. I’m glad that I truly love knitting because looking at something as beautiful as this wee sweater makes me feel that I’ll never be able to look at something that cam off my needles and feel as awed. But it is inspiring. You sure can knit!

  41. As far as distinguishing baby genders goes… that’s a modern thing. If you look at portraits of toddlers from the sixteenth or seventeenth century, you literally cannot tell whether the kid is a boy or a girl from the clothing. A particularly good example is the Portrait of the Three Eldest Children of Charles I by Anthony van Dyck. The little’un in the middle is a boy, but he’s wearing clothing uncommonly like his big sister’s dress.

  42. I am rendered speechless at the beauty of this piece. You HAVE to be incredibly proud of your work.

  43. That is so lovely!!!!! Oh, how I wish I had babies around to knit for… I’m one of those weird knitters who love finishing, so I completely identify with Denny.
    What I love even more is doing duplicate stitch (the finer the yarn the better) and I did a whole lot of it when my children were little!
    When I get tired of a sweater, I often duplicate stitch something on it to pimp it up. 😉

  44. This is beautiful. I love the sweep of the design in the colourwork. So modern yet classic. Not ‘fiddly’ like much of baby design. Beautifully done too.
    Say hi to Denny. I’ve met her in several TO yarns shops over the years. Wow! loving finishing. Be still my heart.

  45. That is SOOOOOOO friggin’ beautiful and adorable and sweet!!!! I love it! But how in the HELL did you get your duplicate stitch to look so perfect??? I can’t, for the life of me, get it to look that wonderful and I’ve only tried on Christmas Stockings which should be so totally easy. Hmmmm.
    If I were that mom, I would have the child wear it, and then I would frame it in a shadow frame with a rattle or some special toy and some pictures of her in it. It is to be treasured forever.

  46. After 2 sons, 2 nephews, and 3 grandnephews, I know exactly what you mean about girls. I jumped for joy when my oldest son found a girlfriend with an 11 year old daughter.

  47. This blog entry is just about the sweetest I’ve ever read. It make me want to have a very young niece (mine are all 16 or older now) to spoil.
    The sweater is gorgeous, and I fully understand Robyn’s comments about it. The intarsia and finishing do look like something beyond a human’s capability to produce using nothing but hands and hand tools. Wow. Wow. Wow.
    Wish we could see a picture of your niece wearing it. I fully respect whatever her parents’ wishes and privacy concerns are regarding you posting a picture of her, but it would be nice if they allowed a picture of her, perhaps from lower lip down, wearing the sweater.
    Steph, my advice on how to think about knitting for boys/men vs. knitting for girls/women: Think of how you use salt and pepper when cooking. Rare are the times when only one is satisfying. Usually, both are required, even if in varying proportions. You may enjoy knitting for the gals more, but knitting for the guys may help cleanse your palate and prepare it to get more enjoyment from knitting for the gals. Sort of like having a light sorbet between the main course and dessert.
    Lastly, for PatD at 4:57: Namaste, but “holier than thou” isn’t flattering to you or anyone else. I respect your Christian beliefs, but please don’t make it seem that only devout Christians have any sense of charity. Your suggestion could very well work for others. People of other major faiths (Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.) have many appropriate faith-based organizations that could help with such an effort. Atheists, agnostics, people who can’t find an appropriate faith-based organization, and those who just aren’t that tightly wound (like myself) can certainly find a local or regional nondenominational organization that could help people of any belief system. Charity in any form needs to be encouraged, and not limited to a particular faith or belief system.

  48. Anna Zilboorg quotes Dr. Illingworth in the introduction to her Magnificent Mittens book:
    “Where love is concerned small things become important. For real love is too infinite ever to be adequately expressed in it’s greatness; and so we reverse the attempt and symbolize it by infinitesimal actions and attentions- things that are too slight for anything but love to think worth doing, as for anything but love see when done.”
    This little sweater captures the essence of that quote precisely. Well done.

  49. The sweater is perfectly lovely, don’t get me wrong. But the question that comes to my mind, has she not seen your knitting before this sweater? Your knitting is always lovely.

  50. Oh, my. It’s just freakin’ exquisite. On the other hand, seeing the amount of duplicate stitch that you did kind of made my eyes glaze over. You must be in love with that little girl indeed.

  51. Stephanie, I love love the detailed finishing work on this sweater and I know that the reason I avoid this finishing so much is because I don’t really know how to do it well. You said in your post “each little stitch sewn down”. What does that mean? Should I be using a needle and thread to keep those ends in place? I try to weave in ends but there’s always an end poking through.
    I’m making a couple of wee sweaters for a new baby and tried the contrasting color at the neck and arms, but with only a row and a bind off of the contrasting color, I wasn’t able to hide the ends very well. Would you please do a post on finishing? Thank you. Thank you.

  52. The sweater is so gorgeous! I’ve never seen anything that good looking in a store, even a pricey baby store. Fabulous! Five Stars!

  53. Your last paragraph is spot on. Now if I can only find a way to incorporate that sentiment into a prepared reply when someone asks me if I sell my knits.

  54. Wow! I really do hear ya on the baby girl thing. I have already put my order in for a great niece, to my niece. She already has the most beautiful and adorable 3 year old little boy. I love that kid so much I can’t even begin to tell ya! However her mom and I have already told her that the next one needs to be a girl. When she asked us why we both said that the knitting for a little girl is way more fun than knitting for a boy. She wasn’t sure if she should laugh or be horrified LOL! Your sweater is absolutely amazing. I would never make it because it’s way out of my knitting league but a knitter can dream! Thanks for sharing such an inspiring piece of knitting.

  55. @ Kathleen King (or you others) if you need any help translating Norwegian for patterns let me know, since I’m Norwegian I can help 🙂
    You can find me on Ravelry, user name EarthAngelz. Cause this kind of love should be spread if it’s possible!

  56. Darling, darling, darling. And I know exactly what you mean about items like this, of this caliber, being unaffordable, except in one currency.
    That being said, if Denny is nearby (though not for this type of thing), should you two work out some kind of deal?

  57. Love is usually the only currency that I’ll take. Especially for big projects, otherwise, cover the cost of the yarn and it’s usually to the good.

  58. Hitch hiking around the city limits of Crazyville…now officially the phrase of the day here at the Mpls Mn (US) Park Board. Thanks for another fabulous way to describe any number of situations we all find ourselves in!

  59. Exactly! When people start asking me to knit for money I tell them, “Knitting is like sex. If I love you and I’m in the mood, you get it for free. If I don’t love you or I’m not in the mood, you can’t pay me enough for it.” This statement usually starts the Indecent Proposal conversation and when it comes down to it, I’d probably knit a stranger a sweater for a $1,000,000. That probably says something about me.

  60. My mom and I were just talking about how love really is the only currency for “selling” our projects. People ask all the time if we would sell what we make and they are unhappy when we say no and shocked when we explain why. You nailed the explanation here perfectly.
    The sweater really is too !@)#(*@#$%*@%(*7ing cute for words! The adorableness is killing me. Thank you thank you for sharing 😀

  61. Absolutely Stunning! I love that it’s not pink 🙂 I’m always annoyed when people don’t notice my beautiful handknits but they just think they came from the store and don’t know any better. Now I will think of this post when that happens!

  62. I have a Fair Isle stocking hat with hundreds of ends to be woven in that I would love to send to Denny. If she ever needs a finishing fix send her to me!

  63. The Sweater is abolutely super dooper cute. Thanks for sharing! Curious: why would one choose duplicate stitch over intarsia or vice versa. I have not tried either – is there a benetfit or detriment to either or is it more about personal preference? Or more simply, that’s how the pattern was written?

  64. Lovely! And I understand about “the comment” too….a man I know, to whom i was proudly displaying my handknit socks, said, “They look machine-made.” I’ve never been quite able to understand if that was a compliment or not!

  65. A colleague (who doesn’t know me quite well) admired a gorgeous hand-knit lace shawl I was wearing today. She actually took a double take, and admired it twice verbally. I then said “I made it”. If I had said “I rode a unicorn to work” she couldn’t have looked more surprised.
    I went on to say that I am a “professional” knitter (I characterize that by the fact I make money by teaching knitting and selling it occasionally). This did not change the surprised look.
    It was awesome.
    And yes, I knit for love as well.

  66. I was explaining to a friend how it takes me 40 hours to make a sweater and yet people want to pay me the equivalent of the McDonald’s hourly rate for a purchase. She clarified this situation. She said I’d probably be working for 75 cents per hour. LOL.
    That ‘s the rate for child labor in the Third World, right?

  67. Socks are the same. Yarn too expensive adn too many hours of knitting to ever sell them. They’d be $700 socks. The men in the family get a pair each for Christmas, 2 for my son and hubby. Only for love.
    I know the pattern was written for duplicate stitch, but why did you not switch it to intarsia? Use the same chart and do it as color work? I would have. I am not crazy about duplicate stitch.
    Now, this year, put more things in the long range planning box early in the year, so the holidays are not so crazy. A full box means you get to enjoy hte holiday in a restful manner. I DID THAT TH8IS YEAR AND FINISHEd BY HALLOWEEN. Enjoyed the holidays, I did. I have never finished so early before. I’m already adding stuff to the box for 2014. Right before Christmas I was working on helping other people finish theirs. I’m a knitting teacher and some students paid me to help the finish on time. One brought me a partial sweater on the 23rd and 8 pm and begged me to finish it by Christmas eve for her hubby. It was done. $10 an hour, she was happy and I had a little extra for the holidays.
    Julie in San Diego

  68. Couture knitting for babies is what I’d call it. The sort of thing that if you did it for money you’d be charging hundreds of dollars and it would be seen on the babies of the richest people in town. I think love is a much nicer reason to make it though.

  69. That sweater is seriously adorable, and your work on it is exquisite and perfect. I could see that in a pricey boutique, selling for hundreds of dollars. Myrie is going to look precious, and she is a lucky baby to have an aunt who loves her so.

  70. I’m a little bit jealous that you’ve got a Myrie while both of my family’s Class of ’14 babies-to-be are boys who already have big brothers. I’m not in your league as a knitter, Stephanie, but
    I wouldn’t have minded making some flamingo-pink soakers for X-Man’s or Grandboy’s potential baby sister. Ah, well — a pub-knitting friend isn’t revealing the gender, so at tomorrow’s shower, she’ll be unwrapping a lacy pink blanket (crocheted by someone else), along with a blue/white/yellow bib-and-burpie set. If she has a boy, she can regift the blanket with my blessing.

  71. Steph, Myrie’s outfit absolutely takes my breath away! Too beautiful. Truly an heirloom. Your duplicate stitch is amazing, and the fineness of your stitches overall… just wow. 🙂

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