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December 12, 2012 3:42 PM   Subscribe

What should I knit or crochet as gifts for friends and family who are having babies?

I have a couple friends who are having babies, yay! I would like to knit or crochet a couple things for then but having no tiny humans yet, I'm not sure what would be useful or really appreciated. There's a mixture of boys and girls, summer and winter babies ranging in age from 0 - 18 months so far. I'm an beginner-intermediate knitter and an intermediate crocheter.

Can you help me brainstorm some ideas of what I should be thinking about? Ideas so far are blankets, hats, booties. I made a baby blanket for my last friend who had a baby and she loved it. Unusual ideas are welcome, we live in Canada so warm is also good!
posted by snowysoul to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (31 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
If you are not on Ravelry, you should be. You will find SCORES of ideas for things.

That said: I'd first decide whether you want to go the cherished-heirloom angle, or the lots-of-use angle. If you want something that would be lovely and valued and only used once or twice for special occasions, a lovely sweater would work. If you want something that'll get a lot of use - think, like, a stack of bibs or burp cloths or diaper covers - things that are easily-washable because they're gonna go through them like crazy.

But yeah, get an account on Ravelry and check there. You will get plenty of ideas.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:45 PM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

My favorite thing to get from crafty friends was cute, unique hats.

I was given a TON of blankets, and most of them weren't used--I only wrapped him in muslin swaddle blankets to sleep, and had some easily foldable flannel blankets for the diaper bag. I appreciated the thought of handknit/crocheted blankets, but they weren't very practical for our needs, and most of them have sat in the closet since I received them.

Same with booties. It's a nice thought, but the wee one would just pull or kick them off--I much prefer just plain socks.

So, my vote would be hats! I love dressing him in cute knitted hats with tassels or animal ears. I'm a pastry chef/candy writer and I bought him a hat that looks like a Hershey's kiss--would have loved to have a crafty friend make one instead. I'm also planning on buying him a Very Hungry Caterpillar hat for his first birthday. I think anything like that would be super, duper cute.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 3:47 PM on December 12, 2012 [11 favorites]

I saw this the other day and thought it was adorable--falls into the hat category but it's pretty different.
posted by lovableiago at 3:48 PM on December 12, 2012

This froghat! Super cute, works for all genders & ages! Patterns online.
posted by travelwithcats at 3:50 PM on December 12, 2012

A knitter of my acquaintance makes every baby a Baby Surprise jacket. She always makes them in a larger size, like 18 or 24 months, so they can wear it longer and not outgrow it in a week. It's easy to change up the look and the jacket is a great weight for most climates -- fall and spring in colder climates, winter in warmer ones.
posted by katemonster at 3:53 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hats! My very favorites that we got were the bear hat and the frog hat.
posted by chiababe at 3:57 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I made the mistake of making knit converse booties for a lady at work and now every time someone at work is expecting, I am expected to make them. One of my coworkers just needed two pairs for her twins! People say that the booties are actually useful (I don't have kids myself) especially since the ties hold the shoe onto the wee foot.

I'm really comfortable with this level of work for coworkers or distant friends. Best friends and family members are more likely to get sweaters and blankies.
posted by chatongriffes at 3:58 PM on December 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

hats or a blanket. Those are the only two knitted things we used.
posted by couchdive at 4:02 PM on December 12, 2012

I just had a baby and would recommend hats. My little guy wears a hat all the time to keep from getting cold (and we live in Seattle, which has very mild fall/winter weather) and I kept constantly losing the one hat we had.

If your friends are having spring/summer babies, a sweater made for the size they'll be in winter would be nice (I got a ton of newborn clothes, but nothing beyond that). And those sneaker booties are adorable.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 4:02 PM on December 12, 2012

I made the Coffee Bean cardigan for a friend and it has been used a lot by her (especially as I chose to make it in a non-newborn size. Babies GROW but most people opt for the new-born size). The pattern is really well-written and the style is pretty classic, I think.

I have also made a couple of Presto Chango sweaters. Cute, quick and can easily be customised.
posted by kariebookish at 4:04 PM on December 12, 2012

If you knit or crochet them a blanket, make sure it's practical, because as Bella Sebastian said, the fancy ones look great, but are seldom used. I loved me some thick blankets when I had kidlings, but I lived in cold country.

I actually never put hats on my kids, they always pulled them off. So, it really depends on the baby and the family I suppose.
posted by patheral at 4:17 PM on December 12, 2012

I used knitted blankets, hats and socks, but something you never see much of and was SUPER useful were knitted vests. My daughter wore one every cool day for ever, and I loved them desperately. I knitted these wonderful strawberry booties for someone else's baby (a baby too small to rip her booties off) and they were really lovely.
posted by thylacinthine at 4:20 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

A friend's baby has the cutest soakers (diaper covers) - HOLY CUTE, BATMAN! and also, legwarmers, which in chilly weather can cover the gaps between pants that ride up and boots when you've got a kid on your hip. We're in the Land of Canadia too.
posted by peagood at 4:30 PM on December 12, 2012

I vote blankets because it's something babies won't grow out of at an alarming rate. The idea of putting in as much effort as it takes for me to knit something only to have it be something the kid can use for 3 months (or however fast babies grow) kind of bums me out.
posted by dithmer at 4:30 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would go for silly / cute hats - when else will parents get to put hats like these on their kids, with photographic evidence?

For friends with a sense of humor, try the Chicken Viking Hat.

Blueberry / Strawberry hat (depends on yarn color used)

Cupcake hat
posted by needled at 4:37 PM on December 12, 2012

Making dragon hats went over REALLY well with my relatives. (I made one for baby and parents so everyone can geek out.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:51 PM on December 12, 2012

My Great Grandmother crocheted me a blanket when I was born. 32 years later I'm still sleeping with it.
posted by KogeLiz at 4:52 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wolf paw / monster booties!
posted by Mchelly at 5:11 PM on December 12, 2012

Every baby needs a pumpkin hat. There are a bazillion patterns online, but I like this one the best. (Yes, it says "tomato." Knit it in orange and it's a pumpkin!)
posted by Aquifer at 5:15 PM on December 12, 2012

I second peagood - find out if any of the friends are cloth diapering, and if they plan on using wool soakers. You can also look into longies (website is just the first hit when I googled it, but there are plenty of patterns out there). I have no idea what level of knitter you need to be to do these, but man, I wish I had a few friends making me of these! They can retail for nice bucks in the cloth diaper community.
posted by bibbit at 6:10 PM on December 12, 2012

I recommend highly some books in a series called "Itty-Bitty Nursery," "Itty-Bitty Hats," and I think "itty-Bitty Toys" by Susan Anderson. The projects are fantastic and the directions are friendly. Hope you have a lot of fun!
posted by jfwlucy at 6:59 PM on December 12, 2012

I'm with dithmer on the blankets--they're just usable for longer. Little kids like to sit on them and play with them. (The one I made for my five-year-old niece at her birth unraveled--it wasn't my knitting, my sister-in-law said, she's just really hard on blankets--and I've been asked to make a new one for Xmas.)

That said, I like the designs in this flyer--they're easy (although 8 hours is an exaggeration) but they've got enough pretty stitch detail to be interesting, especially for knitters like me who don't like color work and are all about texture.
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:59 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Silly hats! We've been gifted two and I love them both.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:13 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like to knit hats and toys as baby gifts. There are some really adorable knit toy patterns out there, but I particularly like the monsters and other silly creatures by Rebecca Danger. I usually make hats from this simple hat pattern using a cotton and elastic blend yarn (Cascade Fixation or Elann Esprit). These hats have gotten great reviews from the recipient parents, as they're washable and the stretchiness makes them wearable for a good long while.
posted by pril at 8:13 PM on December 12, 2012

I got the yarn and everything to make a kicking bag before my boy was born, but never found the time. if someone had made one for me, I would have been ecstatic!
posted by saturnine at 10:12 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I got some good suggestions when I asked this question.

Anecdotally, I ended up making a lot of hats and they've been well used and appreciated.
posted by telegraph at 8:09 AM on December 13, 2012

Seconding ravelry and not newborn sizes.

I ask if they want anything specific. Especially for first babies, the answer is often "Mom/grandma/other relative has it covered, thank you". Then when the weather changes or the baby has a growth spurt, I get a call for help. I make multiple hats in the same bright variegated yarn so it is recognizable as theirs.

For a Jewish coworker who was adopting, she asked we not even start knitting until they had custody.
posted by MichelleinMD at 9:19 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I knit a loose, large shawl for my sister to use while breast-feeding. It became a lovey for my nieces and they still love it.
posted by MichelleinMD at 9:37 AM on December 13, 2012

My go-to baby gift is this cute little cardigan. (In fact, I'm knitting one for a friend right now!) It's super-easy, easily customized (you can leave off the hood, add buttonholes, use a different stitch pattern, etc.) and it wears well. It's a fast knit, too. I usually make a sweater and a cute hator some socks.
posted by sarcasticah at 4:41 PM on December 13, 2012

The Purl Bee has lots of awesome baby projects, including blankets. This Hudson Bay inspired crib blanket is my fave.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:43 PM on December 13, 2012

Further thoughts: I've made one blanket, an apron/tunic dress, a bunch of hats and a couple sweaters. All have gone over well.

But I've found that things like the size or the yarn choice are just as important as what the item is - either I made something that could be used at several ages (the blanket), could be adapted into being other garments as the baby grew (the apron dress on a baby was a vest on a toddler) or was made of machine-washable yarn (everything).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:17 AM on December 14, 2012

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