Prepping – the Layette

There is nothing more compelling for starting a creative project than an event. You know a wedding, a birthday and most compelling of all, a new baby.

I wonder if there is a trigger that goes off in the brain…new baby…make something cosy, soft and snuggly. The ‘Layette’ is an old fashioned concept I think. Essentially a collection of items that are perfect for a newborn; a blanket, a hat, booties and perhaps a romper suit.

In days past, perhaps even when I was a child, these knitted sets would be essential for a new Mum. Having them match would be a ‘boon’, yarn was not so freely available. Whether you are a knitter or not you will have in your consciousness hundreds of patterns from the past fifty years. White tiny items, some in an electrifying lemon, others in the very insipid blue and pink.

New Mums and Dads have avoided those patterns for decades now. The wool was too scratchy, the colours were old fashioned. Fleece and cotton seemed far easier and softer on brand new skin.

But….just like the seasons…fashions come round again. A homemade blanket has a bespoke chic. Crochet hats and booties have a retro charm. I have a friend who is about to have her third baby. You and I know that first babies get all the homemade items. By number three…’yeah, yeah, you are having a baby…how delightful…now what’s for tea?’

So I thought it would be nice to start again and put a lovely layette together. I started with the blanket…obviously. As a child having your own baby blanket is a thing of joy. You own it. It has been on your pram, you have fiddled you little fingers in the the holes, it smells of you. You eventually drag this blanket from room to room, you might tuck up your teddy under it in an imaginary bed, perhaps it might form one wall of an awesome sofa den. This first blanket will have a life.

I chose to make the ‘I love triangles‘ pattern. My first version of this. I spotted this pattern on a pram in a toy shop many years ago and with the audacity of a seasoned crocheter I asked the complete stranger what the pattern was. I know I design my own blankets, my own motifs…but sometimes I just want to make and not think. If you want to know the yarn recipe I used Stylecraft Bambino: Clotted Cream, Vintage Pink, Mellow Yellow and Little Boy Blue. You do need to make up bobbins of yarn for each colour change, but the overall look is delightful and I expect I will make more blankets in different hues.

I then used the Mellow Yellow to make a basic crochet beanie hat and a set of booties with pretty pom-poms. I used my own pattern that I have never written up. In my mind, one day I will write a Crochet Nursery book, but that is still on the to-do list. There are so many patterns, old and new that you can find on the internet. Find a hat here and there is a good set available here.

Finally I thought it would be great fun to make a romper. Such a lovely vintage look. I was inspired by the gorgeous maker, Rachel from Gooseberry fool. Her website and products are so beautiful. Whilst I have the joy (and indeed the compulsion) to crochet my own items, if you can’t crochet and would like to purchase some beautiful bespoke items please do visit her website. Her items are gorgeous and so beautifully packaged.

I have made two rompers, one in Vintage Pink and another in Blue Mist. I hope they prove useful – they are certainly very sweet. Once you have made a layette, then there is all the anticipation – the new baby needs to be born I think before this most joyful of all gifts is handed over. Romper suits will be handed down, booties will fall off and hat will be slung out of buggies by frustrated and hot little hands. Yet the blanket will always belong to the owner – an enduring gift which becomes an heirloom.

If you have some go-to baby patterns that you always make, please do point me in their direction I love to add a new ‘favourite’ to may list.

The bunny and sheep in these photos are my own designs – kits and downloadable patterns are available in my Etsy shop.

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