At the last local WI meeting we were asked to knit jumpers for “fish and chip” babies in Malawi. Apparently some of the new mothers are so poor that their babies are wrapped in newspaper. I was a bit sceptical about the story, then remembered all the little naked toddlers I had seen running about when I visited the Gold Coast, (Ghana), as a child. In a tropical village which lacks the basic facilities for laundering clothes it makes sense for the babies not to wear any. Malawi gets cold at night, so the babies need jumpers.
I accepted a pattern and went home to start knitting. The garment is very simple. The jumpers are knitted all in one, using a size larger needle for all the casting on/ casting off to ensure that the edges stretch easily.
When I finished my first jumper I decided that I did not like the way the ribbed sleeves refused to lie flat. I wanted the sleeves to look like sleeves, so I worked the sleeves of the next jumper in stocking stitch with moss stitch borders, (i.e. cuffs). When I reached the stage where I had to cast off stitches for the neck I then appreciated why this section was worked in rib. It stretches better and allows the baby’s head to pass through the gap. So I unpicked eight rows and modified the pattern further to allow eight rows of Knit 2, Purl 2 rib each side of the neck slit.
Of course the babies require hats as well. I found a “beanie” pattern online then I tied the hat to the jumper with a length of yarn in order to keep the matching items together.