Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Days of Dysfunctional Summer

Water Sprite Suit from “The Children’s Book” 1935

Summer is coming!

Sure, it’s hard for those of us stuck in the Great White North to believe that right now, with all the snow piled up outside our windows. But it’s true. Summer is a mere four months away and that’s barely enough time to begin planning your children’s beach-side humiliation.

If you don’t start now, you’ll only have a half-finished Sprite Suit come August, and your well-adjusted, happy children won’t need a psychiatrist when they’re grown. Face facts, dysfunctional families now outnumber the so-called normal ones. So, if you want your children to fit in with the cool kids, you need to knit up this suit now to ensure a summer of sand, sun and suffering.

One day, your children will thank you.*

*Handmade by Mother is not responsible should your grown children’s gratitude be expressed by replying to your Christmas cards with cease and desist letters.

For the complete pattern (and more snark!):

Water Sprite Suit No. 780

Size 1-2 Years
The perfect age! There are just two times in your life when you will be blissfully unconcerned with what you wear. The first is when you’re too young to read fashion magazines:

And the second is when you’re old enough to know that supermodels are the true fashion victims.

MATERIALS – Bear Brand or Bucilla Cassimere Sport Yarn,
1 ball Main Color, 1 ball Contrasting Color.
1 pair Bucilla 14-inch Steel Knitting Needles, Size 1, Article 3499.
Be careful with those steel needles. I own several, and their points have a distressing habit of getting sharper with use. Eventually, you’re either constantly snagging wool on them or sticking their thorn-like tips through your fingers.

So, do your best not to injure yourself, as blood is not a positive addition to most fibre projects.
2 Bucilla Steel Needles, Sock Size, No. 14, Article 3494.
Unless you think you might have cancer, in which case stabbing yourself with your needles might save your life!
1 Bucilla Steel Crochet Hook, Size 4, Article 4300.

Gauge: 8 stitches = 1 inch, 12 rows = 1 inch.

With contrasting color and the small steel needles, cast on 64 sts; work in stockinette stitch (k 1 row, p 1 row) for 14 rows; break off yarn, leaving an end to sew with. With main color work 8 rows, with contrasting color 8 rows. Break off contrasting color and change to the large needles; work 2 rows even. Increase 1 st at both ends in next row, and in every 12th row thereafter, until there are 5 increases at each side (74 sts on needle).
If you lose count, you will only shame yourself, and not your child.
Work 7 rows even after the last increase. Bind off 4 sts at beginning of each of the next 4 rows, 2 sts at beginning of each of the following 10 rows, and 1 st at beginning of every row until 22 sts are left on needle. Work 5 rows even and then bind off.

Make a duplicate piece. Sew (or weave) the 2 halves together at crotch.
If you were planning to weave the crotch, putting the last 22 stitches on a spare needle would have been preferable to binding them off. Given that you were following the instructions carefully, it’s likely too late now and you’ll just have to put a seam in there.

Better hope your child isn’t the sort who acts like sock seams are toe-eating monsters.
Sew sides together. Turn in the first 6 rows around waist and hem. Work a row of single crochet around legs.

Straps – With main color and the fine needles, cast on 2 sts, k 1 row, turn, k 2 sts in each st. Next row, k 2 sts in first st, k 1, p 1, k 2 sts in last st; turn, k 2 sts in first st, p 1, k 1, p 1, k 1, k 2 sts in last st (8 sts on needle). Continue to work in ribbing of k 1, p 1, and to increase at beginning and end of every row, until there are 14 sts on needle. Work even in ribbing for 3 ¾ inches. K together the first 2 sts and the last 2 sts in every row until 2 sts are left; fasten off. Make a duplicate piece. Cast on 14 sts for the long strap, work in ribbing of k 1, p 1, until strap measures 23 inches; bind off.
While the halter straps are by far the most bizarre looking part of this swimsuit, they’re also the most practical. Much to your child’s chagrin, this handmade swimwear won’t easily float off their body and disappear into the surf.
Fold a pointed strap double and sew to center of front (see illustration), with one point on right side and the other on under side. Sew second pointed strap in same way to center of back. Insert the long strap in loops, join ends and tack to loop on back.
Now stuff your child into the suit and take lots of photos. Have the pictures blown up and laminated, so you can bring them out at every big event: birthdays, Christmases, bar/bat mitzvahs, graduations, weddings. Revel in the sweet revenge for years of sticky fingers, destroyed furniture and sleepless nights.

I mean, revel in the photographic proof that you were a good parent, and that your child never once doubted your fashion sense.

Click here for the printable pattern.


  1. I'm THERE. Wanting a way to use up the recent baby colors sport yarn that got stuck to my shoes when I left the Wal Mart last time. I totally didn't even notice until I was in the car. Actually I don't have a car.

    What better way is there??

    Oh, and the bucket hat/cool ass granny hat yet awaits its close up. Waiting till there's a time I remember to do it while I'm awake and everything, or something like that.


  2. My Mum wore hand-knitted woollen swimsuits in the 1930s. She reckons they were good because they stayed warm when you got out of the water. :)
    Must have weighed a ton, though.

    1. During my childhood in the Forties and even later on in the Fifties I (as well as almost everybody,even adults,men and women )wore woolen swimsuits on the beach.Most of them were machine-knitted. Wool was considered good for the health because it dried quickly ,so that it was safe for children to play on the sand and go back to the water several times without fear of catching cold.
      On these days we knew only pure wool,it neither floats nor becomes heavy when it gets wet.The only disadvantage of woolen swimsuits is that they may shrink when used too often.but they keep their shape in the water in a very good manner. Hind

  3. Thank goodness I don't have children.... I would be tempted!!! :)

  4. My mother considered that taking children to the beach was among a good parent's duties. It was said by doctors that bathing in sea water strengthens the child's immunity system.It was advisable to let a child enjoy the sea at least 15 times during summer,but not more than 30 times.
    Sea water was also used as a very good cure against skin rashes and prickly heat.
    So after all you are right about the necessity of taking photos on the beach and keeping them as a proof of being a good parent.

  5. Jenny - I'm also eagerly awaiting that bucket hat! Are you going to take your picture in the bathroom mirror like a club girl?

    Magpie - I've heard from my older relatives that wool swimsuits itched terribly, although I imagine that would depend on the quality of the wool.

    Hind - I'm guessing those swimsuits must have been felting with use, which is why they shrank. Wow... that's a whole new visual for that time period. I had no idea! Thank you!

    Josie-Mary - you could inflict a suit on someone else's child. Pick someone with a sentimental streak so they'll feel guilty if they don't force their child to wear it.

    Hind, again! - Doctors are funny, aren't they? Fifteen times, but not more than thirty. That's oddly specific. And it sure does explain why there were so many photos taken on the beach when our parents were young. Even my mother, who rarely lived near water has a childhood photo from the Atlantic City boardwalk.

  6. Isn't it funny how knitting pattern instructions haven't changed very much since the decline of Middle English? I mean if you ignore the absolutely monstrous thing you're making, the instructions for this pattern could have been written last week.