Knitting Baby Stuff: Playing Pick-up Sticks

In my current knitting frenzy, I found myself mid-way through a couple of projects and lacking the double-pointed needles (DPNs) required to finish them off. So these two little knits for boys sat idle for a little while as I waited for a delivery of DPNs from Loveknitting.com. But now, after much playing of pick-up sticks, they are blocked and ready to go to their new homes!

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Is it just me, or does knitting with DPNs always feel like a slightly strange game of pick-up sticks?

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The original version. Photo from (and instructions on how to play) here.

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‘Little Boy Blue’ – my version of Elizabeth Smith’s Little Coffee Bean. Delicious, thick and soft.

Pattern: Little Coffee Bean by Elizabeth Smith

Source: Ravelry download

Price: Free!!

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (55% wool, 33% acrylic, 12% cashmere) in two shades of blue.

Needles: 5mm circular & DPNs; 4.5mm circular & DPNs

This knit is for a little boy whose mother is in my Facebook mothers’ group. We’re doing a birthday present swap and I’m hoping this will fit him perfectly for this winter as he turns one in a few weeks. I knit the 12 month size and it’s gorgeous! The yarn was bought to make a big romper suit for W, but I realised it would be a lot of work and he was probably unlikely to wear a thick knitted romper suit more than a few times making it hardly worth it. I’m hoping this little cardigan gets a bit more use!

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Perfectly aligned button band thanks to very clear instructions on how to pick up stitches along the edge.

The pattern for this is very well written and I didn’t have any trouble following the instructions. Elizabeth Smith even specified how many stitches to pick up per row for the button band! I love this!

I find instructions like “pick-up 124 stitches evenly along the edge” slightly overwhelming, so: “Pick up and k 3 sts for every 4 rws (pick up and k 3 st, skip 1 st, pick up and k 3 sts, skip 1 st, etc) along garment edge down to hem, making sure total number of st picked up is divisible by 4 + 2. Write this number down.” …is BRILLIANT! Very, very hard to go wrong. And having followed her instructions, my number of picked up stitches was 58. Perfect.

I used a stretchy cast-off to make sure that the sleeves were easy to pull over wriggly little arms. I found instructions here. Essentially, it is done by k2tog, slipping the resulting stitch back onto the left hand needle and then k2tog again, slipping resulting stitch back onto left hand needle, etc. It made the edge so loose that it looked like it was going to flick out a bit but a good blocking sorted that out.

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Henry’s Sweater. Not for a Henry.

Pattern: Henry’s Sweater by Sara Elizabeth Kellner

Source: Ravelry download

Price: Free.

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in chocolate brown

Needle: 3.75mm circular & DPNs

This little coat just looked too cute to pass on when I saw it here, but I didn’t note the changes that had been made to the original pattern, so had to face issues of edge curl and the slightly less gorgeous cuffs. Ah well.

I’m not as thrilled with this as I’d like to be, and it seems rather huge for 3-6 months. I’m increasingly suspicious that I’m a loose knitter as a lot of my baby knits end up a good deal larger (and using more yarn) that expected. Maybe it’s time to (finally) start doing gauge swatches. Sigh.

This pattern was reasonably easy to follow—though I did find the instructions to insert sleeve decreases after given lengths (e.g. “insert a decrease row after 2, 4 & 5½ inches”) a little imprecise, so opted to calculate row counts based on the gauge of my knitting on the jacket (i.e. decrease at row 15, 30 & 43). This allowed me to ensure the decrease rows were inserted symmetrically on both sleeves. Virgo moment.

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Knitting 10ply on 3.75mm needles gives a very tight, almost felty, stiffness to this knit.

Given my time again, I’d opt for a silkier yarn. I’m not sure if it was the batch, but I found this yarn to be considerably less scrumptious than the one I used for the blue cardigan despite them being the same brand and blend. This was noticable even just as I knit, so the difference isn’t completely down to the much tighter gauge. I’d also add the ribbed sleeves as in the version I fell in love with. Not sure how to do an i-cord edge which can be used to prevent edge curl. A skill to be acquired, methinks!

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Ready to roll.

Now to parcel it up and send it off to a new little man who arrived just slightly before the DPNs did. I’m hoping he’ll love this little coat made for him. Even though he’s not named Henry.

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