Knitting Baby Stuff: Marguerite & Madeline

There’s an apparent baby boom going on among my friends at present so I’m in (yet another) flurry of knitting activity trying to make sure I have something for all the new arrivals. I was running a little bit behind schedule when this little lady made her entrance in such a hurry that she was (unexpectedly) delivered with help from her dad and 000 in the bathroom! Not that the dramatic (and fortunately safe) circumstances of her arrival are any excuse for my late knitting. She was actually right on time.

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A relatively quick knit for a little girl who also likes to do things in a hurry.

So having knit old favourites recently, I decided to go with something new for this little lady.

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Skew-whiff lace.

Pattern: Marguerite by Helen Rose

Cost: $5 USD

Source: Ravelry download

Yarn: Madelinetosh Feather in Over the Ocean

Needle: 3.25mm and 4.5mm 16″ circular and 4.5mm DPNs

Before I get on to the pattern—which I’ll say now made me a little grumpy—the yarn I used for this is fast becoming a favourite. Delicate, soft and subtly shimmering colour. Having not known it existed a few months ago, I am becoming a firm fan of single ply yarn for anything light and soft.

So, while this is a sweet little lacy top which is very simple to make, some aspects of this pattern irked me and my perfectionistic tendencies and I’m not sure I’d make it again without making a few corrections.

My first gripe is that the lace repeat is not symmetrical. Instead of working ssk on one half of the repeat and then k2tog for the other side, as one would expect in a lace pattern, all the decreases are worked as k2togs. To me the whole thing looks a bit skew-whiff as a result.

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Despite a thorough blocking, there is some visible laddering due to the beginning of the round running up the middle of the back.

The second foible, which I didn’t realise until I was well underway, is that the beginning of the round is positioned in the middle of the back of the garment. This isn’t a big deal in the lacy section, but despite my very best blocking, there is a clear ladder in my stocking stitch bodice at the point where the round began. It would have been far better for this to be under an arm, out of sight.

The pattern includes instructions to use stitch markers to help keep track of the lace repeats. However, with the inclusion of various increase rows which shift the location of the markers, this involves putting the markers on only to take them off again a few rows later. While this is all very clearly described in the pattern, it’s quite a to-do and I would probably have been better just to work without the markers all together. The repeat is pretty simple so it’s not too complicated to work out where you are up to if you lose your place on a lace row.

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A poorly executed bind off.

The last irksome feature of my finished object is of my own doing. I initially started to cast off the bottom of the bodice using a simple chain cast off in purl, but felt that there wasn’t any stretch in it and that it might be too tight to pull onto a wriggly baby easily. So I ‘ffo-tsac’—not my favourite knitting manouvre—and instead used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. While it is, as advertised, surprisingly stretchy, I wasn’t as even in my technique as I would like and as the beautiful stitch definition of the yarn isn’t very forgiving of poorly executed stitches, my cast off edge leaves a little to be desired. I used the same technique for the ribbed sleeve cuffs where the aesthetic issue is fortunately far less conspicuous.

So, although it’s slightly wonky looking and laddered, this is a soft and lovely lacy top which knit up very quickly for a very lovely little lady who also likes to do things in hurry.

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Lovely stretchy cuffs thanks to Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.

Knitting: Breaking Into Brioche

A while back, I got sucked into a particularly deep Ravelry rabbit hole and discovered the talented Susanne Sommer’s page with so many gorgeous, truly modern knits. Having added nearly everything on her page to my Ravelry favourites, I then decided I simply had to cast on soon and decided her Peachy shawl would be the place to begin.

 

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“Brioche and Garter are a match made in heaven” – Susanne Sommer

Several long nights were then spent, whilst nursing my newborn, hunting online for the perfect yarn combination. I wasn’t able to get what I wanted in Australia, so ended up getting some delicious Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles shipped from Stephen & Penelope in Amsterdam! It is really the most delicate and delightful yarn I have ever had the pleasure of holding. The urge to cast on was irresistible. Despite the multiple works-in-progress already filling my knitting bin, I really could not wait!

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The finished product

Pattern: Peachy by Susanne Sommer of Sosu

Source: Ravelry download

Price: €6

Yarn: Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles in Teacup (A), Genie (C) and Jelly (D) and Madelinetosh Eurosock in Antler (B)

Needle: 4mm long circular

This pattern used a few techniques I didn’t know, including i-cord tab cast on, two colour brioche and i-cord bind off. The cast on was tricky! I watched Susanne Sommer’s video several times over and cast on several times before I got the hang of the manoeuvring required.

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My hideous unevenly tensioned mess and rather complicated counting system.

Once, I got started, I then felt like my knitting looked like a hideous unevenly tensioned mess. Nothing like the beautiful close ups of the finished product I’d seen on the Ravelry page. In desperation, I frogged and cast on again several times before giving up and asking for help on the brioche forums on Ravelry.

Much to my delight, Susanne Sommer herself responded, reassuring me that all would come together with the blocking. So I took a leap of faith and pressed on.

Two colour brioche is a clever technique in which each row is worked twice, once with each colour. The first time the row is worked, half the stitches are slipped with the working yarn making a yarn-over loop which is paired with the slipped stitch. The second colour is then worked into the previously slipped stitches together with their yarn-over, while slipping the stitches and creating a yarn-over for those stitches already worked in the first colour.

I’ve just read and re-read that last paragraph and realised I’ve made it about as clear as mud. The visual learners among you will probably prefer to just watch this video. It’s far simpler than I’ve made it sound.

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Right side and wrong side displaying the gorgeous effect of two colour brioche stitch.

The pattern is beautifully written with details on the special techniques provided. The only minor flaw is that near the start of the brioche triangles in both sections, a few stitches are written as being worked as though they already have a yarn over, when it hasn’t yet been created. Being a brioche novice, I inadvertently worked two stitches together as a result (e.g. pattern calls for a brioche knit (brk) and I k2tog instead). Given the size of the shawl and the lacy speckled yarn, this error is never going to be noticed, so I left it!

Working brioche was initially rather all consuming and required a bit of concentration, but once I found my rhythm, with a rather complicated counting system—I had three row counters on a crochet hook to keep track of my rows and repeats—it was easy to work this project while also indulging my Netflix addiction.

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Post blocking beauty.

That is until a slip of my concentration or, worse, of the needle resulted in an error. Fixing brioche is a whole new level of knitting prowess! I must confess, I just made it up. I fiddled with the threads until I thought they looked like they were doing something similar to their neighbours. The use of two very similar coloured yarns in the biggest section of the shawl made this even harder as I could often not see which yarn went where. Fortunately, my perfectionistic tendencies are fading as I age, and I was at no point tempted to frog the whole thing and start again. Though I did occasionally pop a lifeline through the project, just in case a real disaster struck.

I won’t be entering this shawl into any serious competitions as errors abound, but they mostly are hidden well among the rows and rows that I managed to get right.

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Don’t look too closely. Errors abound.

The i-cord edge of the shawl gives it a lovely softness, but my yarn choice has almost ruined the effect. Given my time again I would use four yarns all of the same composition and type. I couldn’t get my hands on specific Madelinetosh yarn suggested in the pattern, but I wanted the same neutral colour, so I bought it in Euro Sock instead of the recommended Merino Light. I didn’t appreciate that the different structure of the yarn (4ply vs. single ply) would so dramatically effect it’s elastic properties. Indeed, I only really worked out what a ‘single’ yarn was very recently when reading a handspinning book! As a result, the difference in the stretch of my i-cord edge in the first section—where I used the 4ply Euro Sock and a single ply—compared to the second section—where both yarns were single ply—was so noticable that I thought it would ruin the project entirely! Fortunately, some gentle but firm blocking has made the difference far, far less noticeable and I don’t think it will effect the fall of the shawl too adversely.

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World’s slowest, but possibly most lovely, bind off.

The i-cord bind off (lovely photo tutorial here) has got to be the world’s slowest way to cast off. But it is also one of the most lovely. I really love the effect of the bind off in the neon bright pink of the Jelly yarn. Super squishy! It draws a big underline across the bottom of the project and gives it a very finished and polished quality.

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Suboptimal blocking conditions.

Blocking this gorgeous number wasn’t done as delicately as I would have liked due to a lack of blocking mat real estate and also a lack of patience for blocking wire placement on the part of a certain hungry baby. I used wires along the long edge of the shawl, but the shorter edge I just used a few judiciously placed sewing pins. Despite the imperfect technique, the blocking has brought out the absolutely beauty of the brioche, as Susanne Sommer promised me it would, and I have fallen in love with it all over again.

I think this is my favourite knit of all time, which, having knit for the better part of 20 years—the last 10 of them in earnest—is not a minor accolade. I’m so excited to have discovered the diversity and creativity of the Ravelry rabbit hole and as a result, I still have a knitting bin full of works in progress and even more projects I simply cannot wait to cast on.

 

Knitting Baby Stuff: Rainbows & RainDROPS

I’ve had my eye on this pattern for a while after spotting this gorgeous version by kcol on Ravelry. So when a close friend revealed the gender of her baby due this month, I reallocated my gorgeous balls of Knit Picks Chroma in Groovy and instead of making the socks I bought them for, I set about for to recreating kcol’s version of the DROPS b14-27 Jacket.

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The finished product.

I knew from the project notes on Ravelry that this would knit up larger than expected, so I cast on the 6-9 month size in the hope it will fit well for next winter when bub is nearly one year old.

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The gradient of the Knit Picks Chroma works brilliantly for these skinny stripes.

Pattern: b14-27 Jacket by DROPS design

Source: Garnstudio DROPS Design

Price: Free!

Yarn: Knit Picks Chroma Fingering in Groovy & Cascade Yarns Heritage in White

Needle: 3.25mm circulars

This is a very clever pattern which uses short rows to create a flared cardigan knit side-to-side with cast on and cast off to create sleeves. Essentially only two seams should be required. Except knit as written, one must change yarn every 2 rows! So the benefit having only two sleeve seams is overwhelmingly negated by the need to sew in eleventy-million ends. Having cast on and knit a few colour changes, I quickly recognised this issue and in addition to dreading the end weaving, I wondered whether I’d be able to make the finished product look neat and tidy. My end weaving skills are still a work in progress.

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It quickly became apparent that the clever two-seam construction was going to become completely irrelevant with eleventy-million ends to weave in.

Modification required!

By adding a white border along the bottom, I would be able to carry the yarn for the stripes and avoid the eleventy-million ends all together. Genius!

So, I frogged and cast on again adding a 6 stitch white border to the bottom edge. I quickly refreshed my memory of how to do an intarsia colour change by watching this video and got stuck in.

However, I soon realised that the neat intarsia method I was using was designed only for stocking stitch. I improvised for the wrong side knit row of this garter stitch pattern, but after a few stripes it was clear my improvisation was giving lacklustre results! Further Google searching brought me to this video and —after yet another frogging—I started again. It looked much better!

Once I was (finally) on my way, this knit up reasonably quickly and despite the rows and rows of garter stitch, the short row turns and the gradient colour changes of the Chroma yarn kept it interesting and fun.

The only other small modification I made was to slip the first stitch of every row purlwise to give a neat edge. A trick I learned from Kelly Brooker‘s newborn patterns.

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Who knew garter stitch could be so fun?

As the Ravelry project page suggested, this is a HUGE cardigan. I suspect that maybe the error is in the given gauge. It certainly seemed way off! The pattern recommends 2.5mm needles. I (rather amazingly) didn’t have any in my seemingly endless needle collection, so I swatched on 2.75mm using the Chroma. My swatch was under size by more than 20%! So I reswatched on 3.5mm. This gave me the right gauge, but the fabric looked looser than I’d like. I compromised and knit my cardigan on 3.25mm needles. Despite being well under given gauge, the resulting cardigan is enormous. It looks more suited to a 2 – 3 year old than a 6 – 9 month old!! Next time, I might knit up on 2.5mm needles just to see what happens.

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The wrong side can be just as beautiful as the right side when you have no ends to weave!

So whether it’s this winter—or more likely the next!—that this cardigan fits, I’m hoping it gets lots of wear. I’m wrapping up these Rainbows & RainDROPS to send to a little girl who made a safe and happy entrance to this crazy world just last week!

 

Knitting Baby Stuff: A Beanie for Bugsy

I have been so busy knitting things for newly arrived bairns, that my own gorgeous not-so wee one didn’t have a single hand knit item in his current wardrobe. Feeling—albeit a little irrationally—guilty about this, I dug out my stash to find something I could quickly turn into a warm winter beanie as the cold weather finally set in.

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Katia Montezuma in #105. An impulse buy from House of Yarn.

I found this gorgeous impulse buy from House of Yarn, measured W’s seriously large head, and cast on.

This is a very quick knit, but I still managed to pick up some new skills along the way. I had never come across a provisional cast-on before. This is a nifty technique for keeping your cast-on stitches ‘live’ so you can come back and knit onto the other side of them later. A quick YouTube got me up to scratch. I watched this and this to figure it out. In this pattern it is used to allow a kitchener stitch grafting rather than a seam to complete the beanie tube.

I have to look up kitchener stitch every single time! Knit, slip, purl, purl, slip, knit.

I knit this up within a day and had just enough yarn left over to make two delicious tassels. I worked out how to do that by watching the video here.

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Getting my provisional cast-on on.

 

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His urge to take the beanie off matched only by my wish for him to keep it on.

Pattern: Pea Green Beanie by Michelle Dupont

Source: Twoandsix blog (found via Ravelry)

Price: Free!!

Yarn: Katia Montezuma in colourway #105

Needles: 7.5mm

So, it turns out toddlers can sense your level of enthusiasm—even when you try very hard to act neutral—for them to love something and respond by immediately generating an equal measure of dislike! It took more than a month of offering this beanie before it was finally voluntarily donned! I should have known this given the number of times the nemesis dressing gown has been worn! But, I managed to finally get it on his head for some photos yesterday. Super cute, super warm. Even if it spends much of its life in a cupboard.

Knitting Baby Stuff: Lessons & Lifelines

So, there’s a lot of catching up to do on the knitting I’ve been doing over the last few months.

As my due date for B.’s arrival approached, I became nervous that all that awaited him was a not-quite-half finished blanket, so put down my swaddle blanket project in favour of some quicker projects. I also realised that my own looming due date meant that the due dates of several friends expecting at the same time as me were looming too, and got further side tracked making sure there is something knit for their little bundles too. Here is what I learnt along the way.


Happy in Blue

This is a gorgeous frontless cardigan from Kelly Brooker designed for newborn skin-to-skin cuddles when they are brand new and it also stays out of the high risk zone when they inevitably chuck up a tummy full of milk all over their recently donned outfit. I made one in a variegated green for a friend and having some blue yarn which didn’t quite work in its intended project, I decided to whip one up for my then baby-to-be.

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Happy in Blue

The issue was, according to my husband’s baking scales, I only just had enough yarn. Just. So, I needed to be very scrupulous with my measurements and not knit a row more than absolutely necessary.

I did, however, become completely engrossed in a gripping plot line on Downton Abbey and knit my cardigan too long.

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Narrow edging due to yarn shortage.

Lesson #1: Retrospective Lifelines

Needing to unpick knitting is tedious. The cautious among us ‘tink’ back through the stitches one by one. But this was several rows and I had a gripping plot line to follow. Tinking was not an option.

The fearless among us will whip the needle out and rip back the rows, trusting in their ability to rethread the needle several rows back without twisting or dropping stitches. I am not fearless.

So, I did a quick Google and found this very handy link on how to insert a retrospective lifeline. Probably not a realistic option for lace knitting—where lifelines are a must in my book—but for quickly and safely ripping stockinette stitch back, this is a gem.

Lesson #2: Calculating when to cast off

Having successfully completed the body and sleeves of the cardigan with my yarn, I knew that my collar and front border was where the compromise was going to have to be made. I needed to calculate how much yarn was required for a row, so that I knew when to call it and cast off.

To do this I measured out my yarn in arms-length sections, hooking a stitch marker through the yarn at each section, then counted how many sections I used up in kitting one row of the edging. It was not a whole number. I can’t recall how many it was exactly, but it was that many and a bit. So, when I got to having ‘that many and a bit’ of yarn left, I commenced my game of yarn chicken and started to cast off.

You can guess who won. By about 30 stitches. Turns out ‘and a bit’ is not an accurate way to measure anything. So, having avoided the dreaded ‘tink’ earlier in the piece, I proceeded to ‘ffo-tsac’, which is almost as hard to do as it is to pronounce.

The finished item looks a little weird with its skinny edging, but it still found a lovely place in my newborn’s wardrobe—albeit it short lived due to his amazing ability to stack on kilograms seemingly overnight!

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Sleeve detail

Pattern: Newborn Vertebrae by Kelly Brooker

Source: Ravelry

Price: Free! As so many of Kelly Brooker’s fabulous newborn patterns are.

Yarn: Kiogu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino (KPPPM) in Blue

Needle: 2.75mm & 3.25mm circular needles


Raspberry & Plum Lace Dress

Increasingly my knitting addiction is being closely seconded by my yarn addiction. Having spent so many years of my knitting life knitting in solid colours, I have possibly over-compensated and gone a bit wild on gradient yarn. I love the look of them both in skeins and finished objects. I bought this skein with no particular project in mind, but then thought a lovely long lace dress might be the perfect way to show it off.

 

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Sweet heart detail.

Lesson #3: Knit a gauge swatch …and then use the information it gives you

The issue with gradient yarn is the maximum effect of the beautiful colour gradient is only achieved if you manage to find a project that uses up exactly one skein of yarn. No more. No less. This is a challenge where the length isn’t very flexible, or where a losing a game of yarn chicken is going to be difficult to face. I don’t like to play yarn chicken with a 14 row lace repeat. Throw in the need to do a different 13 row repeat for the last one and, well, I’m not game.

So, despite actually knitting a gauge swatch (see the perils of failing to do so here), I was so fearful of running out of my gradient that I convinced myself that a superwash yarn would stretch a lot with blocking (information I had no reason to actually believe!) and knit the dress using needles I knew would give me a smaller dress than required.

I did plan to play it a little by ear and add extra length if I found I had loads of extra yarn, but my yarn chicken phobia got the better of me and I pulled out of the lace repeats a touch early and missed out on the full beauty of this vampy gradient from Knit Circus as the brilliant hot pink finish did not make it onto the finished object.

When will I finally learn the gauge swatch lesson?!

Lesson #4: Lace Lifelines & Place Markers

This is probably something that lace knitters across the world would roll their eyes at with a collective sigh of ‘Well, duh!’, but it didn’t really cross my mind as a diligently thread myself a lifeline after my first lace repeat. I thread my lifeline through all my stitches and my place markers.

But a few rows on, I realised my error. The lifeline was pulling down with the markers. Not good. I rethread my lifeline skipping the markers as I went and ended up with what I was looking for. A little bit of lace insurance.

IMG_7750Pattern: Helen Joyce Dress by Taiga Hilliard Designs

Source: PDF download from Ravelry

Price: $6.50 USD

Yarn: KnitCircus Corriedale Sock in Vampire Boyfriend

Needle: 3.5mm circular… should have gone bigger.

 

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Matching hat of my own (plagaristic) design made from the delicious hot pink end of the gradient that didn’t quite make it to the main event.

So, despite aggressive blocking,  I ended up with a rather stumpy looking dress. Turns out superwash does not have ridiculous stretch properties. Who knew?!

Despite its shortcomings, my Raspberry & Plum dress found a very happy home. And the mother of its recipient assures me it’s not too ‘goth’ for her gorgeous baby girl.

And I even managed to knit up a matching beanie from the remaining yarn by modifying a newborn beanie pattern and adding the Helen Joyce lace detail to the edge.

 

Knitting Baby Stuff: From Frogs Legs to Loopy Leggings

I’m back!

There’s been a lengthy silence on this blog due to many factors—mostly the arrival of a gorgeous B at the beginning of April—but I’ve never stopped knitting! So we have some catching up to do.

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Master B. joined our family in April.

These scrumptious leggings were finished before B. arrived, but the weather is only just starting to cool down now and we finally got them on to W for a few photos this morning.

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Loopy Leggings modelled by W. highlighting the self-striping rookie error of the leg rejoin.

They didn’t start out so fabulous. Yet again, I failed to swatch (who has time, right?) and then I failed to convert US needle sizes correctly, so used a 6mm needle instead of a 5mm needle for the main knitting. I also failed to measure my child and guessed at a size.

By the time I reached the gusset, I realised I had knit a ginormous pair of pantaloons that could have just about fit me!!

Frogged. Whole process taking far, far longer than it would have to (a) swatch and (b) measure my intended wearer.

So, armed with a needle conversion chart printed and popped into my knitting organiser for future reference, and my measurements, I cast on again. This time, a gauge swatch!

After sorting out my gauge, I got on with it and turned out this lovely pair of leggings. Only hitch being that the yarn is a little scratchy on delicate toddler skin. A thin pair of cotton leggings underneath sorted that out and he’s played happily in them all morning.

Pattern: Lamby Leggings by Sarah Lehto

Source: Ravelry (of course!)

Price: $6 USD

Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Pasea in 1017 (self-striping in red, orange & yellow)

Needle: Would you know after all that I didn’t write it down? Can’t remember what I ended up using! But you’ll be doing your own gauge swatch, right?

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Designed with plenty of room for W’s cloth nappied bottom. They might sag a little sadly over a a slimline disposable.

The pattern is very well written, including photographs to help with some of the less common techniques, such as the double bum short rows. I still struggled a little with getting this to work, but I think that is more my issue than the author’s!

I did spot a few errors—the most costly of which was the instruction in the gusset to ‘repeat gusset increase round 7 times’. This should read ‘repeat gusset increase a total of 7 times’. I repeated it 7 times (after I’d done it the first time, making a total of 8 times) and ended up with 4 more stitches than I should have. Tink tink.

I also ran into issues when I used a knit front & back (KFKB) technique for my increases in the increase round immediately below the waistband. I failed to subtract the stitch I used for the KFKB from the stitch count between the increases, and ran out of stitches prior to the end of the round. Again, my issue rather than the author’s! If I’d used a ‘make one’ technique of picking up the loop between stitches—as implied by the instructions—all would have been fine!

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I knit them a bit long to allow for upcoming growth spurts. The cuff looks cute folded up in the meantime.

My other main failing was due to a lack of finesse in using a self-striping yarn. I should have rejoined for the legs ensuring that the rejoin was the same colour on both legs and ideally the same as the colour joining them on the gusset. I didn’t do either of these things, so there’s a small odd stripe on one thigh and a huge thick stripe on the other. And the legs are not the same. But, hey, they are loopy leggings!

Knitting: A Lot of Linen Stitch and a Little Something for Me

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My gorgeous storage bin from Australian company, Plyroom.

Between work, a very active little soon-to-be-properly-walking man to hang out with, the lethargy and general awfulness of first trimester pregnancy (boo, but yay!) and our whole family being taken down by some horrible virus that seems to work its way through the body head to toe over a period of several weeks, I haven’t had a lot of time to work on my multiple works in progress, let alone write about them.

But here I am, on a rather snotty Saturday morning—out of bed because I’m on call and it’s slightly undignified to answer work phone calls whilst huddled under a doona—with an update on my current knitting projects.


For Me

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Rows and rows of knitting in the round is a welcome reprieve from my slower linen stitch projects.

It’s been an eternity since I knit something for myself. I knit myself a cardigan for my wedding in 2013 but nothing since, mostly because it was only months after my wedding that I found out our gorgeous son was on his way and since then my knitting life has been almost entirely filled with knitting baby things for him and my friends’ (seemingly never-ending stream of) new arrivals. So, some time ago I decided I wanted to work on a project for myself. Something simple to knit, that I would wear often and be comfortable in. I wear a lot of lightweight (store bought) knits so thought a homemade version of something similar was much more likely to get worn than a more bulky style.

So I’m knitting this.

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Raglan sleeve line on my Lightweight Pullover.

Pattern: Lightweight Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Source: Ravelry download

Price: $5.95 USD

Yarn: Classic Elite Yarns Fresco (5ply) in Coral

Needle: 4.0mm circular

It’s proving a lovely a straightforward knit thus far and with all the linen stitch I’m doing (see below) the stocking stitch—which knitting in the round is just rows of rows of knitting—is a welcome reprieve. Unfortunately, I’m in a slight panic about finishing another project in time so this one has been on the back burner for a few months now, but with the reason for the looming deadline factored in, I suspect I won’t be wearing it for a while anyway!


For My Husband

The last time I knit something for my husband is an even more distant memory than my wedding cardigan. It was a lovely thick ribbed roll neck jumper called Flint from Sublime yarns which took an eternity and used a lot of very lovely, rather pricey, merino wool. Unfortunately, I had no idea about positive ease when I took his chest measurements to get the sizing and so rather than a lovely loose slouchy jumper, my husband ended up with a thick form fitting top which had the rather awkward effect of making him look as though he’d gained 5 kilograms the instant he put it on. Not quite the desired effect! Needless to say, it’s somewhere in the bottom of his chest of drawers providing a home to a family of moths.

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Kiogu Linen Stitch Scarf is knit lengthways with the tassels formed by leaving a length before cutting the yarn and rejoining for the next row.

So, I desperately want to make something lovely for him. He’s not really into knit wear to begin with, but he does wear scarves in winter. He prefers the more the slick gentlemen’s style than chunky knitted numbers. I’ve gone with this pattern and so far I’m not 100% sold on it, but we shall see.

Pattern: Kiogu Linen Stitch Scarf by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas

Source: Ravelry download

Price: $5.00 USD

Yarn: Kiogu Painters Palette Premium in 357, Knits Picks Stroll Tonal in Canopy and Kindling (all 4ply).

Needle: 3.75mm circular (the pattern calls for 4.0mm but mine are being used with the pullover and I figured it’s not critical with a scarf to get the gauge perfect)

I started making this using the Kiogu 357, Knit Picks Canopy (green tones) and another Kiogu I have (447) which is brilliant blue. The result was spectacular but far too colourful and outlandish for a gentleman’s scarf. I am now knitting it with the 357 and Canopy using the Knit Picks Kindling (brown tones) for every second stripe. Happy with the results, but the small needles, long rows (it is knit lengthways) and linen stitch may it slow going.


For Baby

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Take-Me-Home Swaddle Blanket in Pink Grapefruit and Pistachio Green Line Weight yarn from Purl Soho.

So, as you may have gathered, we are expecting baby number two next year and so I have been unable to resist putting down these projects in favour of (yet another) baby knit. Enjoying the linen stitch scarf and keen to use some finer yarn, I have cast on this delicious and squishy baby blanket. It is knit using two colours knit together and with the linen stitch gives a very pleasing effect of both randomness and beauty. I am using the most divine soft yarn from Purl Soho and the blanket already feels cuddly and lovely. The main drawback with thin yarn is, of course, that it takes an age to see any progress. I started this very soon after we found out that I am pregnant, and as I approach the halfway mark of my pregnancy I am no where near halfway through this blanket. It is now sitting in its little bag next to my bed and I am knitting a minimum of two rows each night before bed in an attempt to ensure it can actually be used when our baby is still a baby!

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Right side on the two colour linen stitch. Random colour variations and beautiful symmetrical triangular stitches.

Pattern: Take-Me-Home Swaddle Blanket

Source: The Expectant Knitter by Marie Connolly

Price: Free (I borrowed it from our local library)

Yarn: Purl Soho Line Weight (3ply) in Pistachio Green and Pink Grapefruit

Needle: 6.0mm circular needle

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Very civilised project pile. These see-through drawstring bags from Loveknitting (which come with yarn orders) keep everything together and visible. Perfect for the multiple project knitter.

Okay… phone’s ringing. Gotta scoot.

Knitting Baby Stuff: Rainbows & Meadows

I’ll start by putting it out there. I could have done better. And if I didn’t have a ‘to knit’ list as long as my arm and several fast approaching deadlines (also known as due dates), I probably would have frogged this and re-knit it. But here we are and it is the way it is. I’m hoping it still finds a very happy home.

My gorgeous rainbow mini skeins from Gradient have been realised this sweet little dress.

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Rainbows & Meadows.

Pattern: Meadow Sweet Baby Dress by Marianna Mel

Source: Ravelry download

Price: Free!

Yarn: Rainbow Mini Skeins in 8ply from Gradient Aus (used ~120g)

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Needle: 4mm (I knit on circulars as you end up with 164 stitches at one point)

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Not happy with my colour change timing. The skirt starts visual on the increase row but I didn’t change colour until the start of the 4 row lace repeat.

The main reason for contemplation of frogging here was the way I divided the colours. I used a new colour every 17 rows on the bodice and every 4 repeats (16 rows) on the skirt. Given my time (and yarn) again, I would use one colour for the whole bodice, change to the first skirt colour for the increase row (row 33) and change colour every 3 or 4 repeats for the skirt. The change in colour mid-bodice looks strange and the skirt starts visually on the increase row but I didn’t change to a new colour until the start of the lace repeat resulting in a slightly awkward look.

The pattern calls for the first stitch of most rows to be slipped, which I did purl-wise—an inspiration from my Pekapeka knits—giving a very neat vertical edge. I also used markers during the bodice to help me knit the raglan sleeves without having to concentrate too much on my counting.

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Gorgeous rainbow cascade.

I’ve also been exploring the world of the ‘loose cast-off’. Patterns often call for this and I’m never quite sure I’m achieving it. So a quick Google sent me here where I found two techniques for ensuring a loose bind off. I used the ‘yarn-over’ method for this project as the skirt is ruffly and a super loose cast-off helped it show off its ruffles! The description of this technique puzzled me slightly in terms of how to get started.

I knit the first stitch, then did a yarn over and knit the second stitch. I then passed the yarn over loop over the second knit stitch and then passed the first stitch over the second stitch. Then did a yarn over and knit the next stitch. I continued in this way always putting the yarn over loop over first. Is that a better explanation?!

The other new thing for me with this knit and my Little Boy Blue was trying a different (gentler) technique for blocking. I recently bought some blocking mats from Knit Picks so after years of spreading beach towels over guest beds and then poking holes in them with my sewing pins—much to my husband’s dismay—I was able to neatly lay things out on my purpose built mats. The box came with instructions on how to block and I was rather surprised to see I’ve been doing it wrong!

I have always drenched my knit in warm water, often giving it a good few squeezes to get the water into the knit, then squeezing it again to get most of the water out. I think this has been beating my knits up a bit. I did notice recently that one of my Composite cardigans, done in a delicate silk blend yarn looked considerably more fuzzy and little worse for wear after blocking. The results with this new technique were much nicer!

The Knit Picks instructions are as follows (paraphrased for brevity):

  1. Soak knit in basin of lukewarm water until completely wet (usually at least 30 minutes). Very gently squeeze out any air bubbles.
  2. Remove from basin and put into sink to drain. Avoid wringing or twisting. Once most of the water is out, gently press knit between two towels to remove additional water.
  3. Carefully lay project out onto blocking mats away from direct sunlight or any heating vents. Shape according to pattern and use pins to secure project in place.
  4. Allow to air dry before removing pins.

Now to find some suitably gorgeous and girly buttons for the back!

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.