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.


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.


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!


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.



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.






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.


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?


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!


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


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


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.


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.


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


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!


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


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: Woven Basket & Beautiful Buttons

It’s been a while since I was here. With work madness, home madness and study madness… there has been little time for knitting, let alone writing about it. But having made some big decisions – I quit my PhD (hurrah!) – I feel much more that my life is my own again, and I have finally finished this gorgeous little coat.


W models the Latte Baby Coat.

Originally intended as the ‘boy’ option for a friend who ended up having a girl (and received the Rainbow Dress instead!), this coat has no current home. Unfortunately, it took so long to finish that W has grown and the sun has come out and I think we’ll get little wear out of it before Summer strikes in all its sweaty glory. So this will go into the ‘knits for no one’ pile – which comes in handy for Christmas and birthdays… and future children of my own!


No way it will still fit come next winter. Damn.

Pattern: Latte Baby Coat by Lisa Chemery

Source: Ravelry download

Price: €4.75 (~$7.50AUD)

Yarn: Cascade Ecological Wool in Antique

Needle: 6.0mm circulars (for coat proper) & DPNs (for sleeves), 6.5mm circulars (woven basket on coat) & straight needles or DPNs (woven basket on pockets)

I made the hooded version of the 2-18 month old size with two front pockets and used 185g of the yarn. The woven basket stitch takes a little practise (especially when working the right side) but after knitting up a small swatch using some scrap yarn I got the hang of it fairly easily. However, it is a total nuisance if you drop stitches or slip. I couldn’t for the life of me work out how to pick it up again and ended up frogging the pockets a few times as I was knitting on awful plastic straight needles and slipping became an issue.

This yarn is delicious and squishy and I am very tempted to buy up to make a 3-4 year old size so that I can see in W in it again for more than the few minutes for the photos!


Woven basket stitch and woven leather buttons. So squishy and delicious.

The beautiful buttons, chosen to mirror the woven basket stitch, are leather and from my very favourite Button Bar.

My other big achievement since I last wrote is I have ventured into handspinning! I am the ‘proud owner of a first spinning attempt’ in this lovely account of the day by our good friends at Trees, Bees & Cheese who were kind enough to share their expertise, spinning wheels and delicious soft alpaca fleece. I’m looking forward to getting more of a chance to refine my skills now that I’m PhD-free and bought some gorgeous undyed alpaca fleece on a recent trip to Berrima for when an opportunity next presents itself!

I’ve realised I have spent so much time frantically knitting for new arrivals that W has no current knitting goodness to wear. Coming into Summer, it’s not a big deal, but after his birthday present to me this year was a pile of knitting pattern for toddlers, I’m taking the hint! Now to find something super cute and ideally able to be made from my every growing yarn stash!

Knitting Baby Stuff: Lace & Simplicity

In the madness of life with an 8-month-old baby and a often busy work life, time got away from me and I completely failed to have a knit ready for the arrival of a friend’s baby girl last week. With no time to order yarn online or get to the yarn shop, I rummaged through my stash and my pattern books and decided on making this gorgeous knit again.


Simple cap sleeve top with button. I didn’t oversew the button band as advised in the pattern as I had a baby with a massive head and know that neck opening just ain’t big enough for some heads.

I’ve made it once before and been very pleased with it on both occasions. With a little dedication to the cause, I managed to get it finished within a few days and once it’s finished blocking, will get it off in the post on Monday.

IMG_5738Pattern: Composite by Kelly Brooker of Pekapeka Design Studio (she also wrote this pattern… another go to favourite for new arrivals.)

Source: Ravelry

Price: Free!!

Yarn: Stash scraps – Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk DK. I think. Lost the ball band.

Needles: 80cm 3.5mm circular and 30cm 4mm circular – from different sets so they’re easy to tell apart.

This pattern knits up surprisingly quickly and is very pretty with little lace cap sleeves. Given the size, the concentration for the lace is only required for 13 rows so it’s still a suitable in-front-of-the-telly knit, though you may want to watch something not too challenging during the lace rows. There’s a slightly tricky section where you use both the small and large needles simultaneously, which Kelly describes in the pattern as being “a bit like playing with an octopus”, but as she also points out, it only lasts a few rows so it’s manageable.


Weighing up my chances of finishing the knit with yarn to spare.

I particularly liked that Kelly specified the weight of yarn required for the knit. This meant that by temporarily borrowing my husband’s baking scales I could work out whether I had enough yarn even though I was using pre-wound stash scraps which had been half used.


  • Weighing yarn is a great way to work out how much of a ball you have left and whether you’re likely to finish the project on your scraps
  • Lacework requires concentration, even when simple, so avoid watching anything too in-depth or challenging during those 13 rows!
  • The pattern calls for oversewing of the button band to join the two layers. I didn’t do this, as the button allows for the neck opening to fit over baby’s head and as the mother of a particularly large headed baby (greater than the 98th centile… no seriously, a lot greater!!) I know how frustrating a small neck opening can be.
  • This knits up quite small, but after blocking should be right to fit a baby for their first few months in this crazy world.
  • In writing this post, I’ve discovered the Pekapeka Design Studio page with a bunch of gorgeous free patterns to choose from! You can find them here!

Knitting: A Silly Hat for the Silly Season

Having spent the last 12 months as a research fellow and then on unpaid maternity leave, my knitting projects have taken a slightly frugal turn and are, for the most part, directed at using up my current (rather excessive) yarn stash rather than buying new yarn. This has led to some fairly unsuccessful knits (e.g. 3/4 of a stripy sock aborted as I can’t for the life of me work out how to get the stripes to match up around the heel… of course rather insanely trying to knit from a pattern not written for stripes), but this little number is a winner.

Albeit rather silly and completely useless beyond the next week or two.

Pattern: Not Only Christmas Hat by Anna Rauf

Source: Ravelry

Price: Free!!

Yarn: Sublime Cashmerino Silk DK (scraps from stash)

Needles: 3.5mm and 4mm 41cm circulars; 4mm double pointed needles for when the circulars get too big.


Having a son with an abnormally large head (yes, yes, it’s off the charts in his little Blue Book), I diligently measured his head prior to starting this knit (46cm! Lordy!) in the XS size (41 – 46cm). Despite that, a short way in, I checked the knit by trying to squeeze it on to him and the result was fairly instantaneous crying. Bad mum. So, I unravelled and ended up knitting the M size instead (48 – 54cm) and it fits without crying… just. So, I’d suggest measuring your intended hat wearer and going up a size (or two).

I also didn’t knit the tail of the hat as long as the pattern called for. My tail is about 11cm long, partly due to my stash running short and partly to avoid the tail being sucked and chewed on my the wearer. My pompom could probably not withstand the attack of slobber that would eventuate if W could see or reach it!

Pompoms are something I am no expert in and I find it hard to get them tied tight enough. The result is a pompom that is prone to shedding if pulled. Not ideal. This might also be because of the silk in the yarn making it a little extra slippery. If anyone has good pompom technique tips, please post in comments! I’m all ears!