Knitting Baby Stuff: Two Tone Tidbits

In recent times, I am increasingly becoming guilty of the knitter’s vice of buying yarn for which I have no particular purpose. I find it difficult to wander around a yarn shop without buying a skein or two. I am often drawn to hand dyed and handspun yarn which then sits unused in my front room as I’ve no idea what to make with it!

So in an attempt to compensate for this guilty pleasure, I decided my next baby knit was not allowed to result in buying yet more yarn. The answer was this perfect stash buster from Kelly Brooker. It is particularly fabulous for using up those little tidbits left over from bigger projects.

Pattern: Tidbit by Kelly Brooker

Source: Ravelry download

Price: Free!!

Yarn: Leftover 8ply scraps (various)

Needle: 3.5mm & 4mm short circular and/or DPNs

This is a beautifully simple knit and the pattern detail is very clever in that you don’t need to anticipate your yarn scrap running out as the pattern is achieved by simply slipping the stitches in the first colour for the first two rows of the second colour… no remaining yarn required! It is also brilliant in that the thickness of the band of the first colour can vary without any adverse effect on the aesthetic of the finished project. Absolutely ideal for using up random scraps of leftovers.

I have made two so far. One for my little man due in a few months and one for a little girl a friend is expecting around the same time. I’m very happy with them both and suspect there’s a few more to come given the large bag of leftover 8ply scraps I have accumulated!

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My Two Tone Tidbits from leftover 8ply stash scraps. The thickness of the band of the first colour determined largely by how much of it I had left!

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Knitting Baby Stuff: Greensleeves

Having nothing to do with the English folksong about a lover’s betrayal and far more to do with sleeves that are green, I am blocked and ready for the latest arrival, a delightful little Mr. who arrived just as the last drops of water evaporated from this sweet little knit.

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A frontless cardigan is far far harder to spit up on.

Pattern: Newborn Vertebrae

Source: Ravelry download

Price: Free!

Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Fingering in Canopy

Needle: 2.75mm & 3.25mm circular + DPNs

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The collar curls slightly despite my extra stitches, so should still be cosy against the nape of baby’s neck.

Another gorgeous knit from the very talented Kelly Brooker of Pekapeka, this cardi is designed with no front. Making it perfect for keeping a winter baby cosy during some skin-to-skin or even just looking cute without having to worry about dribble and chuck stains ruining every wear.

Goodness knows a new mother does not need more washing!

With that in mind, I cast on in a superwash sock wool from KnitPicks and the result is my first variegated project (subtle variegations of my rainbow mini skeins aside). I was a little hesitant with this at first. The yarn was originally purchased for socks which would have been almost stripy, but with the longer sections of knitting across the back of this cardi, the variegations did start to give that slightly smudgey weirdness that in a bad colourway can make one slightly queasy. I’m not entirely sure I’ve avoided that effect with this knit, but with the brightness of the greens I’m hoping the result is mellow happiness rather than seasickness.

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The shorter rows of the sleeves give a pleasing stripy (rather than squeamish smudging) effect.

The pattern is simple to follow and excellently written. The only thing I varied slightly was in picking up the body ribbed edging, the instructions call for 3 of every 4 stitches to be picked up around the edge. I picked up every stitch across the back of the neck as I found this neater. The result is still perfect and I wondering whether it may have pulled in awkwardly across the shoulders if I’d picked up less.

My blocking has successfully turned this into a long straight cardigan compared to the very shell shaped ones I saw on the Ravelry projects page. I’m hoping it still keeps little Mr. cosy and warm and snug as he cuddles his mummy this winter.

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.

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.

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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!

Knitting Baby Stuff: Newborn Cardigans

Pattern: Puerperium Cardigan by Kelly Brooker

Source: Ravelry

Price of pattern: Free!

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino & Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK

This pattern is a firm favourite and I have just finished up my 5th incarnation! It’s a very simple knit (even simpler if done as a short-sleeved version to avoid the tedium of knitting in the round on double-pointed needles for the long-sleeves) and in the right yarn and button combination can suit boys or girls.

For W, I made a long-sleeved from a Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino – which is less than 8ply – which worked very well, though was a looser knit, and a short-sleeved in Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK.

I’m now finishing up a short-sleeved one in red for a friend who is expecting a little boy next month… but I’ve made a dud button choice (too girly) so will be heading back to the Button Bar for a rethink.

Pearls:

  • If you are put off by the call for double-pointed needles, make the short-sleeve version. It requires only 4 rows of garter stitch on your DPNs. The pain is over in no time.
  • This is knit from the neck down… knowing this helps to get your bearings!

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    Puerperium Cardigan in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino