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 Baby Stuff: The delicious dressing gown I will never knit again.

I am not sure if you recall my first large scale frogging from several months ago, but I am absolutely delighted (and somewhat surprised at myself) to say it is finally done. Sewn. Blocked. The lot.

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Contrasting edging.

To recap, this dressing gown, from a Debbie Bliss book that I borrowed from the library, looked delicious and I was very excited when I cast on in her own thick soft cashmere and merino blend Aran weight yarn. I knew it would take a while to make and also thought a dressing gown on a pre-walking baby was likely to be impractical, so I bought enough yarn to make the 24 month old size.

Well, at least, I thought I did.

One weekend, as I approached the last two balls of my main colour, I reviewed the pattern and noticed there was an awful lot of knitting still to be done and, fearing the worst, frantically emailed the Loveknitting people about getting my hands on more yarn from the same dye lot. They has two balls in stock, but could only take dye lot orders over the phone and their phones wouldn’t open until Monday morning. Greenwich Mean Time.

Despite calling right on the dot, their stock had been depleted and there was one solitary ball left. I ordered it and optimistically knit on. But with still a good length of the second sleeve to go, I ran out of yarn and after totally frogging it, and leaving a slightly irritated comment on the corresponding pattern on Ravelry, the balls of Debbie Bliss sat neglected in a bag for several months until I could face this nemesis knit again.

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Dressing Gown by Debbie Bliss

Pattern: Dressing Gown

Source: Baby Knits Book by Debbie Bliss

Price: Free (I borrowed from the local library!) but you can buy the book for $45 AUD here.

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in two shades of blue

Needle: 4mm and 5mm straight needles

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The successfully knit and grafted collar thanks to the help of a fellow Raveler.

I finally cast on again, in the 18 month old size, and despite my loathing of the awkwardly worded repeat instruction, and the need to ask for help from a fellow Raveler to understand the collar instruction (details on both issues here), I did quite enjoy the new-for-me technique of working a contrasting edging down the front. It gives the gown a extra toasty, cosy look, and makes me think of grandfathers pottering about in slippers by crackling fires. Which is really what dressing gowns are all about!

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The hems stuck out at an angle when simply turned up as per the pattern. So, I sewed them into place using slip stitch.

Once I’d knit all the parts, with a pleasing amount of yarn to spare, I got stuck into the seaming. Boy, was there was some seaming to be done! Again, the instructions were a little obscure. The pattern calls for the hems to be ‘turned up’ without any instructions to sew them, but they jutted out at an angle and to me this looked unfinished and strange, so I sewed the hems and cuffs into position.

So, while it is still a little on the big side for our not-quite walking 1 year old, the result is even more cuddly and cute than I had hoped.

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W tests out the dressing gown on a cold winter morning.

Quiet Please. Knitting in Progress.

In a flurry of creative energy, I have somehow broken my ‘one project at a time’ rule several times over and am working on at least three projects simultaneously. That’s ignoring the unfinished friend for Lars and the still sleeveless newborn cardigan which are stuffed somewhere at the bottom of my ‘current projects’ box.

Having completed none of them, I thought I’d instead give an update on my current works in progress.

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Random scrappy yarn stash, I will defeat thee.

Bits & Bobs Chevron Blanket

Inspired by my ball winding festival over the holidays, I am revisiting my nemesis knit using all the scraps in my yarn stash. It’s currently a rather odd, slightly scratchy looking thing, but I’m hopefully that with time it will grow to become a lovely cosy piece of home. The main challenge here is that my yarn stash is not all one gauge, or material, or texture. So far this hasn’t caused any great issues tension wise, but I may need to avoid using my super chunky scraps.

I’m such a sucker for the excitement of starting something new when it comes to knitting. Hence, three projects on the go. This yarn stash knit provides that newness over and over. I find myself looking forward to the end of the ball so I can chose a new yarn for the next section and get that new knit feeling all over again. I’ve no idea what drives this, but it keeps me knitting!

Dressing Gown

Suspecting it might take me a while to get to the end, I chose a size with plenty of leeway for my next project for W. I’m knitting up this beautiful Debbie Bliss dressing gown in a 24 month old size. It looks like it might fit him at some stage before he starts kindergarten. It’s huge! A simple knit with a slightly confusing pattern at times, I love the repetition and ease of a large stocking stitch project now and again. I am watching Law & Order episodes as the rows stack up and loving it.

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Rows and rows of stocking stitch are good for the soul.

I think I’ve spent so much of my knitting life knitting from Sublime patterns, that some of Debbie’s lingo initially confused me.

For example:

“Cont in st st, dec one st as set at each end of 4(5:6:6) foll 6th rows”

To me this was initially baffling. Six following sixth rows? What on earth does that mean?

Now reading it again, it seems reasonably obvious, but I think I would have expected it to say:

“Cont in st st for 24(30:36:36) rows, dec one st as set at each end of every 6th row”

I was also slightly perplexed by an instruction to continue on stitches of left front “until collar reaches centre back of neck” with no instructions as to the need to take the panel I was knitting and line it up the previously knitted back piece. Again, this seems slightly obvious now I’m writing it out. I blame baby-related sleep deprivation. A quick question to a fellow Raveler got me sorted out pretty quickly though.

The Loveliest of All Was The Unicorn

When I found out I was pregnant with W, I joined a little group of pregnant ladies all ‘Due In July’ on a forum via the Essential Baby website. To cut a rather long story short, it was simply the best thing I ever did and I now have about 40 fabulous friends from all over Australia with babies the same age as W. We chat (via Facebook these days) every day and share the joys, challenges and occasional outright hideousness of early motherhood. It’s delightful.

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One unicorn head.

So, anyway, one such friend was bemoaning the slightly steep price of a particularly gorgeous crocheted unicorn she was coveting on behalf of her daughter.

“Crocheted unicorn?”, said I, “I reckon I might be able to do that!”.

Despite having crocheted nothing more complicated than an owl hat (the success of which was somewhat dubious) previously, I have embarked on a quest to make something a little like this.

So far, I have a head, nose, neck, body, one front leg, one back leg, two ears and a horn. Two more legs, possibly some wings (slightly scared of that part) and some felt eyes to go. So far, so good.

Knitting Baby Stuff: Chunky Cotton Chevron Blanket

Pattern: Chevron Baby Blanket

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Close up detail.

Source: Ravelry

Price: Free!!

Yarn: Rosàrio’s 4 70’s Cotton

Needle: 8mm circular

Rather than knitting with two strands of 10ply, I knit with a single strand of this chunky cotton on 8mm needles. I knit this while pregnant and it quickly became my nemesis. We would face off over a few rows each night as a sort of penance while I completed other more enjoyable projects. What made this a less enjoyable knit was the chunkiness of it all on short little needles and the complete lack of stretch in the yarn made it tiresome to work with. I could never quite get into a rhythm.

However, now that the nemesis is defeated and this blanket is complete. I love it. Love love love it. W spends his floor play time on this rug and it’s super soft, squishy and delicious.

I did have a slight heartbreak moment when I washed it for the first time. The yellow dye ran slightly despite a cold machine wash giving the white stripes a faint jaundiced tinge, but I figured that this blanket is destined for far worse by way of poonamis and projectile spews. So, with that in mind, I tried very hard not to cry about it.

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Just chillin’ on my chevron.

Pearls:

  • If you’re new to circulars, or cotton, or chunky yarn, or large knits or all four, be prepared for some work as you get to know these beasts.
  • I knit colours in pseudorandom sequence (e.g. A-B-A-C-B-C-A-B-A) rather than stripes (e.g. A-B-C-A-B-C-A-B-C) and think it worked pretty well.