Archive for the ‘baby knits’ Category

Exercise Before Knitting Gifts

Exercise Before Knitting Gifts? Yes, go out for a little jog before committing to that queen-sized afghan for your cousin’s child’s girlfriend’s dorm room! Or, use the coupon code EXERCISEBEFOREKNITTINGGIFTS in my Ravelry pattern shop to buy 2 patterns and receive the 3rd free! The promotion will end 12/31/2010.

Otherwise, check out the Holiday and Winter issues of Interweave Knits for some new Exercise Before Knitting designs. These two colorwork patterns for Interweave Knits Holiday were inspired by that old Latvian mitten book I found last year.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Copyright Interweave Knits

Slanted Peerie Mittens feature a more unusual stranded pattern, one that moves diagonally across the fabric. The design reminded me of ribbons and wrapping paper, a good motif for the holidays. Although these have three different colors of yarn, the little bits of red are actually duplicate stitched on once the knitting is completed.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Copyright Interweave Knits

Parallax Hat came about as I went looking for an easy stranded pattern to work at worsted weight into a pointy little elf-like cap. I am mad for the spiral top on hats in general, and I think it looks even better in colorwork. Consequently, I made the two-color spiral the heart of the design, then worked out the rest from there.

Tuckernuck Cardigan, a baby/child (3 mos – 5 yrs) pattern appearing in Interweave Knits Winter 2010, comes with a bit of history.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Copyright Interweave Knits

While we impatiently awaited the arrival of baby #2 this time last fall, I thought I would pass the time in part by knitting Beatrix a big sister sweater with lots of lovely cables. Intending to self-publish the finished product, I sketched out the design, set up a spreadsheet, planned a list of sizes, and then powered through the knitting. Baby Odysseus interrupted my seaming, so this sat untouched for a few months. I finished it just as I was packing away our winter woolens. When someone from Interweave asked if I had any children’s patterns for Winter 2010, I sent off my sketches.

Normally, I dread selecting buttons because I have an incredible knack for making extremely poor button choices. One of my coping strategies is to ask other shoppers in the store what they think of my button choice. Did you know most knitters and sewers love choosing buttons? They do. AND they’re usually quite good at it, don’t you think? These particular buttons pleased me very much. They look great with the gray yarn, and don’t detract from the cables at all.

I realize many people do not want to think about baby or kids’ patterns, but I maintain the set-in sleeve is worth the (small) trouble. Well fitting knits look great on children, don’t you think?

Stay tuned for some more gift ideas, namely a pair of Latvian-inspired mittens from Twist Collective!

Striping my stash

I love to knit from my stash, and not just from any part of it: I love knitting from the littlest bits and bobs kicking around in the corners. The partial skeins, the lone discontinued yarns and colors. Better yet, I love using up all those scraps to produce a piece for which I might have easily bought yarn, not just one which provides good way to use up old yarn. You could say I can get a bit obsessive about making sure my stashbusters can stand on their own merits. Remember the Ultimate Stashbuster Vest?

Ah, yes, that was a fun one! Although I would love nothing more than to dive into an all-consuming fair isle garment right now, I’ll save that for winter break. Until then, I’m happily knitting along, striping my way through life. Inspired by these lovely socks, I’m calling this pair “Never Enough Chocolate” because they remind me of Neapolitan ice cream, which always seemed to me to have far too much vanilla and strawberry. I had lots of pink and white yarn going into this, but not much brown. To completely use up three colors required some weighing and a lovely little bit of algebra (of which the striping pattern is the result), but it worked! I have absolutely nothing left.

Next, as I mentioned this summer, I needed a good baby sweater for my new (and first!) niece, Amelia. What better than to knit up a Budgie, since O wears his – the one grumperina sent him – all the time? He wears his Budgie with the balaclava osloann sent him in part for warmth, and in part so general public will know he is loved by knitterly peoples. Can you tell?

I had to change the striping pattern on Amelia’s Budgie because I had unequal amounts of yarn, and I substituted buttons for the zipper because Amelia will outgrow this long before she identifies buttons as potential food. Otherwise, as always, I did everything grumperina told me to do, and it’s perfect! Of course! Several years ago, Maritza and I joked about having, “What Would grumperina Do?” t-shirts made. It is a question that runs through my mind when I’m unsure about a project. The answer, of course, is to rip. Always. I wonder from how many hours of unhappy knitting she’s saved me???

Finally, in the last bit of striping, I slowly eked out another pair of socks, combining leftovers from my Mill Creek Cowl together with Drunken Bee Sock scraps. I thought this color pairing would be rather unsightly, but they look much nicer than I had expected; I like this mix a lot!

With these two pairs of socks, I scraped the bottom of the barrel of my sock yarn stash. All that remains is a Koigu partial and a darning’s worth in other colors. I once had sock yarn enough for 21 pairs, and now I have nothing but a lot of finished socks! What a great feeling!

I’m a bit behind here, so expect to see something soon about some of my newest works in Interweave Knits Holiday and Winter, as well as Twist Collective Winter. In the meantime, here is a preview of a new design I’m just finishing up:

In need of finishing time

To think, just two months ago, I worried aloud medical school would rob me of every last bit of knitting time! On the contrary, I have far more time to knit now, but no time to think about my knitting: a fatal combination for a perfectionist knitter.

There’s even an almost finished sweater for me in that pile, probably buried near the bottom as it stews in Time Out – I am too annoyed to even discuss that one yet. Although I have plenty of time to knit while studying and sitting in lectures, I have little time to use my brain for things that do not relate to human anatomy (and I’m pretty sure fitting a sweater to a human form does not count in this respect). As you might expect, there have not been many successful projects around here: the three sweaters I swatched last week need different yarns, I have a stack of projects in need of button bands, buttons, or zippers, there’s a hat needing a lining, a baby sweater needing a fix involving a sewing machine and scissors, and several projects waiting on more yarn from the US Postal Service. Things will improve, but until they do, I will show you other people’s knitting, not mine.

Grumperina kindly sent one of her original Budgies to Odysseus, who, shall we say, fills things out quite nicely these days. I pulled it out of the drawer yesterday morning for him to wear on a walk, now that it’s cool in the mornings. Bonus? There are no buttons for him to attempt to eat. Odysseus is a big fan of grumperina knits! Thanks so much, Kathy!

Two of the striped sweaters in my unfinished knits pile are Budgies – it is such a perfect pattern for little ones who tug and pull buttons. I’m making two to use up some cotton stash and to knit for some new babies in my family. Only the zipper installations remain to be done. (Of course.)

O’s new Budgie conveniently matches his new Thorpe! Danielle spun and knitted both of my kids Thorpes for the winter. I think the hats are the same size, which is good, because O’s head is as big as his sister’s. Plus, he has long since outgrown the hat she made him last winter!

What I love about these hats is that they seem to come from so many knitterly people at once: the wool for the hat on the left is from Adrian (HelloYarn), the wool for the hat on the right is from Amy (SpunkyEclectic), the pattern is by Kirsten (Through The Loops), and the spinning and knitting by Danielle (aswiminknits).

Lastly, much to my surprise, a beautiful baby quilt arrived on my doorstep last week, sewed and quilted by my KBC friends.

The little boat on the back is embroidered with “S.S. OEB”, such a sweet personal touch for a little man named for a big sailor, don’t you think?

His chubbiness is lucky to know so many generous and talented crafters! As am I! Thanks so much, everyone!

Panicked pattern queuing

Nothing gets me more panicked about knitting for my kids than July and August. The school year approaches, you know! What’s that? You say my kids aren’t in school yet? Hm, yes, well there is that. However, as many of you know, I will begin medical school in less than a month, so at least one of us has to prepare for the school year. As you might expect, I feel a bit panicked about losing my knitting time; naturally, I’m spending my last month of freedom planning lots and lots of projects!* I must remind myself that because I knit while I study, August 2010 does not mark the end of my knitting days. Whatever you do, please do not leave a comment asking how I will ever knit again, OK? Thanks.

Despite my impending lack of time, I have been planning what I will make for my kids this year. I thought I would share my ideas with you. For Beatrix, I would like to cast on for a Morgan’s Flower Garden by Amy Herzog.

Copyright Amy Herzog

Everything is red with Beatrix these days, so I will probably have to change the main color to appease her. Although the pattern calls for Cascade 220, I intend to use some Berroco Ultra Alpaca bits floating about in my stash. With shrinking knitting time, I need to make sure what I knit for the kids is both cute and functional; this definitely fits the bill.

For Odysseus, I hope to make an Ella Funt by Pamela Wynne before Chubby outgrows the pattern sizes. Perhaps I should get started on this first, since my tubby seven-month-old is already 22 lbs. He wears things for a week before outgrowing them.

Copyright Pamela Wynne

The pattern calls for sport-weight yarn, and boy, do I have sport-weight scraps! In fact, my stash seems to be comprised almost exclusively of them. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit I have only made one sweater for little O in his life and I made it before he was born. That is to say, of course, it doesn’t count. The little man needs some woolens for the winter when his mama is away in the anatomy lab, don’t you think?

Finally, I’m planning grumperina’s Budgie Striped Sweater for sometime this fall/winter. Isn’t it adorable? True, I am a sucker for anything striped, but the zipper is what makes it a very useful, day-to-day garment. Once they start teething, little babies tug every button in sight to get it into their little mouths, which is dangerous for them and disastrous for their sweaters.


Copyright grumperina

Stacey recently sent me some of her own handspun, and it is burning a hole in my stash. I have never used handspun, and this stuff is gorgeous. I only worry about selecting the wrong project and wasting it! It would look great with this pattern, but a baby sweater might be a waste of handspun, don’t you think?

Like grumperina, so many of my friends and relations are expecting babies right now. I feel like my list of baby standard sweaters has dwindled to a few about which I’m not terribly excited. It’s time to shake things up a bit and find some new go-to baby knits. I think both Ella Funt and Budgie will fill the void.

I’ve also been swatching a little bit on my own for some baby items, playing around with gauge and color values, but I have not yet found anything I must knit.

What baby and kid patterns excite you?

*This can only fail.

How To Wash Your Woolens

Recently, several knitters – that is to say, people who should know better – noted to me the unnecessary hardship of asking a new mom (it’s always mom), and especially a non-knitter, to handwash woolens. This is such bunk. You know that, right? I have never found it much of a chore, but I knit, I like wool, and I use (and wash) cloth diapers; it’s quite possible my tolerance of laundering is high. However, upon further discussion with the let’s call them Begrudgingly Acrylic Knitters, I discovered they have no idea how quick and easy it is to wash a wool garment. I thought I would put together a brief tutorial on how to do it quickly and effectively. I promise that it is at least as easy as, and I think easier than, regular laundry.

First, always keep your dirty woolens in their own basket. This ensures they remain separate from the regular wash and protects them from accidental felting.

Wool laundry basket

I wash my woolens either when I run out of socks or when my wool basket gets too full. I did a wash today because Odysseus is low on sweaters and he spit up all over his bunting this morning. He is a very leaky child. I will return to this point later (I know, you can’t wait).

Dirty woolens

Prepare your washing machine (yes) for a small load and allow it to fill with cold water. Add a capful of wool soap – not too much, just a small capful. I use Eucalan, but SOAK is nice too. Do not use Woolite – your knits deserve better. Stop the machine before the agitation cycle begins.

ETA: Without access to a washer, smaller items can be washed in this manner with a salad spinner. For that large, cabled, tunic-length sweater? You’re on your own!

Wool soap

Toss in your knits. Trust me, I won’t felt your woolens.

Load the washer

Load the washer

Load the washer

Your sweaters and socks will float on top of the water. The wool will eventually take up water and sink, but it is incredibly resilient. Help it out: push down your items to submerge them.

Full washing machine

This is the variable stage. I often set this up before bed so they can soak overnight. Some people only soak an hour. I have been known to forget about wool washes and leave them for 36 hours. Don’t do that, but soak them for as long as you find convenient.

Be sure to tell everyone in the household that there is wool in the washing machine. Deliver this information in the same way you would share that the iron is hot, the gas burner is lit, or the car is running. Impress upon your cohabitants that under no circumstances are they permitted to so much as enter the laundry room. Oh wait, that’s the rule in my house… I encourage you to be as bossy as you like.

Spin Only Cycle

Done stewing? Turn the washing machine dial to spin-only. This is the end of the washing cycle in which the water is spun out of the clothes. I assure you, your washing machine has a spin-only cycle. Mine does, and it is the cheapest, most worthless machine money can buy (it has two cycles: on and off). Ask me about how we bought appliance insurance then cloth diapered now two children in an attempt to kill it. The stupid machine runs like a champ.

Right. You don’t care about my piece-of-junk washing machine. Sorry. Let the spin-only cycle go to completion. When you open the washing machine, you will find damp but by no means soaking wet woolens. If you find them too wet, run the spin cycle again.

Drying on a towel

Lay out garments on towels. Sometimes, I spread out a couple of towels on a bed. If I’m washing lots of socks, I string a clothesline and pin the socks to dry. That’s a lot of work. Do as you see fit, but know that depending on the fiber content, your garments will be dry in anywhere between a few hours and a day. If they take longer to dry, you did not spin out enough water.

Drying on a towel

I feel I need to make one final point about babies and wool. Babies leak. Odysseus has never met a surface he deemed unworthy of spit up. He is the messiest baby I have ever known. Yet, he wears the woolly bunting Sally made him every day and today is the first time it has been washed. And no, it hasn’t been gross and covered in baby goo all this time. Careful use of bibs (or in his case, large cloth diapers as bibs) has kept it plenty clean.

Don’t ever feel like you have to sacrifice quality for ease of use! Teach people how to wash woolens. It will prove useful long after their babies leave the house – after all, who survives without wool socks??? Babies can wear wool. New, sleep-deprived moms can wash wool. And you know what? Dads can too.