a baby surprise

A very good friend of mine is currently pregnant with her first baby. While in my own country it is very common not only to learn the gender of the baby, but also tell everyone the chosen name months in advance of the birth, in my years of living among people from all corners of Europe I’ve learned that this is more the exception on our continent. Many many people decide not to find out what they’re expecting, keeping it as a final surprise for the birth, and my friend decided to do the same.

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And so, as I scoured my pattern library for ideas, I thought to myself, what better pattern to make for a surprise baby than the baby surprise jacket. This pattern is so legendary that it’s difficult to find a knitter who hasn’t at least heard of it, and for good reason. It features an ingenious construction which is extremely simple to execute, while at the same time feeling totally impossible to conceptualise. As long as you trust the pattern, you’ll be fine. More than fine. You’ll end up with a miracle of a sweater. I am so pleased with how mine turned out, and I’ll definitely be making more.

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Another pleasing element of this project was that it was made entirely from stash. At first I wasn’t quite convinced about my colour combination, but it was what I had so I decided to plug along. Now that it’s finished I’m totally in love with the colours and find them just perfect for either a boy or a girl.

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As my friend (who is also a knitter) was always admiring the knitted toys I made, I couldn’t resist using the opportunity to amp up the cuteness element and add an Elijah elephant in matching colours. He is quite possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever made, even if I say so myself! This was also the best written toy pattern I’ve knitted from thus far, extremely precise and with clever construction ideas.

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The sweater and the elephant travelled to London today to await patiently for their surprise baby to arrive. I’ll be waiting here in Brussels, and since patience isn’t my strongest suit, I might just whip up another knit or two to pass the time more easily… :)

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lost in blue

A look at my recent blog posts seems to show a slight obsession with the colour blue lately… I hadn’t even realised it until I started blogging again! But it certainly cannot be denied. I think one of the reasons must be this amazing colourway of Cascade 220 Heathers, which is officially called ‘Mallard’ though I nicknamed it ‘Midnight’ for myself (the colourway number is 2448, if you’re interested).

Yes, this is the same yarn as in my post from last week. I had bought a large quantity for an adult male sweater that I was planning, but those plans didn’t work out so I decided to play around with it for other smaller projects. So far I’ve done 2 toddler sweaters in it, and you’ll be seeing more of it in the future as well (I already have a hat planned out).

Cascade 220 Heathers embodies all my favourite yarn qualities: 100% wool without being too scratchy, worsted weight which gives beautiful gauge with my favourite 4.5mm needles, not too expensive yet very durable, comes in 100g hanks meaning that 1  ball of yarn can often last you through a whole project. And the colours, oh the colours. Heathered must be my favourite new word, an ever so slightly tweedy look which gives the perfect amount of depth and interest to a solid colour without any risk of pooling. Can you tell I’m in love?

What’s your favourite yarn? :)

Pattern: Odette Hoodie by Carrie Bostick Hoge

the trouble with sizing

Did you know that there are virtually no sweater patterns for the age of 3? I discovered this curious fact earlier this year, when trying to find a pattern for a friend’s toddler. As I frequently bemoan, I am fairly far away from the majority of the people I knit for, which means that, more often than not, I have to rely on standard sizing for my garments and hope for the best. So imagine my surprise when I realised, while perusing toddler patterns on ravelry, that I couldn’t find a single one which even listed a size for the age I needed! In fact, a typical sizing scale goes something like this: 6 months – 12 months – 18 months – 2 – 4 – 6 – 8 – 10 – 12 years. You may notice that odd numbers of years are conspicuously absent!

Turns out there are reasons for this: from what I could gather from the experts (i.e. parents and pattern designers), children either don’t grow too much between certain ages or their growth is so unpredictable so as to make standardised sizing impossible. You are advised to assess their size and see which of the measurements fit them better, the one for the age above or below them. As this was impossible for me (did I mention I also like to produce my knits as a surprise to the recipients?), I resorted to some other techniques.

In fact, I did a little bit of investigating. I compared the numbers for sizes 2 and 4 of my pattern, and it turned out that they differed only in the length of the body! Everything else was exactly the same for both sizes. Turns out kids don’t change much between ages 2 and 4 either! So, following this, I decided to knit the size 2 with 1 extra inch of length in the sleeves and body (i.e. length somewhere in between sizes 2 and 4).

The result? When the kid tried it on, he definitely had “room to grow”, to put it diplomatically. :) But he wasn’t swimming in it so much to make it unusable, and it will definitely fit him for a couple of years, so I’m calling it a win. :)

Pattern: Weekend Pullover by Andrea Sanchez (The design is like a child Cobblestone, which I love. The pattern is flawless.)

Yarn: Cascade 220® Heathers in colourway 2448 (This may be my all-time favourite yarn.)

finished object: little thorpe

This knit started in a fairly standard way: my friend’s 2-year-old son needed a good hat that would stay on. After combing through dozens of children’s hat patterns I went back to good old Thorpe – it is such a great shape for keeping warm and its top-down construction means it’s also very easy to modify the size.

However, I came to learn quickly that it is very difficult to imagine what a good size for a 2-year-old head is if you don’t have any 2-year-old heads nearby. I ploughed on through the pattern eyeballing the size, with the help of my mom, An Experienced Award-Winning Three-Time-Mother and Two-Time-Grandma. You’d think she’d know. We were quite happy with the outcome up until I tried to put it on my own head and found it to be too big even for me.

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Luckily this hat has a top-down construction (you start from the crown of the head), so if you need to make it smaller, you just have to rip back a few increases, until you get to a more appropriate number of stitches and then re-do the rest. The most fiddly part anyway is the cast-on and increasing, so with that out of the way ripping and re-knitting is a breeze. The second version I knit ended up fitting the boy like a glove. I really cannot recommend the Thorpe pattern enough if you are aiming to make a hat with a perfect fit (especially if you have the recipient’s head nearby for trials)…

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Stay tuned, folks, this issue of babies/kids and sizing is going to become a recurrent theme on this blog, let me tell you…

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Ok, so I’m willing to admit that whatzitknitz may have had a point when she said do I sense a love of fiddly toys starting ; ) two in a row is all I am saying. Though I still maintain that it is due to the fact that after the Fiddliest Fiddling Octopus, nothing can match the level of fiddliness, and thus many other toys seem super easy to make now.

And by many other, I mean, three in a row.

Yes, there may be something to it after all…

(In case anyone is wondering, it’s Mousie.)

i hate sewing on buttons

…but I got down to it last night and afterwards thought to myself contentedly: “Aaaah, now it’s at least done!” And then this morning I got up and saw this.

And this.

The knitting is fine. The button placement is not. ALL three will have to go out and in again (I’ve checked, moving just one won’t do it). Well, at least it’s ONLY three. Or so I keep telling myself. But it’s definitely not DONE.

Argh.

p.s. Have a good week, everyone!