matchy-matchy

One of the things I really loved about making the sleepsack from the last post was finding piping and buttons that made a smooth match to the multi-coloured fabric. Taking the effort to find the thing that’s just right, even if it’s a tiny detail, really makes a difference to the finished object.

I quickly learned that there is a danger to matching, though: once I start, I cannot stop. Before I knew it, there was a perfect tiny hanger to match the piping. Then I thought: well, sewing is all good, but in my deepest of hearts I’ll always be a knitter first, so surely this baby must get something knitted from me as well. Thus a newborn sweater was born. In a matching colour, of course.

Then one day I was walking around one of my favourite shops, and spotted a most adorable pair of baby pants that would just go sooo well with it all.

I would have gone on (don’t you agree that this ensemble is just crying out for a matching hat? and all babies need booties to keep their feet warm, right?), but luckily the baby cut me off by deciding to arrive a few weeks early. I am grateful to him for that. He doesn’t know it yet, but he saved me from going even further down the rabbithole.

Now, of course this doesn’t mean I’m done knitting for him! But maybe I’ll explore some other colours too… ;)

Pattern: Newborn Tristan by Mer Almagro
Yarn: Anny Blatt Flanelle Merinos
Baby pants: Hema

winter lines

No posting for almost a year and then I just randomly show up without explanation? I don’t care, I have just made myself the awesomest sweater ever, I’m absolutely silly with excitement and I have to show you and tell you all about it right now!

I had the blog post (complete with photo styling) for this sweater made up in my head before I even started knitting it – more precisely, the moment I chose the colours. Back then, in the winter of 2013/14, I had begun noticing a colour pattern in my favourite winter clothes: navy and red, always and in all possible combinations. Case in point, at the time, my winter coat was bright red, and about 80% of the time I wore it with dark blue jeans. And so when the time came to choose the colours for a new sweater, there wasn’t much thinking to do. I planned to finish it quickly (early progress was promising), photograph it with the favourite coat and jeans, and not take it off all winter. But lo and behold, life happened, and the sweater didn’t get finished until a few winters later. I no longer have that red coat, but luckily my colour preferences have endured (surprise surprise, my current coat is navy :)) and this beauty will fit right into my wardrobe.

Now for the technical deets. The pattern is beautifully designed and technically well written. Don’t you love those sleeves?!

And pockets. Pockets!

I did have some issues with sizing (the sleeves and neckline were way too big for me), but once I buckled down and did some improvising they were easily solved. I do suspect, though, that this is a mod I’ll have to perform often as pattern sizes tend to be based on the bust measurement, which can be quite misleading for other proportions.

The yarn is squishy and smooth, and perfectly comfortable against bare skin. With blocking everything got ever so slightly longer, which was just how I wanted it. I am also quite impressed with the fact that the sweater does not show any wrinkles, despite the fact that it was stuffed in a small box for the better part of 2 years. I guess the credit for that also goes to the yarn.

I am absolutely certain I will be loving this sweater for many years to come!

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.)

baby gift set: milo and the simple baby hat

Speaking of simple baby stuff and good old patterns, here are two patterns I keep going back to when I’m in need of gifts for new parents. (Excuse the terrible photos, these are really quite lovely in real life.)

I tend to knit Milo and Simple Baby Hat as a baby gift set. I’ve done three pairs so far and I have no intention of stopping any time soon. They both call for more or less the same yarn and gauge, and are equally simple to make. Moreover, they can serve as wonderful blank canvases to experiment with whatever you want – embroidery, colourwork, striping…

Finally, they are both extremely quick to make, and parents tell me they’re super practical. So, if you need a win-win solution for the next baby shower you’re invited to with a few days’ notice, I’d highly recommend these two!

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!

elephant duo

This was not in my knitting plans at all. One day, I simply found myself picking up the gray and yellow yarn, thinking that they go well together, and from there onwards there was no stopping me. I guess that’s what photos of cute babies do to one.

The duo was initially meant to be a trio, including a pair of gray booties. But to my great distress I had discovered that my favourite bootie pattern has in the meantime been taken off Ravelry, which led to trying out another one and failing miserably several times. I kept ending up with two different-sized booties, no matter how many times I ripped and re-tried. Yes, baby knits are great because they involve few stitches and are thus quick. But the fact that they involve few stitches also means that a difference of 3 or 4 stitches in a row makes a huge difference in the size of the finished object. And thus I decided in the end that an elephant trio would be too matchy-matchy anyway and that no self-respecting baby boy would match more than two items of clothing like ever. And therefore it actually would have been totally silly to give him booties as well, right? Right.

The hat pattern is Gooseberry, which I love for its simple elegance and stretchy practicality. My only objection was the lack of specificity about the size. The pattern simply indicated it was a “baby size”, which in my book is anything between 0 and 12 months, and therefore not terribly helpful if you’re aiming for anything more specific than that and do not have the intended recipient on hand to estimate as you go along. As a result I ended up playing around with the numbers and hoping it fits. I’ll let you know when I find out.

The vest is Milo, which is just a godsend blank canvas for an adorable baby gift. There are so many lovely versions available to draw inspiration from, ranging from cables to colourwork to rainbow striping… I could spend hours just looking at all the different ideas on Ravelry and planning dozens of different Milos to knit up some day. The only thing I didn’t like about the colourwork here was that, done in merino yarn, it looks pixelated rather than with nice round edges. This led to people not always recognising what the pattern was supposed to be (“Such cute piglets!”, my mother exclaimed upon seeing it, for instance). But I still did not yet dare knit something wooly for new parents, the last thing they want to be doing is worrying if the wool is chafing their baby’s cheeks and the last thing I want to be doing is wondering if the baby drool is going to make the vest felt (let’s not even talk about handwashing, I dare not utter that word in their company… ;)

gray is all around me

I’m busy busy busy with my Xmas knitting, and I’m enjoying it too! This evening I decided to take a break from life to do things that refill my batteries instead, and used the time gained to photograph some of the things I have in progress (albeit in crappy artificial light). I was a bit surprised to discover that all of them contained at least a little bit of gray! It seems to be my colour of choice for knits this season! Here’s the proof…

You’ve already seen Millwater (which, in the meantime, has been finished). Then there’s another completely gray item.

And after that there’s all sorts of gray combos.

Medium gray and dark red.

Baby gray and baby yellow.

Dark grey and dark purple.

You’re getting detail shots only on purpose. All of these are gifts, so more to be revealed in a few weeks… But considering the amount of gits I’m knitting, this is going to be one busy blog after xmas day!

Have you noticed any patterns in your colour choices this season?

Oh, handsome

Free patterns have been rocking my world lately! I am not one to shy away from buying a pattern I really like, but my credit card has been sporting a bit of a sad face lately, and this has led me to explore more the free patterns I already had on my queue. One great source of free patterns is Pickles, a Norwegian duo who sells yarns and provides a bunch of free crafting resources. If you haven’t been there yet it’s definitely worth checking out. I like their philosophy very much: they always provide one size of a pattern for free, and they alternate between sizes “to make it fair for everyone”. That’s a very cool approach.

The project I’ve been eyeing the longest on their website is Oh, handsome – a toddler sweater pattern which comes both in a summer and a winter version. The one-size-free idea worked perfectly for me here, because I didn’t have a specific recipient intended for the sweater – I just wanted to try out the pattern. So I just knit whichever the free size was (in this case, it was the 2-year-old size).

The reviews of this pattern on Ravelry weren’t all that bright, though. Many different people had many different complaints, but I decided to brave it, thinking that I would solve any snags as I went (and encouraged by my success in dealing with this poorly written free pattern). In the end, however, I had no major difficulties. (And if you followed that link above, you know I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you if I had. ;)) There were a few places where it could have been polished out a bit, things that were just plain impractical – like the bit where you separate the fronts and the back, which has been widely commented on, and rightly so, but which takes about 15 seconds of thinking to come up with a better way of doing it. Overall, there was nothing that would give one much headache and I would recommend this pattern without hesitation.

The one thing that could be improved is the formatting. Before setting off to knit, I copypasted everything into a Word document, removed all the unnecessary bits and converted all measurements to centimeters. I ended up with a pattern that fit on half of an A4 page and which was much easier to follow visually than the one on the website. But you could say that that’s just personal preference. I tend to do that with patterns a lot.

If you look at my project page, you’ll notice a fair amount of modifications. Their purpose, however, was not to change the design (I really loved it as it is), but to reduce the amount of seaming as much as possible. In the end, the only thing I had to seam was the bottom of the collar, and it pleased me very much that I had been so clever with that! If you’d like to make this pattern and you’re as lazy about seaming as I am, I think you could find my notes helpful. Let me know if anything needs clarifying.

The detail that I am very proud of are the sleeves. Look, look how nicely set in they are! :) Instead of knitting them separately and then attaching them (which I dread), I went in the opposite direction, picking up stitches at the armhole and knitting down. I was a bit too lazy to do the calculations for short rows, so my sleeves don’t have shoulder cap shaping like proper set-in sleeves, but I reckon it doesn’t matter too much on a sweater for a 2-year-old. The good thing about baby and toddler sweaters is that perfect fitting does not matter as much as it does on adult ones!

Oh, and then there’s the collar. I looooove the collar. Well, let’s be honest, it’s the only interesting bit of the sweater – the rest of it is basically just a plain vanilla stockinette sweater. The collar is so distinguished though. So cool. So unusual for a toddler garment. So so SO! I am completely in love with it.

And the best part is that it would probably even eliminate the need for a scarf, since it goes high up the neck and closes in snugly. Thus putting the dot on the i of this perfect little warm winter sweater. Now just to find a model… :)

more gray

I’ve definitely been developing an obsession with this particular gray yarn (ISPE Padova Serenada). Which is kind of unexpected seeing that I didn’t buy the yarn on my own initiative at all. I had bought a huge quantity of it when I was struggling with making “the male scarf”. The recipient had requested gray and this was the best gray I could find, and since it was fingering weight I bought double the amount with the intention of getting my intended gauge by holding it double. After experimenting with it, though, I was not happy and abandoned the yarn completely, regretting my purchase and hoping that some day, a long time later, I could find some use of it, but not really believing that I would.

Then came along the Little Sister Dress and the recipient again requested gray – I was happy that I could use at least some of my stash and plodded along. I still wasn’t terribly impressed. But once it was finished, the magic of blocking decided to interfere. Something happens to this yarn after you give it a nice warm wash. The stitches seem to bloom a little and hug each other tightly, the fabric becomes smooth, the texture pops out. I know these are things you could say about blocking most yarns, but something very tactile happens here, I can’t really explain it without letting you touch it. In the end, it’s it’s what made me fall in love with it after all that time. (I guess all this speaks, as so many other things do, of the importance of washing and blocking swatches – something I’m afraid I still fail to do.)

(The white spots are not colour variations – but remnants of weighing the sweater in our kitchen scales… It’ll have a proper wash soon.)

This particular pattern called for a fingering weight yarn to be held double, something I had never seen so expressly requested in a pattern before, but since I was so eager to use this yarn again, it was the perfect match. And of course, held double the knitting flew by. It came out looking just as I thought it would and I am so pleased that my beloved gray yarn has been turned into another charming toddler item. As you can tell, I haven’t been too keen to get on with the finishing, but when I do, I’ll get better photos and be sure to tell you more about the pattern as well.