Posted in knitting

Summer Stashbusting + Pass-along

This time of year I frequently find myself diving into my yarn stash. The goal is to USE it, and to use it in projects that are comfortable for the knitter to make on hot summer days and nights. Today I have three items that fit in this category.

First up is this quirky little hat.

Earlier this year my daughter gave me the small, beat-up hat you see on the right side of this photo. She had inherited it from another mom. Our baby really liked wearing it, but now it was too small and full of holes. I dove into my stash and found plenty of yarns that almost matched, color-for-color, the hues of the original hat. De-coding the pattern was quite simple, since it was a classic shape and used only stockinette with a few purl rounds. The only challenge was working the decreases at the top, to reproduce the “stem.”

During my stash dive I discovered several sock yarn skeins, some of which have enough yardage for a pair of socks. This deep blue yarn was left over from a sweater I made for myself a few years ago.

Love this Color.

The sock pattern comes from a book by one of my favorite knitting writers, Clara Parkes. The Knitter’s Book of Socks is quite good. It includes twenty sock patterns, each by a different designer. She also writes about the characteristics of different yarn fibers, and how these might match up with the qualities required by socks: elasticity, strength and absorption. I highly recommend this book for knitters who like making socks.

This pattern is Firefly, by Jennifer Hagan. The two by two cables are all right-leaning. She has them spaced out along the leg of the sock in such a way that they are easy to make.

My last stash buster started out as a pass-along yarn. Knitting friend Kathy gave me several skeins of Peruvian sock weight yarn in a so-so shade of blue. The blend includes alpaca and wool, but also 50% acrylic. In my stash I found a pale blue tweedy sock yarn bought on sale that had not inspired me. But by knitting them held together, these two yarns worked harmoniously. There was just enough for the skirt of a toddler dress.

When the pale blue ran out, I continued on up the bodice with the alpaca blend held double. The yoke includes a small pattern using strands of Cascade 220.

The dress design is mine, but the stranded design comes from a traditional Faroese Kettunøsin pattern. They are little dog heads.

While I sit here indoors, out my window it is raining heavily. This downpour is quite welcome, since it is the first rain since May. Gardening is out for the day, but knitting, quilting, writing and painting will keep me busy until dark.

Posted in colorwork, knitting

Hat Alert!

The message came in over the week-end, with a tone of some urgency. It seems that the baby toddler girl had outgrown her hats, and the carefully saved wool hat of #1 grandchild was no where to be found. With the onset of cold weather, there was no time to waste in meeting the need.

The criteria was pretty simple. Earflaps were desired and a cord to tie the hat under the chin. Consulting my stash I found an almost full ball of Cascade 220 Superwash in a pale yellow color. I had purchased this yarn two years ago when I first learned of the baby’s expected arrival. I was excited to try out some stranded patterns using this yarn and various bits and bobs left over from other projects.

First I consulted my knitting stitch dictionary (750 Knitting Stitches – The Ultimate Knitting Bible.) For this project I needed a pattern with a fairly short repeat. I also needed a motif that would fit on the ear flaps.

These two will do nicely. Cosmea will work for the earflaps and Aubrieta can circle the body of the hat. I also liked that the pattern repeat was six stitches. With my gauge of 5.5 stitches, a multiple of six will help me achieve the 18 inch diameter I needed. Here is my chart for the earflap and body, and my calculation for the cast on. I came up with a total of 96 stitches, which is divisible by six.

Ear Flaps done.

After casting on, I completed a modified version of Aubrieta, stopping when the hat body was 4 and 3/4 inches tall from cast on. Next I consulted the pattern I had used ten years ago for grandchild #1’s hat to figure out the crown decrease rate. I added a few rows of dots in the first three rounds of decrease, then completed the rest of the decrease in the solid yellow yarn.

Ear Flap hat in the blocking stage.
All Done.

This was a fun and quick project to make from one’s stash. I was pleased that I could use up some yarn scraps of a beautiful Malibrigo yarn that was left over from my blue ribbon vest.

UPDATE: Hat was received, and put into use quickly. Not only does it cover the ears, it covers the cheeks as well. It’s so big that it will still fit her next winter.

Posted in sewing

Baby needs a new pair of Shoes

My granddaughter has spent her whole life barefooted. And now, just as she is learning to walk, winter weather has arrived. How is a beginning walker going to gain confidence in her stride if the ground is cold, wet, and slippery? This situation has been weighting on my mind so I decided to do something about it. Hence the quest to make baby boots. I have some yardage of fake suede lined in fleece. It looks really warm. Perhaps it can be fashioned into footwear?

I found the following pattern on Stitches and Sunflowers and began to answer this question. The maker professes that these really will stay on the baby’s feet.

After downloading the pattern pieces, I cut them out of the fake suede.

It’s important to flip the heel pattern piece over before cutting the second one.

Begin by sewing the heel piece to the sole. I changed my machine needle to a larger number to deal with the thick fabric before sewing.

Those quilting clips really came in handy today!

After attaching the heels, a piece of elastic is sewn at the upper edges. I then turned the top edge over to conceal the elastic.

Notice that I trimmed away the fleece from the seam allowances.

Next comes the toe piece. I again sheared back the fleece from the seam allowances on both pieces before stitching.

After turning right side out I have a pair of cute suede boots.

All that remains to be done is to sew in some fasteners. I’m thinking of going with Velcro, since it can be adjusted for fat or thin baby ankles.

Yes! Soft AND warm. My little friends approve.
Posted in knitting

Finishing the Baby Fern Sweater

I had stopped working on this project until I could verify the baby’s arm length. My original design allowed for an 8 inch sleeve. To learn the truth I took a tape measure to the lake house. While she attempted to evade measurement by considerable wriggling, I won the battle, and determined her arms were 7 inches long. In the interests of planning for growth, I made the sleeves 7 1/2.

Finally moving on to the yoke. Remember, Elizabeth Zimmerman’s battle cry: Knit body to underarm, sleeves to underarm, unite! Here is the sweater after the yoke was worked as far as the first round of decrease.

My plan to keep the stockinette stripes evenly spaced worked out well. As I began to run out of yarn I added the white and pink stripes. The blue ribs were carried through by slipping those stitches in the white and pink stripes.

Yoke worked to 4 inches in depth. Per the EZ method, three rounds of decrease happen at 1/2hf, 3/4th and 4/4th of the yoke, or in this case, 2, 3 and 4 inches.

After sewing up the sleeve seams and grafting the underarm seams, I decided to use single crochet to finish the front edge including six button holes – 2 in the yoke, 4 in the body. Here is the sweater, knitting complete.

Now I’m off to my LYS to buy the buttons.

Posted in knitting, recycling

A Little Remake

In March my daughter gave me three garments that were in need of a remake. I have already dealt with the silk blouse and the brown cardigan. The third was a blue wool baby sweater which got machine washed in hot water by mistake. The consequence was that it thoroughly felted and shrank down to the size of a doll’s coat.

I had been mulling over what I can make from a felted sweater. No ideas came forth. Then I shifted my thinking and considered what could be done with the felt itself? Remembering a conversation that I had with my grandson, about the poor performance of hand-knitted mittens in wet snow, I hit upon the idea of felt mittens. Melting snow will rarely, if ever, penetrate a heavy felt garment. Could I make mittens for the baby with this felt?

To start with, I cut off the sleeves. They looked vaguely mitten-like.

Using a crewel needle and sock yarn, I blanket-stitched around the lower edges of the sleeves. Then I picked up and knit into the blanket stitches and joined for knitting in the round. I knitted the cuff downward in rounds. After a few rounds, I started 2×2 ribbing for about an inch. Then I decreased, knitting another five rounds and bound off loosely.

Cuff finished. Beginning thumb for right hand mitten.

The process for the thumb was similar, except I had to slice a one-inch gash in the heavy felt. About eight rounds of knitting later, I decreased with k2tog, pulled the yarn through the remaining loops and fastened off.

Here comes the fun part. I cut down the top edge, making the total length of the mitten 5 inches. The upper edge was closed with running stitch and then sewn with blanket stitch all around. Using pink and red yarn, I embroidered a heart on the back of the mitten.

The letter R is for Right Hand Mitten!

Right hand mitten is done. I do hope that this will be a workable mitten. Now to make the left hand mitten to match.

Rainbow Beanie Baby, holding the mitten for me while I make the second one.
Right-Hand Mitten’s buddy has arrived.
Posted in knitting

July Knitting

The wild storm that blew through here Sunday night left behind the most glorious, cool and dry air. With early morning temperatures in the upper 60’s, it’s just fine for knitting en plein aire. What better project for summer knitting than baby sweaters?

The knitting you see in the photo is the body of a sweater for Baby L. By the time real sweater weather arrives, she will be one year old. So I have sized this sweater in the 12-18 month range. This design is a yoked and button cardigan with a very full body slightly gathered at the chest. Here is my schematic.

I feel excitement at my future of making many knitted garments for a little girl. So many design elements to choose from – the head spins. I would call this one a vintage style, which is built upon a 12-stitch lace pattern sourced from Barbara Abbey’s The Complete Book of Knitting (1971 by Viking Press.) I will use Elizabeth Zimmerman’s percentage system and instructions for the Fair Isle yoke sweater found in The Opinionated Knitter (Schoolhouse Press) to fashion the yoke. The sweater is constructed from the hem up. As Elizabeth writes, “Body to underarm, sleeves to underarm, UNITE, which … sounds rather like a rallying call.”

Below please note the instructions from Abbey’s book and accompanying chart for the baby fern lace pattern: FYI, my gauge in pattern is 20 stitches = 4 in.

Now what to do with the sleeves? I decided that they would be bloused sleeves, not tapered, so as to match the body. In studying the lace pattern, I noticed that the lace panels are separated by a 3-stitch mini pattern of garter – stockinette – garter. If I expand this slightly and add two more garter stitches between the stockinette, I will have a 7 stitch pattern that works well with the lace. Here is how it looks:

Knitted outdoors this morning, enjoying sixty-seven degree air.

So that’s all the major decisions made. I will use the same 7-stitch pattern on the yoke. I only have two balls of this Berroco “Comfort” yarn. If I run low of yarn at the yoke, I will throw in some contrasting color rows. Oh, this is going to be fun!

Posted in hand embroidery, knitting

The Luna Moth Returns

I’m finally getting back to the little knitted baby dress. After I became inspired by the Luna moth in my backyard, I decided to embroider a Luna on the green dress. I had finished knitting it a few weeks ago. Today I completed the embroidery. Here is the Luna moth image which served as my model.

And here is the baby dress from the front view.

My plan is to work the embroidery on the back of the dress. But first, I will need to reinforce the yarn so that it can support the embroidery stitches.

This is a very lightweight version of fusible interfacing. It actually flexes with the knitted fabric. Next I drew a pattern of the moth and pinned it to the dress.

I was forced to shorten the moth’s back wings, in order to fit the dimensions of the dress. To transfer this pattern to the dress I simply stitched all around it with white thread. The embroidery took a couple of hours. I tried to use colors that were true to nature. Here is a picture of the finished piece.

I’m sort of happy with my work. Perhaps after a night’s sleep, I will reconsider my choices, and make a few adjustments.

Posted in knitting

Mowing around the Luna Moth

The green expanse of our back yard is not the monoculture of grass species typically found in American suburbs. Due to the presence of several mature trees, the grass will not grow thickly. Instead, we have what I call an English lawn. Today it is dark green, dotted with the yellow, lilac and white blooms of English violets, false strawberry, dandelions, oxalis, white clover and tiny bluets. It still requires weekly mowing. But one of the virtues of this diverse ecosystem is the abundance of wildlife. Today I noticed a luna moth clinging to a leaf of fescue. I stopped the mower and went to get Bill, so he could take her picture. The moth held perfectly still. In fact, she simply would not be budged. I carefully rolled the mower around her. After spending nine months as a pupa beneath the soil, this magnificent creature has but seven to ten days to complete her life cycle. If she is lucky, she will attract a mate tonight. They will dally together for a few hours, then she will be off to lay her eggs in a nearby tree top.

I was struck by the strong resemblance of the moth to this little dress I am knitting for the grandbaby. At the end of the first skein I am nearly finished with the skirt.

Ruffle and all but a few rows of the skirt section complete.

I have named the project Luna Lou Dress and plan to embroider a moth on the bodice. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Posted in knitting

Knitting Baby Clothes

The past two days have been cold and wet – perfect weather for curling up with a bit of knitting. My daughter let me know that the baby has outgrown most of her outfits which I knit last year. And she is crawling now. Here is the baby, seven months old, wearing the cotton overalls that I made in a 12 month size.

I picked up a similar yarn last summer, in an acrylic blend.

Designing baby clothes is really quite simple. All you need is an idea, some measurements, a swatch, and a schematic drawing. Everything else is math. While I don’t have my granddaughter’s measurements, I can use the standard baby size chart developed by the Craft Yarn Council. You can find it here:

Here are my drawing and swatch:

The lower edge will be a lace ruffle. The skirt will be in stockinette stitch and the bodice in garter stitch. I have decided to use the same style of buttoned straps as I did on the orange overalls. My swatch gauge for the lace section is 4 and 1/2 stitch per inch. I want the skirt to measure at least 32″ around. The lace pattern is a seven stitch repeat. So I will cast on 154 stitches. This works out to 22 pattern repeats and about 34″ diameter. After about three inches, I will switch to stockinette stitch. My gauge for this stitch is 4 and 3/4 stitch per inch, which will bring the diameter back to 32″ After knitting for seven more inches, I will reduce by K2tog every other stitch, eliminating about 40 stitches. This brings the diameter down to 24 inches for the bodice. Once I am there, I will figure out the armhole shaping.

Here is the dress so far. Ruffle almost complete.

Since rain is forecast for the rest of this week, I should make fast progress on this cute little dress in the next couple of days.