Counting Sheep

Aah the sleep sack!

Client’s Brief to Knitter: should last baby till 18 months at least; should have his name on it; should be adorable; shouldn’t allow baby to wriggle out; should keep his arms warm; shouldn’t allow baby to crawl inside; no hood.

Knitter’s Brief to Client: should be fun to knit; need freedom to throw in bunch of fun, crazy stuff; should be adorable.

Happy Result:

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Here’s the best thing about baby knits that don’t need to fit — you can do anything! I started with a magic CO, worked in the round till the sheep were done, then changed to back and forth (to allow for deep slits along the side so the squiggly creature could be inserted easily), decreased to shoulder width, stranded back and forth (not difficult, simple ‘lice’ pattern), threw in a bit of intarsia, shaped a neck and shoulders, and trimmed the front with a couple of rows in a contrast colour!

Wait, did I tell you that the trim also incorporates buttonholes, so that the sack can hold the baby’s arms inside or outside? And they’re sparkly!

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After all that was going on in the front, I didn’t have much energy left for the back, so it’s much simpler — the stranded pattern occurs less frequently and there is no neck shaping, only sloped shoulders to match with the front. To tell the truth, I got super bored doing the back, ignored it for a couple of weeks, then finished it in a day and a half, spurred by fears that the baby would grow too large to fit (totally unfounded).

Then it struck me that the baby’s fat little toes could get caught in the floats, so I also lined it with a cut up t-shirt. It sounds like a lot of work, but was really, really fun!

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If you would like to replicate it, my Ravelry notes are quite detailed, and you’ll have to use the free Baa-ble Hat pattern, making sure that your total stitch count where you want the sheep is a multiple of 60.

Details
Pattern: my own, with Baa-ble Hat
YarnCascade 220 Heathers, Filatura di Crosa Principessa, Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Worsted, Sirdar Snuggly DK (2 colours)
Needles: 5.5mm square (=5.0mm round)
Ravelled: here

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Shocked and Random

I’ve been knitting dedicatedly for a while now, and have never feared to try anything. So I was shocked — shocked, I tell you! — to realise I’ve never done any intarsia! Of course I knew the theory. But looking back at projects all the way from 2008, I couldn’t find a single intarsia’d stitch.

Well, that’s been remedied now:

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I’m still chugging away at the sleep sack. I’ll write about all the design decisions in the FO post, but at least now it looks like what I imagined. There was a point where I was worried it would be weirdly long and lumpy.

In other random news, I jumped on the adult colouring book bandwagon:

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And ordered even more sock yarn:

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Thyme, Nectar and Ginger from Madelinetosh. Very botanical, no?

 

Sheepy Dreams

In the middle of my sock knitting jag, what could be more appropriate than to interrupt the current socks in progress…

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(Elm, in Malabrigo Sock “Turner”)

… with another giant, sock-like thing?

This is a very much designed-on-the-fly sleep sack for a little baby who apparently doesn’t quite approve of the current southern hemisphere winter. I’m using the ever-popular Baa-ble Hat pattern for the sheep and stars (snow??), but started the bottom like a gigantic sock toe with a magic CO.

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The best thing about baby knits which don’t have to fit is the freedom to do pretty much everything. Stranded! Pictorial motifs! All the colours! In the round! Back and forth! Maybe even intarsia!

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Yeah, I’m enjoying myself.

 

A Tiny Exaggeration

I am amazed and bemused to report that I stopped knitting for a month. There was too much travel and too much work, both adding up to too much stress, even though of a good kind, the stress of accomplishment and success; but whenever I tried to pick up any knitting, my mind cringed and said “No!”

So odd!

Once all the travelling was done I tried to start, but couldn’t. My Ravelry queue, full of things I’d longed to make, bored me. The sight of my WIPs exhausted me. Fondling skeined yarn irritated me. Nothing new inspired me. So I just stopped knitting.

In the meanwhile, I’d been discussing a baby sweater with a pregnant friend. And what a pleasure it is, to discuss gifts with people who know exactly what they want! A clear “yes” or “no” is so much more helpful than “whatever you like”!

After some discussion, the design brief was as follows: great looking rather than intended for the long-term; to be used for the newborn photoshoot then framed, so would have to be the smallest size; no insipid pastels; no dull colours like brown or black; to suit a super-cool individual who just happened to be an infant. The sort of infant who sits in plush velvet armchairs in his library, in horn-rimmed glasses, reading leather bound books and smoking cigars (ok, perhaps the last bit is a trifle exaggerated!!).

So of course I knew it had to be a shawl collar smoking jacket. With stripes or colourwork for emphasis. And matching booties. And some extravagant colourwork on the cap to show off my knitting skills. And since the kid would outgrow everything in a month, why not a toy which he could use for a longer time? Everything colour coordinated of course!

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And lo and behold: even as I was planning it all out my knitting mojo came back! I suppose a baby set was different enough to tickle my brain and get it going again. I also managed to use up a lot of scraps yet make a coherent colour scheme, so felt happy about that too.

All yarn and gauge details are on each item’s Ravelry page. Briefly, here’s the final set:

Baby Sophisticate Cardigan– I should have ‘shawlled’ the collar more, but needed to save the yellow yarn for the rest of the items.

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Saartje’s Booties – made with as few ends as possible to avoid the previous set’s nightmarish millions of ends to sew in.

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Cap – simple garter brim cap with colourwork quickly charted out on paper.

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Purlbee Hedgehog – ran out of the fuzzy white at the bottom of the belly and had to use the heathered grey. Did three rows of 1×1 checkerboard pattern to make the colour change look intentional, and I quite like the effect now! Added bowtie in same yellow yarn from other garments so that it looks like part of the set.

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And that’s it! Thank you Baby E (whose name is still unknown, but who has been informed at an embryonic stage that his middle name shall be Exaggeration, so I can call his mother the ‘Mother of Exaggeration’) for making me happy to knit again!

Botanical Labours

I made another Taffy Blouse. Nothing much to say, it’s a nice little pattern and fits well.

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Pattern: Taffy Blouse from Colette Sewing Handbook

Fabric: Botanical print fine cotton for everything, including self bias bindings. Unlike my previous Taffy with viscose, the cotton wasn’t such a pain to cut. I laid the fabric flat, laid pattern pieces on it, marked around, then flipped the half piece to mark the other side, and nothing slid around.

Pattern Changes: Moved up location of ties. For the next iteration, I may move them even further up, close to underbust level. Bias tape used was 1 ½” wide before any folding.

Size: I went with 0, since that seems to fit my frame best. If I had chosen the recommended size, I would have had to pick 4 or 6.

Garment: I like it, will probably make more. I’m trying to find a good combination of sheer and solid fabrics, so I can attach the solid as an integrated slip.

Also in repetitive projects, I made another Baby Berry Hat, with little purl bumps to simulate strawberry ‘seeds’. Whenever I offer to make hats for friend’s children, I give them a choice of patterns I’d be happy to make. Besides the hat above, I give an option for a lovely lacy child’s bonnet and an adorable little stranded cap. Without fail, parents always choose the Baby Berry – they cannot resist the urge to see their children as edible little fruit! There’s got to be a Freudian analysis of that!

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Pumpkin Set

A couple of quick projects, gifts for a dear friend:

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Also, the realization that  sometimes you have to join the herd because the herd knows what it’s doing. The Berry Baby Hat has 5747 projects on Ravelry so far. And Saartje’s Booties has 13406.

I had to make some pattern changes to the hat since I used a yarn only half as thick as the one specified. That’s why I ended up with so many leaves. The booties are adorable, but have ELEVENTY MILLION loose ends, so I’m going to look for a more seamless construction if I make them again.

Details
Pattern: Berry Baby Hat and Saartje’s Booties.
Yarn: Lanas Stop York Merino; 100 merino; sport weight; 122m = 50g; Orange and Green colours. I used most of the orange and about half of the green.
Needles: 2.75mm dpn.