Knitting, crafting, cooking, and motherhood… trying to do it all!

Posts tagged ‘knit’

The Season for Sweaters

In 2014, I knit fifteen sweaters. FIFTEEN. Only one of those sweaters was adult-sized, but fifteen sweaters is no small feat. Not to mention I also knit 9 vests, 11 hats, 1 cowl, 4 pairs of mitts, 1 pair of baby leggings, 4 pairs of socks, 3 bows, and countless swatches and project beginnings. It’s been a busy year for knitting!

I thought I’d take some time to show off some of those sweaters that have not yet been featured on my blog. I’d like to start by raving about the ladies of Tin Can Knits. Alexa and Emily are the masterminds behind the Tin Can Knits design team. They are amazing women who, despite each having a baby last year (just like me!), released a new book of knitting patterns entitled Road Trip. Their designs are a wonderful blend of modern and classic, with easy-to-follow instructions and clear guidelines for any knitter. As if that isn’t enough they also have a blog to help knitters through new and/or troublesome techniques. The greatest thing about TCK, though, is that most of their patterns are sized baby through adult. I got to try many of their patterns for my four boys and I never had to worry if they had the size I needed. I’m going to begin detailing my Season of Sweaters by showing off some of my favorite Tin Can Knits designs.

The first sweater I knit was Caribou from TCK’s Road Trip. The recommended yarn was Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. I had been interested to try this yarn, so I invested in some ‘Almanac’ colorway for a toddler sweater. I was excited to try this pattern because of its unique construction. You actually knit the cable band first, then pick up stitches to knit the top and the bottom. The button band ribbing lines up perfectly with the cables, so they seem to extend to the edge. Knit in the beautiful (and incredibly lightweight) Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, this sweater turned out to be incredibly adorable. I chose the 2-4 yr size, which turned out to be much too large for my 2 year old, but the sleeves cuffed nicely and it will last for one or two years to come (just in time for his baby brother to grow into it!).

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While I loved the Caribou sweater, I wanted something a little dressier for Jonathan to wear for Christmas. I chose TCK’s Prairie Fire sweater. This sweater uses lacework to create a design that comes to a point on the front, then wraps around the sweater to meet in the back. It’s such a clever design. Even though this sweater was modeled on girls, I decided my little guy was “man enough” to pull off lace. I couldn’t be happier with the results. Knit in the 1-2yrs size, this was a perfect fit for Christmas. It goes well with a turtleneck or polo shirt underneath and I can’t get over how handsome he is (I know, I’m a little partial).IMG_7753

I wrote in a previous post about knitting a baby cardigan using TCK’s Clayoquot without the colorwork. I decided to knit this sweater with the colorwork in the 0-6mos size for a dear friend who just had a baby. The Clayoquot pattern is a great pattern for anyone new to stranded knitting. I loved knitting this girly little sweater (I never get to use pink!) and I can’t wait to see it on Baby Elise!

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One more TCK pattern: the Antler Cardigan. After knitting all the sweaters I liked from Road Trip, I invested in TCK’s older book, Pacific Knits. This book includes lots of great patterns, but I bought it specifically to knit the Antler Cardigan. I chose the colorway Peacock Shadow from Dream in Color, mostly because my son Roman said he liked turquoise. The color ended up looking a lot more navy than turquoise, but I love the way the tonal yarn looks in this simple pattern. Knit with size 9 needles, I flew through this pattern for my eight-year old. Roman wore a white polo shirt underneath for Christmas Eve Mass.

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Those are all of the TCK sweaters, although you can find quite a few of their hat designs in my previous post. The next sweater I need to feature is a classic design by Elizabeth Zimmermann: the Baby Surprise Jacket. Elizabeth Zimmermann, known to many as the mother of modern knitting, created this incredibly clever design and it is still one of the most knit baby patterns today. It is knit flat, then folded origami-style and seamed to create a darling baby jacket. I highly recommend this design for every knitter to try. The construction is truly one-of-a-kind. In my version I used Plymouth Select Worsted Merino Superwash. I added length to the sleeves and added a hood, using i-cord around the edges of the hood and cuffs.

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In an effort to learn how to knit a set-in sleeve, I chose the pattern Arlo from the BT Kids collection. This is an amazing sweater, but it was WAY more work than the seamless knits previously listed. This sweater was knit in five pieces, seamed together, then had a shawl collar picked up and knit with short rows. I learned SO much from knitting this sweater, but I also spent a lot of time watching YouTube videos to learn some of the new techniques. The results are fantastic, though I do regret not using Brooklyn Tweed Shelter to knit this design. I love seeing my six-year old Adrian wearing this sweater around town.

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So, there is a sampling of some of my favorite designs from 2014. My absolute favorites cannot be revealed just yet… they are of my own design and will remain a mystery for a few more months. 2015 holds many more sweaters in store. I’ve already finished two (one of them a massive sweater for me) and February is just getting started!

Taking the “EEK!” Out of Steeking

STEEKING. It means that you will be cutting stitches that you just spent hours (if not days) knitting. Crazy, right? I had never heard of steeking until I started knitting in January. While watching an instructional video on YouTube, it recommended a steeking video. Curious as to what it was, I watched in amazement as a carefully knit sweater was cut straight down the middle. From that point on, I was fascinated by the concept but did not take the opportunity to try it myself until this month.

Why would you cut your knitting? Steeking was developed by knitters of the Shetland archipelago and is particularly associated with Fair Isle knitting. The idea is that you can knit a cardigan sweater with frequent color changes and never have to turn your work to the back where all the colors are being carried. You essentially knit a tube in the round and make cuts for the front of the sweater and/or arm holes. If you use a particularly sticky wool and change colors correctly, you can cut your sweater without any extra reinforcement. If you are using a fiber that has been processed (such as a superwash), you will need to reinforce your stitches with a line of single crochet or with a sewing machine. After the sweater has been cut, the knitter can pick up stitches down the middle to create a button band to finish the garment.

I have read a lot about steeking and have watched several instructional videos. Elizabeth Zimmermann used steeking quite a bit and describes the process throughout her books. Intrigued, I was determined to try it myself. About a month ago, I received a digital download of the Tin Can Knits book Road Trip, which featured a steeked sweater. After knitting their Caribou sweater pattern (as I mentioned in my post about cables), I decided to try their Clayoquot pattern and experience steeking first-hand.

Clayoquot is a lovely sweater, featuring a Fair Isle design that I really love. I had previously purchased some Cascade 220 Superwash in “Ruby” to make a sweater for my two year old son, Jonathan. Since I had just knit the Caribou sweater for him, I decided to knit Clayoquot in the 6-12 mo size for my baby boy, Christian. I looked at all different colors to use for the Fair Isle patterning, perused project pages of other knitters, and finally decided that I didn’t want to knit with multiple colors. I wanted a simple red sweater. Now, I realize that the beauty of their design is in the patterning, but I wanted a versatile sweater that could go with everything. I loved that the pattern included pockets (my first time knitting them) and I would get the chance to try steeking with a sweater I could knit in just a couple days. I also feel that to become adept at stranded knitting, I need to teach myself how to “flick” the yarn with my right hand so I can knit a color in each hand. While it is on my list of things to learn, I’m still trying to improve my speed with Continental knitting.

If you are trying steeking for the first time (and every knitter SHOULD), I highly recommend reading up on it first. The lovely ladies of Tin Can Knits have an excellent blog post which I read repeatedly before making the first cut (and you get to see pics of a super cute baby!).

Here is a brief shot of my steeking experience: 1. Sweater knit in the round with the middle five stitches prepped for steeking. 2. Two lines of single crochets down the front to protect the stitches. 3. Cut down the middle of the stitches. 4. Steeking is complete.

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Add a button band and some buttons and, voila!

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Christian has a sweet little sweater now and it took just a couple of days. I’m glad I started with something so small, but I now have the confidence to steek in the future. It no longer intimidates me and I love that I can knit it all in stockinette with very little purling. And now a few pics of my own cutie in his newest sweater:

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Favorite Stretchy Bind Off

In the pattern I just created, I called for the knitter to use “your favorite stretchy bind off.”  In the course of making four coordinating sweater vests, I tried a number of stretchy bind offs.  I looked through books, searched the internet, and watched YouTube videos to see what others recommended.  I tried a number of them, some of which made it only a few stitches before I ripped it out and started again.  Somewhere along the way, I found one that suited my needs quite nicely for this design.  It’s stretchier than a regular bind off, but not so much that it gets stretched out.  It has a nice even line with no extra flare (or flair!).  I have since gone back and tried to find the bind off online to find the name and give credit, but I have not had any luck.  So, I’m going to name this the Twisted Stitch Stretchy bind off, as each stitch is twisted by being worked through the back loop.  Here it is!

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Twisted Stitch Stretchy Bind Off

1. Knit the first stitch.

 

2. If the next stitch is a KNIT stitch, knit the second stitch through the back look (k tbl).  If the next stitch is a PURL stitch, purl the next stitch through the back loop (p tbl).

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3. Slip the first stitch on the right hand needle over the second stitch (like you would with a regular bind off), so you are left with a single stitch on the needle.

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4.  Continue steps 2 and 3 until you are left with one stitch.  Break yarn and pull through the last stitch.

 

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Designing a Pattern

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I had a baby in April and I finished the adult sweater for myself soon after.  It’s been almost two months since my last post, but it has been a BUSY two months.  I have a new baby who needs constant attention during the day, three additional boys (all finished with school for the summer), and a husband who was out of the country for part of the time.  To top it all off, I had surgery and spent some time recovering while family helped with the kids.

Nevertheless, hardly a day has gone by that I haven’t picked up my knitting.  In fact, I’ve been working on my largest knitting project to date… designing a pattern that will be tested, edited, and ultimately sold through ravelry.  If all goes well, it should be up by the beginning of August!  This post is to tell a little about my process.

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Before I finished my Right as Rainbow Sweater, I started looking for my next project.  As any mom of young boys knows, sweater vests are one of the most popular dress items.  Hardly a Christmas or Easter goes by that I don’t spend money on sweater vests for my boys.  This seemed like a relatively easy thing to knit, so I started searching the patterns on ravelry.  Unfortunately, the selection I found was somewhat lacking, particularly when I narrowed the fields to children’s sizes and unisex/boys.  There was a selection of vests that came from a publication but were not available for purchase online.  There were a few sloppy looking vests with uneven proportions and armhole ribbing that stuck out from the sweater.  There were girly looking vests.  There were a couple of halfway decent patterns, but there was only one I would even consider buying, and it wasn’t even sized to fit all my boys.  (I’m a sucker for matching/coordinating outfits!)

I was shocked.  How could a clothing item that is so popular in the stores and so (seemingly) easy to knit be so lacking in patterns?  Searches for “socks” or “hats” or “cardigans” give hundreds, if not thousands of results when the field is narrowed to children. My mission became clear– to knit a sweater vest that would look good and allow me to create coordinated looks for all my boys.

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I thought a lot about how to knit exactly what I wanted.  I knew I wanted to incorporate stripes and I knew I wanted it knit in the round with worsted weight yarn.  Some of the patterns I found knit the vest in several pieces and then seamed them together.  Seaming is my LEAST favorite part of knitting, so I wanted to figure out a way to seam the sweater only at the shoulders.  I scoured the internet for similar patterns and checked out books from the local library.  I made notes about elements I liked in various patterns and thought carefully about how to turn those elements into a vest.  Then I began to knit.

Having purchased a variety of colors of the Cascade Sierra yarn, I knew I wanted to incorporate lots of colors.  While the sweater for myself included various shades of blue and gray, I wanted to use different colors for the boys.  I settled on five colors: Tangerine, Deep Turquoise, Aqua, Moth, and Forest Green.  I used Excel to help visualize the pattern I wanted to create.

I began with Jonathan’s sweater, knitting a size 3T guided by a size chart I found online.  The sweater worked up quickly, but I soon realized that my original pattern was not going to look good as a final product.  I tore the rows apart and went to a more basic ABCDE pattern.

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I finished the vest (minus the ribbing) in about a week and tried it on Jonathan.  It fit, but just barely.  I became nervous that it would not fit once I completed the neck ribbing.  I wish this instinct was wrong, but unfortunately it was right.  The vest would not go over his head once the neck ribbing was complete.  Luckily I had not yet started the arm hole ribbing.  I decided to keep the top half intact so I could refer back to it and I cut the vest nearly in half along the thin green line of stitches underneath the neck opening. *sigh*

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This is what goes into designing: lots of trial and error!  I tried again, adding length, more decreases, and using a stretchy bind off.  I was holding my breath as I tried the finished product on my toddler.  It fit!  Not only that, it looked GOOD.  And I had created it.  Completely from scratch and without a pattern.  This was a HUGE moment for me!

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When it comes to crafting, I am a *bit* of a perfectionist.  Okay, I’m just a perfectionist.  And when it comes to putting out a pattern that I’ve created, I want it to be perfect.  Even though I was going to have my pattern tested, I wanted to test it myself and work out all the kinks.  So I made two more versions.  I made a size 6 for my son Adrian and a size 8 for my son Roman.  With each vest, I made little changes to help improve the quality of the pattern.  I used the same colors for all the sweaters, but used them in different band widths and different sequences.  I was surprised and pleased at how different (yet similar) they all turned out.

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After writing up the pattern, my friend Stephanie helped me photograph the boys in their vests.  We got some great shots and I spent a lot of time editing them and putting together a visually appealing pattern to send out for testing.  I sent the pattern to three different people for proofreading and feedback.  Last night I posted the pattern on ravelry to get testers.  I have two testers that have already started and I’m hoping to get 5 more.  I’m so proud of this pattern and proud that I was able to knit such stylish looks for my boys.  It is frustrating to me that so many of the adorable knitting patterns available are only for girls, so I am excited to contribute one for the boys.  Of course, this pattern would also look adorable on a girl.  I will list it as a unisex pattern, but I’m keeping my title: Band of Brothers Sweater Vest.

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Aside

Crochet the Day Away

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A few weeks ago, I was approached by a local photographer.  She offered an exchange of services.  If I helped her create some newborn baby props (hats, bows, etc.) for her studio, she would offer me a photo credit toward a newborn photo session.  I agreed and took a break from the knitting to crochet some items for her.  One of the pixie hats is knit, along with the strand of the bow.  Two of my sons agreed to “model” the pink pixie hat.  All the rest of the items are crocheted, so I thought I’d share some pictures.   I can’t wait to see them appear on some babies in her studio! These are only a few of the items, so you may see another post in the future!ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

My First “Raglan” Sweater

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I created a sweater a couple weeks ago (click here to see the post), but I knew I could do better.  I searched ravelry for more newborn sweaters, and came across a pattern that was sized from 3 mos. to 3T.  I figured that would be a good sizing option because it would make it slightly larger than the newborn sweater I had already created and I would be able to knit a larger size for my toddler if I wanted.  This Bigger Bitty Cabled Cardigan pattern was slightly more complicated than the last sweater I made, but still looked easy enough for me to handle.

The greatest thing I learned from making this sweater was the meaning of the term “raglan.”  I had heard the word used before, but had no clear understanding of what it was.  Raglan refers to the way the sleeves are attached in a diagonal from the collar to the armpit.  There are other ways of attaching sleeves, but this style is referred to as “raglan.”  The cool thing is that you actually begin making the sleeves when you start the pattern.  Using KFB stitches as directed, you create the diagonal which will later be the beginning of your sleeves. As you can see in the picture below, this was all knit in one piece.  There are stitch markers holding the stitches which will later be knit in the round to become the sleeves.

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Another cool thing about this pattern was that it included buttonholes.  The other pattern I made suggested sewing on buttons and squeezing them through the stitches.  Had I known how easy it was to make a buttonhole, I would have just made some of my own.  Instead, I left the blue sweater without buttons.  I did make a small mistake on the second buttonhole from the top, but it is still functional.  I did not realize that YO (yarn over) and K2tog (knit two together) could be combined.  I realized my mistake (although I’m not sure how I did the top hole correctly) and fixed it on the rest of the holes.

I have not yet posted on blocking, which is apparently a very important part of the sweater-making process.  I have blocked both the blue and the green baby sweaters, but do not have finished pictures to post.  I will mention that both sweaters look even better now that they are blocked.  Instead of more posts, I am 39 weeks pregnant and I am focusing on the upcoming arrival of Christian Joseph, my fourth baby boy.  Hopefully in the next week or two I will have some adorable photos to share of my new little guy wearing all of his hand-knit apparel!

Jogless Stripes and More Baby Accessories

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I finished the blue ribbed hat, but wanted something a little cuter for my new little guy, and also wanted to challenge myself with stripes.  I had learned through one of the YouTube videos I watched that you had to do something special to create stripes while knitting in the round.  I did not remember the technique, but did remember that it wasn’t too complicated.  I found a pattern through ravelry that had some of the basic shaping of the hat I wanted, but it used a needle size that I didn’t have and I wanted to make changes to the pattern anyway.

I used my previous knowledge of hat making (from both knit and crochet– I have crocheted over 100 hats in the past couple years) and the ideas in the ravelry pattern to design my own knit hat pattern.  I once again utilized the Magic Loop, which has become one of my favorite knitting techniques.  I also utilized YouTube videos to create jogless stripes on this little boy’s hat.  While I can’t explain how to do a jogless stripe, I can tell you that it’s not hard.  In fact, the hardest part is remembering to do it when you start the second row of a new color.  This pattern also used PSSO, which is a techinque involving Passing Slipped Stitch(es) Over a knit stitch.  I slipped the stitches purlwise, but learned in subsequent hats that it worked better to slip them knitwise.  The PSSO technique can be seen in the raised stitches in the picture below.

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The pattern I created ended up with an adorable little star pattern on the top.  I made some adjustments to my own pattern, and in the next few weeks created hats for two different friends’ baby showers.  One couple is Jamaican, so I used the colors of the Jamaican flag.  The other couple are both professors at Indiana University, so I used the IU Hoosier colors of crimson and cream.  Once again, I need to write up my version of the pattern because I plan to use this for many baby showers to come!

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After creating the jogless stripes of the baby hat and creating my own newborn hat pattern, I decided to try it with socks.  I had already made a few adjustments to the baby sock pattern I had previously used, but now I wanted to change it completely and make it my own.  I still used the worsted weight yarn and the size four DPNs, but now I wanted to continue the ribbed pattern all the way down the heel and use my newly-learned skill to add jogless stripes and colored toes to the socks.  It took a little bit of work to figure out the right number of rows/stitches to achieve what I wanted, but I was SO happy with the results.

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As you can see, one of the colored toes ended up longer than the other, and there are a few other minor differences.  This is because I was more focused on improving my own pattern rather than making them identical.  I love the green and blue cotton yarns, and look forward to mixing and matching these socks with the blue baby sweater and the two different baby hats.  Now to make another baby sweater in the green…

Knitting Socks for a Giant

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Okay, I didn’t actually knit socks for a giant, but with the size of my feet, I might as well have.  I wear a women’s size 11 shoe… a size that’s hard to find in most stores.  Needless to say, the “one size fits all” socks they sell do not fit me very well at all.  Even if they go on my foot, they tend to get holes in the toes before the end of the season due to being stretched too thin.  These reasons of course played into my decision to knit myself a pair of socks, but the main reason was that I felt it would be a tremendous achievement if I could actually do it.  I would use tiny knitting needles (size 1.5) and sock weight yarn, which is very thin.  If I could complete an entire project with these materials and have a pair of socks that actually fit my feet, I would consider that quite the accomplishment.

I scoured the patterns on ravelry, and finally found one that listed an XL women’s pattern along with a lovely design.  Click here to see Sarah Ronchetti’s Basket Weave Rib Socks pattern.  After I had decided upon a pattern, I went to the yarn store in town to pick up some specialty sock yarn.  If I was going to devote the time to this project, I wanted to invest in quality yarn.  I found a great wool/silk blend that combined varying shades of blue and green.  I debated whether or not this would make the socks too “busy” (since they already used the basket weave pattern), but after consulting with the lady at the yarn store, I decided it would work fine.  I also invested in a pair of high-quality circular knitting needles, the addi lace knitting needles (size 1.5), so I could make the socks by using the Magic Loop method.  Once again, I felt it was worth the investment in the project to buy something that would be easy to use for a challenging project.

I began creating the first sock and realized immediately this was no small task.  The first inch of ribbing used about a thousand stitches, and that was only the beginning!  Once I got into the pattern, I was frequently confused about where I was and what row I was doing.  It’s not a very complicated pattern, but I was so new to knitting and the stitches were so small that I found it to be quite a challenge.  Here is a close up of the pattern as it began to unfold:

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Because I had created the worsted weight newborn socks, I had some experience with knitting the parts of the sock, which proved to be very helpful.  I did not experience any difficulties while creating the heel, turning the heel, or knitting the gusset.  I grew to have a love/hate relationship with the socks.  While I absolutely HATED how long it seemed to take, I absolutely LOVED the pattern that emerged from the tiny little stitches.  While in the process of knitting the first sock, I took several breaks to work on other projects.  Thus, the entire sock probably took about 10 days-2 weeks.  When I finished it, I seriously considered alternatives to finishing the pair (could I start a one sock trend? match it with another sock I already owned? cut off my other foot?).  I took a week off and then decided I actually missed using those tiny needles and experiencing the beauty that unfolded from the creation of those little stitches.  I decided to power through and finish the pair.

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The second sock I created had a slightly different pattern due to the variegated yarn.  I enjoyed watching the new pattern emerge and I found that things went more quickly with the second sock as I had a better handle on the pattern.  Certainly not quick, but at least faster than before!  These are, without a doubt, the most expensive, time-intensive socks I have ever owned.  They fit nicely, though, and they’re both soft and warm.  I love to look at them and friends who have knit socks promise that they will last a long time.  And, after the exhausting (but rewarding) experience, I’m actually considering making another pair!

Newborn Hat and the Magic Loop Method

To complete a “going home from the hospital” ensemble for my newborn, I wanted to make a knit hat to match the sweater and socks.  For my last baby born (Jonathan), I had brought along an adorable crocheted hat for him to wear instead of the standard pink and blue striped hat they put on the babies (see pic below with Adrian holding Jonathan).  One of the nurses commented that, “these hats that Grandma makes are cute, but they’re just not warm enough for these new babies,” and promptly switched out my handmade creation for the hospital hat.  At the time, I was too worried about the fact that I was letting my baby’s head freeze to be offended.  This time, however, I decided to come to the hospital with a snug little KNIT hat.  Hopefully it’s acceptable to the nursing staff!

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I kept the same worsted weight cotton yarn and found a perfectly simple newborn hat pattern through ravelry.  The Little Boy Blue Ribbed Baby Hat was just what I wanted.  I could use the same blue yarn as I had used for the hat and sweater and by being created with lots of ribbing, it would be warm, stretchy, and comfortable.  Because you never know how big the baby’s head will be, it’s important for the hat to be very stretchy and the extended length could easily be folded into any size brim.

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The one problem with this pattern was that it called for size 7 needles.  I had size 8 and didn’t want to invest in the 7s, so I did some math and adjusted the pattern.  I basically just reduced the pattern by 12 stitches and skipped “Rnd 11” in the pattern.  I started this pattern using the DPNs.  While these are perfectly fine for knitting a newborn hat, the pointy needles kept poking my big, pregnant belly.  I watched a YouTube video on the Magic Loop method, and I was sold!  (Side note: I have found that VeryPinkKnits makes some consistently easy to follow YouTube tutorials.)  The Magic Loop method allows you to knit in the round without filling up the entire circular needle.  In fact, you start with very large circular needles (32″ or greater) and then shift the stitches back and forth along the needles.  This was a much more comfortable method for small-circumference knitting, and learning how to do it helped me in many future projects.

The project went rather quickly, and I ended up with an adorable (and very versatile) WARM hat for my newborn son!

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Knitting a Sweater, Keeping it Small

My goal for the year is to knit a sweater for myself.  I was not ready to jump into such a large endeavor, so I started looking up newborn sweaters.  I figured I would start small… if I could create a newborn sweater, there’s a chance that I might be able to create one for myself one day in the future.  I searched ravelry for an easy newborn sweater, and found one that was knit in one piece using worsted weight yarn.  This sounded like a good option, so I went with it!    Unfortunately, it was linked through ravelry, but it was actually from a book.  The good news was that my library had a digital copy in stock and I was able to borrow it for free on my phone, found and downloaded in minutes.  (Side note: if you have the technology, I highly recommend borrowing library books through digital media!)  You can click here to link to the pattern I found on ravelry, or you can find it in the book More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, by Joelle Hoverson.

Using the same circular needles I used on the hat, I was able to knit the sweater.  Although it is not done in the round, the circular needles provide lots of space to create larger projects.  Then you can simply switch back and forth between the needles as if it were knit using straight needles.  Knowing this, I have almost completely converted to circular needles!

Next decision: what yarn to use?  I found some great yarn at Hobby Lobby that is 100% cotton (“I Love this Cotton!” in blue).  The downfall to using cotton for a sweater is that it is not as springy as a wool yarn or mixed yarn (according to the lovely lady at the yarn store).  This makes sense and is good information for when I create a larger sweater.  For a newborn, though, I don’t think the yarn needs to be as springy and it’s hard to beat the soft feel of cotton while holding that sweet little one.

The project began at the bottom of the back of the sweater and utilized the seed stitch.  I had never done a seed stitch before, but it is created simply by alternating knit/purl stitches.  Instead of lining them up like you do to make ribbing, you stagger them.  Once again, if you don’t know how to do it, look on YouTube.  That site has revolutionized crafting!

It was SO exciting when a sweater shape started to form! Here it is with the back of the sweater completed. (Note: the wavy shape along the back is a result of it being held on the curved wire of the circular needles.  It would not lie completely flat while attached. Also, I realize the lighting is bad, so you get a better idea of the actual sweater color in the final pictures.)

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You’ll also notice in the picture that I got to use stitch markers for the first time (and understand what they were for).  Stitch markers slide onto your needle according to the pattern directions (typically indicated as “pm” or “place marker”) and you slide them onto each new needle as you stitch.  As you work, the markers define the changes in the pattern.  For example, you can see in the picture that the seed stitch was worked along the cuff  to create a pattern at the end of the sleeve.  Then the stitching went back to stockinette before reaching the stitch marker at the top of the garment, indicating that I should switch to seed stitch along the collar of the sweater.  The two remaining place markers work the same way to keep the garment symmetrical.

This project was a challenge, but it gave me a good understanding about a lot of techniques used in making a sweater.  It did not turn out perfectly, but, hey, I had only been knitting for a couple of weeks!  The biggest problem was that the stitches did not line up perfectly, so it caused some bumps during the seaming and prevent the front of the sweater from lining up just right.  Because of this, I am still debating whether or not to add buttons.  The pattern did not call for button holes, but says that the stitches have enough room to fit small buttons.  I have my doubts about this, mostly because my husband has a hard time lining up buttons on a baby when there are actual holes that match up.  That, and I kind of like it button-free.

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I hope to knit a few more small sweaters before I attempt to put the work into making one for myself.  With boys ranging in ages from newborn to age 7 1/2, I figure I have plenty of “models” for creating garments.  I want the sweater for myself to look GOOD, and not look like some kind of craft project… my boys aren’t as picky!

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Along with the blue cotton yarn, I purchased some coordinating green yarn.  I’ve been using them to create mix-and-match separates, which I plan to blog about.  Here’s a sneak peek of what’s coming:

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