The little knitted vest that could…

TrainVestFrontMy daughter, like most toddlers I expect, loves trains. We’re lucky enough to live near a local commuter train line, so if we’re ever bored on the weekend, we can just take her to watch the trains come and go.

TrainVestBackSo this pattern was a must. It’s from Sirdar’s Snuggly Little Kinfolk booklet, although I used a Debbie Bliss Cashmerino (previously used on the Wurm hat) instead of Sirdar’s suggested yarn. I also had to edit the pattern, as it simply repeated the same pattern on front and back (with a lead car on both sides). I preferred to have a train of 6 cars total, running round one side of the vest (rather than two disjointed trains) – so I moved the pattern to the other side of the back piece, repeated the pattern for the standard car, and knit the connector and track so it would join to the front.

It’s still (just) summer at the time of completion (August), so it hasn’t been worn yet. I’m just hoping she’s still into trains when the weather gets cold enough to warrant the first outing.

Stripey New Zealand cardigan that should have been a jumper

frontViewSince I always like to get a sewing or knitting related souvenir when travelling, I dragged my husband and in-laws to a number of knitting stores when we visited New Zealand in 2011. For a place so full of sheep, I found it more difficult that I would have expected to find places to buy wool.

But in the lovely Art Deco town of Napier, I struck gold twice, ending up with Opossum wool (used to make this cardigan for the baby) and some lovely Aran wool from NZ sheep. The idea was to make a nice, cosy stripey jumper.

However, as often happens when buying materials without a specific pattern in mind, I couldn’t quite find a pattern that matched my vision and the amount of available wool. I did quite like the Caramel pattern on Ravelry and thought it would work well.

The pattern is nicely drafted, with some small touches (like purls at the ‘side seams’ even though it’s knit as one big piece) that make it subtly beautiful. Overall, it is a bit too wide for me at the neck. I have this problem in sewing too and just need to remember to adjust. Since most patterns are based on bust size, and everything gets larger as the pattern is graded up, I tend to get things that fit the bust but are too wide for my shoulders. Anyways, the biggest problem was not with the pattern but the fact I actually didn’t have enough wool. And thus, it’s a short-sleeved cardigan, which isn’t at all what I wanted.

sideViewSo although this has been done for many months, it’s had few trips out of the closet. It’s not quite what I wanted and, let’s be honest, how often is the weather right for a warm woolly but short-sleeved cardigan? On top of that, without any buttons (and as someone who doesn’t own scarf pins), it hung open and wasn’t flattering.

I have at least fixed the last problem with the purchase of some kilt pins and I do like it better draped this way. (I also tried a chopstick one day, which worked rather well, except when it was poking me awkwardly as I reached for things). Worn with a long sleeve t-shirt, it works ok. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it enough to unpick it and try again. So it goes…

 

The red hat that will last many years… taken down by the hot wash

Alas, the Hat that will last many years and The Toddler Scarf fell victim to the one-two punch of puke and hot wash. The little girl was unwell while out and about, causing her to come home with a bag of clothes covered in puke. And father did what any sensible person would do – put the whole lot in the washing machine. As mum was silly enough to make toddler items out of hand-wash only wool, this is what we ended up with.

I’ll admit – I was gutted and may have even shed a tear over the loss of the hat. But there have been lessons learned as a result and should I make another, you can bet it will be washable wool.

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The hat before, as modelled by Fernando the bear

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and the scarf before

 

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Post puke wash: tiny felted hat and scarf



 

Possum: Vermin or nice, cosy cardigan?

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Apologies for the low quality shot. Keeping the cat and the baby out of frame was rather difficult and I could only get this slightly out of focus picture

On our trip to New Zealand (before the baby was born), we visited Napier on the North Island. It’s a lovely art deco town along the coast and we spent several days eating at nice wineries, going to the aquarium and browsing the shops. I also dragged my in-laws and poor husband to Opposum World. Part shop and part life-sized diorama of the destruction caused to native wildlife in NZ by opposums, it was an unusual stop on the tourist trail. But they sold wool – or rather, yarn made of opposum.

Say what you will about the little critters, they make a lovely, soft, drapey knitting yarn.

This cardigan (the Posy Cardi – Ravelry link) was knit from that lovely possum wool. It’s a cosy extra layer, but the 3/4 length sleeves, dropped neckline and asymmetrical closure at the top only, means it’s not the warmest cardigan to wear this winter. But for being comfy around the house, it’s perfect. The possum wool fibres are short, which probably adds to the softness and drape, but does mean it feels like it may stretch and in some cases break threads. Nevertheless, it was lovely to knit with and feels rather nice against the skin.

So, if you get the chance to buy some possum wool, don’t pass it up. Those varmint have a purpose after all.

Winter is coming: the toddler scarf

llamaScarfIt is somewhat suddenly cold the past few weeks and the nursery has asked for all manner of cold and wet winter gear to be sent with the kids. Having knit “The Red Hat that Will Last Many Years” last year, all that was missing was a scarf. I have to admit – I’m a bit scared of scarfs for kids, because they seem more a choking hazard than a necessary accessories. But Ravelry brought up all manner of patterns for toddler scarves, so I jumped in.

I made the Banana Squish scarf  because it seemed simple, quick and I liked the keyhole feature. It was a predictably quick knit and used up some of the leftover Peruvian llama wool I used to make myself a cardigan way back when I had more time for such things. Not a lot more to say, except doesn’t Fernando look fetching in this photo?

The Wurm hat – odd name, great hat

wurmHatThis Wurm hat (pattern available in Ravelry) was a gift to my sister-in-law, who has had to undergo chemo this past month. I wasn’t sure it would be suitable or comfortable – most advice is to avoid wool, which can be scratchy on a newly sensitive scalp. I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino on the basis that babies also have pretty sensitive skin and my sister-in-law has assured me it was comfortable enough to wear.

It’s an incredibly simple pattern – a few rows knit stitch and a few rows purl, all done in the round. The clever bit is the band, which folds in on itself like the hem on a skirt. It’s a more sturdy band than many, and a neater finish too. Might use this technique again elsewhere.

Not much more to say about it really.

But on the subject of cancer, this is the third person close to me in the past couple of years who has been affected by cancer – which is pretty crap. If you’re feeling generous, consider giving a few quid (or dollars, or whatever currency) to Cancer Research UK.

The red hat that will last many years

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Fernando wears it well, don’t you think?

The baby needed a new winter hat, depsite the fact we have purchased or made a number of warm winter hats in the past few months. The key, you see, is ear flaps. It’s cold here in London, and only one of her many cute winter hats has ear flaps. So I set about to knit her the I Heart Cables hat, available as a free Ravelry download.

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Cables AND pom poms = LOVE

This is a fantastic pattern – easy to knit, well designed, fits well. It does have a good amount of stretch, so while it just about fits now (as long as you don’t mind adjusting it when it falls down over the baby’s eyes), I’m pretty sure it will continue to fit for several years to come.

Purple hoodie power

The One Skein Hooded Baby Sweater actually took two skeins. But who’s counting?

The pattern is available for free; photos of completed projects are on Ravelry (login required).

The pattern was straightforward enough, provided you followed the amended instructions available via Ravelry. I made a few changes, omitting the picot edged hem in favour of adding a stripe of orange trim. And I added an orange tie at chest height rather than a ribbon around the neck, which seemed too much of a choking hazard for my taste. The pattern is in one, unidentified size – so I just knit and hoped for the best. It fits well now, with the exception of the hood, which is too short to cover her head. So I guess the size is somewhere between 3 and 9 months.

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Converse-style baby booties

I love my Converse shoes. I love them, despite the fact they are impractical in the rain. Despite the fact they offer no ankle support. I don’t care – I love them.

Of course my daughter needs cool footwear too. So I spent a long time trying to find the best knitting pattern for some Converse-like baby booties. No luck.

And then one day, I did a Ravelry search without specifying ‘knitting’ – and came across a pattern for the most authentic looking Converse-style baby booties I’d ever seen. But they were crocheted.

greyConsI used to crochet, if you can call making endless granny squares crocheting. I never learned to read a pattern and never learned anything beyond a simple granny square. So making these booties was a crash course in crochet – both the stitches and the pattern abbreviations. With a lot of help from Google and a well written pattern, I made these awesome Converse-style booties. And I love them too.