Archive for the ‘baby knits’ Category

On wool

Ivy League Vest

Last winter, it became clear that I would not be able to continue my half marathon training without warmer clothing. Specifically, I needed better coverings for my head and hands. I walked into the local outdoor gear shop looking for the appropriate accessories. Now, some of you will point out the contradiction of a knitter buying synthetic mittens. This point was not lost on me; I felt appropriately ashamed but cold, nevertheless. Actually, I had decided my enemy was not cold, it was wind. Not only that, but who wants to knit mittens to cover sweaty hands during a long run? Not I.

So there I stood, talking to a salesman about the accessories to buy. He showed me some brand name, very expensive hats to block the wind. Neoprene, polypropylene, wind-block fleece, all materials designed to keep you warm. When I said I needed something specifically for a long run-a run lasting about two hours-he quickly abandoned the hats he’d shown me, instead turning to a different line. The answer, he said, was wool. Specifically, a $50 wool hat whose materials had been specially engineered to keep one warm in the cold and provide enough ventilation to prevent overheating. What did he mean by specially engineered materials, I asked. Isn’t that just what wool does? Generations of sheep represent the only technological innovators on this front, as far as I was concerned.

I’m not saying there is no room for technical fabrics. After all, I would never be able to run through the winter without fleece-lined, polypropylene tights. However, it is clear to me that no amount of human engineering can compete with thousands of years of selective pressure on sheep to produce the most effective insulation from the cold.

I need not tell you how I made it through the rest of the winter, of course. I am cheap and unabashedly so. I dug out an old wool hat I knitted years ago and stole the tufted mittens I knit for Aaron. To my amazement, 5 a.m. runs in -15 degree weather were no big deal. Actually, to be completely honest, the 5 a.m. part was still a big deal but the bitter cold was not.

I’ve been considering this experience lately, as it comes time to find Beatrix some warm winter clothes. I decided to design a heavy wool jacket for her as a cheap alternative to a winter coat. In fact, I find some of my heaviest wool sweaters far warmer than my biggest parka. Although my sense of parental guilt will likely drive me to the store this winter to buy her a coat she’ll quickly outgrow, I hope this heavy sweater lasts her two winters.

Grow Like a Weed Jacket

Last week, I sent the pattern to a handful of test knitters. Hopefully, I will be able to offer it to you soon!

In the meantime, I have some stealth mittens under way at the moment. I will certainly share them with you next week when they have met their intended recipient. Until then, I’ll leave you with the beginnings of Bryant’s Slipover vest (Ravelry link), a project I’m knitting for my cousin Ida. I promised to knit this last year but I found myself sidetracked by other things. Since I will be seeing Ida in Boston next week, I decided to finish it so I could leave it with her! Wish me luck on that one, the gauge is 7.5 sts/in and I’ve not yet reached the waist.

Pretty slipped stitch pattern or 1970s uphostery?

A birthday sweater for Asa

Showing off the whole sweater

Hooray for finished sweaters! Sadly, this is the first sweater I have finished since my Central Park Hoodie in June! This darling little sweater is not for Beatrix – it is a birthday present for B’s very first friend, Asa. The kiddos were born two weeks apart and Mr. Asa is about to celebrate his second birthday. I actually bought this yarn to swatch Aaron’s Aran but since I settled on Ram Wools Selkirk for that project, I had a whole skein of Harrisville Highland leftover. I intended for this to be a stash busting project but of course, I ended up needing a second skein!

A birthday sweater for Asa

Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles (a.k.a. February Baby Sweater) by Elizabeth Zimmermann, knitting stockinette instead of the gull stitch pattern

Yarn: Harrisville New England Highland

Needles: US 8

For the record, I made EZ’s 5 sts/in gauge and the sweater fits my two-year-old. EZ was fond of saying a baby sweater will fit eventually but I admit I think that’s a bit of a cop out – I want a general idea of what year in the child’s life the sweater will fit. Is that too much to ask? Luckily, I did the math before embarking on this project to determine the proper fit.

This is one of my favorite worsted weight yarns but because it is so wooly, it breaks easily when pulled. I desperately wanted to use metal buttons but I was certain the yarn would not support heavy metal buttons with sizeable button shanks. Not to mention toddler wear and tear! This is what Beatrix did as soon as I put the sweater on her:

Button frustration

Right. Just as I suspected. Luckily, the owner of my local fabric store (where I bought the buttons) sent me home with a half yard of twill tape to sew onto the back of the button band. She agreed that metal buttons were a must for a little boy’s sweater and she assured me that the tape backing would provide support for the buttons and relieve most of the stress on the yarn. Only “a little hand sewing” was required.

What? Hand sewing? I dread hand sewing fabric to a knitted garment; the resulting product always appears sloppy and flimsy. Nevertheless, I dutifully pinned the tape to the back of the buttonband before skeptically stitching it by hand.

Preparing the twill tape reinforcement of the button band

And to my shock, it looks great!

Twill tape sewn to the reinforce the button band

Most importantly, I think those buttons are now able to withstand the abuse of a two-year-old.

Your cranky model

Beatrix agrees. That is a look of pure toddler annoyance.

Gentleman’s Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern

I know what you’re thinking, right? Didn’t you just see a pair just like this a few weeks back? Knee socks? Really? In August? Who knits knee socks in July and August? Well, I do. And I am not alone: Christy and Joyousknits both finished this same pattern in July and Sarah started on a pair too.
Knee socks in 5.5 days

These were the fastest socks I have ever knit: the pair took only five and a half days! Sadly, their rapid production says little about my speed a lot about the hours I spent glued to my books! As a bonus, I can cross off another Knitting Vintage Socks pattern: seven down, only 17 to go!

Gentleman's Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern

Pattern: Gentleman’s Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks

Yarn: Opal Uni in #1415

Needles: US 1.5

I did not alter the pattern at all and I found it to fit perfectly. I most certainly will use this stitch pattern again; it was fast and easy to memorize, involved little purling and produced a firm and not too stretchy fabric. I doubt I will even need to run elastic through the cuffs to keep these socks up but only wear will tell. And isn’t the texture of this stitch pattern wonderful?

Cool ribbing

The calf shaping briefly appeared to be too high but the socks fit remarkably well. I imagine the aggressive calf shaping placed higher up the leg contributes to keeping these socks up.

Calf shaping

I cannot speak highly enough of this sock pattern. Leave it to Nancy Bush to use a terribly simple stitch pattern to create a snug, well shaped and attractive sock. While not too exciting to knit, this is ideal if you need a good, mindless, on the go sock pattern.

While I have more finished products waiting to be blogged, I thought I would leave you with a preview of some current work. I’m a bit disappointed that I have blogged only finished objects this summer. When I read knit blogs, I almost prefer reading works in progress posts over finished object posts, if only because I learn more from them. In the spirit of blogging WIPs as well as FOs, here are a few of the ongoing projects I have right now:

Almost to the armholes

Aaron’s Aran is almost to the armhole divide but progress slowed to a halt when I had to rip a few inches. My love for this project has waned a bit purely because I loathe the Addi Lace needles I bought for it. I suppose some people must like brass needles but all I smell is metal: my hands, my yarn and my needles all reek of that awful, metallic smell. Ugh! I still love the sweater so I will finish it this fall but I will never buy another brass needle as long as I live.

Beginnings of a tweedy yoked baby sweater

I cast on for a tweedy yoked baby sweater to use up some New England Harrisville yarn I bought to swatch Aaron’s Aran. I will likely need to buy more yarn – so much for a stash buster project, right?

The unending Katharine Hepburn cardi

The dullest knitting project Katharine Hepburn Cardigan progresses slowly, in large part because of the painfully boring stitch pattern. The back is done and blocked but I only have half of one front done.

One Fascine Braid sock down, one to go

ONE! Fascine Braid sock by Tiennie! Go get this pattern! It’s free, easy and pretty! I only wish I had chosen a color other than brown – the pattern is barely visible with this yarn.

Irregular squares

A collection of irregular squares (pieced with scrap fabrics) for a quilt. This is a gift so I likely will not blog much about it until I finish.

Next time, there will be some more sewing FOs and a visit by Jennie!

Straight Knitting

It’s been a busy few weeks here! We just returned from a weekend trip to my 10 year high school reunion. I’m so annoyed with myself for forgetting my camera at virtually all of the events but I did manage to snap a few pictures. Only about a quarter of the class made it back but it wonderful to see those who came.

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We picked up right where we left off ten years ago as if nothing had changed. While our lives have changed radically, the personalities certainly have not! I think my class must have been a particularly good one because there is not one person with whom I would not enjoy spending time. That was certainly an interesting observation to come out of the weekend. I doubt many people could say that about their high school class. I think the reunion also gave Aaron some context for my stories, since it is often difficult for him to understand the boarding school setting. Oh and the other bonus? I ran a personal record in the annual 5K pie race – 26:57!

The reunion provided my hands a much needed, 3-day break from knitting. I usually manage at least a few rows every day but it was too hot and sticky to even think about it. Instead, some of us played with the hose.

reunion2008_sun_0059

So, a break from what knitting? Sweater knitting! Doesn’t everyone pick up a heavy wool sweater when the temperature climbs into the 90s?

Here we have the back, fronts and one sleeve of a Central Park Hoodie, which I hastily cast on and furiously knit last week. The yarn is Tahki Donegal Tweed in “Obsidian” (#850) or, as I’d like to call it, “Only Photographable with a Tripod and ISO 100″. I am making the 36″ size (no ease) and when I knit and washed my first sleeve swatch, the gauge matched precisely. Perhaps a result of using the recommended yarn? Forgive my surprise, following patterns exactly is a new thing here at ExerciseBeforeKnitting. Knitters on Ravelry have commented that the cardigan fits snugly; however, the stretchiness of the yarn makes me wonder if the knitted fabric will sag and droop. Still, nearly 1400 knitters Ravelers can’t be wrong, can they?

Central Park Hoodie

My fiendish sock knitting last month wore out my hands so I sought out some projects that could be knit on straight needles. I know many people curse straight needles but I confess that I love them. Brittany birch straights, in particular. Circular knitting always hurts my hands after a while but I could knit painlessly with straight needles forever. While they are impractical for a lot of my projects, I usually pick them up when I’m tired.

This is the back of a sweater for Beatrix. Little Knits recently had a sale of 10-skein bags of Rowan Cashsoft DK in “Madame” for $25 and I bought one in spite of my current ban on pink and purple. A $25 Rowan sweater? What would you have done? Well, if you were smart, you would not have received ten skeins of bright pink, notoriously pilly yarn in the mail. In fairness, I did not expect it to be quite so bright. I suppose I will use it for baby and toddler knits now. I think an adult sweater with this yarn would be too garish to wear.

Another baby sweater on the needles

I hope you all had a great weekend! Expect some more sewing from me later this week!

Knitting and Sewing for Toddlers

Lately, knitting and blogging have taken a back seat to other stupid mindless time wasters hobbies like crossword puzzles, Scrabble and Boggle. Is it knitting-related to play Scrabulous and Scramble with other knit bloggers on Facebook? In any case, I have been terrible about checking in with all of you so I hope to get back on track this week.

In the meantime, I have been knitting and sewing a few projects for Beatrix, as I mentioned in my last post. I promise not to turn this into a baby clothing circus blog – that is, sock knitting will return next time – but the kid needs some sweaters and sun dresses make summer diapering and swimming so much easier that I can’t resist the temptation.

Pull, Tricotez Calin (No 470)

Pattern: No. 23 Pull in 24 mos. size, Phildar Tricotez Calin (No. 470) from Spring/Summer 2007

Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers in Blue Denim

Needles: US 7

This expression is Beatrix for “ICK! WOOL IN SPRINGTIME! TAKE IT OFF NOW!” She was particularly uncooperative so this is the only picture you get. I will probably try again next winter when it fits her (and also when it’s not so hot out). As with all Phildar baby patterns, this was super easy and the seaming took nearly as long as the knitting. I made the usual modification of picking up stitches for the neck and button bands instead of knitting them separately.

Last week, I made some progress on the little cardigan but I need to rip and re-knit one of the fronts so we are not on such great terms right now.

Classic Elite Cotton Bam Boo

The yarn in Classic Elite Cotton Bam Boo, which has great stitch definition but could probably pass for Knit Picks Shine Sport. While I like this yarn for a baby sweater, I cannot imagine knitting one for me with it – I would expect an adult sweater to lose its shape quite quickly.

Finally, have a peek at the toddler sewing projects! I am making several dresses for B, all from the same, very simple pattern (Butterick B4712). Here is the first one.

19_months_0014

19_months_0020

I am using extra wide, double-sided bias tape for the neck and armholes because my seaming is pretty ugly there. Fortunately, bias tape hides everything. Not until I uploaded this photo to Flickr did I see the near perfect stitching here. Please believe the rest of the garment looks like that! No? Would you believe most of it? OK, some of it and we’ll leave it at that.

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Finally, this is the next one in the queue, all cut and pieced but missing a zipper and some top-stitching.

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That’s it for this edition of the baby blog. Tune in next time for some finished Latvian socks!