She Knits: ‘First Snow’ Baby Set

This was a fun project — I enjoyed every stage. Choosing the pattern, yarn, and colors. The plain, quick knitting. The more challenging, tedious colorwork. Even the sewing up/finishing. I was a little sad to be finished, actually. It is not often I enjoy a project so much.

This set is for a new nephew due in May.

Progression Info
Started – January 17
Completed – February 1
Duration – 15 days = 2.1 weeks

I knitted on the sweater from January 17 – 23 (just 6 days!). Then the socks for 3 days (Jan 27 – 30). And the hat for 2 days (Jan 30 – Feb 1). So fast! And I was sad it went so quickly.

Funny story — I actually knit this hat twice. The first time, I used the size in the pattern I had used for the other two pieces. I knit the entire hat, had woven in all those tails/ends, and finally realized… it was way too small. I think I knew this as I was working on it, but foolishly hoped my mind was tricking me. Anyway, I measured it, and it measured closer to a preemie size than a 6/9 month! I was frustrated, so I put it aside and made the socks. Then began the hat again before ripping out the first too-small one. I ran out of green yarn with just a few rounds of the top crown to go on the new hat. So I had to rip out the too-small one, which took about an hour, just for maybe a half-dozen yards of yarn to finish the new hat! Lesson learned: check gauge and sizing throughout the project, not just at the end!

Pattern Info
B19-2 First Snow by DROPS design

I knew I wanted to do something “fancier” than a plain baby sweater, so I searched specifically for ones incorporating stranded colorwork. I loved this one the moment I saw it. It is simple, yet charming, and so cute.

Many people don’t care for DROPS design patterns, but I keep returning to them. I guess I am a fan, now, having knit 6 of their patterns. They are challenging because the instructions are not line-by-line, they are concise. There is a lot of instruction that happens “AT THE SAME TIME”, decreasing/increasing is not spelled out (the pattern may say “decrease 14 stitches evenly across the row” instead of “K2,*K2tog, K7* repeat * to * 13 more times, K2”, for example), and there are no (or few) row numbers given (everything is worked to some given measurement, like 2 inches from the cast-on edge, for example). The patterns are written in paragraph form, instead of list-form as is more common, and so the knitter is faced with a huge block of text with lots of numbers and words and CAPITAL LETTERS and — whew! it is daunting.

However, these are the reasons I like these patterns! Concise instruction, no hand-holding, and lovely finished garments.

do find their sizing labels to be somewhat off from what I would expect. And it is is crucial to check gauge. The needle size is always far off from what I need to use to make gauge (which just means the designer knits with a different tension than me). Also, matching yarns can be difficult — the patterns are designed to use DROPS brand yarns and it is sometimes a challenge to find a similar weight of yarn that knits to the same gauge and gives a similar-looking fabric. Sorry if that sounds like gibberish. 🙂

This pattern, however, was very good. I think anyone familiar with knitting and stranded colorwork could easily knit this pattern. Some of the stranding does happen on the purl side because the sweater is knit flat. That may be new even for experienced stranded knitters because most stranded knitting is done in-the-round so that the right side is always facing the knitter and no purl stitches have to be worked in the contrasting color.

I used my finger yarn guide (for keeping the colors evenly tensioned on my left hand) while working the right side rows, but I could not purl with it on. So for the wrong side rows (all purl stitches), I used a two-handed colorwork technique. I purled the main color with my left hand (Continental/picking style; this is how I usually knit) and the contrasting color with my right (English/throwing style). It was awkward at first, and more difficult to achieve even tension across the row (my floats were tighter on wrong side rows), but it did work. I should work more flat stranded colorwork so I can practice the two-handed technique more. 🙂

Sweater Notes

  • I omitted the shawl collar (most babies don’t have enough room between chin and chest for a shawl collar!) by working the ribbing decreases, then binding off.
  • I didn’t think to do it this time, but if I knit this again, I would add 2-4 stitches to the cast-on in order to have a main color “buffer” of 1-2 stitches on each side of the button band. The colorwork butts right up against the band and those edge stitches are tricky to tension properly. I think it would be even better to omit the button band stitches from the cast-on, but add 4 stitches, so that there are 2 “edge” stitches on each end of the work. When the knitting is done, I would pick up and knit the button bands, which would use up one of those edge stitches per side, and would leave a one-stitch “buffer” between the colorwork and the button bands. You know, if I ever knit this again… 😉
  • I used this website for calculating how to decrease evenly across the row. It is excellent, and I can’t believe I didn’t look for something like that before!

Sock Notes

  • When knitting the heel flap, I slipped the first stitch of each row to create a slipped-stitch selvedge for easier picking up later on.
  • On the second sock, I moved the heel stitches to the last 17 stitches of the round to make them symmetrical. There is a slight jog in the colorwork at the start of the round, so I wanted those round beginnings to be able to go “inside” the leg.
  • I wish the leg were shorter. If I knit this again, I would only knit one repeat of the diamond “snow” colorwork design on the cuff and would omit the few plain stockinette rounds between the colorwork and the start of the heel flap.

Hat Notes

  • The shape of the hat is a little weird when laid flat, as in the pictures. The decreases are broken up by the colorwork. But I expect it will look fine on a baby’s head. 🙂
  • I didn’t knit as long a cuff of ribbing as the pattern indicated. It asked for 2″ and I only knit 1″. I was trying to conserve the green yarn to avoid having to rip out the too-small hat… but my efforts were futile. I think it looks OK with a shorter rib, though.

I made the “6/9 months” size, but my gauge was slightly tighter, so I think it came out to be closer to a 6 month size. I was aiming for having it fit next winter, but with all the sizes babies come in, who knows. 😀

Yarn Info
Knit Picks Swish DK
100% superwash merino wool
Colorway – Marble Heather (gray)
2.4 skeins = 295.2 yds used
Colorway – Marine Heather (blue)
0.68 skeins = 83.6 yds used
Colorway – Green Tea Heather
0.4 skeins = 49.2 yds used
Colorway – White
0.08 skeins = 9.84 yds used
Total yards used = 437.8

This yarn is wonderful. It is very, very soft and vibrantly colored. It is superwash wool, meaning it can be run through the delicate cycle of the washing machine and even machine dried on low heat. I have heard some horror stories of projects made with superwash wool yarns needing to be machine-dried, otherwise they stretch terribly out of shape and grow several inches, if air-dried. I “tested” these items by running them through the washing machine on a cold delicates cycle in garment bags, then laying flat to dry on a towel. They did not become at all misshapen or over-stretched. I am very pleased about this and would use this yarn again, especially for baby items.

I enjoyed the process of choosing the colors for these projects. I only bought yarn for the sweater, but had enough of the contrasting colors to also do the hat and socks, provided I used a CC for the main color of the accessories. I think it makes the set very fun, with the different colors emphasized in the accessories. I chose these colors based on a board from the expectant mother’s Pinterest page. 🙂 I love Pinterest. I did not find exact matches to the paint swatches she had pinned there, but the overall scheme is very similar. I hope she likes it.

Photos

She Knits: Charmer Socks

These socks have a mildly entertaining story. I bought this yarn as a little bonus for myself when I bought yarn for the gift knits I made earlier this year. I loved the colors in the skein — it is a creamy pale green base with speckles of gray, green, and yellow. When I finished all those gifts, I went looking for a pattern to use this yarn.

That turned out to be a more difficult search than I had anticipated. I found the Froot Loop (Ravelry link) sock pattern first, cast it on, finished the rib and most of the leg… and decided it just looked strange in this speckled yarn. It is a great pattern that I hope to knit in the future, but it really needs a solid or tonal yarn to not look overly busy. Plus, it is a more complicated stitch pattern, and it didn’t seem worth the effort to do if it wasn’t going to show much in the final sock.

I ripped that out and cast on the My Cup of Tea (Ravelry link) sock pattern next. Once again, I knit the ribbing and a few repeats on the leg before deciding… it was too busy and strange-looking. It is also a great pattern that I would love to knit someday — in a solid or tonal yarn.

I ripped that out and went back to a pattern I have knit in a speckled yarn before — in my Confetti Cake Socks. And that’s how these came to be the “Charmer Socks”… because the third time’s a charm!

Progression
Started – February 14
Completed – March 5
Duration – 19 days = 2.7 weeks

Pattern Info
Basket Weave Rib Socks by Sarah Ronchetti
Ravelry

I knit the size Small. The only modification I made to the pattern was to knit a plain stockinette round after the cast-on, before beginning the ribbing. This is how the ribbing was done on a different project I recently completed, and I liked the look of it. I can’t pinpoint what it is, specifically, that makes it better, but I’ll probably keep doing this on all my ribbing (if I remember). 😉

For record’s sake, I knit 16 rounds of ribbing, 5 pattern repeats on the leg, and 12 repeats after the gusset decreases. Perfect.

When I finished the second sock (done in the same yarn on the same needles…), I discovered that they are slightly different in size. The gauge of the first sock is 7.5 stitches and 10 rounds per inch. The second has a gauge of 8 stitches and 12 rounds per inch. I knit the second one more tightly. I am pretty sure I knit the first one mostly without kids around, and the second mostly with them around… so I guess that is the difference in my tension. 😀 I prefer the fit of the second, but have no intention to re-knit the first to make them match better.

I would love to achieve an even tighter gauge for my socks — closer to 9 stitches per inch. But to get 8 spi, I am using US size 0 (2.0 mm) needles, which are the smallest I own. I suppose I could buy US size 00 or 000, but… I have a mental block about using such thin needles!

Yarn Info
Knit Picks Hawthorne Fingering
80% wool, 20% nylon
Colorway – 27220 City Lights Speckle
0.69 skeins = 246.3 yds used

I am pleased with this yarn. It looks very similar to the speckled yarn I used (and loved) in my Confetti Socks, even in the tight twist which gives a ridged look to the stitches. It is a similar softness and heft and feel while knitting. But it is significantly less expensive! It is almost half the price, in fact. That makes me very, very happy. 😀

Photos

She Knits: Julius’ Booties

My sister mentioned that my nephew could probably use some booties. Can’t leave a knitter’s nephew hangin’ like that! I knit this for his birthday, which is coming up soon.

Progression Info
Started – February 1
Completed – February 5
Duration – 4 days = 0.6 weeks

Pattern Info
B25-25 First Impression Booties by DROPS design

DROPS design again… 🙂 Simple, sweet booties. I found them to have an interesting construction — they are knit flat and seamed. The only modification I made was to use Kitchener stitch to seam the soles, instead of binding off and using mattress stitch. I did have to use mattress stitch to seam the backs of the cuffs.

My gauge was likely off because I think they came out a bit large. But that just means they will fit longer. Thankfully, baby feet grow instead of shrink! If I knit this again, I would be more careful about gauge.

Yarn Info
Knit Picks Brava Sport
100% acrylic
Colorway – 25670 Umber Heather

0.37 skeins = 101.2 yds used 

I am not a fan of this yarn. It was scratchy and rough out of the skein. It softened slightly with the first wash — I hope it continues to soften with repeated washing. The quality appears on par with any sport weight (typically labeled “baby” on big brand names) available at big-box stores. In fact, I think the brand Bernat Baby Sport is actually softer than this yarn. I will use that next time I want sport weight acrylic!

Photo

img_7707_medium2

She Knits: Cotton Candy Mitts

Someone requested mitts like the ones I made my niece for Christmas.

Progression Info
Started – January 12
Completed – January 17
Duration – 5 days = 0.7 weeks

Pattern Info
Irish Hiking Mitts by Karin Michele
Ravelry

As with the last mitts, I crossed the cables the other direction on the second mitt. I knit these two-at-a-time (TAAT) on one circular needle. It was fiddly, but I wanted the practice.

Yarn Info
Knit Picks Mighty Stitch
80% acrylic, 20% wool
Colorway – 26823 Cotton Candy
0.41 skeins = 85.3 yds used

This yarn is OK. It doesn’t seem to be any better quality than the wool/acrylic blends found in big-box craft stores. And it has an odd sheen to it, which reminds me of the acrylic yarn Simply Soft by Caron. It is not *bad*, but not something I like very much.

Photos


She Knits: Fancy Legwarmies

I knit a pair of legwarmers for my nephew for Christmas. I had planned to knit two pair, but wanted to be sure they would fit. So this is the second pair I “owed” him. 🙂 I made these fancy, with a simple cable design.

Progression Info
Started – January 3
Completed – January 8
Duration – 5 days = 0.7 weeks

Pattern Info
Legwarmies by Alana Dakos
Ravelry

I made them a smaller diameter by casting on 40 stitches, then I knit 10 rounds in 1×1 ribbing.

The cable design is made of two rounds, plain and cabled.

Plain round: *K2, P1, K4, P1, K2* repeat round 4 times
Cable round: *K2, P1, C2F, P1, K2* repeat around 4 times

After the ribbing, I knit 2 plain rounds, then a cable round. Then 9 plain rounds, then 1 cable round; repeat.

Yarn Info
Scheepjes Stone Washed
Colorway – 805 Blue Apatite
1 skein = 142.2 yds used

Photos

img_7705_medium2