Category Archives: knitting

Blue, blue hat

Oh….has it been this long since I've posted? Over two months? I can't believe it! A computer crash, camera problems, another international move, six family members felled one by one by winter colds…..it's been quite a hectic last few months. But here I am again.

I'll keep this brief for now, but want to share this hat – another one of those fun, gratifying, one-day projects I love so much.

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Anna is modeling the hat (and just like the toddler she is, she moves so quickly I can barely capture her on camera), but it's actually sized for a six or seven year old child. I made it for a friend's little girl, who is going through chemotherapy right now and needs something warm to wear on her head. She loves blue, blue in all shades but navy.

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I'd been looking for the perfect yarn for a few months now, and was thrilled to find this at a local yarn shop yesterday because it combines so many beautiful shades of blue. Cornflower blue, sky blue, even a bit of lavender. The yarn is Cascade Bulky Alpaca Paints – and I used less than one skein – casting on 60 stitches on a size 10 needle. Perfect project for these snowy snowy days!

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Malabrigo hat pattern

Here's a super quick pattern for a child's hat made of Malabrigo worsted yarn, or any other worsted yarn that will get you 4.5 stitches to the inch. 

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It's so fast to knit up – perfect for time-challenged, perpetually busy people like me. I'm using the same yarn in another colorway for a poncho I'm making for M, and it was starting to feel a bit never-ending, so I took a break and made this hat. It only took one day! If I can do it, you can surely do it too. You can embellish it any way you like: with a pom pom or tassels, with embroidery (which I think would be so pretty), or a simple crocheted flower like this one.

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Here's the pattern. This hat is 10 inches across (20 inch circumference). It fits my almost 4 year old daughter's head with room to spare, so it could either be sized down by casting on 10 fewer stitches, or using a smaller needle for the rib to make it more snug. You can also size it up to fit an adult. 

Using a 16 inch number 9 circular needle, cast on 90 stitches. Being careful not to twist your stitches, join the stitches and use a stitch marker to mark the beginning of each new round.

Knit in 1×1 rib (knit one, purl one) for 8 rounds (or more if you want a folded up brim). After you finish the 8th row, knit in stockinette (all knit stitches) for 4 more inches (more if you are knitting for an adult).

Begin decreases at the beginning of the next round: Knit 8, then knit 2 together. Knit 8 more, and 2 together. Continue this way for the rest of the round.

Continue decreasing as follows (switch to double pointed needles as the hat gets smaller):

Next round: knit 7, and knit 2 together, knit 7, and 2 together for the rest of the round. 

Next round: knit 6, knit 2 together, repeat until you reach the end of the round.

Next round: knit 5, knit 2 together, repeat until you reach the end of the round.

Next round: knit 4, knit 2 together, repeat until you reach the end of the round.

Next round: knit 3, knit 2 together, repeat until you reach the end of the round.

Next round: knit 2, knit 2 together, repeat until you reach the end of the round.

Next round: knit 1, knit 2 together, repeat until you reach the end of the round.

Next round: knit 2 together, repeat until you reach the end of the round.

Next round: cut a 12 inch tail, thread onto a needle, gather up the remaining stitches with the thread, pull tight in the center, and weave in the loose end. 

Embellish as you like with a pom pom, embroidery, or felted or crocheted flowers. Here are two clear tutorials for crocheted flowers: this, or this

This is a good way to practice knitting in the round if you're a beginning knitter, and it would make a nice handmade holiday gift!

Knitting for babies

Last year, you may recall, I was infatuated – obsessed, really – with tiny knitting projects. Here's one I finished up a few days after A was born, which was the last good chunk of knitting I got done until just recently. At that time, it seemed long and impossibly big, but I took it out recently and now – she's just turned one –  it fits her just about perfectly. 

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Knitting is so labor-intensive, you want whatever you're making to be wearable for as long as possible. But children grow, and grow, and grow, don't they?! When I knitted this (and by the way, the free pattern is here), I thought about the things I've learned over all the years of knitting for little people that I've done and made adjustments. These are some of the things I try to keep in mind when I'm doing a new project for little ones:

1) Dresses (if you're knitting for a girl), or long sweaters are great. They can turn into tunics or vests later on, so you can get two or three winters' worth of wear out of them. The sweater above is Knitting Pure and Simple's Easy Baby Cardigan, and I added at least an inch or two to the length when I knitted it. Conversely, a bolero-style (short) open cardigan would also work well for a girl and would definitely last for several years (M, almost 4, and A can both fit into the same sweater, especially if it's an unbuttoned bolero where length doesn't matter as much. There's not that much difference in width between a pudgy baby/toddler and a preschooler). 

2) Change the sleeves if necessary. Sleeves look great as bracelet or 3/4 length sleeves if the edge is straight and clean and not gathered or ribbed – a simple moss stitch, like the one in this sweater, or a picot edge or garter stitch trim would work well. This way your child can wear the sweater as a long sleeve one year and a three quarter sleeve the next.

3) Stick to top-down, raglan-sleeved sweaters if you can. I've knitted many things for my boys that turned out to be too boxy and wide; it turns out that part of the problem was that the sweaters had dropped shoulders, which ended up looking sloppy when I sewed the sleeves on. They were wide enough but not long enough to wear again the following year.  Knitting in the round eliminates having to do any sewing up, and most top-down sweaters have a long and lean look – which is perfect when you are trying to knit something that will last as long as possible. 

4) If you're knitting something top down, it's easy enough to leave the sleeves off entirely, leaving just little cap sleeves. You'll end up with a vest-style sweater which will keep your child warm and, as long as it's long enough, work for more than just one year. (Bonus – it's quicker to knit – leaving you more time for other projects!).

5) Knitting really small things for very tiny babies is a lot of fun, but if you mostly aim for a 1-2 year old size (and then make adjustments such as the ones I've mentioned) you'll get a lot more wear out of the garments you make, because toddlers don't grow as quickly as babies do. Besides, I happen to think sweaters look better on an upright, walking child than on a baby who can't sit up yet. They're easier to put on, too!

Are you working on any knitting projects right now? What are your tips for knitting for little children?

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Finally

Finally, some crafting is happening around here again. 

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I just completed the little sweater/shrug above. It's so tiny, very short with cap sleeves, and I used fairly substantial yarn, so really, it shouldn't have taken this long to make, but life has been so busy! It's a free pattern I've used several times now and I love it so much that I recommend it to everyone I know (including you, dear readers!). It is so versatile, so quick and easy, in the seamless style I love because there's no need for sewing up. The shrug even fits my older daughter, which is a relief, because that means this will be able to be worn for at least several years. 

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I have needed a creative fix. It's so hard not to have that kind of time to create something with my own hands without constant interruptions. I've found myself turning to photography more lately because I get instant results – and I love it (more on that in a future post) – but oh how I have missed working with fabric and yarn and tangible loveliness.

Do you have a strong desire to create? If so, what is your favorite way to indulge your creativity, and how do you make the time and space in your life to do so?
 
 
 

Nesting

It feels like life has slowed down to a crawl during these last few weeks of waiting for the baby. For awhile, I was keeping myself busy by searching out and completing the quickest knitting projects I could find out there. There's something really satisfying about knitting up something tiny. It feels like such an extravagance, because a baby can only wear something this small in the first few months, but it's testament to the love and anticipation that surrounds its arrival. The last time I did a lot of knitting was before my first baby was born 9 years ago, and it was a meditative experience for me – into each stitch of baby clothing was knitted all the dreams and hopes that a soon-to-be first-time mother feels. In all the years since then, it's just been too difficult to keep on knitting – little toddler feet getting tangled up with skeins of yarn, so much of life to be lived as another and then yet another child was added to our family. But I recently discovered Ravelry and found myself feeling completely reinspired to take up  my needles. 

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The knitting world has really evolved in the decade since I was last actively knitting. Knitting feels fresh and new for me. There are so many free – free! – patterns out there by generous and talented knitters. The baby dress above is called the Kaia Babydoll. I knitted the newborn size so it went really quickly, in Debbie Bliss's luscious Baby Cashmerino yarn.

I dream of someday spinning and dyeing my own yarn as well. In the meantime I can order handspun and/or hand dyed yarn from Etsy. This delightful skein of yarn practically danced in my hands as I knitted it up and the entire sweater took about 2 days to make.

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The yarn was made by Sunrise Lodge Fiber Studio. It feels so good to use yarn that is handcrafted with personal care in this way. 

I've made a few things from commercial patterns as well, and been really happy with the results. These wee hats are from the book One Skein, by Leigh Radford.

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I've also been enjoying knitting top-down seamless sweaters.  Both the dress and sweater above are seamless and so are the ones below. Until I started knitting these I didn't realize how much I hated the process of sewing up afterwards. I don't think I will ever make another sweater again that isn't knitted in the round.

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The pattern for the sweaters above is available here for free.

And then this pattern, below, is Elizabeth Zimmerman's famous Baby Sweater on Two Needles from her Knitter's Almanac. It's the same pattern I used for the green sweater above.

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Finally, every new baby needs booties and hats. There are many, many free baby bootie patterns on the web, and I just kind of combined various ones and experimented. Here's a link to a bunch of baby sock and bootie patterns.

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I couldn't resist purchasing the pattern for this pilot cap because pilot caps just look so darling on little baby faces.

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I have been trying to keep up with knitting projects for the older ones too. They are happy with socks and hats as long as they can pick the yarn and designs, and Mia is still small enough to knit quick shrugs and sweaters for. Some things remain works in progress but the children really seem to enjoy knowing that something special is being made just for them. 

Wool and cotton receiving blankets have been made, tiny clothing folded and put away. So now…..we just wait, while cherishing our last special days together as a family of five. 

Drawing inspiration from crafty tutorials

We had our last round of summer visitors, and the boys are now back in school, so I hope to be able to be more productive for the few weeks remaining in my pregnancy, but in the meantime, here are a few fun things I've made recently. Most of these were inspired by tutorials on the web and so they required very little brainpower from me (big plus). My only criteria when scouring blogland for tutorials were that they be fast, easy, and teach me a new crafting skill. I'm really in awe of all the crafty bloggers out there – so much talent and so much generosity! 

First of all, I made a tiny hairpin out of traditional Japanese fabric, chirimen.

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The lovely tutorial for this can be found here at Miscellany of Me. It's very simple, really similar to the pincushion I made a few weeks ago, and could be made with just about any fabric and literally takes just a few minutes. Satisfying!

Next, I decided to tackle purses again, because I was disappointed by my last attempt at making bags without interfacing (way too floppy).  It took me this long to figure out how to find interfacing in Japan but I finally succeeded! I decided to try this tutorial for a pleated purse and it was really wonderful. I feel like I learned a lot about bagmaking from making this.

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So, once I got past my fear of fusible interfacing, I decided I could apply it to other bags, and so I made a tote bag, 
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and then two little pouches which stand up nicely on their own thanks to fusible interfacing on the lining.

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These bags could all use a nice pressing to look polished enough for photos. I don't have time to do it right now, but I did find a nice link which tells you how to press small, fiddly pouches and bags on Nicole Millelieu's (highly addictive) bagmaking blog. I see more bagmaking in my future!

I've also tried making a few tiny toys. I tried this Calico Kitty pattern and made a small cat, along with a bag to go along with it. I didn't do a great job but it was fun to design the clothing and my daughter liked it a lot. I hope to move on to other stuffed animals after this.

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And for this kitty or any of my children's dolls, I made a small pillow

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which was super simple to make and based on this sweet tutorial at p.s. i quilt.

I've also been rediscovering knitting. I used to knit all the time, but stopped after I had children who kept getting tangled in all my yarn. I'm loving it again. I like the rhythm of having a knitting project handy – actually not just one, but several. One or two small ones, easily and quickly completed, another more ambitious or complicated one, all in separate bags or baskets around the house, and I can pick each one up depending on the circumstance (for instance, a simple, mindless one is perfect to work on while helping my son with his homework). This is perhaps not the most efficient way to knit (or to do any sort of crafting) but I get bored if I have only one project on my needles and then it never gets finished at all!

I completed the baby knitted slippers I was working on and also made a tiny newborn hat, which I'll also embellish with a flower if baby turns out to be a girl.

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I posted the link to these slippers in my last post. There are a few nice tutorials out there for crocheting flowers to use as embellishment. Here's a particularly helpful one, at The Handmade Dress. I was making mine smaller so I used fewer triple stitches – once you learn how to make one it's easy to modify.

The hat is just a basic hat I memorized a long time ago. I kind of winged it with the measurement – I totally forget how big a newborn head is. At least knit is somewhat stretchy! I'm embarking on a few teeny sweaters next. I usually knit baby sweaters big so they'll fit for awhile, but I think there's something precious about a sweater that just fits a newborn and I think that's all I'll have time to knit, anyway.

Speaking of tiny and small, I had bits of felting yarn leftover from previous projects so I decided to try making a tiny tester bag to see what kind of gauge I'd get after felting. I might use the rest of this yarn to make more slippers, or to make more bags to carry little figures around. My children love having small bags to slip just one or two little toys in and I love encouraging them to combine handmade things with their store-bought toy play. The handle is i-cord which is amazingly simple to do.  This was fun and so fast!

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I actually made one of these small bunnies, which are not only darling but also incredibly speedy, but, again, I wasn't happy with how mine turned out (hence no picture). Clearly, stuffed animals aren't my forte. But if they appeal to you, definitely check out the link on Little Cotton Rabbit!

Finally, we had a few scrapes and mishaps last week, so I made an ice pack holder as well as a lavender rice bag for aching muscles. I think these would make a nice gift for a child, or for a parent along with this beautiful little first aid kit bag I spotted at Maya Made  (and hope to make someday). I made mine very small – the rice bag is about 3 inches by 3 inches, perfect size for a child. It would be easy to make several of these in different fabric patterns and keep them handy in a basket.

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I hope you enjoy checking out some of these links – I know these projects were a lot of fun for me to do. If you know of any other tutorials for fast, quick, whimsical and fun projects, do let me know!