Saturday, 31 August 2013

Welcome to the Flock

August 2013

This is a recently published pattern which caught my eye because I know how useful a matching hat and cardigan set is for a newborn baby. I have a friend who is expecting her second in December, and so I seized on the excuse to whip one of these up. It's so tiny that it only took a week or so, and it's lovely to be able to get a matching set from one ball of yarn. Also, there is something irresistible about knitted sheep.

We don't know whether it's a boy or a girl yet, but with this set it doesn't matter in the slightest - it would be ideal for either. I think I have enough of the green left for a pair of bootees, if I can find the time before he or she arrives.

I wish I had used wool or at least a wool blend, because I think it would have responded better to blocking than the acrylic did. I bought this yarn is the search for a perfect dinosaur green when I was about to embark on this project. In the end I found something better, so it’s good to have finally used it up.

This pattern would make a nice basis for other motifs of around the same size too. I must see whether I can dig any out. Ducks on a blue background spring to mind. 

It's a very simple seamless dk pattern in which the sleeves and the body are made separately up to the armpit, and then they're all moved into the same needle. There are three decrease rounds in between and above the sheep to make the yoke, and the buttonband and neckband are picked and up worked in 1x1 rib afterwards.

Pattern: Welcome to the Flock by Julia Farwell-Clay from Moth Heaven
Size: 0 - 3 months
Yarn: King Cole Big Value dk
Colour: 11
Amount: 1 skein
On ravelry: here

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Baby Norgi

May 2013

I made a new year's resolution to try out a couple of techniques I had yet to tackle this year, and just to show that I stuck with it, here's my first go at steeking. One of the first things I learned was that there are are two methods - crochet steeking and sewing machine steeking. Having read around on teh internets I concluded that I would prefer to use a crochet steek. It’s what Elizabeth Zimmerman would have done.

So despite not being a crocheter, I duly had a go, but in the end I concluded that it wouldn't work with this pattern, as there are lots of long white floats behind where the armhole would need to be cut, and the crochet method doesn’t seem to do anything to secure them.

I suspect it’s because the baby norgi pattern was written on the assumption that you would use a sewing machine steek, and it therefore doesn’t have a steek ‘panel’, which I think is essential to making a crochet steel work. Certainly the ‘how to steek’ article which comes with this pattern assumes you will use a sewing machine.

I could just be missing something, though, because this is my first go at this. Either way it’s good to have tried both ways and even though it meant a bit of faffing about, I can afford to be a bit relaxed - this is a Christmas jumper after all.

My sleeves came out much too wide and had to be frogged and re-knitted. I also modified the collar to a 1x1 rib with a button, just to be sure that it would fit over the recipient’s head.

In the process of making up I’ve realised that having to set in the sleeves AND sew down the facings AND add a hem at the waist and the wrists AND not being able to join the shoulder seams with a three needle bind off means a LOT of finishing for something knitted in the round. Even so, a great learning exercise and very very cute.

Pattern: Baby Norgi by Wendy D. Johnson from Knitty Spring 2003.
Size: 27" chest (for a 2 year old)
Yarn: King Cole Zig Zag / Patons Fairytale Dreamtime 4-ply / Regia Color 4-ply
Colour: Ruby / White / Denim Blue
Amount: 1.5 skeins of MC, less than 1 skein of CCs
On ravelry: here

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Puppy Sweater

August 2013

My sister in law is expecting her first baby (a boy), any day now. My son George's first cousin. I'm a truly rubbish potential aunt for not starting anything for him until now, but I figured an August baby wouldn't have much call for knitwear at first. Besides, I was waiting for the perfect pattern and given how doggy-mad she is, I couldn't resist this one.

The original has a zig-zag lace pattern just above the waist-band. I replaced it with bone motif from The Tapdancing Lizard. Not that I have a problem with boys' patterns which feature lace. It's more that I wasn't confident that my dog would be doggy enough for people to "get it" without a bit of a clue. Still burning from the time someone thought my knitted bunnies were reindeer. Anyway, I tested this out on my 22 month old son, and he correctly identified it as a "wah-wah", and I was very proud of us both.

In an effort to minimise finishing, I worked this in the round to start of puppy chart, and would have done the sleeves in the round too, if I could have found the right sized DPNs. Only one of the shoulder seams is joined (the other closes with buttons to make the sweater easier to get on and off), and I used a three needle bind off for that. Sewing a sleeve on to an open shoulder seam was fiddly, but I think it looks okay.

I love this yarn. It's such a treat to work with wool (or mostly wool) these days. I really should do it more often. After a bit of a soak in fabric conditioner it's lovely and soft. The buttons were recycled from my Offset Wraplan.

This is the second pattern I've made from Zoe Mellor's Nursery Knits - the other was the Starlight Blanket. It's a lovely resource.

Pattern: Puppy Sweater by Zoe Mellor from Nursery Knits.
Size: 3 - 6 months
Yarn: Cygnet Truly Wool Rich 4-ply / Patons Fairytale Dreamtime 4-ply
Colour: Olive / Chocolate / White
Amount: 1.5 skeins of MC, less than 1 skein of CCs
On ravelry: here