Blanket Progress and Baby Knitting Plans

I didn’t really do any knitting in January or February because I was struck down with morning sickness. But when I picked up my needles again in March, I started working on a series of baby projects for my sister’s first baby who will be here very soon. (So excited!) I just wrapped up the last of those projects recently, although I can’t share them until I actually send them to their new home in MN. But finishing them meant I could get a start on some knitting for my own baby, and I decided to start with a Pinwheel Blanket.

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I made a Pinwheel Blanket for Jude and found knitting the pattern extremely satisfying. I’ve been really inspired by the Pinwheel Blankets that Cassy from Knit the Hell Out has made using some TFA Palettes from Tanis Fiber Arts, so I decided to make my own and ordered the Turquoise Pop palette. The plan is to simply knit through each color in turn until I run out of yarn completely. Very complex stuff. Lol.

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This photo is a bit outdated now since I’ve just added the fifth color, which means that I’ve passed the half way point. My rough estimate is that the blanket is currently around 31″ in diameter. The blanket I made for Jude ended up being around 36″ once it was blocked, and I was really hoping to get something slightly bigger this time, so I’m pleased that it seems like I’m on track to accomplish that goal. My only concern is that a 40″ circular needle is the biggest I’ve got and I’ve already got 500+ stitches on the needle, which is more than 100″ in circumference. I’m really hoping I can scrunch all of my stitches up enough to fit the full blanket on my current needle–I really don’t want to have to order something larger. I guess I’m playing needle chicken instead of yarn chicken this time?

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Beyond the blanket, I don’t have a ton of baby knitting plans. I knit Jude several baby sweaters and baby #2 is due just a couple of weeks after Jude’s birthday, which means that everything should fit in just the right season. But I will knit a newborn hat from some of my sock yarn leftovers, and I’m planning to finally knit up this kit I bought from Barrett Wool Co. for Susan B. Anderson’s Little Giraffe pattern. I bought this when Jude was a baby thinking I’d make it for him, but I clearly never got around to it. I knit Jude a little stuffed monkey that he now sleeps with every night, so this seems like an appropriate friend for our new little one.

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Originally,  I thought I’d stop at those three projects, but then I pulled this skein of Socks That Rock out my stash and felt like I needed to turn it into a little pair of Rocky Joggers. I bought this yarn so long ago I have no idea what the color way name is and I seem to have lost the ball band, but it’s mostly a royal blue broken up with stretches of light gray and rainbow speckles. I think a pair of Rocky Joggers in this yarn could be really cute. I think there is also an equal chance that they will just look bizarre, but I’m going to risk it anyway because I am very eager to see this color way knit up but I have zero desire to knit socks.

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And while I was rifling through my stash, I also discovered that I have just enough of this color of Malabrigo Arroyo (leftover from a sweater that I made Jude almost a year and a half ago and never blogged even though it’s one of the most adorable things I’ve ever made) to knit a baby-size Beloved bonnet. So I’ll be knitting that too purely because I’ve been wanting to try the pattern forever.

I felt like I had to really push myself to make progress on the gifts for my sister. But I’m finally feeling energized by knitting again. I think a big part of it is that I’m on a break between classes and only need to work for a couple of hours a day during Jude’s naps right now. Just having more time and energy makes a huge difference. But it’s also nice to just be able to have something concrete in my hands while I’m watching Jude play during the day–it keeps me focused on the good things coming up and (mostly) helps me push away all the anxieties fighting for space in my head, at least for a bit.

R&R Hoodie

Like a lot of knitters, I suspect, I find myself getting bogged down by finishing. It’s weird to think that you can spend hours and hours forming individual stitch after individual stitch, turning hundreds of yards of yarn into a wearable object only to feel like weaving in a few ends or sewing on a couple of buttons is just too much to ask of yourself at that moment. And yet…

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I’m not one for starting a project and then letting it sit around partially knit for a long time. I’m pretty monogamous in my knitting. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had a ton of projects that sit around for months after I cast off the last stitch, just waiting for me to do the final finishing work. I don’t even mind the finishing work—I usually find it really satisfying once I sit down to do it. I just always seem to find myself having a huge mental block when it comes to finishing.

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According to my Ravelry notebook (which I had to consult because it had been so long I’d completely forgotten), I finished knitting this sweater July 21st, 2017. I was even diligent and tacked the edges of the pockets down and weaved in all of my ends before I marked it as “finished” on Ravelry. Looking back through my Instagram feed, it looks like it took me seven months to actually buy a zipper. And then, of course, it took yet another seven months before I sat down and actually sewed the damn zipper into the sweater. Ridiculous! I mean, I’ve procrastinated on project finishing before, but I think this project wins the prize.

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Ultimately, I think the big block for me was the fact that I needed to shorten the zipper, which I’ve not done before. As is usually the case when I’m intimidated by something new or unknown, I really just needed to sit down for a bit to work on the problem and figure it out. After watching a couple of videos, I ended up just cutting off the extra zipper, pulling out the remaining zipper coil with my seam ripper, and then using some quick hand stitches to create new zipper tops. And from there, it was just a couple of naptime sewing sessions in front of the tv before the zipper was completely installed. (I use this process for sewing in zippers, which always gives me good results.)

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Yes. I took advantage of having my child captive in a Target cart to get blog pictures. Lol.

The pattern is the R&R Hoodie from Tanis Fiber Arts, and I knit it up using Malabrigo Rios in the Glazed Carrot colorway. I used three skeins and alternated between them to account for the dye differences between skeins. Although I started knitting this while I was still pregnant two summers ago, I knew that I wanted it to be wearable the fall after Jude turned one (so, you know, now). The pattern has a 6-12 month size, which I worried would be too small for this season, and a 2-4 year old size, which I worried would be too big.

Ultimately, I decided to knit the 6-12 month size with some extra length to get something between sizes. I believe I added an inch to the body and the sleeves and maybe half an inch to the hood. The modifications worked out nicely—Jude is currently wearing an 18 months size and the sweater fits him very well. I think there’s even enough length left in the sleeves and the body for him to wear this throughout this coming winter.

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After waiting over a year to sew the zipper in, I’m just incredibly relieved that he’ll actually get to wear it before it’s too small!

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Being goofy at the grocery store.

Playdate Cardigan

I’m making an effort to get caught up on blogging past projects, which means going way back to a project that I finished nearly a year ago and that Jude has already outgrown. I’m certainly glad I didn’t wait to put it on him before it got blogged.

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I started this little cardigan the week before Jude was born and finished it up around the time that he turned a month old. The pattern is the Playdate Cardigan from Tin Can Knits, which is part of their Max & Bodhi’s Wardrobe Collection. It’s a basic little v-neck cardigan with drop sleeves and pockets that is available in their full “baby to big” size range—so from 0-3 months all the way up to a 59” chest. I made the 6-12 months size, which I knit using a single skein of Madeline Tosh Twist Light in the Artic colorway.

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I don’t recall making any significant changes to the pattern. I’m pretty sure that I knit it according to the instructions for the size without making any changes to the sleeve or body length. I do recall being very skeptical that I would like putting this cardigan on Jude and feeling pretty certain that he wasn’t going to get much wear out of it. My primary reservation was related to the pattern gauge.

It might just be an effect of being a frequent sock knitter who is used to knitting fingering weight yarn at a gauge of 8-9 stitches per inch, but knitting a fingering weight yarn at 6 stitches per inch (the gauge called for by the pattern) just feels overly loose and airy to me. And because of this, I didn’t feel like the sweater would be warm enough for Jude during fall and winter. And I was also worried that the loose gauge would make the resulting sweater look sloppy.

Of course, once it was blocked it DID NOT look sloppy at all—it turned really well. And Jude actually did get a lot of wear out of it. I started putting him in it with the sleeves cuffed when he was just a few months old and he was wearing it until he was stretching out the buttons this spring. So I’m glad I was wrong. This lightweight cardigan turned out to be very versatile through fall, winter, and spring and, of course, he looked very cute in it.

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I still don’t really like knitting a fingering weight yarn at fewer than ~7 stitches per inch. I think I really just prefer the feeling of creating a denser fabric. If I made this again, I might seriously consider subbing in a sport weight yarn for a more comfortable knitting experience, but I think that might just be an idiosyncratic preference.

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To really highlight how behind I am on getting projects posted to the blog, Jude turned one a couple of weeks ago, which means I got to bake and decorate his first birthday cake! I made the Monkey Cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I filled the cake with the fudgy buttercream from the recipe and used a standard vanilla buttercream for frosting and decorating the rest of the cake. I also ordered a whole pound of banana candies in the name of fulfilling my creative vision for this cake, because I am nothing if not ridiculous. Of course, the only thing that matters is that he liked it. And he did. 🙂

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Cosmic Baby Blanket

One of the last knits I finished before Jude was born was a second blanket. I was so bored with the process of knitting his first blanket, that I swore I wouldn’t knit another blanket until I had another baby. But that thought didn’t last long and I ended up buying 3 skeins of Malabrigo Arroyo and knitting up a quick pinwheel blanket when I was about seven months pregnant.

Pinwheel Baby Blanket

This is made up in the Prussia Blue colorway, which is a really lovely tonal navy. I alternated skeins throughout the blanket to avoid visible changes between skeins. The pattern starts from the center and moves outward, and I used the magic loop method for the first several rounds until I was ready to transfer the blanket to a 24″ circular needle. I increased until I had about 61 stitches in each wedge. Then I improvised a border based on a few different projects I saw on Ravelry. For the border, I worked four rows in garter stitch, one row of k2tog and YO to the end, and then another four rows in garter.

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The finished blanket is about 40″ in diameter, which has been a really useful size. It’s hard to get a sense of how big the final blanket is going to be, so I went back to junior high math and used the formulas for figuring the diameter and circumference of a circle to determine how many times I would increase. There are 10 wedges in the pattern, so you multiple your stitch count by ten and then divide that by your stitch gauge (number of stitches per inch) to get a sense of the circumference of the blanket. You can then divide this number by pi (3.14) to estimate the diameter. That process will give you an estimate of how big your blanket it as you work on it. To get a sense of how many times you will need to increase to get to the diameter you want, you just do the reverse–multiply your desired diameter by pi and then multiply again by your stitch gauge and that will tell you roughly the overall number of stitches you will need to increase to. To make your life easier, just divide that number by 10 to determine how many stitches should be in each wedge.

Pinwheel Baby Blanket

This blanket has been a family favorite. We took it to the hospital when Jude was born, we use it frequently to keep him cozy in his carseat, and it is the perfect weight for snuggles on the couch. This pattern, combined with a nice yarn, made for such soothing and enjoyable knitting that I have completely revised my stance on knitting baby blankets and can’t wait to make another one.

 

A Monkey for My Monkey

I have a backlog of projects that I finished before Jude was born that still need to be blogged. The oldest is probably this little knit monkey, which I made using Rebecca Danger’s Jerry the Musical Monkey pattern.

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I’ve knit this pattern twice before—I made our nephew and our godson both monkeys for their first birthdays, which are only four days apart. It turned out that when I finished the first two monkeys, I had enough yarn left over to make a third. And that yarn has been sitting around in my stash for several years (our nephew and godson both started first grade this fall), waiting for the right recipient.

It turned out that the right recipient was my own little monkey.

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The yarn is Knit Picks Comfy Worsted in Bison and Doe. Again, I bought this yarn several years ago so it doesn’t look like the Bison color is available anymore—I think their current Coffee color is probably the closest match. But I think Comfy works nicely for a toy like this since it is soft but very sturdy.

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I don’t knit a lot of toys because I find them a little tedious and trying. The knitting itself isn’t hard, and this pattern in particular knits up pretty fast. You end up with a whole series of body parts that you have to sew together. And while I am not opposed to stitching together my knitting (I actually kind of love seaming sweaters), I struggle with getting all the parts of a knitted toy together just so to avoid a wonky looking finished product. Basically, the part where you put the toy together and do any embroidery triggers my perfectionism and makes the enterprise kind of stressful.

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The upside of Rebecca Danger patterns is that her design aesthetic is such that a little wonkiness adds to the character of the toy. I mean, I was still a bit particular about how this came together (I’m fairly certain I sewed both the mouth and the legs on twice to get them to a point I could live with), but I was ultimately able to get a cute finish without driving myself completely crazy.

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Anyway. Aidan incorporated the monkey into some of the 1 month shots he took of Jude. Totally worth all the picky assembly!

Baby Knits, Part II: Hats

I don’t typically knit a lot of hats–they aren’t one of my favorite projects, I don’t really like wearing them, and where we currently live, I can get away without needing one for almost the entire winter anyway. But a baby needs hats and so I went on a little hat-knitting bender recently. Making these turned out to be really fun, likely because they were so fast. I think I made each one of these in about an evening’s worth of knitting time.

Newborn Hat

Magic Coffee Baby Hat

This one is just a simple, newborn-sized hat for the hospital. I used some of the leftovers from the Maddie Hoodies I made my twin nephews before they were born, so the yarn is Berroco Weekend DK in Swimming Hole, Seedling, and Daisy. I used the Magic Coffee Baby Hat as a guideline for making the hat, although I had to make adjustments since the pattern is written for a worsted weight yarn and Weekend DK knits up more like a sport-weight. I ended up casting on for the number of stitches called for the in the 2-9 months size, knitting to the length recommended for the newborn size, and then switching back to the 2-9 mos size instructions once again for the crown decreases. I also just tied my i-cord into a little umbilical knot rather than create the loop shown in the original pattern.

Good Sport Hat

Good Sport Hat

This little hat is hard to photograph. If you look at the project pages for this pattern on Ravelry, you can see that it’s really cute when it’s being worn, but it looks a little dumb and floppy when it’s just laying flat.

Good Sport Hat

Anyway, this is a simple striped, rectangular hat with columns of slipped stitches at the sides. I think the slipped stitches are a really nice detail that make this hat distinctive while cleverly hiding the jog in the stripes. This one is also knit in Berroco Weekend DK leftovers, using Swimming Hole and Daisy once again. I knit the “small baby” size or the 0-6 months size, and I’m thinking this will be a nice lighter-weight hat for fall.

Purl Soho Garter Ear Flap Hat

Purl Soho Garter Ear Flap Hat

I’ve been wanting to knit this pattern since it was released, mostly because I’m a sucker for trying out new construction techniques. With this hat, rather than picking up stitches for the earflaps, which seems to be the most common ear flap approach, you form the earflaps with some simple short rows before knitting the body of the hat. I love the visible decreases on this hat and the little attached tassel is the cutest.  I’ll definitely be knitting this pattern again–it’s fun to knit and would make a really great gift. I’m already planning to knit the next size up when our monkey outgrows this one. This hat is the infant size, knit up in Encore Worsted in Light Gray–the same yarn I used to make the Tokyo Hoodie, which was leftover from yet a different sweater project for my twin nephews.

Serendipity Hat

Serendipity Hat

I got a single skein of super bulky yarn as a gift several years ago–the yarn was Berroco Sundae in Isle of Skye. I’m pretty sure this yarn has been discontinued now, but it’s a wool/acrylic blend spun up in one fat single with lots of color variation throughout the strand. It is a really pretty yarn and I was at a complete loss with what to do with it, so it sat in my stash until I came across the Serendipity pattern. I love the chunky garter brim on this hat and the giant pom pom. You’d think that this would be the fastest of all the hats, but knitting with a super bulky yarn is so awkward and slow (at least for me–I don’t think I’ve knit with anything heavier than a worsted weight in years). This hat seems to run a bit on the small side, and this yarn doesn’t have a lot of give, so I knit up the toddler size. If it doesn’t fit until next winter, oh well–clearly this kid is good on hats for awhile.

That’s it for baby hats (at least for the moment). So far, everything I’ve knit except the baby blanket has been made using yarn from my stash. But I just ordered a few skeins of yarn for some more baby sweater knitting. It feels like I’m knitting a crazy amount of stuff for this baby, but at least I’m trying to be practical and cover a range of sizes? Or I’m just crazy.

Baby Knits, Part 1

I love baby knits. They are fast and cute and help use up those random skeins of yarn leftover from bigger projects. Knitting for my own baby is all the more fun since I know that I will be one of the primary beneficiaries of all the wooly baby snuggles. These are just my first few finished baby projects—there are more in the works.

Linus Security Blanket

This is the first baby knit I started. I ordered the yarn just after we moved into our new house in January and knit on the blanket slowly when I had the energy during my first trimester. The pattern (available here) works well for knitting while exhausted because it is a very simple repeat. The yarn is Berroco Weekend in Mallard, which is hard to photograph but is a deep blue-green color. The first picture is a truer representation of  the actual color than the second. I’ve previously used Berroco Weekend DK for some gifted baby sweaters I made a couple of years ago and am really impressed by how well the yarn has held up to washing and wearing, so I figured it would be a good choice for a blanket.

Linus Security Blanket

I sometimes have the idea that I should knit an afghan for our living room. But this project was an excellent reminder of why that is a terrible idea. Knitting a blanket is SO BORING. I think of myself as having a fairly high tolerance for boring knitting, which I demonstrate in my willingness to knit lots of basic, vanilla socks and sweaters that are primarily just stockinette stitch. But there’s no shape or variation in a blanket—it’s just a giant gauge swatch that feels like it goes on forever. Now that I think of it, I generally have a very low tolerance for square- and rectangle-shaped projects since I also hate knitting basic scarves and dishcloths.

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Don’t get me wrong: I’m very glad that I knit this blanket, I love the finished product, and I am very much looking forward to wrapping my baby up in it. But unless I forget about what a slog this project felt like (a distinct possibility given the sleep deprivation I’m inviting into my life), I don’t see myself jumping to take on another blanket project unless I have a second baby. And even then, I think I’d be better off making something like a Pinwheel blanket in a variegated yarn to keep myself interested.

Wee Envelope

This little pullover pattern from Ysolda Teague is a fun knit because of its interesting construction. It’s a seamless knit that starts by knitting from the cuff of one sleeve, through the garter stitch yoke, down to the cuff of the second sleeve, and then you pick up and knit the stitches for the body. I knit the 3-6 mos size up using 2 skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash Sport in Moss that I received as a gift from Aidan’s sister and her wife a couple of years ago.

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This should have been a very quick knit, but I ran out of yarn about 1.5” short of the necessary length for the body and had to rip the entire thing out and make some adjustments. I realized in the process that my row gauge in stockinette was off, resulting in sleeves that were way too long. So I saved a bit of yarn by working the sleeve shaping rows more frequently. I then reduced the width of the yoke by cutting out a single garter ridge from both the front and the back, and then picked up 4 fewer stitches for the body. Although the body is a bit narrower than the schematic measurements, I still think it’s plenty wide for a 3-6 mos size garment, and making those adjustments gave me enough yarn to get a decent length in the body.

Wee Envelope Sweater

My real concern with the fit of this particular pattern is that the armscye doesn’t seem deep enough for this style. I’ve read before that with a basic drop sleeve (which is more or less what this style is replicating), you need a deeper armscye and wider sleeve to allow for greater movement. This, however, has a narrower sleeve that looks like it will be a lot more fitted. Of course, when this actually fits, it’s not like the baby is going to be mobile or engaging in active play that requires a large range of motion, so maybe it won’t be a problem at all? We’ll see.

Tokyo Hoodie

This little pullover was truly a fast knit (I think it only took me two days?), was completely drama free, and is possibly one of the cutest things I’ve made to date. I can’t wait to see this on a little squish. I knit the 6 mos size using ~1.5 balls of Encore Worsted leftover from the Wonderful Wallaby sweaters I made our nephews for Christmas last year.

Tokyo Hoodie

This pattern was designed by Carrie Bostick Hoge, who also did the super-cute Maddie Hoodie pattern I’ve made before. I think the Tokyo Hoodie would make a great project for a baby gift. It’s really simple, knits up fast, and doesn’t take much yarn. Plus, it’s a basic piece that you can throw on as a little jacket, which should result in lots of wear.

And now I have to focus my attention on some unfinished adult knits—I need to free up some needles so I can get going with even more baby projects.