Blanket Policy

I have learnt from experience there are a few things a knitter should take into account when making things for babies.

  1. They grow really, really fast. If you want them to get good use out of a garment knit it big.
  2. They are messy. Pick a wool that is easily washable, preferably by a machine.
  3. They can’t tell you if something is itchy, they will just scream, so for the wellbeing of all involved you should try and use the softest wool you can possibly find.
  4. It’s a good idea to keep the due date in mind. Even when you’re knitting big it really turns up the pressure when the tiny human being arrives sooner than you expected….which I learnt…the hard way…last week.
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Early days on 15cm 5mm Addi Bamboo DPNs

I’ve been working on the Vivid Blanket from Tin Can Knits for a cousin’s new arrival. It’s a great pattern and I was really excited to cast on. I was confident my cousin’s due date was in May so I had ages to kick back and enjoy the knit. Except her due wasn’t May, she was due last week…and (hurrah!) her daughter has arrived. Now fortunately a blanket isn’t something particularly time sensitive but when you’re two squares in to a twelve square baby blanket and you find out the baby is already here you do feel a little bit surprised.

With the long Easter weekend and a couple of nights in I’ve actually got nine squares ready to go now and I think I’m going to leave it at that – it’s already a decent sized play/cot blanket. I used 5mm needles so it’s knitted up fairly big and frankly I’m too excited to make it up to knit any more.

Vivid Blanket on 20cm 5mm DPNs
Migrated to 20cm 5mm Addi DPNs as it grew

It’s a great pattern which I’ve loved making, even better, it knits really quickly. I used all white yarn (well ‘Champagne white’ if you will) which is maybe a little ironic given the pattern name is Vivid but it looks lovely. Haven’t sewn them up yet, I read the Tin Can Knits blog about the pattern and it’s made me think that blocking is probably the way to go so, reluctantly, I shall do that this evening. Patience is a virtue and all. So next week when they’re all blocked I shall spend an evening sewing them together and hopefully it will be excellent.

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Finished squares awaiting blocking

Helpful information

Cast on – Pin hole cast on isn’t one I’d used before so I watched this video from VeryPink Knits which showed me how it was done

Cast off – I used K2tog, slip stitch to left needle K2tog. On reflection a simpler cast off might have given me neater join (and is actually recommended in the Tin Can Knits blog – oh hindsight you beautiful thing!) but it said in the pattern to use a stretchy cast off and that’s my go to stretchy one.

I used two circulars for the first couple of rounds as that’s what I am most confident with and it was a bit fiddly but then I moved to 15cm and later 20cm DPNs. When the squares outgrew these I finished off on a circular again. I found the DPNs helped me keep track of the repeats more easily and it was easier to see where I was in the pattern.

Materials

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Needles – all mine were Addi, circular turbos and then bamboo and metal DPNs, pick your favourite!
2 x 5mm circular needles (or one long one to do magic loop)
5mm DPNs in 15cm and/or 20cm
Yarn
Painbox Yarns, Simply Aran in colour 202. Knits on 5mm needles, is machine washable at 40 on a wool cycle and is nice and soft. I’d read slightly mixed reviews of Paintbox Yarns and had never used them before but I have no compaints.

Hermione’s Everyday Socks (a.k.a. total brilliance)

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Socks have always scared me. I’ve thought a lot about making them. I’ve saved 15 patterns to my Ravelry queue. I’ve admired (and joyfully worn) the beauties made by others. But I’ve always felt the fear and avoided making my own.

When I thought about it, my sock knitting fear is based on two things. The main one is the fear of picking up stitches along edges. I will go to great lengths to avoid this and have been known to do an entire baby blanket border using intarsia to avoid having to pick up stitches at the end! In the same way, I tend to avoid knitting anything that needs two of something that look roughly the same because I have only rarely managed this feat (and even then only with a lot of blood, sweat and swearing).

So the obvious time to solve your fear of something is when doing some gift knitting against the clock, isn’t it? Way to make things easier with a bit of time pressure! My best friend’s birthday was in March so I naturally decided in the middle of February that knitting a pair of something would be a great idea.

Once I’d settled on socks, picking a pattern was really easy. Hermione’s Everyday Socks is the most knitted sock pattern on Ravelry by a considerable distance. Throw in that my best friend and I have been Harry Potter addicts since the books first came out and the choice was simple.

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This pattern is absolutely wonderful and I can’t recommend it enough. The instructions are clear and the textured stitch pattern comes up beautifully. Overall, it was a really great knit – engaging enough to keep your interest without being too overly taxing. Seeing all the stages of the sock come together from the ribbing to the toes was also pretty gratifying and helped me to just about stick to the strict row knitting schedule I’d invented!

Finding yarn was a different matter though. My best friend’s favourite colour is red but I really struggled to find a suitable strong red to knit with. In the end I went for a skein of Madeline Tosh Sock in the shade Tart. I’m really pleased with the results and I particularly love how the semi-solid red shades have worked out with the textured stitch pattern. That said, I definitely prefer to knit with more rustic wool and I found the slipperiness of the Merino a bit hard going. If anybody can tell me where to find a good strong red yarn (preferably British), please let me know!

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I followed the pattern for the ankle but shortened the number of texture repeats to 12 instead of the recommended 18 as I was a wee bit afraid I’d run out of yarn. Weighing the yarn as I went along helped me to feel a bit more confident that there would be enough for two socks and in the end, I had just under 20g spare.

The heel wasn’t too traumatic when I got down to it and was mostly just a case of following the instructions without reading too far ahead! I knitted the socks using the magic loop method and then switched to two 2.25mm circular needles when the stitches were split for turning the heel. I still wouldn’t call myself a fan of picking up stitches but I googled furiously and used the advice on this Purl Soho page to help me get the stitches picked up evenly. The socks do have a tiny ridge inside where I picked the stitches up and I’m not quite sure if/how to stop that happening again another time. Hmm, something to work on!

Fortunately, the socks have come out pretty close to each other in size and the fit is really good, although that was more luck than skill. They took about 3 weeks to knit in evenings/weekends and were just a really great knit. For now, I think the sock fear may be conquered but I should probably cast on another pair immediately to check right?!

Helpful Information

Pattern – Hermione’s Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder
Modifications – I knitted 12 pattern repeats on the ankle instead of the 18 suggested in the pattern. I also knitted the sock for a size 8 foot and mostly worked this out by making my dad try them on to see if they looked alright! Overall, the bottom of the foot measured  11 inches in length including the toes.
Cast on – long tail cast on. I use this video by Wool and the Gang whenever I need a reminder.
Cast off – grafted the toes. This Knit Witch video is the best tutorial I’ve found and I have probably watched it upwards of 100 times by now!
Heel help – I used this Purl Soho page to help me work out how to pick up the heel stitches but I’d be really interested to hear any tips about how to do this.

Materials

Needles – 2.25mm Addi Turbo’s bought from my local Jamieson and Smith wool shop
Wool – one 115g skein of Madeline Tosh Sock wool in the shade Tart purchased from Meadow Yarns. I was terrified I’d run out of wool but I ended up with just under 20g left.

The Weasley Jumper

A Weasley Jumper – for those of you who don’t know – is a jumper hand/magic-knitted by the witch, mother and all around hero, Molly Weasley, in the Harry Potter books. She gifts them to her nearest and dearest at Christmas and they famously bare a yellow initial – particularly useful in telling apart her identical twin sons, the mischevous Fred and George. In my humble opinion, if this is the first time you’ve heard of Weasley jumpers you should stop reading this, track down all 7 Harry Potter books and lose your self in J.K. Rowling’s magical world for a few days. Come back when you’re up to speed on the fabulous knitwear of the Weasley matriarch.

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Weasley Jumper – the finished product

I was pretty excited when a friend and fellow HP fan announced she was expecting a new arrival, and a Weasley jumper seemed like an obvious choice of gift. A quick search on the google and I found this pattern via A Modern Homestead which is great. It knits up super quickly, is pretty easy if you’re comfortable working in the round and now that I’ve finished it I can affirm it looks brill. I’d also never done a raglan jumper or a top down jumper so it appealed from that perspective too.

You need a good stretchy bind off for the cuffs and bottom of the jumper, I did some googling and found one I liked (more details below) but it’s something I always struggle with so would love to know if you can recommend any others Shetlander/dear reader?

Victoria at A Modern Homestead suggests some tweaks to the pattern on her site, some of which worked for me, some of which didn’t, my hints/amends are below:

Tips and suggestions

  1. Long tail cast on works perfectly
  2. 4 rows of ribbing at the neck, nice amount but not a full turtle neck
  3. 12 rows of rib on sleeve cuffs and ditto at the bottom of the jumper
  4. Do cast on the 3 stitches recommended in the pattern for the underarm, I actually picked up 2 extra stitches when I was joining on the first sleeve round to minimise gaps. I did 2 extra stitch decreases in the next round to get me back down to the right number of stitches. This gave me a really neat join and didn’t cause any uncomfortable bobbling in the fabric. My advice – experiment and see what works for you.
  5. Casting off – [k2tog, pass stitch from right needle to left, K2tog]. Nice stretchy bind off that looks good.
  6. I used duplicate stitch to sew the initial and that worked beautifully – highly recommend. Initially I started sewing top down but it wasn’t terribly neat so I pulled the stitches out and started again bottom up…not sure why this made such a big difference but it worked much better for me.
  7. I’d recommend a height of about 14 rows for the letter; my J was 8 stitches wide, the M was 16. I started sewing them 16 rows down from the end of the neck ribbing.

 

 

Two red hand-knitted Weasley jumpers
I loved the pattern so much I ended up making two – clearly my tension changed between them as one came up much larger.

Helpful Information

Pattern – Weasley Jumper
Level – Easy Intermediate (you need to be confident working in the round)
Cast on – long tail; the method I use is well described in this video
Cast off – k2tog, pass new stitch to left needle, k2tog etc.; full description here
Duplicate Stitch – great for the initial, instruction video here

Materials

  • Needles – 4mm DPNs/circulars; 5mm DPNs/circulars
  • Wool – I used about 3 balls of Rico essentials, soft merino aran in Brick Red for the body. The letter was same yarn in Sun Yellow – if you had right weight and colour in your stash you could definitely use that. Rico essentials soft merino is a superwash wool so good for little ones. Usually I’m a buy in store type but I couldn’t find anything that was quite right in the shops so I purchased from LoveKnitting.com and it was perfect
  • Stitch holders/scrap yarn to put the sleeves onto while you knit the body
  • Darning needle for sewing in your ends

Thoughts on knitting in the round
I played with DPNs at the beginning but mainly used Addi turbos (my favourite circulars), using two pairs to make a loop until it was big enough to go down to one needle. If you’re not familiar with the method, video here. That’s usually my favourite way of doing things although I am warming to DPNs. You could also use the magic loop method if that’s what you’re used to.

First attempt at using DPNs to cast on for a baby's jumper
DPN Jumper Cast On

#2017MakeNine

Ok, we’re a bit late to the party but nevertheless here are our Make Nines for 2017…

The Londoner

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#2017MakeNine

Photo credits & patterns L-R from top left: 1. Love Knitting’s Obliquo, photo from their website; 2. Baby Weasley Jumper you can find the pattern here. 3. Christmas presents standing-in to represent the mystery make. 4. Tin Can Knit’s  stunning Vivid Blanket, photo from their website; 5 & 6: Mini-Christmas stocking decorations, pattern at Little Cotton Rabbits 7: Shetland lace baby blanket, a very similar pattern available here; 8: I made this helmet cover pattern up and didn’t write it down. I shall work it out when I make the new one! 9: I can’t remember where this pattern came from but I shall either transcribe it or re-locate it and post when I do. Feel free to comment with any pattern questions or advice. The London Knitter x

  1. Something for myself that isn’t a hat – I always make hats or wrist warmer type things to wear but I want to bite the bullet this year and make something big, a jumper or cardigan, that I can rep with pride.
  2. A tiny little Weasley jumper for my friend’s new baby – this is already on the needles.
  3. My sister’s wedding present(s). Can’t give more details, it’s a surprise. May not actually involve knitting but will be some sort of crafting required.
  4. A blanket for a cousin’s new arrival – family tradition; I try and give any new members of the pack something knitted and now that there’s a new one due in two months I need to get cracking. Deadlines, gulp. I love Tin Can Knits Vivid pattern so I’m going to see how I get on with that.
  5. Christmas decorations! Chiefly, miniature stockings and Christmas puddings. They were a huge success last year and are weirdly addictive to knit because they knit up so quickly and look SO jolly!
  6. I made a Shetland lace blanket for a friend’s baby a couple of years ago – I loved the challenge, definitely one of the most difficult things I’ve ever made – think I’m about ready to experiment with that again.
  7. Seven – nine are all stash-knits. Really need to get the stash back down to a manageable size having discovered a box of wool I forgot I even had. Whoops. First off some grey wrist warmers, I’ve got some lovely Shetland wool (thanks Shetlander!) which is waiting to be turned into a pair of wrist warmers for next winter.
  8. Another helmet hat. I knitted a helmet cover to make sure I’m super visible at all times…got some fluoro yellow so think that another one might be called for.
  9. Who knows?! Maybe some lavender filled moth monsters to protect future knits?!

The Shetlander

#2017MakeNine
#2017MakeNine

Photo credits & patterns L-R from top left: 1. Ondawa by Michele Wang; 2. Bousta Beanie by Gudrun Johnston; 3. Socks! Line drawing my own; 4. Fly Away by Tin Can Knits; 5 I’m sure this is not a suitable baby toy but I do love this Flamingo by Susan B Anderson; 6. Baby Girl Fair Isle Cardigan by Purl Soho; 7. Hazel the Humpback Whale by Bec Brittain; 8. Rock Lobster Mittens by SpillyJane Knits; 9. Shallmillens Snood by Donna Smith. All photos are taken from the patterns’ Ravelry pages.

  1. The Ondawa jumper by Michele Wang for Brooklyn Tweed. This is the jumper that made me want to knit jumpers. It’s cabled (only done that once), it’s seamed (never done that), it’s probably not going to suit my pear shape… It’s basically a terrible idea but I just can’t help myself. The only thing holding me up is trying to work out what wool to use since Brooklyn Tweed isn’t that easy to get hold of here in the UK. Any woolly suggestions, let me know!
  2. The Bousta Beanie by Gudrun Johnston for Shetland Wool Week 2017. The official hat patterns for Shetland Wool Week are always cracking and this one is no exception. Really excited to cast it on!
  3. Socks! I’ve never knitted adult socks because I’ve always been a bit scared of the heel but 2017 is going to be the year to overcome that fear. I’m also not terribly good at making 2 of the same thing so we’ll see just how mismatched they come out!
  4. My sister is having a baby this summer so I’d like to knit a baby blanket for them. At the moment, the pattern I’m thinking to try is the Fly Away blanket by Tin Can Knits but I’ve not got it nailed down yet.
  5. On the baby knits theme, I also want to try out knitting a toy of some kind. This needs a bit of research though because I’m not sure what will be baby safe and also knit-able at my skill level.
  6. A baby cardigan is also on my wish list for 2017 knits. Patterns I’ve been thinking about are the cult classic Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann,  the Antler Cardigan by Tin Can Knits or the Baby Girl Fair Isle Cardigan by Purl Soho.
  7. Hazel the Humpback Whale has been a major pattern crush of mine for a while now and I’d love to make it a reality this year.
  8. Mittens. Useful all year round here in Shetland! I’ve knitted patterns by SpillyJane before so I’m thinking possibly these Rock Lobster Mittens or the Isidora mittens.
  9. The Shallmillens Snood by Donna Smith. I was lucky enough to take a Fair Isle night class with Donna where she showed us this snood and I’ve wanted to make it ever since.

Wish us luck!