Friday, June 29, 2007

Hump Month

So, terrifyingly, 2007 is halfway over, and so is the Sweater-a-Month Knitalong. Here is a report of my progress so far:

January: Nautical fair isle baby cardigan
February: Chronicles of Narnia baby cardigan
March: Bristow
April: Paula's Vintage Cable Cardigan
May: A is for Andrew sweater
June: Peach Blossom Baby Jacket and Lavender Eyelet Baby cardigan

Planned for the rest of the year:

July: Top-Down Arwen (I will finish this. I swear I will.)
August: Fair Isle Yoke cardigan for ME!
September: Louisa Harding lacy cardigan
October: Another vintage cardigan for my aunt
November: Cable-down raglan
December: maybe none; I have one sweater in the bank after making two in June. Yeah June!

In addition to being the year of making a sweater a month, this has been the year of recording patterns and posting many of them to the blog, and of trying out some new techniques, including kool-aid dying and cabling without a cable needle. It's been a great experience! I've learned a lot, I have suffered a few knitting injuries, and I've gotten a lot accomplished. I've never done a knitalong before, and I definitely think that it helps to have one lighting a fire under me.

Eyelet Baby Cardigan pattern

8/25/08 note: there has a significant amount of minor tweaking to this pattern (stitch counts, mostly) in response to discerning knitters' eyes. The pattern as posted now has been updated and should be error-free.

3/29/08 note: this pattern is also available as a PDF download from Ravelry.
Click here to download it if you'd rather have it in that format!

I've had a few requests to share the pattern I unvented for this baby sweater. It is, as I said, heavily inspired by this Drops pattern, but worked top-down without the picot collar and with different eyelet motifs. I can't say that it really counts as an original pattern, but since the Drops pattern is also free, I feel I can safely offer my adaption.

Note: eyelet/lace patterns are from Barbara Walker's First and Second Treasuries of Knitting Patterns.

Note #2: there was an error in the pattern as originally posted: rows 25 and 43 of the yoke were duplicated. The duplication has been corrected on the pattern below.

Note #3: there was another error which has been corrected below: row 46 now reads "increase 24 stitches" instead of "increase 9 stitches."

Size: 9 months
Gauge: 8 st = 1 inch

2 skeins Dale Baby Ull
size 3 needles
tapestry needle
waste yarn or stitch holders
matching buttons (about 6)

CO 84 st. and work 3 rows in garter stitch (knit all rows). In next row, make a buttonhole as follows: k2, yo, k2tog, k to end of row. Work 4 more rows of garter stitch (8 rows altogether).

NOTE: continue to make buttonholes in this manner at the beginning of RS every 2” or 10 garter ridges.

Begin yoke increases and eyelet pattern:
Rows 9, 11, and 13: k4, p to last 4 stitches, k4.
Rows 10 and 12: knit, increasing by eight stitches spaced evenly across row**
Row 14: knit, increasing by SEVEN stitches spaced evenly across row (107 st.).
Row 15: knit.
Row 16: k4, *k2tog, yo; rep from * until five st from end, k5.
Row 17: knit.
Row 18: knit, increasing by SIXTEEN stitches spaced evenly across row (123 st.)
Rows 19, 21, and 23: k4, p to last 4 stitches, k4.
Rows 20, 22 and 24: knit, increasing by eight stitches spaced evenly across row.
Rows 25 and 27: knit.
Row 26: knit, increasing by eight stitches spaced evenly across row (155 st).
Row 28: k4, *k1, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k1; rep from *, end k4.
Row 29: k4, *p2tog-b, yo, p3, yo, p2tog; rep from *, end k4.
Row 30: k4, *k1, yo, k2tog, yo, sl1-k2tog-psso, yo, k1; rep from *, end k4.
Row 31: k4, *p1, yo, p2tog, p1, p2tog-b, yo, p1; rep from *, end k4.
Row 32: k4, *k2, yo, sl1-k2tog-psso, yo, k2; rep from *, end k4.
Rows 33 and 35: knit.
Rows 34 and 36: knit, increasing by SIXTEEN stitches spaced evenly across row.
Rows 37, 39, and 41: k4, p to last 4 stitches, k4.
Rows 38, 40 and 42: knit, increasing by eight stitches spaced evenly across row.
Rows 43 and 45: knit.
Row 44: k4, *k2tog, yo; rep from *, end k4.
Row 46: knit, increasing by TWENTY-FOUR stitches spaced evenly across row (235 st.).
Rows 47, 49 and 51: k4, p to last 4 stitches, k4.
Rows 48 and 50: knit, increasing NINE stitches spaced evenly across row (253 st. and end of row 50).

** NOTE: when increasing in yoke, avoid making stitches within the four garter stitches that serve as the button band to keep band looking consistent.

Divide stitches for arms:
Row 52: k39, slip 51 st to holder, k 73 [back], slip 51 st to holder, k39.

Work body (151 st):
Work the following eyelet pattern until body measures 10":

Row 1 and all other wrong sides: k4, p to last 4 stitches, k4.
Row 2: knit.
Row 4: k4, k2, yo, sl1-k2tog-psso, yo, *k5, yo, sl1-k2tog-psso, yo; rep from *, end k2, k4.
Row 6: k4, k3, yo, ssk, *k6, yo, ssk; rep from *, end k2, k4.
Row 8: knit.
Row 10: k4, k1, *k5, yo, sl1-k2tog-psso, yo; rep from *, end k6, k4.
Row 12: k4, k7, *yo, ssk, k6; rep from *, end k4.

When body measures 10", work three repeats of feather and fan, increasing two stitches in the first "row 1" and making a final buttonhole in the last "row 3" (153 st):

Row 1: knit.
Row 2: k4, p to last 4 stitches, k4.
Row 3: k5, (yo, k1) three times, (k2tog 6 times), *(yo, k1) six times, (k2tog 6 times); rep from * until last 7 stitches, (yo, k1) three times, k4.
Row 4: knit.

Work two rows of garter stitch and bind off.

Work sleeves:
Put 51 arm stitches on a needle. Work in eyelet pattern as established above for sweater body, but omitting the four button band stitches on either end, centering pattern between extra stitches (there will be two extra stitches on each end at the beginning of the arm). After first pattern repeat, decrease by one stitch at each end every sixth row (in the plain knit row) until there are 39 st. left on needles; continue in eyelet until you have worked four pattern repeats. Work eight rows of garter stitch and bind off.

Sew arm seams, weave in ends, block sweater, sew buttons to band to match buttonholes.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Booties without buttons may be cute, but...

... booties with buttons make your heart hurt a little bit. These are Saartje's Booties, and they were a joy to knit. The instructions were really clear and the result is... well... heart-hurting.

So now the whole baby package is complete. There's the Plum Blossom jacket and booties, a pair of (store-bought) socks to wear with them, the lavender eyelet sweater, and a white collared onesie to wear under it.

And now I swear that this is the last post about the baby presents!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Baby sweater #2

The next installment in the Baby Knitting Bonanza is complete -- a little lilac eyelet number in Baby Ull. The pattern is loosely based on this pattern from Drops -- though altered to make it fit my favorite top-down method. The yoke motif is the "garland pattern" from Barbara Walker's first knitting stitch treasury. It's supposed to look like little flowers, but it's a bit hard to see, I think.

This is my first time working with Baby Ull, and I have to say I'm not bowled over. The yarn is not as soft as other baby yarns I've worked with, and there's a definite plasticky superwash feel to it. Nevertheless, I think that the sweater came out nicely -- though it grew quite a bit in blocking. I was intending to knit a nine-month size sweater, but I think that this might be more like a one-year. Thankfully, since the sleeve cuffs are knit in one piece with the rest of it, they can be folded up as the baby grows into it.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Peach Blossom Baby Jacket Pattern

3/29/08 note: this pattern is also available as a free PDF from Ravelry. Click here to download it if you'd rather have it in that format!

Here is the pattern for my Peach Blossom baby sweater. It will also appear in the sidebar under "free patterns."

Size 5 (0-3 months) or 6 (3-6 months) straight or circular needles
2 skeins Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino in red (MC)
1 skein Karabella Aurora 4 or Baby Ull in black (CC)
2 black buttons

Gauge: 5.5 stitches and 7 rows = 1"

Seed stitch (even number of stitches):
Row 1: *k1, p1, rep from *
Row 2: *p1, k1, rep from *

m1: make a stitch in one of the following ways: lift bar between stitches with the left-hand needle and ktbl; or kfb (knit in the front and back) of stitches outside of markers; or lift the right-hand side of the stitch one row below the last stitch outside markers and place it on the left needle, then knit it as it if was a stitch (as in this demonstration).

CO 62 st with CC. Work 8 rows stockinette. Work one purl turning row. Work 8 rows seed stitch.

Switch to MC and set up raglan shaping as follows: k2 (right front), pm, k1, pm, k8 (sleeve), pm, k1, pm, k22 (back), pm, k1, pm, k8 (sleeve), pm, k1, pm, k18 (left front).
Next row and all following WS rows: purl, slipping markers.
Next and all following RS rows (until shaping is done): *k to marker, m1, slip marker, k1, slip marker, m1 * rep to end.
Stop after 16 increase rows, or when there are 190 st (18 for right front, 40 for each sleeve, 54 for back, 34 for left front, and 4 raglan seam stitches).

Divide sleeves: remove markers on this row. K19 (front + seam st), place 40 sleeve stitches on a holder or a piece of scrap yarn (better because it can bend), k56 (seam st + back + seam st), place 40 sleeve stitches on a holder or a piece of scrap yarn, k35 (seam st + front). Continue in stockinette on body stitches. When piece measures 8.5”, switch to CC and work 8 rows seed stitch. Work one purl turning row (if you are on a WS row, be sure to work knit, not purl), and work 8 rows stockinette. Cut yarn, leaving a long tail, and use the tail yarn to tack up the hem stitches, using the line of color-change as a guide.

Sleeves: place 40 st. from holder on a needle, and work back and forth in stockinette with MC. On 10th row, dec 1 st at each end. Repeat this decrease every 10th row 2 more times. Switch to CC and work 8 rows seed stitch. Work a purl turning row, and work 8 rows stockinette. Tack up hem as above.

Finishing: sew sleeve seams and tack down neck hem. Using CC, pick up 3 stitches for every 4 rows along the front edges for button bands. Work 8-10 rows seed stitch (until width matches hem and collar widths) and bind off, knitwise if you are on a WS row and purlwise if you are on a RS row. Weave in all loose ends and block.

Frogs: make four 3" lengths of i-cord with CC. Fold these lengths in half and sew them to the fronts of jacket as pictured. Use a length of black thread to sew together left-hand frogs about 3/4" from fold, making a loop that will fit your button well. Sew buttons to opposite loops. If desired, sew snaps beneath the frogs on the inside of button bands and at the collar to keep sweater closed a little better.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Knitting on vacation...

... means new places to photograph your work!

Little Peach Blossom's jacket is finished, and, if I say so, heart-rendingly adorable:

I bought an "Embellish-knit" machine at Jo-Anns, and spent about a half-hour yesterday cranking out tubes of i-cord to make myself frog closures. Highly preferable to knitting it myself, I think -- I always find i-cord so boring, and then I'll forget to turn the knitting or something and ruin the whole tube. The frogs are in fact fake frogs -- aside from the fact that I worried about the bulk of a knotted button, I also thought that a real button would be easier to fasten on a squirming baby. And underneath these are three snaps -- two under the frogs and one at the neck. A pair of Saartje's booties completes the set.

They're still awaiting buttons, which I left at home in my rush to pack.

Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in red and Karabella Aurora 4 in black
Sizes 4 and 5 Knitpicks Options needles
My own top-down design

Meanwhile, I'm making progress on the second sweater set I plan to send along:

A kicky little eyelet number in lavendar Baby Ull.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A jacket for Plum Blossom's baby

My college roommate, who is Chinese, and whom we jokingly called Little Plum Blossom after the awful caricature in "Anything Goes," just had a baby daughter. Little Peach Blossom?

In celebration, I knit her a good-luck red jacket with a mandarin collar and a stylishly asymmetrical placket. Right now there are no buttons; I am about to knit myself a ton of i-cord to make into knotted buttons that suit the Chinese style.

Because I am too lazy to go out and buy yarn in two colors that have the same gauge, I worked with a smaller gauge black yarn for the cuffs and collar, leading to some tough decisions about how to make the collar stand up correctly. I ended up turning a hem on the collar, cuffs and bottom hem to give them a bit more heft, but left the button band single, so that it would match the doubled bulk of the rest when buttoned up -- which, given the asymmetry, I am assuming it will always be. Here's a picture to illustrate:

What pleases me is the ease and lack of bulk in tacking down live stitches -- so much easier than binding off and sewing up! I'll be doing this at the bottom of my Arwen (which is on hiatus while I knit a boxful of baby things)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Two from the top

Because I can't seem to work on one project at a time, I've cast on for another baby sweater -- this time for a friend whose daughter was just born yesterday. This friend is Chinese, so I am knitting her a celebratory red sweater with a mandarin collar and asymmetrical placket.

Meanwhile, the top-down Arwen is chugging along. I have gotten to the last of the waist-shaping decreases:

I am continually pleased at the EZ-style fake seam I am knitting in as I go. Rather than unraveling and crocheting back up as EZ suggests, I am slipping the seam stitch on every knit row. This is easy to do when one is knitting back and forth. If I were doing a sweater in the round, I would probably use EZ's method. Here's a mediocre picture of the seam as it looks from the right side:
It's hard to see, but it's running through the center of this picture. Here's the wrong side:
That's a little easier to see, I think. This row of slipped stitches does seem to be less stretchy than the rest of the fabric, and it definitely provides a crisp self-folding line.