Balmoral Bootikins

I generally consider myself a fairly practical person.

So why on earth am I posting ANOTHER modern re-working of an 1886 Weldon’s pattern?

Because, when I was working on those other booties for my friends’ baby, there was this gorgeous illustration of the Victorian great-grandmama of all baby footwear right next to the so-called “dotty pattern” booties.

I mean, seriously.  Could you pass these up?!

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Sadly, when I sat down to actually knit the bootikins, they were a hot mess.

Let me explain: in order to make these (TINY) baby boots, first you knit the leg from just above the beribboned eyelet row to the top of the foot, then you knit the instep out separately in pattern, then you knit the foot, then you seam up the middle of the foot and the back of the leg (because 1886 means NO CIRCULAR KNITTING, apparently), and THEN you pick up stitches from your cast-on row to apply a knitted edging, and THEN you work a crochet border on top of the knitted edging, and THEN all those cute little buttons and laces have to be embroidered over the front of the foot and leg.

And after all that tedium and fuss, you would have, based on my quick gauge swatch on recommended needles, a very fancy sock for an American Girl doll.

Fuck that noise.

I mean, really.

Let me share with you what I worked out instead.

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This is a fairly straightforward pattern worked in one piece from fancy cast-on at the top to a graft along the center of the sole.  I have adapted it for knitting in the round and tried to standardize and clarify the language.

Please note that I omitted the embroidered faux buttons and loops.  If you love them, you are welcome to add them, but you will want to adjust the patterning on the leg section so that a seed-stitch section of the vertical Roman stitch is centered over the instep.  My instep is centered on a stockinette stripe for simplicity in pattern writing and memorization.

Sizing

This pattern is newborn size.  The bootikins are almost exactly 5″ long from sole to frill. The foot is about 3.5″ long unstretched, and the narrowest section of the ankle is a little over 3″ in circumference unstretched.  These fit a doll that usually wears a size 0-3 month clothing, but getting the ankle over the foot was a bit of a squeeze.

Materials

  • fingering-weight yarn (I used KPPPM)
  • US0 (2mm) DPNs
  • a small crochet hook for the cast-on (I used 2.1mm, but size isn’t crucial)
  • about 1 yard of narrow ribbon or cord (optional, I used half-inch silk ribbon, which was a little too wide but compresses nicely due to being so lightweight)
  • embroidery floss or needlepoint yarn in a contrasting color (optional, for faux laces/buttons, not shown)

Stitch Key

M1— make one, using the backward-loop method

cdd— centered double decrease, aka s2kp2

Pattern

CO 48 sts using the Fancy Formal long-tail method and 4-stitch shells.  Join in the round, DO NOT add stitches under the shells.

For the cuff:
On odd-numbered rows 1-13, knit all sts
R2: *m1, slip 1, k2, pass slipped st over BOTH knitted sts* to end of round
R4: k2, *m1, slip 1, k2, pass slipped st over both knitted sts* until 1 st remains, m1, slip 1, pass slipped stitch over the first two stitches of the round
R6: K1, *m1, slip 1, k2, pass slipped st over both knitted sts* until 2 sts remain, m1, slip 1, k1, pass slipped stitch over knitted st and first st of the round
R8-12: Repeat rows 2-6
R14: *p6, p2tog* around.  42 sts.

For the leg:
R1: knit
R2: yo, k2tog around
R3: purl
R4: *p1, k1, p1, k3* around
R5: k1, p1, k3, *p1, k1. p1, k3* to last st, p1
R6-R12: repeat row 4 and 5
R13: slip 1, work in pattern as established until you come to the last 2 sts, cdd.  40sts.
R14-R30: work three rows in pattern followed by one decrease row (same as row 13) 4 times. 32 sts remain
R31-R46: work in pattern as established
R47: k12, p1, k1, p1, k3, p1, k1, p1.  11 sts remain unworked.  Turn work.

For the instep (worked flat):
R1: slip 1, k1, p3, k1, p1, k1, p2.  Turn work.
R2: slip 1, p1, k1, p1, k3, p1, k1, p1.  Turn work.
R3-R16: repeat rows 1 and 2 over just these 10 sts.  Break yarn.

Using the right needle, pick up and knit 12 sts on right-hand side of the instep, knit the 10 instep sts, pick up and knit 12 sts on left-hand side of the instep, and knit the 11 sts left unworked at the beginning of the instep.  56 sts.

For the foot:
R1: p25, kfb, p4, kfb, p25.  58sts.
R2: purl
R3: p26, kfb, p4, kfb, p26.  60sts.
R4: k29, kfb, kfb, k29.  62sts.
R5: purl
R6: k29, kfb, k2, kfb, k29.  64sts.
R7: purl
R8: knit
R9-R14: repeat rows 7 and 8.
R15: p2, p2tog, p24, p2tog four times, p24, p2tog, p2.  58sts.
R16: knit
R17: p2, p2tog, p21, p2tog four times, p21, p2tog, p2.  52sts.
R18: knit
R19: p2, p2tog, p18, p2tog four times, p18, p2tog, p2.  46sts.

Use a Kitchener graft to close up the sole of the bootikin (23 sts on each of two needles).  Repeat all instructions to make the second bootikin.

Finishing

Weave in ends and block as desired.  I didn’t block mine at all, if I had, the cast-on shells would flop over less.

Weave ribbon, if using, through eyelets at the top of the vertical Roman stitch section and tie in a bow at the front or the back, whichever you prefer.

(optional, not shown) Embroider a series of French knots and long straight stitches down the front of the vertical Roman stitch section as shown in the Weldon’s illustration (top picture) to mimic button-and-loop closures.

Enjoy your adorableness!

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2 thoughts on “Balmoral Bootikins

    1. Thanks! I’m excited to get some pictures of tiny feet in them when our new baby is born…then they’ll be even cuter!

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