Tag Archives: knitting

WIP Wednesday from last week…

I just found this in my drafts folder.  Life must have gotten in the way as I was setting out to take pictures and finish up this post…but it’s a perfect snapshot of my life at the moment, perhaps especially because I’m posting it nearly a week late and still unfinished.

Here’s the picture of the finished project, though:

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start date: 1 March 2016
time elapsed: 1 day
completeness: 40%

At some point in the last couple of years, apparently while my back was turned, Ithilien developed a favorite color.

It’s red.

So the last time I was making new socks for the smalls, Ithilien was quite insistent that he wanted red socks.  Red socks with gray toes and gray cuffs.  Having just finished up a pair of red socks for my mother’s birthday, I was happy to use my leftover yarn to oblige him, and the red socks have been his go-to pair for the last year.

But as he put them on one morning last week, the heels no longer reached far enough to cover his heels.

“Oh no,” I said, “They’re too small.  You can wear them one last time today, and then they’ll have to go into storage.”

“Okay.” He said. “But you have to make new red socks with just gray on the toes and the cuffs.”

“So I can wear them.”  Said he.

“Because I very love the color red.”  He said.

“So I need more red socks.”  Said Ithilien.

“Oh.”  I said.  “Really?”

“Yeah.  And then when I am a grown-up I will need very big red socks, and you must knit them.”

And that is why I am knitting new red socks for Ithilien this week.


The yarn is lovely and smooth Limited Edition Chickadee from Quince and Co, which I dyed a semisolid red with equal parts strawberry and black cherry Kool-aid.  I’m holding it doubled for this project.  The pattern is Rye from The Simple Collection by Tin Can Knits, which is a great basic-but-attractive sock in a variety of sizes.  The pattern is definitely written for beginners, which feels slightly patronizing when you already know how to knit socks, but it’s very well-written.  I did an eye-of-partridge stitch heel flap instead of the prescribed stockinette and am knitting a 7.25″ foot, otherwise I’m following the pattern pretty closely.

 

Polka Dot Spectacle Sock

My progress in the craft of knitting has been erratic.  Whereas people who learn to knit in a more formal pedagogy have this concept of some techniques or stitches being more advanced than others, as a self-taught knitter, I just see things I already know vs. things I don’t know yet.

One of the things I didn’t know yet last month was double knitting.  I wanted to learn it, because I suspected it was the secret of knitting socks two-at-once, so I looked around at various resources and started to figure it out (this was the most helpful tutorial I found).

Normally I have a specific project in mind when I’m learning a new technique, but double knitting isn’t very popular and nothing in my queue used it, so I was trying to figure out what to practice on before trying out my two-at-once sock idea.

I also was starting to get annoyed with having to constantly untangle my glasses from other things in my work bag: they would wrap themselves in my yarn or interlock obscenely with my measuring tape, and this could not continue.

So I made a little double-knitted socklet to keep my specs safe and contained.  It’s knitted in a double-faced stockinette from the bottom up and finished with a marled ribbing section, so it is fully reversible.

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Sizing

Whatever you need, really.  At my gauge, which was roughly 5 sts and 6 rows per inch, the pattern below made a tube 7.5″ long and 3″ wide (6″ in circumference).  It’s very easy to adjust, though.

Materials

  • about 35 yards each of two colors of worsted weight yarn (I used Ella Rae Classic Superwash in Light Grey and Fibra Natura Oak in Castor Grey)
  • five US8 (5mm) DPNs

Pattern

CO 15 sts in one color.  Knit sts through the front onto one DPN, but through the back onto another DPN.  This will leave you with 30sts total.  Repeat this process for the other color of yarn on separate needles.

Take a new DPN and knit the first st from the “front” needle of one yarn, purl the first st from the front needle of the other yarn, and repeat this process until your working needle has all 30 sts interleaved, with all the sts of one color knit and the other purl.  Repeat for the “back” needles.  60 sts.

Now there should be enough slack to redistribute the sts evenly onto your preferred number of DPNs (I used three).

*NOTE: make sure to remember to bring BOTH yarns to the front when you work the right side fabric, and move BOTH yarns to the back when you work the wrong side fabric*

R1: stockinette (knit the right-side sts and purl the wrong-side sts, each in their own yarn)

R2: *4 sts stockinette, 2 sts interleaved (knit the right-side sts with the yarn from the wrong side and purl the wrong-side sts with the yarn from the right side)* repeat around.

R3: same as R2

R4-6: same as R1 (you will trade the yarns back to their originating sides as you work R4)

R7: *1 st stockinette, 2 sts interleaved, 3 sts stockinette* repeat around.

R8: same as R7

R9-10: same as R1 (you will trade the yarns back to their originating sides as you work R9)

Repeat these 10 rows twice, and then work R1-R6 once more for a total of 38 rows.  There will be 7 rows of dots and you will have just finished three plain stockinette rows.

Take both strands of working yarn and establish marled ribbing by k2tog, p2tog to end of round.

Work in 1×1 rib as established (*k1, p1* around) for 1.25″.

Bind off and block as desired.  I used a regular knitted bind off to tighten up the edge because I was paranoid about my glasses slipping out, but any bind off can be used.

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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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Realism

It’s not my strong suit, especially when it comes to expectations for myself and my creative works.

I like to aim high and be profoundly disappointed in myself when I am, inevitably, not capable of being some unholy amalgam of Ma Ingalls, Maria Montessori, and the Yarn Harlot.

I’ve been watching the weeks tick by with shocking speed and looking at the dwindling but still ambitious nesting list and getting more and more frustrated with myself for not inventing a Time Turner and spending all my doubled days knitting and sewing and deep-cleaning the house.

And that is CRAZY.

So, in the interests of realism, here’s the list of things from the nesting list that I would most like to finish in the remaining time before the baby comes.  I’ve allotted myself one project per week until Christmas, because I know that there will be other things (like gift making for the extended family and baking bread and playing with my children) that will crop up as I try to go about my business.

Top-Priority Nesting List for the Next Six Weeks

  • nursing pillow cover— I have a new, experimental nursing pillow.  I designed it myself after years of struggling with commercially-available options that were either awkward to use, impossible to fit around a pregnant belly, or simply not tall enough for me.  But it needs a water-resistant cover because babies are leaky and it is filled with buckwheat hulls.
  • winter boots for Númenor and Ithilien— For years, we were devotees of Stonz booties, but my children have now outgrown their XL size, and I wasn’t very impressed with the redesigned versions anyway.  So this winter, they need new boots for snow and slush purposes.
  • winter bear bunting– This is one of the things that I added to the nesting list in a panic about having a newborn in the depths of winter and not being able to simply withdraw from the outside world like I did when Ithilien was born.  Babies need warmth!
  • dyeing for my petticoats and the faux Victorian gown– Simply put, dyework is NOT something I’m going to be able to do with a newborn in tow.  Whether I actually get these projects sewn up and finished is another issue, but the dyeing at least needs to be done before the baby comes.
  • Balmoral bootikins– I’m not sure what size these will turn out to be, so it’s important to finish them before the baby outgrows newborn-size things.
  • crib– This is truly the centerpiece of the baby’s space.  Baby clothes will be stored in baskets underneath it, the mobile may need to be re-positioned over it, wall décor will need to move around to accommodate it, and I haven’t quite figured out how or whether I’ll be able to put a dust ruffle on it.  So much depends on having it finished that it’s really not optional.

I may not be posting much as I try to get these things finished, since some of them are sure to take more than a week and I might be interrupted at any moment.

But I’m out there, somewhere, wishing I knew the charms and incantations necessary to be in two places at once.

WIP Wednesday

my project bag sitting in the library with my knitting peeking out of the topstart date: 25 May 2015
time elapsed: 4 months, 1 week, 5 days
completeness: 90%

Stitch by stitch, and row by row, the yarn becomes a blanket.  That’s the way of things: imperceptibly tiny increments of change, overwhelming progress with time.

what it looks like when I take the blanket i'm knitting out of my work bag-- a big floppy mess of knitting

That’s how rivers carve canyons.

That’s how the wind shapes the dunes.

That’s how snow makes the world white and pure.

That’s how coral makes reefs.

That’s how rain quenches the earth.

That’s how babies grow.

That’s how bodies heal.

That’s how lives are lived.

It’s the sudden shifts, the thunderclaps, that make headlines.  Births, deaths, accidents, injuries, fires, earthquakes, eruptions– those things are easy to see, shocking in their suddenness, and widely discussed.

But what matters isn’t the 3.4 seconds of shaking or the height of the ash plume.

What matters, even in a cataclysm, is the incremental work.

How many mineral atoms must be set into their lattice to mend the broken bone?  How many cell divisions will it take to grow new skin over the scratch?  How many rivets are needed to hold the building together?  How many drops of water fill the basin?  How many snowflakes make an avalanche?  How many fetal hiccups will train the muscles to take that first breath?

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This blanket, when it is finished, will contain some 50,000 stitches.  Including going back to fix mistakes and miscellaneous shaping, the total work going into it probably will amount to closer to 60,000 stitches.

Day by day, the baby who will someday use this blanket prepares for hits birth.  Stitch by stitch, I work the blanket to meet hit.

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I can see the end of this period of waiting looming ahead in the distance.  I don’t know exactly when it will come, but I know that the moment of transition will be marked more in the course of history than all the slow, incremental work that built up to it.

But I will always remember, in my heart and in my hands, the process leading up to the change, and the slow, steady work that went into making the magical moment.


Materials notes for this project are available here.  The edging (darker brown) is Cascade Ecological Wool in Ebony.

 

Feathering that Nest

Happy news has its own special way of completely demolishing a person’s life.

Celebratory things– like getting married, moving in together, having a new baby, starting a new job– they take just as much energy, attention, and time as their tragic counterparts do.  But there’s an added sting: people expect you to be happy.  You should be happy.  If you’re anything like me, you ARE happy, somewhere deep inside, in all that mess of humanity and emotion.

But all you can see on a day-to-day level is how much work it is to be pregnant and trying to raise your older children at the same time.  You feel that anxious pressure over money, time, preparation, and you are seized with that “how am I going to make this WORK?” panic in the middle of your sleepless nights.

diaper caddy

People have all kinds of ways of dealing with this madness.  I have a friend who started posting weekly pictures of her belly on Facebook when she was 8 weeks pregnant.  People who are on bedrest often make countdown calendars marking each day until their due date or safe date as a tiny victory.  Couples, especially first-time parents, sign up for birth and parenting and breastfeeding classes, even though it’s an open secret that this is a laughable prospect.

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All these activities have two goals: first, to keep the mind of the expectant person so full that they can’t spare the time to freak out, but second, to make openings for people in their social networks and general vicinity to offer them help and reassurance.

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A weekly belly pic means a regular reminder of your pregnancy in everyone’s feed.  A countdown calendar gives you an opportunity to remind all your housemates of your incremental but inevitable journey.  Classes are an explicit way to seek new connections and new sources of support based on your status as expectant parents.

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Personally, I knit.  I sew.  And I felt and fold and sculpt and bead and work-work-work as much as I can.  That keeps me distracted from the fact that I have made the incredibly foolish decision to let the children in my family outnumber the adults (oh help!), and, if I work on baby things, it provides a neat justification for talking about the baby, even with strangers.

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Plus, you know, cuteness.  Thriftiness.  Et cetera.  Not all crafting is about insecurity and escapism.  Or, rather, my crafting isn’t entirely about insecurity and escapism.  Not entirely.

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So, to the lady who saw me knitting baby pants in the car outside the burrito place and asked what I was making and complimented my skills, even though it was just stockinette and seed stitch, thank you.  To the friend who doesn’t watch Bob’s Burgers but told me my “Louise” baby bonnet was adorable, thank you.  To the elderly relative who doesn’t quite understand what a sleep sack is or how cloth diapering works but is interested in having me explain it, thank you.  To the understanding partner who listened patiently to a cumulative total of three hours of freaking out about the exact configuration of compartments in the diapering caddy, thank you.

Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone as I feather this nest.

 

MT: The Mending Basket

This is an installment in a series on mending techniques.  For a full index of posts in this series, please click here.

IMG_3086As I have mentioned before, I use a mending basket as the basis of my mending system.  It is a large bolga basket that I originally bought to use as a laundry basket in my freshman dorm, but it has served many purposes over the years and answers the role of mending basket very well.

It was not the first object called a mending basket in my household; the first such container was a lidded basket the size of a large shoebox, which was totally insufficient for the quantity of mending work produced by a family of four, but also too inconvenient for the frequency of additions to the mending pile.  It took some thought and experimentation before we settled on the bolga basket.

If you don’t yet have a mending basket, I would recommend finding a container that can reasonably accommodate 4 articles of adult clothing, 10 articles of child clothing, and has some room left over for miscellaneous things (such as bed linens or organizational supplies or toys)that might overwhelm a smaller container.  A standard plastic laundry basket, although not the most attractive option, would be about the right size for most families with small children.

When I am not actively working from it, I keep the mending basket in my studio, where it is the first thing reachable upon entering the room (this keeps small children who are adding something to the mending from staying too long or meddling too much).  Collecting the mending in the laundry room or scullery is also an excellent option if you can be sure that your storage spot isn’t too damp.  Many families keep a pile of mending near where the sewing machine or the sewing supplies are stored, and this works well, too, although sewing machines are generally not as well-adapted to mending as hand sewing is.

I’m going to re-iterate a general rule of homemaking here, just to be totally clear: whenever something is not in active use or in the laundry, it should be clean.  Do not allow soiled articles to be added to the mending basket.  Body soil attracts pests, and dirt and grime will contaminate your storage spot, not to mention that attempting to repair dirty clothing or home linens is an unpleasant sensory experience at best.

The first step in my mending routine is to exchange my usual work bag (containing whatever my current handwork project is, my pattern or notes, tools and notions, and also my wallet and keys) for the mending basket itself.  I like to take this opportunity to clean out my work bag– it’s refreshing to take the time to put all the random fabric scraps, spools of thread, knitting needles, and snipped threads it accumulates in the course of its use away into their proper places.

The second step is to empty everything out of the basket, making a colossal mess, and inspect each article for what work must be done.  If the spot that needs mending is difficult to find, sometimes I will mark it with a safety pin.  This is also the step when I ask the owners of the items about their preferences for mending (e.g., “what color would you like this patch to be?”, “is this too tight?”).

IMG_3087Then I sort the articles into the following categories:

  1. Mending that only requires a needle and thread (such as hemwork, re-tacking a lining or appliqué, or replacing a seam)
  2. Patching and replacement (such as applying knee or elbow patches to cover worn-out areas, felting over moth holes in woolens, darning, replacing lost or broken drawstrings or fasteners)
  3. Amendments and additions (adding guards or borders to cover frayed hems, extending knitted/crocheted garments, adding gussets or gores to better accommodate movement or growth)
  4. Upcycling and re-working (stripping down garments that have decayed beyond repair so that their materials can be used for other things, taking apart things that aren’t working well for their intended purpose to make major structural/design changes)

Once I have the mending sorted into these categories, I replace it in the basket by category, in reverse order from the list above (so that the needle-and-thread-only mending is on top in the basket).  Sometimes, when the basket is truly overflowing, it is not possible to fit everything back in, and I will instead leave the more complex mending in the studio temporarily and only put the patching and needle-and-thread mending back into the basket.

Finally, I add supplies to the basket: my needle book, sewing scissors, a thimble, and whatever thread types and colors I need for the first category of repairs.

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Now I am finally ready to start the actual mending.

Victorian Baby Booties (FREE pattern!)

drawing of baby bootie from weldon's

These are very comfortable boots and not at all difficult to make.

— Weldon’s Practical Knitter, 13th Series (1886)

I have a dear friend who is having her first baby and adores antique baby styles.  I’m kind of esoteric myself, and gladly mix together whatever works best (with the least fuss and the most clever solution) from whatever period, and therefore when she specifically said that she wanted traditional drawstring baby booties, I was at a loss.

I don’t particularly like baby booties.  I like socks.  The booties I do like are totally seamless, modern affairs.  I had NOTHING saved in my Ravelry library or my Pinterest that would suit the request.  So, I pulled up my irreverently digital copies of Weldon’s and began my quest for the Holy Grail: drawstring booties, not too fussy, with pattern directions that aren’t completely broken, and preferably an illustration so I can see what I’m getting myself into.

As a devoted follower of Franklin Habit, I was steeling myself for the worst possible offenses of vague pattern writing: would there be ANY mention of yarn weight or needle size?  How inscrutable would the instructions be?  Would I have to hold a séance to contact a long-dead knitting designer with my questions?

Finally I found something that looked promising (“Infant’s Boots.  Dotty Pattern.”), picked an appropriate yarn that wouldn’t completely self-destruct if I had to frog and re-knit a few times, and dove in.

I eliminated the selvages and knit in the round (because doing the prescribed 3-needle BO across the sole and seaming up the back wouldn’t yield a “very comfortable” foot covering to my mind) and was merrily on my way through the ribbing.  But the so-called dotty pattern!  Oh, no!  First I tried it as written, without regard for the conversion to working in the round, but that makes a strange combination of eyelets and slip-stitches.  Then I tried the conversion for working in the round, but that simply yielded a kind of corrugation or welting, not dots or bumps.  I enlarged the illustration in Weldon’s as far as I could and tried desperately to match the pattern to ANYTHING in my book of knitting stitches, and while that was unsuccessful, I did find a swatch of the same line directions, although it’s under a different name and the picture doesn’t look “dotty” but rather striped.  In fact, it looked very familiar– because it was the second thing I’d tried.

So please note that I consider “dotty” to be a misnomer in this pattern, except perhaps in that the original designer had to be dotty to think that coral knot stitch looks anything like dots.  The textured section looks more like a fancy welted pattern than a dot pattern, at least to me.  I think these booties would be awesome with the pattern section switched out for something that IS knobbly, like double moss stitch or trinity stitch, but that’s a trial for another day.

I’ve also updated the decreases from all k2tog to symmetrical k2tog and ssk pairs and made notation clearer throughout.  The end result is a pretty cute, fairly streamlined bootie that *could* pass for a more modern baby’s sock if you omit the drawstring.

To the pattern!

 


close-up of doll's feet in hand-knitted victorian baby booties

Sizing:

Weldon’s doesn’t get any more specific than “infant”.  The original pattern suggests “Andalusian wool”, which would be approximately modern sport weight, and No. 16 steel needles, which would be roughly modern US 1 or 1.5.  I tried a sport weight yarn on US 1.5 needles to start, since I tend to be a tight knitter, but the resulting booties were HUGE (based on the sole measurement, suitable for the average 2 year old!), so I made some alterations to the size and also yarn and needle recommendations.

My prototypes are knitted with Knit Picks Palette on US 1 carbon fiber DPNs.  These are VERY elastic, and therefore the size isn’t well-defined.   The cuff section has a circumference of about 3″ unstretched, and the leg stretches to about 7″ circumference.  The foot is about 4″ long.  I would estimate that these booties are probably a newborn size.  The doll modeling the booties in the photos wears a size 0-3 months usually, so these are a bit tight on it but still work fine.

You could easily make them a little bigger (toddler size) by using a sport weight yarn and US 1.5 needles, or a little smaller (preemie/doll size) by using lace weight yarn and US 0 needles.

Materials:

about 75 yards of fingering weight yarn

US 1 (2.25mm)DPNs

About 24″ of 1/8″-wide ribbon or cord for ties (optional)

Stitch key:

pick up yarn and purl/knit one— pick up yarn from between stitches using the L needle and purl/knit into this new loop with the R needle

M1— make one, using the backward-loop method

doll wearing victorian baby booties knit from this free pattern

Pattern:

For the leg: 

Cast on 44 stitches and join in the round.

Rounds 1-12: *k2, p2* to end of round

Coral Knot Stitch:

R13: *k2tog* around (22sts)

R14: *pick up yarn and purl 1, P1,* to end of round (44 sts)

R15: knit

R16: knit

R17-44:  Repeat the above 4 pattern rows (R13-R16) a further 6 times.

R45: *k2tog* around (22 sts)

R46: *pick up yarn and purl 1, P1* to end of round (44 sts)

R47: K28, turn work (16 sts will remain unworked on the L needle)

R48: P12, turn work (these 12 center sts form the instep)

Rearrange stitches as necessary.  On DPNs, I had three needles holding 16sts, 12sts, and then 16sts again.

For the instep:

R1: M1, *k2tog* across (7 sts)

R2: *K1, pick up yarn and knit 1* to last 2 sts on instep needle, K2 (12sts)

R3: Knit

R4: Purl

R5-R23: Repeat the above 4 pattern rows (R1-R4) a further 3 times, and then work R1 through R3 again.

R24: Knit

R25: K2, ssk, K4, k2tog, K2 (10 sts)

R26-R28: knit three rows

R29: K2, ssk, K2, k2tog, K2 (8 sts)

Repeat rows 26-28, then break yarn.

For the foot and sole:

Pick up 10 stitches along R side of instep (7 sts along coral knot section and 3 sts along garter stitch section) and knit across instep sts.  With a new needle, pick up another 10 stitches along L side of instep, and knit the 16 sts from the L needle to return to the original beginning of round.  You will have 60 sts in total.

R1: Purl

R2: Knit

R3: Purl

R4:  K25, M1, K2, M1, K6, M1, K2, M1, K25 (64 sts)

R5-R8: Continue in garter stitch

R9: K28, ssk, K4, k2tog, K28 (62 sts)

R10: Purl

R11: K28, ssk, K2, k2tog, K28 (60 sts)

R12: Purl

R13: K28, ssk, k2tog, K28 (58 sts)

R14: Purl

R15: K2, k2tog, K21, ssk, ssk, k2tog, k2tog, K21, ssk, K2 (52 sts)

R16: Purl

R17: K2, k2tog, K18, ssk, ssk, k2tog, k2tog, K18, ssk, K2 (46 sts)

R18: Purl

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

Finishing:

Weave in ends.

(Optional) Cut a short length of ribbon or make a short cord (about 12″ in length– mine are about 10.5″ and a bit fiddly for bow-making) for  the drawstring tie on each bootie.  Thread the tie through the eyelets in the last repeat of the coral knot stitch pattern on the leg of the bootie and fasten with a bow over the instep.

Slip some sweet baby feet into the finished booties and enjoy your 19th-century cuteness!

doll wearing handmade knit victorian baby booties

WIP Wednesday

knitting on baby blanket WIPstart date: 25 May 2015
time elapsed: 1 month, 6 days
completeness: 50%

Once upon a time, I received a big skein of yarn as a gift.  It was cotton and the colors reminded me of fruit stripe gum.  I wanted to use it, but wasn’t sure how.

Then I discovered the super-sized-doily-as-blanket phenomenon.  I quickly knitted up the offending yarn into a Hemlock Ring baby blanket, and I LOVED it.  A round baby blanket!  Could there be anything more perfect?

I was an instant convert.  With a round blanket, using it as a decorative throw after your baby outgrows it is effortless.  A round blanket makes a superior nursing shawl, the perfect ground cover, and a more convenient sunshade.  To wrap a tiny newbie, fold the blanket in half and swaddle as usual.  To cover an older baby, use in a single layer and NEVER worry about baby’s feet sticking out of the bottom or baby’s hands getting entangled.

So when i was looking for a gorgeous, timeless, lacy baby blanket pattern, I was drawn inexorably toward round shawls and oversized doilies.  I finally settled on Leaves of Grass by Jared Flood.

center of blanket I'm knitting showing flowery motif from the first lace chart

This is my first pi construction project.  In pi construction, rather than trying to knit a circle by making constant small increases at greater and greater distance from each other, you knit a long flat-topped tube: sections are worked totally straight with no increases or decreases, and between sections you work an increase row that doubles the number of stitches.  The magic happens when you block it– what was a long tube blooms into a perfectly flat circle thanks to the elasticity of the lace.  But I haven’t gotten to that part yet.

me still knitting along with Númenor's legs in the background

In fact, my progress has been achingly slow, due in part to the heat (when it’s 101 F outside, it’s NOT a great time to have a big pile of wool in your lap), but also to some minor difficulties in the pattern.  I’m about halfway through the third lace chart now (of five total), and completely in love with what’s taking shape on my needles, but happy to go slow and make a row or two of headway here and there.

showing the middle chart of the blanket with lacy zigzag or branching pattern

This project has been my companion on road trips and park benches since the weather turned summery.  I’ve knit on it in the car as we cruised down the coast, and while waiting for a movie to start at the drive-in, and on the back deck in the afternoon shade.

And when blanket-knitting weather comes again in the fall, I will be happy to sit in my favorite spot in our library and finish this up.  Not only will I be glad of a lap full of wool then, but I will also have the memories of sun on my skin and warm breezes and long summer evenings and days at the beach in every stitch.

And probably some sand and some dust, too.

Númenor holding the yarn cone I'm knitting from with my lap (and the WIP in it) in the background


The yarn is Jagger Spun 4/8 Waxed Lambswool in Umber— technically a weaving yarn,  but a very economical (not to mention beautiful, durable, and soft) choice for knitting and crochet.  Some people find that it works up at DK weight, but I am pretty satisfied with calling it worsted.

My fingernails were painted last week with Piggy Paint in Midnight Pansy (purple) and Ice Cream Dream (sparkly teal).  I highly recommend this brand; it is truly odorless, but it’s also long-lasting and bright.  Their marketing patter and some of their shade names make it pretty clear that they believe painted nails are gendered, so I can’t give them full points, but they make a great product.

Find the Magic

We spent our weekend (our WHOLE weekend, friends!) cleaning and reorganizing the house.

Yep.

That means there was plenty of dust and laughter and reminiscing, and lots of frustration and more than a little yelling, lots of going up and down stairs and hefting and hauling, some sadness and some serendipity, and the smell of vinegar and the sound of the Pandora station I created to bridge the gap between Robert’s taste in work music and mine.

It also means that the smalls spent the weekend Being Tested: listening, following directions, performing difficult tasks, staying focused, managing their compulsions to derange sorting piles and run around unaccustomed places, being responsible for their choices, and proactively communicating their own needs.

Unsurprisingly, then, today everyone woke up feeling pretty grumpy and low-energy.

On grumpy, low-energy days, even ones that you have earned by dint of hard work and awesomeness, it can be difficult to find the magic in your life.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

So this afternoon, while I was feeling like ugh and yuck and blerg and blah, I walked around my home and captured these little bits of magic:

artwallAn updated art wall (now with figural art, perspective cues, symbols, and some child-written labels!).

knitting in progressA big project edging toward completion.

soft toys in a rowRe-discovered pretend friends.

new saltNew salt, white and pure and beautiful.

lettuceLate-planted seeds racing toward the sun.

garlic harvestThe first garlic harvest of the year, laid out to dry.

toys put awayCreative tools ready for new inspiration.

took and henhouseA laying flock.

reading nookA quiet, comfortable hideaway for book lovers.

spring raindrop baby dollSweet reminders of a spring well-spent.

blackberry blossoms and ripening fruitAnd the promise of blackberries to come.

Happy summer to you and yours!  May you find the magic wherever you look!

 


Stay tuned for more on the knitting!

Soft toys from L to R: homemade rocket ship (following this tutorial), sea turtle, warty pig, trilobite from PRI, and manatee from Sea World (from a trip I took in my childhood; I would NEVER go there by choice).

Toys from top L, clockwise: train, dragon, bushel basket, American maple hardwood school blocks, rocket ship, homemade storage cubbies.

Reading nook: The Hare and the Tortoise, Goodnight Oregon, C is for Cthulhu, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Basket is an old one from Ten Thousand Villages, shark bean bags are homemade based on this photo.

Spring raindrop baby was homemade, inspired by the work of a now-retired Etsy seller.