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Category: Knitting

Choosing Buttons for Baby Garments

I love knitting for babies and one of my favourite things about it is the huge range of cute, and sometimes bizarre, novelty buttons that you can find to sew on them.

As a mother, however, the one thing I hate most about knitwear for babies is trying to do up the buttons on a cardigan wrapped around a 4 kilo mass of wriggling baby, especially when the buttons aren’t chosen to be functional.

If you’ve ever knit something for a baby and it has never been worn, it might not be because the parents are ungrateful un-knitworthy hand-made hating ingrates. They might be, but they might have just had a difficult time doing up the buttons. So from my years of experience doing up cardigans on wriggling babies, here is my guide to choosing buttons for baby garments.

The irresistible but poky novelty button.

These are the type of buttons that have little poky bits sticking out everywhere but they’e cute so we must put them on all the things. Star shaped buttons are the WORST. Unfortunately they are also adorable.

These buttons should be used strictly as a decorative element, as trying to put them through a buttonhole that is in constant motion just causes yarn snags, sudden knitwear hatred and wild emotional swings (especially if the person trying to do them up is sleep deprived).

Novelty buttons
I am not a functional button!

 The irresistible but mostly round novelty button.

This type of button works well on knitwear most of the time. If it has any part that sticks out, like the cat’s ears, they are smooth and won’t snag.

The only time I would avoid using buttons of this type is if my yarn is particularly splitty as it still might snag, but who wants to knit with that kind of yarn anyway?

Novelty buttons
I am cute and functional! Most of the time.

Round decorative buttons

These are my favourite type of buttons to put on baby wear. Printed with cute characters or flowers, special 3D look patterns or interesting moulded but completely smooth shapes. The buttons below are all vintage but you can still get printed buttons with classic children’s characters in most shops that sell buttons.

They’ll never snag the yarn, no matter what you’ve knit with, how wriggly the baby is or how tired the person trying to do them up.

Four round vitnage buttons

Putting my buttons where my mouth is

Figuratively speaking.

This is a baby surprise jacket that I knit for my nephew. I used vintage pale green buttons for fastening the front and a poky novelty ladybird button purely for decoration.

Baby surprise jacket
Two types of buttons used in the right spots.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on choosing buttons for baby and toddler knitwear so please feel free to leave a comment below!

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Free Knitting Pattern – Latvian Boy’s Hat from 1956 (Translated into English)

Boy's hat from Adījumu Raksti un Adīšanas Technika

Today I finished translating the boy’s hat from my vintage Latvian knitting book and have uploaded it for you to knit.

I test knit the pattern (I’ll show you my hat once it’s dry), and was very pleased to find that I translated it properly and managed to correct the errors and add the missing information (it didn’t say how long to knit before casting off).

I tried the finished hat on my son Charlie, who is about the size of the average seven year old, despite only being five, and it fit perfectly! All my experience in knitting hats paid off and I didn’t have to add or unknit any rows. Phew.

Now I wonder what to tackle translating next. There’s a very cute looking baby cardigan, or I could really challenge myself and see if I can make heads or tails of the chapter on knitting Latvian mittens…

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On Vintage Latvian Knitting Patterns and Being Fearless

When it comes to knitting, sometimes I have a habit of closing my eyes and jumping into projects that I have no idea if I am capable of achieving. It’s like the extreme sports version of knitting, you get addicted to the adrenalin rush and forget about the times you ended up in hospital, or in this case, the times you swore at your knitting and threw the whole lot up against the nearest wall before storming out of the room. Expletives optional.

When I started translating and correcting the knitting patterns in Home Work (a book of mostly lace edgings published in Toronto in 1891), I knew very little about knitting lace. By the time I had gotten halfway through I realised that thanks to my research and Margaret Stove, I had learnt so much I could now design my own.

Skull and crossbones lace. Free knitting pattern available.

Today I’m learning to read knitting patterns from 1956, written in Latvian. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I found this book on Ebay last month and the patterns are so beautiful that I couldn’t resist it, even though I didn’t know a word of Latvian (I can now translate “stitch”, “knit” and “and” without help, lol). I have to admit, I even fell in love with the paperboard cover.

Adījumu Raksti un Adīšanas Technika

The wonderful thing about these patterns is that they have very little text, relying mostly on schematics, colour charts and sketches of the finished item. This makes it possible to translate them using a combination of Google Translate, the technique and stitch pattern sections in the book (yay for knitting charts), and the things I already know about Latvian knitting. Specifically, I hit a section that I was sure should be a two colour cast on followed by a two colour herringbone braid a couple of rows later and sure enough, after comparing terms in the technique section, I was right. 

At the moment I’m working on translating a pattern called Zēna Cepure, which is a child’s hat that reminds me of  the bonnet from the bouncing baby set in the original Homespun Handknit, only knit in the other direction.

Boy's hat from Adījumu Raksti un Adīšanas Technika

 

I intend to translate the whole book eventually, so if you’d like to know about the patterns as I upload them, please feel free to subscribe to the blog over there on the right where it says “Subscribe to the Blog via Email”

Wish me luck!

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A Little Bit of Baby Knitting

OK, more than a little.

Like many knitters, whenever I hear there’s a baby on the way I can’t help breaking out the needles and getting completely carried away. So when I heard that my sister in law was making me a nephew, I thought I’d show my appreciation by making more knitwear than a baby could possibly need in Australia. Luckily, since I have previous experience in knitting for babies, I decided to make them in all sorts of sizes so they wouldn’t all need to be worn in the first 5 minutes :). I’ve just handed them over so now I can tell you about them!

I started with the one pattern that all babies must have at least one of, or it’s obvious that no-one loves them, the baby surprise jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann. This one is knit from an unknown tweed wool mix that I was kindly given.

Baby surprise jacket

For wearability, the baby surprise jacket is my favourite baby garment. When knit in a  single some-what neutral colour, it’s a great basic that can go with a range of outfits. The garter stitch also allows it to stretch as the baby grows so if you knit at a gauge to fit a one year old, it will often still fit for the next cold season.

I like to make sleeves on all the bsj’s I knit full length by picking up stitches and knitting downwards. That way you can lengthen the sleeves whenever needed or easily replace worn out chewed cuffs. Did I mention some babies chew their sleeves? Yep, they do. They have absolutely no respect for knitwear. Luckily they look so damn cute in it they can be forgiven a little slobber.

You can find out all you need to know about knitting the baby surprise jacket here on knitting-and.com and the baby surprise jacket entry in the wiki on Ravelry.com. You’ll need to sign up to see the entry in the Ravelry wiki but it’s free 🙂

The other cardigan I knit is the Aussie baby cardigan by Bev Tilson, from her self published book “Knitting Patterns for Hand Spinners”. I reviewed the book a few years ago, and you could purchase copies from her then. I’m not sure if she has any left but it’s a great book. When it comes to tried and true baby patterns that have withstood the test of generations, you really can’t go past some of the self published books that various hand spinners and guilds publish.

Aussie baby cardigan

I’ve made the Aussie baby cardigan a couple of times. It’s designed to be knit with handpainted or variegated yarns but I think it looks just as nice with plain colours. Whilst it’s definitely a pain in the bum sewing in the raglan sleeves, it’s worth the effort. When it comes to seaming I almost always use a mattress stitch seam but in this case a careful backstitch is the only way I’ve found to get the raglan seams to look good. Once you know that, though, the raglan seams are no problem. Yes, I did rip the seams out several times before I remembered that’s what I did with the first one. Ahem.

I liked this next pattern so much that I made two. It’s the baby vest from page 9 of Knitting Patterns for Hand Spinners. It’s knit in one piece from the bottom of the front, up over the shoulders and down the back. All you have to do when you’ve finished knitting is mattress stitch the side seams and add an optional crochet border.

I made one in handspun alpaca. I didn’t spin this, it’s handspun my sister gave me.

Vest from Knitting Patterns for the Handspinner - alpaca

and one in Spotlight Basics dk weight wool. I would recommend using a machine washable wool for baby clothes that are given as gifts, but I’m allergic to one of the resins used to coat some machine wash wools so, with the mum to be’s okay, I used strictly hand wash only yarns as much as possible.

Vest from Knitting Patterns for the Handspinner - wool

This pattern is going on my “favourite things to knit for babies” list. It will stretch a LOT in  both the width, due to the ribbing, and the sleeves, due to the garter stitch. I couldn’t resist adding the suggested crochet shell stitch to the sleeves. It’s just so Victorian (regular visitors will know just how much I love Victorian era knitting patterns)!

To work this particular shell stitch, work a row of double crochet (US single crochet) around the sleeve. Next round: *slip stitch in the first stitch, then work – double crochet (US single crochet), treble (US double crochet), double crochet (US single crochet) all in the second stitch. Repeat from * around.

Knitting any more jumpers would have seemed a bit odd (damn), so I switched to hats at this point with another pattern from “Knitting Patterns for the Hand Spinner”.

hand knit toddler hat

A toddler sized earflap hat knit with the same yarns used on the other projects. There were a couple of errors in this pattern and one change that I made.

Pattern errata:
Work the first 10 sts of the chart only.
After working the chart, work in st st for 2 rows in the main colour, then knit 2 rows in the contrast colour.
Continue with pattern as written.

Changes:
I worked an extra couple of rows of decreases before finishing the top. (Decreased to 8 sts)

If I were to make this again (I just need people to have more babies), I would work the main colour after the flaps and before the contrast colour stripe in k1, p1 ribbing to help stop the curling of the bottom edge.

I’m not sure if Bev still has any copies of the book but, if she still has the same email address, you can contact her to see if she still has any. It’s totally worth the trouble to find it. I could have knit my nephew at least another half dozen things from it but I didn’t want my sister-in-law to think I was a crazy baby stalker. I am but she does’t have to know that 😉

I also knit a knut hat from my free pattern and some handspun, shown very elegantly balanced on my laptop keyboard. I’m pretty sure this was spun from a fibre club sliver from Ewe Give Me the Knits.

Handspun baby knut hat

They look rather plain off, but when on a baby they reach new levels of adorableness. Here’s one I prepared earlier (that hat and the baby! He’s about to turn 5 years old).

Charlie in 2009, wearing a knut hat

Next is a plain stocking stitch baby blanket with garter stitch border picked up and knit around until I ran out of yarn. Knit with my own handspun made from 150gm of Indian Summer machine wash slivers from Ewe Give Me the Knits. (This is chlorinated machine wash, which I can use).

Handpsun baby blanket

Just a plain stocking stitch square, with stitches picked up all around and worked in garter stitch with double increases at the corners on every second round until I had just enough left to cast off.

Finally, I got to the small things. Well, the really small things. You can’t really call anything other than blankets big when it comes to knitting for babies.

Tiny feet deserve to be warm, and they deserve to be warm in little socks that won’t fall off. These are the “baby legs” from the bouncing baby set in Interweave’s Homespun Handknit. I found socks that look the same in knitting books from the 1800’s but the pattern in Homespun Handknit has crazy additions like needle size and gauge and instructions that don’t make you want to cry.

This pair are knit with my handspun, spun from slivers I bought via ravelry destash, originally from Bee Mice Elf.

Baby legs from Homespun Hand Knit

and this pair are knit from Koigu premium merino that was given to me about 15 years ago. Aged stash, I has it.

Hand knit over the knee baby socks

And if you want REALLY tiny knitting for babies, these take mere minutes to make. Baby mittens in 3 month size from my free pattern.

The only thing that grows faster than a newborn baby is a newborn baby’s fingernails. Sure, you can buy Winter onesies with the little cuffs that magically fold over to cover baby’s hands but there’s no knitting involved in doing that, so why would you want to?Despite looking different, these are the same Spotlight yarn and colour I used for the other turquoise projects.

baby mittens

Last but not least (because that would be the mittens), I knit two Spa Day facecloths from three strands of op shopped cotton. I find it handy to have wash cloths that are easily identified as being just for the baby so you don’t accidentally go and wash your face with something that’s just washed a baby bottom. Clean baby bottoms are cute and make you want to kiss them (unless you already know better). Messy baby bottoms are not.

These are a similar colour to the Spotlight wool but in a variegated colourway with white.

Knitted spa day washcloths

Now if you’ll just excuse me, I have some sewing to do…

Knitting in Public Can Be Dangerous

Socks in progress

or at least a bit confusing.

Like many knitters these days, my take anywhere project is usually a pair of socks. Having just finished a pair, I grabbed a new skein of sock yarn and my super kitsch Christmas Kitty project bag as I ran out the door on my way to the local auctions.

Casting on, however, took on totally new dimensions in danger and brain confustication as I was a bit late and only had time to register before the auctions began.

My brain: OK, cast on 68. 1, 2, 3
Auctioneer: 20! Who’ll give me 20?
My Brain: 21, 22, 23
Auctioneer: 60!
My brain: 61, 62. Wait. That doesn’t look like 60 stitches.

My Brain: 1, 2, 3…

Repeat.

Several times.

😛

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