Come on baby!

I just wrote half of this post on my iPad, and it was possibly the most frustrating thing I have ever done. And I teach Macbeth to inner city children who struggle to read modern English. Anyway. I’ve got my laptop now, so I’m trying again.

Hello! I haven’t posted for ages, again. I wish I had the energy and the motivation and something interesting to write about, but it doesn’t seem to have happened for the last couple of months. I have been crocheting though! C’s sister’s baby was due on Tuesday and still hasn’t made an appearance. I’ve been grateful for the extra few days because it’s given me a chance to put this together:

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Ahh! Want to see what’s in there? Before I show you, I thought I’d better say that it’s all Stylecraft Special DK, and I used a 4mm hook for all of it. Keeps it simple!

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First of all, this little guy. (I don’t know why he’s a guy, given that he’s so pink, but he is.) Someone in a crochet group on Facebook posted a link to the pattern on Bunny Mummy, and I started making it straight away. Actually, I was a couple of glasses of wine down when I finished, so I’m pleased it’s turned out so neat! The only change I made was to double crochet the two sides together through the back loop, which does create a ridge, but I like that, and it’s much neater than my sewing. I used fondant, apricot, lemon and spring, with white for the eyes. The beak is spice, and I’m not sure what the purple is – I’ve had it for ages. I lost the label, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t Stylecraft. The buttons are from Hobbycraft about a million years ago, left over from a hot water bottle I made for my mum. Next out of the box:

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Little booties! I just can’t find the pattern for these anywhere. I only made them a couple of days ago, but I can’t remember if I was looking at the pattern on my laptop, the phone or the ipad. I will keep looking though, because it’s a very nice pattern. The wool is raspberry, and the buttons are two of about thirty little wooden teddies that I’ve finally found a use for.

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More shoes! These are from 1dogwoof, and lovely and easy to follow. I particularly liked row 4! More lovely buttons on here too – a present from C’s mum. The colours are saffron, mocha and white, and I did an extra colour change (that’s the only change I made). I really love these – the strap construction is clever and unusual, and it’s sweet how they look like proper little shoes. They don’t look very tidy in this photo; I think they need blocking, but I don’t have anything suitable to put in them to make the right shape while they dry. They’ll be fine once they’re on, though.

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Next out of the box: teeny tiny cardigan. This will fit for about three minutes after she’s born, if I’m lucky. But I really wanted to give them something they could put on her straight away, and the colours are great. They’re shrimp, apricot, cream and silver. The pattern is lost forever, I suspect – I really can’t find it anywhere. I have to start using ravelry properly to keep track of what I’ve made. If you recognise the pattern, let me know so I can give credit here! The construction was fun – I couldn’t work out how it was going to come together until I split it for the sleeves, and then it just worked.

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By contrast, this is a ridiculously huge cardigan. I do have the pattern! It’s here. I don’t know what happened here – she gives loads of different sizes, but I still managed to make a stupidly huge one. And, frustratingly, it took a really long time – because apparently I was knitting for a one year old. Div. Anyway, it’ll fit one day, and if I don’t put it in the box, I’ll lose it, so in it goes! The wool isn’t Stylecraft, and I didn’t use a 4mm hook, because it’s knitted. It’s Patons Baby Fab DK in ripple. The buttons are from the jar that C bought me from Hobbycraft. On this cardigan, again, I couldn’t work out the construction before I started, but now I want to make one for myself. Imagine how bored I’ll get doing that!

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Haha, remember when I posted, banging on about pastel green and red together? It looked lovely – in winter! But I got it out to sew the buttons on last week and it just didn’t look right for spring! Pattern is here, and I did make a couple of changes. The bodice is garter stitch, not moss stitch, because I didn’t have the patience for moss stitch. I added some eyelet holes along the chest, to match the hem. And I added a crocheted border for strength around the straps. At first, I crocheted the colour straight onto the knitted edge, and it looked really messy so I thought I’d have to leave it. But I remembered reading somewhere about how to make neater colour changes on edges, and did one row of dc in cream around the edge first, then a row of purple. Much nicer! The colours are spring and cream, and that mystery purple again. And the buttons match perfectly! I do wish I’d used white instead of cream for a crisper finish though.

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And last, but certainly not least, is this blanket! Look at all those hexagons. I love a hexie blanket, and I love these colours – pale rose, mocha, graphite, silver, cream, and parchment to join them.

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It was such hard work though. I think I made the African flowers back in January, from HeidiBears’ tutorial. But by the time I’d done twenty, I was seriously flagging. All those ends! Five rounds per flower meant two hundred ends to sew in already! So I had a rethink and came up with another plan: fill the gaps with one-colour hexagons. Phew. I hunted for other hexagon patterns and just couldn’t find anything that I liked. So… I wrote my own patterns! That was a mission. I’m going to try to write them up and do a separate post for them. I don’t think I’m up for a tutorial – I don’t take enough photos – but I’ll see what I can come up with. I made three different types – a granny hex, a solid hex and a circle hex. I ended up with 80 hexagons – 5 of each colour/shape combination. I used 79 of them in the end! Two day of joining, three days of sewing in ends (THREE! I was so, so bored. It took a serious talking-to from my mum to get me to finish it.), and one day of border later, it was done!

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I really, really love it. I’m actually really sad it give it away – is it bad to be protective over it? If I keep something I’ve made, I can make sure that ends stay sewn in, and it doesn’t get dragged around the garden. I guess that’s just part of giving a gift!

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I had to get a photo of all the button loveliness that’s gone into this box 🙂

All that’s left… Is for the baby to arrive! She’s got a name, she’s got a home and now she’s got a box of woolly things waiting for her. Come on, baby!

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Seams, selvedges and sewing up: O’s hoodie

I’ve always been confused about whether it’s selvedge or selvage – neither looks right! So I looked it up and from now on I’m going to spell it selvedge. You know when you’ve said a word too many times? Selvedge. Selvedge.

What this post is actually about is: MY FRIEND MADE A BABY! S is my university friend – the first person I met ten years ago when I moved to Cardiff. Since we left university, she’s been busy moving to Somerset, marrying a person and then making two whole new people. Basically, she’s a grown up now. When I drive to Cornwall, she is very conveniently on the way so I try to pop in whenever I can. But this time it was super exciting because she and her husband had a little boy eight weeks ago! When their little girl, J, was born two years ago, I made a blanket for her – I remember it taking forever, but back then I had time. This time round, I didn’t have as much time, so I needed to knit something smaller for baby O, but still something special. I kept seeing these cute garter stitch wrap around booties on Pinterest, but every time I tried to follow the links I couldn’t find a pattern. Step in, Ravelry: it’s got everything! One search later, I had this pattern. I dusted off my A level French (actually, I only got a C, and none of it was about knitting, so I used Google Translate) and an hour later I had this:

IMG_0811Ahhh! Aren’t they sweet?! I love how cute garter stitch looks on tiny items, all those lovely ridges in miniature. I seriously considered making a grown up sized version for me – I still might. They were seriously easy to do: just a T-shape in garter stitch, a bit of pinning, and a bit of stitching. I took a few goes to sew them up because I wanted the toes to wrap around securely.

The yarn is Smoothie DK in the imaginatively named colour 01085: blue. I like the drape of the wool – a large-ish knitted piece in Smoothie DK has a heaviness to it, which makes me feel like I’m knitting something substantial. Also, it’s soft enough that I wasn’t worried about it being for a little person.

Very nice… But not quite enough for A Knitter to present to a friend who has just produced a whole person. So I went in search of a garter stitch cardigan to go with the booties. Ravelry has got a lot to offer, and it took me several evenings just to narrow down the selection. I ended up with this pattern, and made the 12 months size because clearly a baby doesn’t need a hoodie in August (and that’s what S requested).

I had found some lovely matte, slatey blue buttons at the market near my parents’ house which felt like cool little pebbles in my hand.

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Honestly? It was boring. Really, really boring. I’d underestimated how tedious garter stitch would become (stupid endless ridges), and I didn’t think about the fact that there’s no shaping to break up the pattern. What was so charming about the booties was actually a bit annoying in the hoodie, and I’ve been knitting for long enough that I can handle something a bit more complicated. The body is knitted in one piece, with spaces for arm holes and the bare minimum of neck shaping. The sleeves and hood are knitted separately.

IMG_1193See all those nice long ends for sewing up? None of them was quite long enough. You may have noticed from the knitting tour post that most of what I make is small. I’ll tell you something: it’s because I don’t like sewing up. I also don’t like the last hour of the work day, trailers before a film, or having to diet before actually losing weight. Delayed gratification is not my thing. I’ve never really thought about it before, but in that respect I suppose I’m a process knitter – I do it because I enjoy doing it, and my hands feel sad if they aren’t making something. Still, the sewing up had to be done. There was a point, when I’d done everything except the last sleeve, when I thought of removing O’s arm rather than sewing up another seam, but it seemed too cruel.

It went like this: shoulders; hood seam; hood to neck; sleeve 1 to armhole 1; sleeve 1 seam; sleeve 2 to armhole 2; sleeve 2 seam. I thought it would take an hour or two. It took a whole day. I was kicking myself the entire time, because of this:IMG_1196Not the Hulk/Flash pajamas. The selvedges. (By the way, I love these pajamas. They’re from Matalan, they cost about £4 because they were in the sale, and they’re men’s. So much better than women’s, for both leg length and cooler designs.) On some of the edges, I’d remembered to sl1wyif at the beginning of the row. On others, I hadn’t, which meant that matching up seams was a total pain. Also, I managed to sew an armhole seam on the outside TWICE, which didn’t make me any happier!

IMG_1189IMG_1199It was an easy pattern, but if this was the first garment I’d ever knitted, I would have been confused. I know you can’t expect miracles from a free pattern (though some do deliver), but there were a lot of experienced-knitter-common-sense tricks that could have been worked into the instructions – little things like giving a number of rows on each side for symmetry above the armholes, or remembering to slip the first stitch of each row! I’m moaning a lot. In reality, this was a bit of a boring knit, but that’s because I didn’t think about it and make it more exciting for myself. If I was doing this again, I’d totally do a moss stitch border (love moss stitch), and I’d do set in sleeves and some shaping on the hood. Serves me right for being a lazy knitter, but you know what?

IMG_1249All sewn up, I really like it. It’s square and simple and chunky and warm, and worth every boring knit stitch.

IMG_1247It’s soft and drapey, and it looks lovely with its bootie brothers:

IMG_1258When I delivered it on the way back to Cardiff, O’s big sister opened it. She gave it a squeeze, then put the hood over her head and rolled around on the sofa in it. I think it passed the soft test, even if it is way too big for O at the moment! It makes me really happy to be able to make something for someone – not everyone can do it, but S and her new little boy have both got something that no one else will ever have. It’s nice.