When Jen from A-C Knitwear announced the A Year Of Techniques project, there was one subject that I really, really wanted to appear in the line up, and that was steeking. Steeks are perhaps one of the more jovially divisive techniques in the knitting skills […]
Thank you so much for the helpful, understanding and corroborating responses to a recent post, where I had written about a pattern that I had a number of issues knitting, a sailor-style sweater with intarsia motif: Brendan. I had detailed the issues that I’d had […]
Over the weekend I decided to knit a little cardigan with the remnants of three shades of Drops Baby Merino in Ice Blue, Lavender and Navy using the Little Bubbles pattern. As it was knitted with the three yarns left over from completing the Snuggly Bums Trousers, Perfect Stripes Cardigan and Bumpy Baby Jumper I came to think of it rather like the dish Bubble & Squeak: made from leftovers.
The pattern is simply written, with the exception of the stitch pattern used for the ‘bubbles’ section around the neckline, which is perhaps a little clumsily described. A stitch in one of the contrasting shades of blue (in this case the Lavender and Navy blues) is dropped down four rows to the first stitch of the background colour (Ice Blue). The left needle can then be inserted through this stitch and underneath the resulting strands of the drops contrast stitches, and the stitch knit as usual, which feels as if you are knitting the whole lot together. This bundles together all of the background strands to draw them together and upwards at the rear of the work, preventing any loose stranding that could catch around small baby fingers and also improving the appearance of the stitch.
I knit the cardigan with several modifications, including reducing the number of colours used from five to just three, to make use of the yarn that I already had.
The original version had very wide sleeves which looked disproportionate to the body of the cardigan, so I made an alteration to the numbers used when dividing the count of stitches between the body and the sleeves. Having knit the smallest size, I gave 33sts to each of the cardigan fronts (instead of 31), 36sts were put aside for each sleeve (instead of 40) cast on 4 for the underarms (instead of 8) and gave 65 to the back of the cardigan (instead of 61). This resulted in the body having the same stitch count as per the original, due to the reduced number of stitches cast on for the underarms, but the arms carrying 8 fewer stitches once both underarm and initial sleeve numbers were taken into account.
I also shortened the sleeves from their original full length so that I had a few different sleeve options available to the baby to account for weather and situation when the baby is born. I did this by knitting three rounds of the background colour and 10 rounds of garter stitch (beginning with a purl round) before binding off in purl.
I also increased the stitch count of the picked up button bands to 58sts and gave five equally spaced buttonholes instead of the four in the pattern which left a large un-buttoned section at the bottom of the band, spaced as so:
K4, *3st buttonhole, K8; Repeat from * three more times, 3st buttonhole, K5. I knit the buttonholes with a contrast placeholder yarn and overcast these to finish them once the cardigan was knit, but in hindsight it was a lot of work for not a lot of effect. Though the resulting buttonholes do feel nice and stable, it would perhaps be only a technique I used for a fine-finished garment, rather than a baby knit, and would next time just cast them off one row and back on the next row, for speed and simplicity..
The only other modification I made was to change the striping sequence from the one given in the pattern. The original consists of 24 rows (in the smallest size) of single-row stripes. In the areas where the yarns used have a noticeable contrast I thought it looked quite optically challenging, so found a slightly more harmonious (to my own aesthetics) striping sequence using the three restricted palette of three shades instead of the five prescribed shades given in the pattern.
The finished cardigan is simple, but cute and was a relatively quick knit. If I were to knit it again the only further modification I would make would be to perhaps drop down a needle size of the ‘Bubbles’ rows just to neaten those up a tad more as they have lost a little of their form once the merino wool received its bath and relaxed a little.
Pattern: Little Bubbles by Nina Isaacson
Yarn: Drops Baby Merino in the shades Ice Blue, Lavender and Navy.
On Wednesday I was having a rather difficult time of things. I’d had a really positive hospital appointment the previous day and been out for a bite to eat with Mr Awesome and the other prospective parents in our small ante-natal class the evening before, but I woke up on Wednesday in a lot of discomfort and feeling rather poorly. ConsequentlyI felt I needed something other than plain blue rounds of chubby little baby leg to distract me from each round of baby gymnastics that had started to, along with a few test contractions for fun, exacerbate a few of my past scars. And what is more pleasurably distracting than a yarn that refuses to decide what colour it will be?
I have spoken many times of the ills that a good Zauberball can help heal, so in lieu of strong pain relief or the ability to sleep, I chose the most randomly coloured concoction from my little medicine chest of healing Zauberballs and cast on the simplest pattern I could find, which happened to be Julie Chanudet’s little striped sweater, Langoz.
I deviated away from the pattern only in small details and the order/method of construction. I knit the back and arm raglan increases to the underarm first, retained these on the circular needle and then knit the front raglan increases from the other end of the Zauberball, which I had re-wound into a centre-pull skein with the help of a patient husband. Once both pieces were knit to the underarm I did not cast off any stitches, but rather overlapped the front 5 button band stitches over those of the back and continued with the live yarn to knit together off of front and back needles to save casting off and seaming later.
I had considered striping the rest of the body using the two Zauberball ends to give even more play of colour, but then decided to let the Zauberball do what it does best and let it play with the colour for me, and just observe.
I decided to leave the sweater sleeves short, so making this a T-shirt rather than the original sweater of the pattern. Partly this was because I wanted an instantaneous knitting hit: some immediate knitting karma, but also because I don’t know if I would have been able to get over mis-matched colour sequences in the sleeves (and as Zauberballs do not have regularly ordered stripes in either colour or length of colour progressions, my inner wish to have the sleeves matching would be elusive, if not indeed impossible). To help give the sleeves a more definitive finish, they cease where the raglan increases end, and are finished by way of a short 12-row garter stitch cuff made in Drops Baby Alpaca in an off-white shade. This is complemented by a matching bottom hem and off-white buttons along the ‘help me dress this wiggly baby’ neck opening.
The only other detail I added was the inclusion of three vertical stripes, again in the Drops Baby Alpaca, which I embroidered onto the left side of the T-shirt in duplicate stitch, just to help tie all of the elements of the shirt together; to highlight the raglan shaping (due to the difference in line hight reflecting the raglan edge); to bring the yarn used in the trim details into the main piece and to provide a nice contrast to the strong horizontal stripes presented by the shifting hues of the yarn.
The finished T-shirt took less than two very poorly days to complete, and would make a great last-minute baby gift.
Pattern: Langoz by Julie Chanudet
Yarn: Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball StÃ¤rke 6 in the shade Papagei.