I just love blocking. Of course it’s magical on lace and fancy cable projects, but it’s just as satisfying on simple projects. I’m always amazed how much even the simplest (for example) bulky stockinette sweater benefits from a good block.
Looks fine, right? Nothing too rough about it. But give it a solid block (or even a half-effort one, like I did this time… because my pins were upstairs and I didn’t feel like getting them) and it transforms! Also, it’s still slightly damp, because even though I started it blocking several days ago, it is a very solid sweater, and is taking a million years to dry.
But look at the ruler- it’s grown a good 2″ across the chest (maybe more), and the drape and feel of the fabric has absolutely changed. The stitches are so much more even and the collar looks so much better. It’s gone from stand-up-on-its-own-stiff to smooth-and-velvety. Honestly, I’m kind of jealous of this sweater. I wish it was in my size!
What’s the best blocking transformation you’ve done?
I’ve been complaining about my dwindling stash for a while now, but I’m still making it work. Sure, I don’t really have enough of my usual favorite yarns to make full sweaters or afghans or shawls (my go-to projects), but I do have weird remnants of odd weights of yarn.
For example, I found 2.5 balls of yarn at the back of a drawer the other day. It’s chocolate brown, super-bulky, extra soft (and clearly ready to pill if you look at it wrong). I think it’s Knit Picks’ Biggo, but I could be wrong- the tags were lost years ago and I can’t remember what I bought it for. It’s not really enough for even a scarf, much less a full-on sweater or a blanket (which would have been my project of choice if I had more of it).
I estimated the yardage, based on the yarn weight and the ounces I had and figured I should have just enough for the smallest kids’ size in my favorite Top-Down Sweater book. I cast on and got to work on a raglan with a Henley collar (one of my favorite boy-styles, and so easy to do- you just start making a cardigan, then cast on a couple extra stitches at the front and start working in the round).
It’s looking good so far- I’ve made it most of the way through the body, and even went to the trouble of finishing the neck. I’ve only got one more skein of yarn, so I think I’m going to make the sleeves next, so that I’m sure I have enough to finish them off properly, before finishing the body. My theory, anyway, is that a body can be an inch or two short without looking too wild, but sleeves have to be long enough. (Is that my baggage from being a very long-limbed teenager who had a whole wardrobe of accidental highwaters and inadvertent 3/4-length shirts? Perhaps.)
I know, I know, another yarn-chicken semi-improvised sweater. Will I learn?
No, I will not.
Fingers crossed that I’ve got enough yarn for this bad boy.
Also, fingers crossed that it ends up fitting the kid. It’s looking a little small right now, but it should block up pretty big, if I trust the swatch. I suppose if it doesn’t work for the kid, I can always save it for next year (or the year later) when the baby gets big enough… I knew there was a practical reason to have a second kid- more opportunity for my knits to get worn!
It’s true. I think I might be that mom (or at least I want to be that mom). The one who gets matching clothes for both kids. Because I can’t get over how cute these two sweaters are.
(OK, honesty time. I’m actually that mom that hasn’t gotten her kid to wear actual clothes in over a week. PJs at night, and sometimes during the day, sure, but mostly he just parties around the house in a diaper. If we leave the house, he has to wear clothes, but these days, is anyone actually leaving the house?)
(Further honesty time. I haven’t even gotten the kid to try on his sweater. I assume it’ll be worn at some time. Right now, I’m just enjoying the idea that he has a new sweater that he will be wear at some point. Hopefully before he grows out of it.)
Anyway. I love the “fraternal twin” vibe these sweaters have. Essentially the same, but just different enough.
Plus, they’re cute, even if they’ll never be worn at the same time.
If the kid ever deigns to wear his sweater, I’ll be sure to share a picture. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
I’m sure the baby will wear his- after all, he won’t be able to fight back as well as the two-year-old. Yet…
Have you ever made a project that you half-knew would never be worn?
I enjoyed making my kid’s striped sweater so much, that I’ve decided to keep going.
(Or, if you’re feeling less charitable, I’m having some real designer’s block, and can’t think of what else to make.)
But either way, I’ve decided to keep going, and make a newborn-sized version of the same striped sweater. I’ve still got a good chunk of Hawthorne, and I know how I made the big one, so I can crank out a bitty one pretty easily.
So I’m cruising through, I’m about halfway through the belly, and already thinking about the arms. It’s crazy how small this one feels after the 3-year-old-sized one. It’s going so fast!
Anyway, that’s how I ended up being that mom, who makes matching clothes for her kids. Sorry, kids.
Do you ever make favorite patterns in different sizes?
They go super fast (at least compared to a grown-up sweater).
I usually have just enough yarn just hanging out in my stash to make something fun.
The dang kid grows so fast, I don’t really have to worry about sizing (as long as I make the sweater big enough). He’ll grow into it in about fifteen minutes.
Makes me feel like some sort of Type-A-Martha-Stewart-Ma-Ingles impressive mom who’s got it all squared away.
Why I don’t love making sweaters for my kid:
The dang kid refuses to wear them.
I mean, he’ll wear them sometimes, if it’s cold enough. But currently, Seattle is not cold enough in his opinion. (He runs hot like his dad. I’ve been wearing sweaters since August.) Also, with being in quarantine for the last… several months, I’ve been a little lax about the whole “getting dressed in actual clothes” thing. Most days he spends in last night’s footie PJs, or just running around in a diaper. I can’t really blame him. I currently have my “Day PJs” and my “Night PJs,” so I’m not doing much better.
Anyway, all that is to say: I finished his Striped Pullover. It’s super cute. It’s gigantic. And he probably will refuse to wear it until mid-December. So, here’s a picture of it, nicely blocked and laying out on the floor. (Not pictured is my kid, just out of frame, spreading LEGOs all over the living room.)
I love how the stripes turned out, and how all the disparate colors ended up blending pretty seamlessly (though, part of that is the poor color balance on the photo. The green stripes are much more green and the red stripes are much more red in person.) And, as far as I can tell, it’s going to fit the kid. (I managed to get the collar over his head, just to check if my bind off was too tight for his giant noggin. It’s not.)
Though, compared to his current favorite outerwear, it’s massive. I’m just going to say it’s “oversized,” “cozy,” and “he’s going to grow into it”.
Maybe by the time he’s ready to wear real clothes again, he’ll fit into it properly.
It’s the beginning of the school year again (sort of), so that must mean that it’s time for me to make my kid another sweater. (Although, when is it not time to make him another sweater?) So far, every fall I’ve dipped into my stash and made him a sweater. And, they’ve all been from the same leftover yarn.
Honestly, at this point, I don’t even remember what the yarn is leftover from.
But, I do know it’s Knit Picks Hawthorne in a whole bunch of colors (mostly light blue, which thankfully looks really good on my kid, in my totally unbiased opinion). It’s a fingering-weight superwash wool that’s right in that sweet spot of soft and strong that makes it perfect for kid’s clothes. Plus, it’s Knit Picks, so it’s fairly cheap.
When he was a baby baby, I made him a “Christmas in July” Sweater. It might be my favorite sweater I’ve made for him (or in general, really). It’s super cute, I love the colors, and it was a super fun, quick knit (maybe because of the size). Unfortunately, because he was a big baby with a gigantic head, he grew out of it in about fifteen minutes.
Last year, when he was 1 and a half, I designed a sweater for him, based on the book Sheep in a Jeep (his hands-down favorite at the time, and still a winner, if I’m being honest). I loved the little radish design. (Also! Look at all that hair! So cute!)
And this year, I’ve broken out my stash of Hawthorne again, but this time, I’m keeping it simple. No color-work, just stripes. My current plan is to do a bottom-up raglan V-neck (just like the Sheep in a Jeep design, and perfect for active little kids with big noggins), with blue cuffs, collar and hem. But, I’ll be covering the whole body and arms with 2-row stripes, alternating between blue and the other colors I have in my stash. They’re kind of a disparate lot of colors- not necessarily something I’d put together normally, but I think using all the colors and alternating them with the light blue will make them come together.
And, heck, if it doesn’t, who cares?! He’ll be cozy either way.
Do you have a seemingly unending stash of a favorite yarn? What’s your favorite thing to do with it?
I’ve been all about instant gratification these days, in my knitting and in my day-to-day life. (I may have eaten an entire pan of brownies in the last 3 days. Don’t judge me.)
I set out all these goals at the beginning of quarantine that I was going to use this forced downtime to finish up projects that I’d been putting off/forgotten about. I was going to use up my stash yarn- after all, it’s not like I can just pop down to the LYS. And I have been responsible… somewhat. I’ve finished my shawl, and some socks, and have actually resurrected a quilt that I started working on almost 10 years ago (more on that later). But the last few weeks, all I want is a fun, quick, easy project in a soft yarn and a pretty color.
Luckily, I have/had a whole bunch of Knit Picks Provincial Tweed in my stash (one of my favorite yarns for baby clothes), and a couple of pregnant friends.
That’s right, I’ve dived right in and knit three more Flax Lights one after the other. Two were in the smallest size for new babies due this fall, and one in size 4-6 for my kid, who’s already on the edge of outgrowing his red sweater, even though he’s just over 2… he’s a lanky kid that won’t stop growing! (The big sweater is currently being worn by my kid who should be napping, but is rolling around his crib like a wild man.)
I think I’ve now knit…6? I think? Flax Lights for my kid and friends’ kids. They’re kind of the perfect baby sweater. There’s no buttons to fuss with. The back and front are the same, so you don’t have to worry about which way you put it on. The neck-hole is really generous (important if your kid has a melon like mine does). And it’s a quick, easy knit. I can do a baby size in about a week (a couple days if I put my mind to it).
And, the yarn I’ve been using (Provincial Tweed) is just a dream for kids clothes. It’s super machine-washable and dry-able(!). I’ve washed my kid’s sweater probably a dozen times and it just looks better and better. The yarn is super soft, perfect for sensitive kiddos. And (this might be gross), since it’s a tweed, it hides dirt surprisingly well if you can’t quite get to the laundry as quick as you want. (Note: it’s marketed as a worsted weight, but honestly, it’s more of a DK or even a sport. It’s perfect for this pattern, with no substitutions/alterations, but it’s important to know if you’re planning using it to sub for a different, worsted-weight yarn.)
Plus, now I have a whole herd of little kids/babies running around Seattle in matching blue sweaters! Adorable!
I’ve been cleaning out my studio (because what else are we supposed to do while still on lockdown?), and I’ve been discovering a bunch of half-finished projects. I found part of an afghan from 2013 (according to Ravelry), and two quilts in various stages of completion (one’s easily a decade old. I think I started it when I first moved to Seattle…).
And, I found a baby sweater! It was 99% finished. The ends were even woven in. It was so cute and tiny, and just was missing a few buttons and a block.
And I have ZERO memory of making it. I don’t know the yarn or the pattern, or when I made it or why. All I know is that it must have been made way before I had my kid, because it’s white. And who in their right mind would make a white baby sweater? Me, apparently.
But it’s so cute!
It’s got kind of a “1950s Letterman’s sweater” vibe and just needed buttons. I went digging through my button jar, and found 4 different sets, two sizes of white buttons, and two sets of gold ones (eagles and lions).
After a little debate between me and myself, I decided the lions were too perfect not to use. They’re a slightly warmer color than the eagles, and just so ridiculous. (Unfortunately, they’re completely impossible to photograph. You’ll just have to trust that they’re lions.)
And so, with about 15 minutes’ work (plus blocking time, I’ve got an instant preppy baby sweater!
Now just to wait for someone to have a baby (who doesn’t mind doing laundry).
Have you ever left a project unfinished for so long that you forgot all about it?
My Sheep in a Jeep sweater is done in time for our big Midwestern Trip for Thanksgiving! I’m going to have a very cozy (and dapper) boy.
Fair warning: these pictures are a little silly, because the kid is a little silly, and is incredibly interested in the camera clicking. Honestly, most of the pictures looked like this:
Looking for cars: (You can actually see the knitting in this one, if only the back. I’m so pleased with how the color work blocked out! I was worried it would be a little pucker-y.)
This is the face he’s started making when I ask him to “smile.” It’s not a real smile, but I love it very much. Silly boy.
Anyway, the verdict is: The sweater fits great, but still has a little growing room. The floats on the cuffs caught both of his hands as we were getting dressed this morning, which will be something to keep in mind in the future (hopefully they felt up a little). All together, I’d count it as a success!
Ooh, guys! My sweater is coming along great! In fact, I’ve finished the knitting! Woo hoo!
However, I’ve got two things standing in my way of being completely finished:
1. Ends. So. Many. Ends. 5 colors, three sections of sweater, plus Kitchener for the underarms and a few other odd ends from sleeves and collar and such. I really don’t want to weave them in. It seems unfair that you “finish” a project, then have to spend another three hours actually finishing it. A smarter person would have woven in the ends as they went. Sigh.
2. I’m a little worried about the floats, especially on the sleeves. I was really on the fence about adding the color work on the sleeves, but decided to go ahead and do it (which I’m glad about- I think it turned out really cute). But, those floats are kinda long, and my kid’s fingers are kinda small and prone to getting stuck in small places, so I worry about running into difficulty getting him dressed The only thing I can hope for at this point is that they felt up a little bit with wear. Because I’m not undoing and redoing them again. I refuse.
But, despite my whining and worrying, I really am pleased with how this sweater is turning out. It’s probably the cutesiest thing I’ve made for my kid (usually I dress him like a little old man). And the little radishes/turnips just make me so happy. It’s funny how fast I can get something done when I really enjoy the project!
Have you been working on anything particularly fun lately?