This is the first wearable item that I have made for Iris. I bought the yarn especially for her: a yummy and soft undyed organic cotton that is perfect for brushing baby cheeks, inside and out (Sprout in natural from the Verde Collection by Classic Elite Yarns, if you must know). The original plan was for a baby sweater, but she already has a couple of those and sometimes it’s rather annoying to stuff her plump little arms through the sleeves, so a capelet seemed like a nice alternative. Ideally, Iris can wear her capelet while she’s wrapped up in a down stroller bunting that I’m making for her out of a down comforter. That way her shoulders will stay warm without dealing with wriggling arms syndrome first thing in the morning.
Iris was also recently gifted the most adorable hand-crocheted baby hat from my friend Anna. While Anna can’t remember exactly what yarn she used, it looks identical to the organic cotton I used for the capelet, making them an entirely accidental matching set. Yes, those are tiny bear ears and teeny ear flaps! Basically Iris is a polar bear cub.
I somewhat followed the free pattern for the Baby Gaga Capelet by Gina Bonomo that I found through a search for baby capes on ravelry. To ensure that Iris could wear the capelet for a while, I increased the number of cast-on stitches to 72 on size 8 double-pointed needles (18/needle), followed by just over an inch of 2×2 ribbing, before starting the suggested pattern for increasing the number of stitches gradually (add two stitches at four even intervals around the cape every other row). Since I wanted the capelet to be a bit longer than the Baby Gaga version, I started increasing the number of rows between stitch increases, first to two (after ~2 inches, when I also switched to size 9 circular needles) and then three (after ~3 more inches). The shape of the capelet was just what I had in mind: it starts off getting much larger and then tapers down to follow the shoulders with enough room for flailing baby arms. By starting from the neck (unlike many of the baby cape patterns I looked at for inspiration), I could just knit until I used up two 100 g skeins of yarn.
For my second knitting project, I decided to step it up a notch and try something that, before finishing my fingerless gloves, would have made me run screaming in the opposite direction. But no more! I declare my fear of knitting patterns good and truly dead. Which is convenient, because there is a magical world of free knitting patterns online for anything you can imagine. In this case, the only thing I could imagine was a hat to keep some distance between me and what was quickly becoming a nippy November. Why does someone who grew up on the East Coast not own a hat? Good question.
After using cotton yarn for my fingerless gloves, I thought I would give wool a try. After all, nothing is so wool like a winter hat. To reduce scratchiness, I used a wool and bamboo rayon blend by Stitch Nation called Bamboo Ewe in the lovely grey shade Mercury. I had a 100 g skein and didn’t use all of it. For the pattern, I followed the Audrey Hat pattern from the Fringe Hatalong No. 1, mostly. I didn’t have the right circular needle size/length, so I was forced to knit the whole thing on double-pointed needles, and after finishing the ribbing, realized that there was no way I would be able to add the suggested number of stitches without having a good fraction fall off the needles mid-knit. After casting on 88 stitches (onto three needles) as called for, I added 8 more post-ribbing, one every 11 stitches, to end up with 96 total, which is evenly divisible by 12, the repeat length of the chevron pattern. Then I repeated the pattern three times for a fitted hat. Unlike the Hatalong pictures, my almost-Audrey hat clings to the head like a beanie. I don’t mind, it will stay on better that way.
By some miracle, my almost-Audrey hat and fingerless gloves both match one of my favorite scarves beautifully. Almost all of my yarn was gifted from my mom’s extensive collection, providing limited color choices, but in this instance it worked out. Unfortunately for the future tidiness of our apartment, my yarn stash is growing at a much faster rate than my knitting projects are completed. In fact, since starting to knit again, I have pulled out as many knitting projects as I’ve finished (the ear-warmer headband was sacrificed in place of a proper hat and the boot toppers were too thick to fit between my calves and boots). Oh well, it means I’ve practiced following a couple more patterns, learned that I much prefer knitting in the round to knitting on straight needles, and that I don’t know nearly enough about knitting yet to make up my own patterns.
I was on vacation for all of August. Oh glorious vacation! It was likely the longest stretch of not-working that I will have for quite a few years, so I thought I would take full advantage of it by re-learning how to knit. You see, I first learned to knit when I was in first grade (the joys of Waldorf school), and by the time I was in third grade I could knit on double-pointed needles in the round to make things like adorable strawberry doll hats with little black seeds (something like this). Then I went to normal school and promptly forgot my knitting skills. Thankfully it wasn’t all wasted: I still remembered how to knit and purl, and could sort of eek out how to cast on and off. But I couldn’t follow a knitting pattern and I had completely forgotten how to knit on anything but two single-pointed needles. Having learned how to knit without following a pattern herself, my mom insisted I start knitting from a pattern immediately so that I could regain my knitting skills and not be stuck struggling to follow a pattern as a very proficient knitter like she had been for most of her life.
My first knitting project was a pair of fingerless gloves in a yummy cafe au lait colored cotton yarn. They are knit using a garter rib pattern that stands out nicely with a solid color. This is really my practice pair of gloves for fall and spring weather. The second pair will be knit using a warmer wool blend for winter. I used the Ribbed Mitts pattern from Knitsimple Gifts to Knit in a Weekend! without any crochet finishing. I used worsted weight (size 4) 100% cotton yarn and four size 7 double-pointed needles. The garter rib stitch is knit three, purl 1, repeat for the first row and knit for the second row. The thumb hole is created by binding off some stitches (5 in this case) at the beginning of the round and casting the same number of stitches on again at the beginning of the next round. The default sizing of 36 stitches cast on at the beginning (12 stitches per needle, three increments of the pattern knit 3 purl 1) and 6 inches until the thumb hole with a remaining two inches to cover the palm worked perfectly. If I make some for Peter I would increase the number of cast on stitches (the circumference of the glove), increase the length over the palm, and make the thumb hole wider.
If this pattern is too complicated for you, consider the following: knit a square, sew up one side to make a tube leaving a hole for the thumb, and you’re done! It was when I told my mom that I was making another pair of these “square gloves” that she absolutely insisted that I had to use a pattern or I would never learn. As always, she’s totally right, and I’m now smitten with knitting patterns.