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Handmade for Baby

Baby Knitting Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Knitting Photography

Cadbury Purple for a Birmingham baby {handmade for baby}


My team at work is largely made up of happily married young women in their late twenties and early thirties so I think you could guess that we have quite a lot of maternity leaves.  In fact since I went off on maternity leave to have Kitty the team has had eleven children, with three more expected imminently. There are only 14 of us in total so it’s made quite an impact; rumours that my boss is considering rearranging the department to eliminate the “pregnancy pod” are though apparently unfounded.

I’ve knit for almost all of these babies, my own three obviously, but a smattering of little jackets and hats and bits and bobs have made their way around the team, and anyone I missed with their first baby because I was off with one of mine, I try to make sure there’s something for the second.  There’s only one girl who’ll need to have a third if she wants some knitting, but she’s said she wants five so I think I’m safe there.

But the knitting that’s kept my fingers flying over the past week or so is for a first baby, for my pod mate (as in we share a pod – we sit open plan in little pods that run out from the wall like the teeth on a comb) of whom I am very fond, and that makes the knitting all the more joyful.Space for the Butterflies - Wee Liesl

She knows that the baby bump is to a be a girl, and a tall one at that, and so knitting makes the perfect present, it’s so nice and stretchy it fits for so much longer than little babygros would.  It’s also a great excuse to break out my stash of Cephalopod Traveller, one of the most snuggly strokeable yarns I own (and now sadly discontinued), especially in a rich Cadbury chocolate purple, it’s practically lickeable.

Space for the Butterflies - Wee Liesl

Space for the Butterflies - Wee Liesl

I knit a short sleeved Wee Liesl for Elma a couple of summers ago, to go over one of her summer dresses and it was so pretty and sweet it seemed like the perfect choice to continue what is apparently quite a purple feather and fan knitting phase (stretching all the way back to Kitty’s birthday cardigan cast on between Paris and Annecy).

Space for the Butterflies - Wee Liesl

And when that was finished I eyed up the leftovers of that skein, and the skein I used to make another very special girl her first purple cardigan and decided there was just enough to squeeze out a hat.

Space for the Butterflies - Wee Liesl

I’ve wanted to knit the Woodland Sprite bonnet since I first saw it on someone’s blog but decided, somewhat regretfully, that it probably was just a bit too girly for Pip to carry off.  For baby girl bump however, that lovely rippling edging to the hood would be just the thing to echo the waves of the cardigan’s feather and fan.

That the pattern is written for a heavier weight yarn and different needles was not going to be a stumbling block, I finally had the perfect excuse to knit that hat so knit it I would.  And on 3.75mm needles, and an extra pattern repeat (6instead of 5), it came out the perfect newborn size.

the only conundrum was the closure.  I knit until there was barely enough yarn to graft the seam closed, trying to make it as big a hat as possible and all I was left with was half a dozen snippets, the longest of which can’t have been much more than six inches.

I thought about ribbon ties, but couldn’t find the ribbon, or a matching yarn, but couldn’t find anything to match, even in tapestry wool, so I went back to those scraps and painstakingly spliced each and every one together until I had one length of yarn, a little over 12″ long, just enough to crochet a tiny little button loop.

Space for the Butterflies - Wee Liesl

And with that, and an extra pale pink flowery button to match, the set was done, wrapped up in spotty tissue paper, and tucked in a bag to go into work.

She opened the hat first, and I had to stifle a smile at the happy reaction of the mama-to-be to just a hat, knowing what the other little parcel contained.  She’s promised to send me photos of baby girl bump wearing it, and even promised to try to get the bonnet on the right way round and you can’t say fairer than that!

Space for the Butterflies - Wee Liesl

Joining in with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams  for Keep Calm Craft On


Baby Knitting Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Kitty Knitting Photography

Another little pixie {handmade for baby}


With the end of term came our first ever round of teacher presents.  I don’t honestly remember giving my teachers presents at primary school, and only occasionally and towards the top of senior school but I think it’s a sweet idea and a great way to say thank you for Kitty’s lovely first term at school.  And this time at least it was easy to choose what the presents should be.  For her teaching assistant we went down the route of chocolates because frankly you can never have too much chocolate at Christmas, but for her teacher it had to be something handmade.

Space for the Butterflies - Another pixie hat

Or rather not exactly for her teacher.  Kitty’s wonderful, lovely, talented teacher headed off on maternity leave at the end of term and while part of me is a little gutted because Kitty adores her, we’re mostly delighted for her and the excitement that lies ahead, and a little bit impressed that she made it until the end of term given she’s due in the first week of January.  And with a sort of knitterly pavlovian response to the phrases “baby expected” and “present needed”, I pulled out needles and yarn (my favourite baby knit standby Baby Cashmerino), and, by Kitty’s request, the last pattern I knit for her baby brother.

And so as soon as I’d finished Elma’s birthday cardigan and with the help of a few long commutes for work on trains that only seem to run late, I knit and knit and knit some more.  The centre seam was grafted together on my lunch break, the neckband knitted while a clingy Pip snoozed in my lap but finally it was finished and it just needed one final adornment.

Space for the Butterflies - Another pixie hat

The button is the last of a set of china buttons that I bought on a whim at Waddesdon Manor years and years and years ago, definitely pre-Kitty and possibly by quite some way.  They’re the buttons that I’ve looked at for dozens of different projects and always said “no, not yet”, the nearest I’ve ever got to button collecting rather than simply keeping a stash of beautiful buttons on hand.  Two went on a blouse that I made for Kitty and which now sits in Elma’s wardrobe, one went on the cushion I made for Elma earlier in the autumn and now this final special little heart has gone to show just how much Kitty loves her teacher; I would not have parted with it for anyone less deserving.

Space for the Butterflies - Another pixie hat

And so it was wrapped up and taken into school and I watched as Kitty, reaching up on her tippy tip toes almost unnoticed, placed it gently on the top of the pile of parcels in her teacher’s arms before dashing off and in through the door for her last day of term.  And it almost doesn’t matter if she doesn’t like it.  It does a little bit because I like things to be liked when I’ve put all that effort in, but it told me that my daughter gets the value of knitting, that when thinking of something for a special present she wanted to give, she thought of a hat.

joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Crafting On

Baby Baby Knitting Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Knitting Photography

A very special baby surprise {handmade}


Space for the Butterflies - Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket

It’s no secret that I think babies should be welcomed with knitwear; soft cosy little bits and pieces to keep out the chill and to welcome them to the world wrapped in the well wishes of the friends who love them before they ever met them. But sometimes I get to knit for babies that are extra special. Babies whose parents’ road to parenthood has been paved with bumps and rocks and giant chasms that threatened to steal their joy and their hope.

It is a privilege to knit for those babies, to knit and have faith in the happiness that is coming, to put into every stitch the courage their parents showed, the love which surrounds their entire family, and all the good wishes I can muster for the future.  There is nothing I’d rather make, for all the technical whiz trickery in the world.

And at the end of September with the arrival of a dear friend’s little one rapidly approaching, I knit my favourite sort of knitting.  It was finished the evening before he was welcomed to the world, but I wasn’t going to spoil the surprise until I’d handed it over.Space for the Butterflies - Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket

Because of course, it was a Baby Surprise Jacket. From experience with my three I know it’s a really practical baby knit but the baby’s mama had her needles busy with a magnum opus of her own and wasn’t going to get to knit one, so it seemed the perfect choice.

The yarn is Cascade 220 Paints in Tropical Seas so it can be bunged in the washing machine when necessary, and in my button stash I found just enough of my favourite yellow fish buttons to do it up.

Space for the Butterflies - Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket

Earlier this week I got the chance to meet the young man and congratulate his very proud mama on making such a beautiful little person.  He is so small (by which we mean perfectly newborn baby sized), with teeny tiny hands, silky soft hair, and those dark newborn eyes that looked up at me with a frowning curiosity.

I am really pleased with how his jacket came out, and in time it will fit him (right now it looks like it might drown him) But the truth is that nothing I could ever make is as wonderful as seeing him safe and snug and here, and my friend blooming in motherhood.

Space for the Butterflies - Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Crafting On and Make Do & Push for Funky Kid Friday

Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Knitting

At long last {Miele Cardigan for Baby S)


Once upon a time a knitter discovered sock knitting.  `She saw how wonderfully soft and fluffy were the hand knit socks, and how toasty warm her feet were when she wore them and she was hooked.  Now Regia self striping yarn is a wonderful thing, and watching the stripes unfurl is extremely satisfying but our knitter dreamt of cables and lace and knot patterns and all sorts of wonderful things that would not show up knit in faux fair isle.  She saw on blogs all the wonderful of slightly varigated yarn, and heard tell of the softness and generally all round loveliness of the yarn in question, but as this was in the era before sock knitting really hit the big time Regia self striping was the be all and end all.  And then she went to a knitting show and saw, there on the stand before her, a pile of the holy grail.  A pile of tightly twisted skeins in all colours of the rainbow, all bearing the label “Lorna’s Laces“.

The sky could have opened at that moment, the heavens appears and a mass of celestial angels, cherubim and seraphim descended with a full orchestra singing tales of all things wooly and our knitter would not have noticed.  She was far too busy deliberating between all the different colours.  In the end she chose two and they were brought home, loved cuddled, adored and placed as the pinnacle of her yarn stash.

One colour way was knit up into a pair of socks that were made so long ago that they predate Ravelry (though for the record they are still going strong today) and the other, Irving Park, was precious.  It was the only remaining Lorna’s Laces in the stash, and this was also before the days of Paypal so getting more was a bit of a challenge.  And so it has sat there, loved, but never knit since *cough* 2006.  It was clearly waiting for something very special.

Space for the Butterflies - Miele Cardigan

And now I have knit it.  Knit it into a tiny little Miele cardigan for the first daughter for a dear friend and colleague of mine.

Space for the Butterflies - Miele Cardigan

The pattern is gorgeously dainty, without having too many lacey bits to catch on tiny fingers, and I love how the yarn has knitted up.  A lot of the time I try to avoid variegated yarn for anything other than socks, because sometimes it can pool awkwardly and push a gorgeous piece of knitting perilously close to the border between being handmade and looking homemade, but the knitting fates were in my favour and the colours just ripple from pink to purple and back to red.  It’s feminine without being screaming pink and the colours are lovely and warm so they won’t wash out a new little girl.  And because it’s Lorna’s Laces sock yarn it’s as soft as butter, it will go in the washing machine at 40, and it’s warm without being heavy, little miss isn’t going to get pinned down by the weight of her knitwear.

Space for the Butterflies - Miele Cardigan

All I have to do now is hope that it fits.  You see I know that Pip is generally considered a giant baby, and my girls really aren’t that far behind him on the centile charts but I’m rather hoping, nay praying, that not all babies arrive quite so big because the intended owner …..was born a month ago. And a bit.  Maybe another couple of weeks sort of a bit.


But as we’ve had some wonderfully glorious English weather of late I suspect even a little newborn won’t really have needed a wooly cardie.  Now that Wimbledon’s in full swing, and the Ashes has started it’s almost guaranteed to rain incessantly for the entire rest of the summer, it will keep her snug and warm while the storms rage.  After all, knitting stretches doesn’t it.

Space for the Butterflies - Miele Cardigan

Ravelry notes are here



Baby Knitting Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Handmade for Pip Knitting Pip

Oh Christmas Tree (Jumper) {handmade for Pip}


It was Christmas Eve Eve. I sat at my desk in the studio, in front of me, one piece of wrapping paper, Pip’s colour of washi tape and the last piece of the Christmas knitting, finished and ready to be wrapped.

Well sort of finished. Technically finished if we define finished as ‘finished with the knitting bit’ and entirely ignore the question of whether or not it has any buttons (it doesn’t – though I have sewn all the ends in and blocked it which has to count for something).

But enough of technicalities. Let me show you the third and final piece of my Christmas knitting list this year, an Anders jumper for Pip, knit from Rowan’s Baby Merino Silk DK in Snowdrop and Bluebird.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

All of my baby baby knitting has been fairly gender neutral, but by the time I was knitting for my girls at Pip’s size, if not precisely his age, well we weren’t in wall to wall pink, but the patterns are definitely feminine even if the resultant jumper is dark blue. And with the newly sorted stash just waiting to be turned into something lovely and wonderful what more excuse did I need to spend many happy hours looking through baby boy patterns on Ravelry and favouriting more knits than I could ever hope to complete before wearing something your Mum made becomes utterly unthinkable, even if I gave up on sleep entirely and either the yarn stash grew and/or I acquired sheep. Some of them might be more projects that I will dream of knitting rather than anything that I’m actually going to turn into reality, but Anders I knew I had to knit, to knit now, to knit for the most perfect Christmas jumper for my gorgeous little son.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Because it has Vikkle Braid (really easy to do and I love the way it looks), it has little fair isle bands on the sleeves, and most of all it has snow. Fair isle Christmas trees under a blanket of snow; it’s like a knitted version of what I’d really like to wake up tomorrow and find outside the windows (please little snowflakes, just wander a little further south, I promise the north won’t miss you).

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

As I said before, it doesn’t have buttons, that’s a couple of safety pins holding the placket closed, there should be three cute perfect little buttons up the front, but alas, my magical touch with the button jar seems to have run out; I found two that were just gorgeous, but not a third, and no one in their right mind goes into town on Christmas Eve just for buttons.  Well not when the jumper’s for a baby anyway.  Pip and I are going to have a great time choosing buttons in the New Year but there’s no hurry; given how little Pip is, the top button at least would just disappear into his chin so he’s probably more comfortable as it is anyway.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Based on a little bit of judicious measuring of Pip, a bit of guesswork and not a single swatch in sight I made the 6-12 month version and it fits the boy a treat; snuggly warm against the nippiest breeze and long enough that there’s a bit of room to grow before summer comes and all the knits get squished to the back of the cupboard.  This is the project that I cast on in the car on the way to a family party, with yarn given to me a couple of Christmases ago by Pip’s godfather. the project that I knit in odd moments; with a baby asleep in my lap, while the girls finished their lunch and chattered about our plans for the afternoon, or at the end of the day with the family asleep upstairs.  It has so many memories of our everyday knit into it, and even though I was working to a deadline and this was the last thing on the list, it never felt rushed or under pressure.

There have been years when I finished the Christmas knitting and crafting long before Christmas, but they haven’t been for a while, and even when I’ve finished the things that are for Christmas day itself there have been things for family that we’re not seeing until New Year’s Day that still needed finishing off. I sat by the lights of the tree on Christmas Eve knowing that for once everything was done; the house was clean and as tidy as it gets, the food was baked and prepped as far as possible, and there under the tree were three soft squishy parcels for my three children, and it felt wonderful, relaxed and happy in the anticipation of all the loveliness to come.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

It may have taken me five years, but perhaps for the first time I’ve finally made myself a Christmas knitting list that is actually reasonable and achievable, even if I did have to be rather ruthless with my dreams in the process. And there are two things that I now know.  One, the feeling of having everything done is very addictive and two, so is knitting those jumpers – Pip lovely, look away now, I think I know what you might be getting for Christmas next year.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

But based on current evidence – I think you might like it!