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Family Handmade

A slightly less teeny tiny baby knit {handmade}


You’ll never guess what I made this week!

As it turns out, when you make a baby jumper for your teeny tiny preemie nephew, and it actually fits (unlike anything else his parents have been able to lay their hands on), you might just get a little request for another one.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono in Rowan Pure Wool DK

Fortunately for the tiny nephew he is utterly irresistible and has his Auntie Carie well and truly wrapped around his unbelievable teeny little finger, and so I cast on.

I went stash diving for the yarn this time; in part because it was the Easter weekend and I wasn’t going near any good yarn shops, in part because even I must admit that my stash is not teeny tiny and the more I knit now the fewer boxes I have to justify when it comes to the big house move.  I also have some lovely yarn in the stash in small amounts so it’s a treat to pull it out and start knitting.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono in Rowan Pure Wool DK

It’s a gorgeous soft Rowan pure wool DK which might have been called Cloud.  I’d tell you for certain but despite repeatedly reminding myself to keep hold of the ball band, and being certain that I’d tucked it into the inside pocket of my handbag to make doubly sure, now that I’m sitting down to write a blog post I can’t find it for the life of me.  It will almost certainly turn up exactly as this post goes live and I will keep it as a reminder that I really really need to tidy my desk. Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono in Rowan Pure Wool DK

As for the pattern and the knitting, it’s more or less a case of rinse and repeat from last week.  Feedback from Rosie was that the buttons were a bit high on the first version where I’d set them in line with the side seam; not uncomfortably so, but enough to make the neckline a bit snug, so for this version I set them as low as possible, and slightly in from the seam to make it a bit bigger.  My theory is that if the body of the cardigan it a little on the baggy side that’s not the end of the world because they can always pad out the baby nephew with a vest and babygro and he’ll still keep toasty warm, but if the sleeves are too long they get in the way and get chewed on, and are no fun for anyone, so the sleeves are all exactly the same teeny tiny two inches as before.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono in Rowan Pure Wool DK

The buttons are likewise from the button jar (formerly my Mum’s spaghetti jar, now serving a much higher purpose) and I have absolutely no idea where they came from, nor why I have only two. As I usually buy random buttons in threes I can only assume that there’s a three button cardigan out there somewhere with dove grey spotty buttons, and they’re a lovely combination of fun without being overwhelming, so if I ever spot them again I’ll have to restock.

Without such pesky things as work to get in the way this took me precisely a day to knit, it went in the post on Tuesday as planned and is now being alternated with last week’s blue version while its wearer does a stunning rotation of growing, sleeping and eating while being generally adored by all and sundry.  One of these days when he’s big and strong and nearly as tall as me I’ll get him to hold them as proof that once he was so very small, but for now he has some growing to do. Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono in Rowan Pure Wool DK

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


Handmade Knitting

Tiny Baby Knits {handmade}


I didn’t start knitting after the phone call came, nor after the news came of my tiny nephew’s appearance in the world, or even after I’d been to see him.  He was still in an incubator, only just starting to wear a vest, and the world of a full set of clothing, including knitwear, seemed a very long way off.  But this boy likes to keep us all on our toes, and at a week and a half old he’d jumped through every milestone with flying colours and was on his way home.

Which is where I came in.  It’s a long running joke among knitters that it’s a good job our families don’t need us to knit their socks and hats and jumpers and the rest because we like making complicated things that can occasionally be abandonned in a fit of pique, rather than churning out workhorse woolies because winter is coming.  But when you’re trying to keep a teeny tiny wee boy snuggly warm, the problem is that you can’t get that many teeny tiny little knits.  It’s probably a lack of demand because there aren’t that many 3lb 11oz babies out and about needing to be kept warm.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono

In fact, Rosie thought she’d found exactly one cardigan, and even then it was a bit big.  It was never a matter of life or death or anything approaching ye olden days levels of discomfort; they have an excellent central heating system and lots of blankets.  But it is true that it’s easier to keep a baby warm if they’re tucked up in something that fits, and it has to be true that when you’re parenting a preemie baby that you’ve only just got to bring home from the hospital, and everyone’s first comment is how incredibly tiny he is, having him in a nice cosy cardigan that looks the right size must normalise the situation.  If his clothes fit, then it’s not too scary that he arrived at 34 weeks.

We found a pattern that she thought looked good that Wednesday night, I bought the ball of yarn on Thursday, knit all through Thursday evening and into a teeny bit of Friday until the yarn ran out, bought more yarn on Friday, knit on Friday evening, sewed seams, crocheted ties and sewed on buttons.

On Saturday morning I gave it as good a block as I could manage, hovering the iron just above it and pumping steam through until it looked nice and neat.  It isn’t as perfect as a wet block, but there was no time, and by midmorning Saturday it was in the post. Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono

The yarn is Rowan Baby Merino Silk. It’s a great yarn for baby knits because it’s machine washable, it’s as soft as butter, and natural fibres will help its tiny wearer regulate his body temperature.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono

The pattern is called Baby Kimono, it’s a free pattern and has plenty of small baby sizes starting with preemie, for a baby with a 12″ chest.  Aside from the yarn amounts being out by a shoulder and a sleeve, it’s a clever pattern, knit sleeve to sleeve, with a cross over front for extra warmth.

Knitting it took every ounce of willpower to overide my default settings of “just add a couple of inches”, in this case the sleeves are only two inches long, the fronts and back aren’t much bigger and I alternated between fear that it would be too small and fear that it would be too big.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono

For a sense of scale, I have medium sized hands.

In the end the only thing I could do was to wait; and on Monday I got this picture.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono

A perfect fit, anda picture that more than anything gives you a sense of just how small he is.  The model has now commissioned a second in a pale glacier blue which I’m aiming to put in the post on Tuesday so it’s time to get knitting again.

I’ve said before that to wear handknits is to be wrapped up in the love of the maker and it’s truer than ever in this case.  I’ve met the wee nephew but I couldn’t touch him (hospital rules about infection prevention), and I’m too far away now, and surrounded by too many miniature harbingers of germs of my own for us all to go and visit until he’s a bit bigger, both to see him, and to be a support for my sister, but this, this I can do.  Even a tiny jumper has hundreds of stitches, each a testament that he, and she, are so very loved.

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

Handmade Handmade for Baby Knitting

Iconic {handmade for baby}


As I darned in the ends on my first baby surprise jacket of this year (and my 16th overall) there was a little bit of me that wondered whether or not I should be branching out with my baby knitting; whether it’s a sign of creative malaise that I hear baby and start reaching for Elizabeth Zimmerman and some nice soft squishy wool.  The rest of me however, knew that this is not just any baby cardigan, this is an iconic knit.

So far there are 25,707 baby surprise jackets shared on Ravelry, and as Ravelry is a relatively new creation and the baby surprise jacket is not, this is probably only the tip of the iceberg.  Centuries from now, archaeologists will unearth hundreds of baby boxes across the world and find the same little jacket in every colour and fibre under the rainbow, and wonder whether we considered it a good luck charm.

The mama of this baby is a very dear friend of mine, and while the baby is so completely adored that there isn’t enough knitwear in the world to represent the love that greeted his arrival, I was never not going to knit him a little something.  The challenge for me is that his mama is also very stylish; we work together and she is always beautifully dressed and put together, in contrast to my slightly more ‘this is clothes, I’ll wear it’ attitude to fashion, and her creativity has full reign when it comes to interior design.

A baby surprise jacket was the only thing that could possibly keep up.

For the colours, I’ll admit I used cushions and crowdsourcing.  Over the years we’ve discussed dream houses, scoured RightMove for the fixer uppers we’d buy when we won the lottery and had lengthy discussions about wallpaper and curtains and all the colours we would use in our houses, and grey and mustard was a popular combination.  The crowdsourcing was the rest of the team who relayed back to me all insider information on colour, mostly, no all-out baby blue.

The yarn is a combination of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (the pale blue and grey) and Rowan Wool Cotton for the mustard.  They all knit together beautifully, and more importantly, they machine wash.

The stripe pattern is entirely random; it’s the joy of knitting something you don’t have to duplicate and I just changed colours to whatever felt right.  And the joy of the baby surprise is that I don’t think there’s a way to make one of these look bad.  I love the finished jacket, at least enough to entertain me through darning in all those ends, and I think it was a hit with its small owner.

And what’s more, I’m pretty sure that the 16th will not be the last.  Before the tiny nephew arrived, my sister had asked for one for him, and while he has some growing to do, I’m sure we’ll get there in the end.  It’s a testament to the lady who, in her words, ‘unvented’ it, that it’s both so practical that it gets requests, and so incredibly fun that you just can’t stop knitting them.


Spring Meadow Handspun {handmade}


If using sticks to turn string into clothes is magic, spinning is pure alchemy.  It’s not particularly difficult once you’ve got the knack, but taking fluff and coming out with good usable yarn makes you feel like you’re being very very clever.

My spinning wheel has mostly sat quiet since the babies started arriving; a spinning wheel in full flight has far too many little gaps irresistible to tiny fingers to say nothing of two rows of metal hooks whirling around on the flyer and it seemed far easier to stick with knitting and crochet for a while.  I’ve had it out for them occasionally; mostly to demonstrate ‘Wind the bobbin up’; if you’ve ever wondered what on earth that nursery rhyme it about, it’s spinning.  First you wind the bobbin up; the spin.  Then you wind it back again; plying.  Then you pull pull; after you’ve skeined the yarn and let it soak for a little you put your hands into each end of the loop and pull them apart to even the twist.  And clap clap clap; well to finish the yarn you grab hold of the loop of skeined yarn and thwack it against your kitchen cupboards or the fridge to felt it very slightly and help it all hold together.

Space for the Butterflies - Spring Meadows Handspun Yarn

I’ve no idea what the pointing to ceiling and floor is about, it’s probably weaving.

But the other day I realised that the children are old enough to be able to follow “keep your hands clear”, and I had an itching to do something even more calm and meditative than knitting and crochet, so I pulled out the wheel.  In my fibre stash I found a bundle of Falkland Merino, soft as butter and dyed into the Spring Meadows colourway by BabylongLegs.  I think I bought it at Wonderwool Wales years and years and years ago so it was high time it saw the light of day.

I had every intention of taking photos before and during the process but when the decision is between not spinning or no photos because all the best craft projects are started after dark, the startitis won out.  If you follow me on Instagram then you might have seen the work in progress on my stories.

Space for the Butterflies - Spring Meadows Handspun Yarn

I’m not sure what I’d planned for it at the time; most of my fibre was bought with the intention of turning it into sock yarn, and its true that the more you spin the thinner you end up spinning, and the more chance you’ve got of ending up with sock yarn, but for this I challenged myself to spin thicker, aiming for a DK-Aran sort of a weight.

Space for the Butterflies - Spring Meadows Handspun Yarn

I spun the whole lot onto one bobbin, then let it rest overnight and the next day Navajo plyed it back.  Chain plying is a lovely way to preserve the colour changes, although I’m never too precise about it and there are plenty of barber pole sections of brown into green or peach into yellow.

Space for the Butterflies - Spring Meadows Handspun Yarn

And once skeined and washed and dryed in the garden on a brisk Spring afternoon, it was finished.  I’m a little bit thick and thin on the spinning but it evened out in the plying and I’ve ended up with 124 yards of a gorgeous greeny orange brown that’s probably on the bulky side of aran at the very least.

Space for the Butterflies - Spring Meadows Handspun Yarn

So what is it to be? Well Kitty wants a hat or mittens, Elma just wants it to cuddle, and I think it might best suit the small Pip Squeak as the patterned yoke to a nice cosy jumper, possibly with cream as the background even if that is ridiculously impractical for a small boy.  I’m still waiting for the perfect inspiration to strike and then I’ll know exactly what it’s meant to be, so if you have any ideas, please shout them out.

Space for the Butterflies - Spring Meadows Handspun Yarn

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

Handmade Quilting

Spring Forest – December(!) in the Sugar Block Club {handmade}


Had I finished my SugarClub Blocks in December, Sugar Plum Forest, the final block, would have been gently seasonal, a hint to the Christmas decorations brightening up dark corners, adn perhaps I would have needed to find the darkest greens and blues to make them frosty and brilliant.

Space for the Butterflies - Sugar Block Club Sugar Plum Forest

But this is definitely a Spring sort of a quilt, and as it turns out, these threes are perfect for the month in which I finished the blocks.  They may be tall and pointy like a Christmas tree, but they’re covered in spring blooms and set on a carpet of tiny flowers and fresh new leaves breaking through into the sunshine.

Space for the Butterflies - Sugar Block Club Sugar Plum Forest

I love that some of my favourite fabrics managed to sneak in again right at the end.  The blue elephants that starts the year as a fat quarter is all but gone now, and the daisy tree trunks are the very very end of one of the first lengths of fabric that ever came to live in my stash.  Over the years it’s appeared in several quilts and other little projects and I’m both a little sad to see it go and glad that it’s in something we’re keeping.

Space for the Butterflies - Sugar Block Club Sugar Plum Forest

The tree blocks are all paper pieced, and with such skinny little bits as the tree trunks you really need it to stop the block skewing off to one side.  If I’ve got to grips with anything this year it’s the foundation paper piecing, and it does let you do some amazingly intricate work without too much hassle.  It’s also an amazing eater of fabric; I’m not sure I could ever make an entirely foundation pieced full size quilt but for a component part ….!

I think I’m going to say “never ever” and then I see things like the Forest Abstractions quilt and “never” becomes “quite possibly maybe”.

For now though, I’m finished.  Well sort of finished.

Space for the Butterflies - Sugar Block Club Sugar Plum Forest

24 blocks sit in a stack on the back of my desk.  A year and three months after I jumped into the SugarBlock Club on a whim, I’m finished.  That’s not a bad result for me, I’ve still got sock of the month clubs from before Kitty was born where I haven’t even wound the wool.

The next step will be to divide them into their two quilts, one block of each month in each, and then lay out their diamond shape.  What’s missing at the moment, aside from a lot of plain white blocks, are the blocks that will make up some pattern of little squares to break up the white.  I think I’ve got an idea in my mind as to how I want it to look but then I need to start cutting and sewing again and audition a few options.  I’m giving myself until Christmas to have these quilts wrapped up under the tree for the girls, which sounds like it’s a long way away but that’s two quilts, if I’m being fair then I really need to make three and do something for Pip too, and somewhere in all of this we’ve got to move house.

Space for the Butterflies - Sugar Block Club Sugar Plum Forest

Which is why the first thing I did once I’d finished these blocks was crack on with the rest pull out a box of Liberty print scraps and start playing around with an idea for the central block of a very delicate little lap quilt.

It’s going to be a busy year.

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