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Handmade for Baby

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.

Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Knitting

The sky at the end of the sunset {handmade for a baby cousin}


Not only has Kitty grown out of the size range of most of my favourite children’s clothes shops, only squeezing into Frugi by the skin of her teeth, but Pip, my tiny little giant two year old, is now out of the baby ranges too.  He’s wearing an aged 4, and we’re most definitely and sturdily into the big boy clothes.  We shall allow a moments pause to think of all the cute and tiny baby clothes that must be ignored by my radar, and then brighten up to the thought that at least he likes mama-made shorts, roll on the summer.

With their sizes going up in leaps and bounds so has the length of time it takes me to knit them a jumper.  My, as always, overly ambitious plans for Christmas will almost certainly end up with my presenting Kitty with three skeins of yarn and a promise; I’ve finished Elma’s birthday jumper, am still on the yoke for her Christmas cardie and then I’ve just got to knit up Pip’s an we’re all done. In 23 days.  Totally doable, yes?

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

In the meantime, and I’m sure with no intention but to supply me with tiny adorable people to knit for, my friends and family have continued the tiny baby boom.

The latest addition to the family, utterly adorable in every single way, arrived at the beginning of November, after much patience was exercised by her mama and much facebook stalking by the rest of us.

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

And of course she needed a knitted hug just as her big brother did before her, and I got to spend a happy hour rifleing through the stash looking for the perfect yarn, and then finding a pattern to match.

The yarn is a smooshy plump Fyperspates Vivacious DK in Peacock, a very feminine blue with hints of purple; the sky at the very end of the sunset. The pattern is Olinda, a little swing  cardigan with a nice soft garter stitch yoke near the face to rest your cheeks on and then cables running away down the cardigan.

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

Well sort of cables.  They give the impression of cables, but there’s nothing more twisty in any of them than a k2tog so there are no lumpy crossed stitches to play princess and the pea if its tiny wearer wanted to have a little lie down.  The cables also conceal the increases in the gaps between them that lend it the swingy shape; they just expand gently down the cardigan in a way that as a knitter makes you feel very clever.

I don’t think I changed anything in the pattern, or if I did it wasn’t so big as to merit my actually making a note of it so we’ll go with no changes. The pattern comments on Ravelry give the impression that it’s a fiendishly difficult pattern but while I wouldn’t recommend it as the first thing you try to knit ever, if you can read your knitting you’ll have no problems and this little cardie whizzed off the needles.

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

For the finishing touchI went diving into my button jar to see what would work best.  It turned out to be just nice simple little magenta buttons that hold their own but let the cables and the colour shine out.

And once it had had a nice little wash and block to ease those cables out to their prettiest arrangement, off it went in the post to give the new little lady a giant welcome to the family and a warm and wooly hug by proxy.

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday


Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Knitting

Horsey, horsey {handmade for the baby girls}



Once upon a time, there were two little girls.  Two brand new ever so little little girls in fact.  And as we all know, new little people need knitwear, even if they do happen to be born right in the middle of the summer.

There was only ever going to be one theme for these knits. The girls’ mummy is completely head over heels in love with horses, to the point of choosing exactly which Shetland pony she’d have in the garden for her children if only they could get it to London – and have enough garden.  So I looked and looked and looked around Ravelry for every sort of baby jumper or cardigan ever thought up that was horsey themed until I found Roo Designs Pony Pullover and knew it was the one.

Or rather, the two.


The pattern is written as for aran weight yarn with Takhi Cotton Classic as suggested yarn, but knit on 4mm needles.  I think it’s one of those occasions where only the specified yarn will actually give you the right tension, it falls right between anything I can usually manage for either DK or Aran, but as the smallest size was an age one, and I really wanted a six month sort of size, I went for DK and 4mm needles, knowing that it would turn out smaller than expected.  I knit the back and front and sleeves an inch shorter than the pattern and it all looks perfectly proportionate.

The yarn is Rico Classic Merino, chosen mostly for the gorgeous deep green. Kitty came with me on a wool shopping expedition and she and I went back and forth picking out the colours for the stripes.  I wanted matching but not matching, something that says “little girl”, without saying “never in the world have you seen as much pink as I am wearing right this moment!”, something that could hold its own against the green, and not overwhelm the blue for the horse.


The first combination is strawberries and the yellow of the top of proper clotted cream, pure summer in knitwear, and the second is moving into autumn, blackberries and elderberries, and for some reason it reminds me of Black Forest Gateau, but that may just be association with the place where much of it was knitted.


The front and back are knit flat and then seamed, and in the original pattern the sleeves and neckband are too but I like baby knits to be as seam free as possible so I sewed up the shoulders and side seams first and knit the rest in the round.  It’s a little bit fiddly managing jogless stripes with the first few sets of decreases but after that it’s easy.


I am really pleased with the way they turned out, pleased and not a little relieved because it’s been a while since I did any intarsia, and when I was half way up a horse, with an entire flock of mini balls of yarn tumbling and tangling with every stitch, I began to have serious doubts about whether this had been a good idea.  It’s amazing what a difference it makes to weave in the ends and block it; suddenly what was looking a bit lumpy and bumpy and very much not my best work, becomes smooth and even. Even then, I cheated on the eye, and put it in with duplicate stitch later!


I finished the first in July but the second got pushed back and so it wasn’t until September that I could finally put them in the post and send them off.  It doesn’t matter in terms of their small owners being too big for them, there’s more than enough to grow, but the thing is, there’s an old wives’ tale that babies wait for their knitwear, that the baby will come when the knitting is ready; and certainly my nephew was born only hours after I finished his cardigan.  I’ve always made huge efforts to make sure the knitting for my babies will be ready for them and I try to do my best to be ready for the other babies I knit for.


That the twins arrived before I was finished was no surprise, especially after I had to down needles for so long in July and August.  But I do wonder whether I ought to be extending an apology to their poor mother after the girls hung on for a really, really, really long time, eventually arriving well past 40 weeks.  If it was the knitting that did it, I’m really sorry – hopefully the jumpers make up for it.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday



Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Knitting

Camilla Babe {handmade for baby}


Let me tell you the worst kept secret among knitters – knitting for babies isn’t fun just because baby knits are small and cute and easy to make and you can finish them almost before you’ve thought of starting them.  It is all of that, don’t get me wrong, but if you’ve ever snuggled a baby in a hand knit jumper you’ll know there’s something just so squishably cuddleable about a wool-clad baby that you’d never want to put them down.  Baby knitting calls for the softest of soft soft yarn and so for the second baby knit of the summer I returned to one of my all time favourites (Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran) in a deep blackcurranty purple that is utterly gorgeous in it’s own right, and will also go nicely with all the dinosaur handmedowns from its new owner’s big brothers.

Space for the Butterflies - Camilla Babe by Carrie Bostick Hoge

It’s been a little while since I knit for a baby girl (and it was in purple that time too) so I spent many happy hours searching Ravelry for the perfect pattern, one that said “adorable baby girl” without being overly flouncy and frilly, one that was nice and practical both to knit and to wear, and one that would suit her mama’s excellent taste in children’s clothes.

Space for the Butterflies - Camilla Babe by Carrie Bostick Hoge

I do usually make cardigans as baby knits because for newborns a jumper is a massive faff, you want to be able to get it off and on easily, and unbutton it if they fall asleep and get a bit hot, and leave it unbuttoned if they’re anything like my three and think milk is a gift to be returned as soon as possible.  But once I started to realise that it wasn’t very practical to be planning baby knits for a nice hot English summer either, and that a six month size was a much better bet, suddenly the field of jumpers opened up again.  At 6 months jumpers have always seemed more practical to me, for pretty much all the reasons that they don’t work so well for newborns, especially as my little ones had a well practiced habit of crawling out of their clothes whenever possible.  And so I came back to Camilla Babe, the teeny tiny version of Carrie Bostick Hoge’s grown up Camilla.

Space for the Butterflies - Camilla Babe by Carrie Bostick Hoge

I had so much fun knitting this jumper it took all my willpower not to dash out to buy the yarn to make a bigger one for Elma (in soft sea green – I’m already planning it for her birthday!).  Even in the round garter stitch knits up a treat and the pattern was easy enough that I could memorise it and carry it around with me.

Space for the Butterflies - Camilla Babe by Carrie Bostick Hoge

And so this little jumper has been knit in our garden, on the train to and from work, in the car, and even on the beaches of South Devon, and then it was washed (a lot), blocked, and left to dry.  The blocking just pulled the feather and fan pattern into shape and gave it its lovely curvy front and then it was ready to be sent on its way south, to a little girl who, given the weather of the last week, is not going to leave it for some time to come!

Space for the Butterflies - Camilla Babe by Carrie Bostick Hoge

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


Baby Knitting Elma Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Kitty Knitting Pip

Hugs and Kisses Milo {handmade for baby}


A few years ago I picked up a ball of soft squishy crushed strawberry red wool to use as stripes in a baby project but it had looked all wrong so I rolled it back up again and tucked it away in the corner of the stash. Which turned out to be kismet because it was the perfect yarn to knit up a little last minute baby present for the next one of my colleagues to head off on maternity leave.  This is her second baby and I figured that as she’s with me in the wait and see camp, she’ll already have all the gender neutral baby cardigans she needs.  But it’s been a chilly start to the year, and a teeny tiny new person might just want a little extra layer to keep their tummy warm while we wait for the spring.


I knit a Milo for Kitty out of some handspun when she was only a few months old and five years it’s kept her toasty, and her sister and now her brother, even though he is a few sizes bigger than it’s supposed to be!


And as well as being stretchy it’s a really great pattern to knit, no seams, not even any picking up, just nice plain simple knitting with a few increases along the way, exactly what I needed as medicinal knitting over the last few weeks.20160127-DSC_0079

This is the newborn size, small and sweet and very snuggly.  I love knitting with yarn that you know will make the wearer even more cuddly and the Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK is exactly that.


It wasn’t finished in time for daylight photography and even adjusting my settings for the colour of the light and all the rest of it, there’s something about electric light that just sort of flattens any texture, so the cables don’t show up very well in the photos.  They’re hugs and kisses (oxox), exactly what this lovely new baby is going to be smothered in.

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