Posts tagged ‘baby gifts’

Knitting Season Begins

I can finally get back to blogging about my craft projects!  I don’t want to go anywhere near knitting during the summer, but almost overnight we went from 80 degrees to 40 degrees around here, so suddenly knitting seems like a good idea again.

I have a lot of knitting projects lined up — mostly Christmas decorations and presents — but I had a few projects that I needed to get out to people quickly.  A good friend from high school (K) has a 3-year-old daughter, E, who has been having a rough time recently.  I decided that I needed to knit her a hat and a toy to go with it.  Another friend’s mom is going through chemo, and she put out a request for hats, so that seemed like another good project to work on quickly.

I had seen a yarn store not too far from my house a few months back, but I hadn’t been in yet.  I decided to go check it out, both to get yarn for the toddler hat, and to scope out whether or not there was a knitting group nearby.  I have definitely missed having a group to knit with, and I figured it wuld be a good way to try and make some local, IRL friends.  It turned out there is a knitting group that meets at the shop on Thursdays, so I got to kill two birds with one stone — make new friends, and knit E’s hat!

I wanted something very soft and fuzzy for E’s hat, and I found an unusual yarn.  I discovered later that it is designed to knit up like terrycloth, but this is what it looks like:

fuzzy yarn

I haven’t worked with a lot of fuzzy yarns before, but I knew that it would be a little challenging.  The fuzziness makes the individual stitches impossible to see.  It also could be less yarn than it looks like, so I asked the shop owner whether I could get a toddler hat out of a single skein.  She said to buy a second skein to be safe, so I did.
I got to the knitting group late, and missing most of my materials.  I had all my needles, but forgot the rest of my toolkit, and the pattern book I typically use as a guide for hat measurements.  But I have knit so many hats in the past, I figured it would be no big deal to do this one off the cuff.  I did have to ask the store owner for the appropriate circumference of a toddler hat so I could get started, but that was no big deal.
The first problem I ran across was figuring out my gauge.  I started to knit a swatch, but I couldn’t see the individual stitches to tell how many I had per inch.  I tried to guess, and was waaaay wrong the first time — when I saw the knitting start to curl up on my round needles, I knew it was much too big.  When I took it off the needles, it was at least 40″ in circumference!  So I eyeballed it, and the second time I got roughly the right size.
Then, as I started knitting, I realized that I was going to have a hard time ribbing the edge of the hat, since I couldn’t tell my stitches apart.  I typically use ribbing or seed stitch on the edge of hats to keep the rim from rolling up.  But I had a hunch that this yarn might not roll.  More consultation with the store owner and looking up some patterns using that yarn confirmed that it shouldn’t roll, so I could do stockinette stitch for the whole hat.  And the best part of the yarn was, even though I was halfway through my first row, no one would ever know that I was switching from ribbing to stockinette!
The last problem I ran into was the decreases.  I first learned to make hats by doing regular decreases up to the crown, making a smooth, beanie-style top, rather than the gathered top that is created by doing a rapid decrease at the end.  I never use stitch markers for this, and don’t even own any, because I am used to being able to see where my decreases are.  But that was impossible with this yarn.  So I needed stitch markers to keep tabs on where my decreases would go.  And the great thing about knitting in a yarn store — I was able to buy stitch markers on the spot!
Despite having to start twice, I had most of the hat done by the time I left the sit and stitch.  I just needed to switch to double-pointed needles for the final decreases.
On Saturday, I sat down and decided to finish E’s hat.  It took less than half an hour.  I realized once it was done that I hadn’t upped the number of decreases quite enough at the end, which had resulted in a pointed top, but it looks adorable, so I decided to keep it.  The best part is, it looks good whether you roll the bottom or keep it straight.

straight brim

rolled brim

In the process of gathering up my knitting materials for the sit and stitch, I had discovered an unfinished hat I was knitting for T last spring.  So I picked it up and started working on it again.  Apparently, I had run out of the black yarn I started with, and continued with a different black yarn.  It resulted in a black striped look that I really like.  Something awfully strange had gone on with the knitting a row or two below where I picked the project up again — it looks like I pulled out sone stitches and picked them back up twisted — but it took a while for me to notice it, so I didn’t go back and fix it.  It took an hour or so to finish this project, and when it was done, it looked like this:

black striped hat

Finally, I decided to work on the hat for my friend’s mom.  I hadn’t used the whole first skein for E’s hat, so I decided to use the second skein for this.  I know that it will look goofy instead of elegant, but I thought the yarn would feel really nice against her head.  But I was afraid that there wouldn’t be *quite* enough yarn for an adult-sized hat.  So I looked through my stash, and found some super-silky fuzzy yarn that I picked up during a stash swap.  The green would go well with the baby blue yarn, and I thought a stripe would help the hat look a little bit more grown-up, while also helping stretch the terrycloth yarn.  This time, to get my gauge (since I never really figured it out last time around), I knit a swatch of 10 stitches.  Ten stitches was a little less than 4 inches wide, so to make a 21-inch circumference hat I cast on 56 stitches.  The silky green stuff was SO silky it was difficult to knit with — I was glad that I only had a few rows worth of it.  But I think the finished hat will be really nice and cozy!  I tried not to make it too long, so she wouldn’t have to roll up the brim.  I also went with the quick decrease, so there’s a little bit of gather at the top.  Even after making a full-sized hat, I still have some yarn left over.  I hope it fits and she likes it!

chemo cap

The next thing I need to make is a stuffed toy to go with E’s hat — I have a pattern for a cute little frog that I think will be perfect.  And my plan is, with the little bit of fuzzy yarn I have leftover, I will make him a hat that looks just like hers.  I don’t have enough green yarn to do him all in the same yarn, so I decided to wait until next Thursday and buy a new skein at the next sit and stitch.  I can hardly wait!


Adjustable Baby Hat, Take 2

So, I have beem MIA for a little while.  Work has been crazy with a bunch of winter fieldwork, then I started a scuba certification class, then I got sick.  I took a full weekend to lay on the couch and recover; now, after half a week back in the office, I finally have something to blog about.  That people might care about reading, at least.  *smile*

I have another work baby shower coming up in a week or so, but T’s receptionist decided to have her baby girl last weekend.  He asked if it would be a good idea for us to send her a card, and it suddenly occurred to me that a knitted baby gift would be a good idea!  Fortunately, her new daughter M was only about 5 lbs at birth (neither mom or dad are big people) so I could knit an adorable hat especially quickly.

M’s mom is a girly girl, so I knew a green-and-orange baby hat for her new daughter wouldn’t be her thing.  I did find some nice blue-and-purple variegated yarn in my stash, and a little bit of extra purple trim it pushed it over the edge from baby-boy to girly purple.  I decided to take another stab at the newborn adjustable hat that I had problems with a few months ago.  Last time, I used the 15″ diameter suggested for an infant hat in one of my knitting books, instead of the 11″ diameter in the pattern.  But I forgot to lengthen the hat to match the diameter, so it ended up very wide and shallow, even on the last set of eyelets.

This time, I went with a 13″ diameter, knowing that M is still very little.  I took the dimensions for the pattern (11″ D and 3.5″ L to the first set of eyelets) and figured out that the diameter-to-length ratio was about 3.15.  With a 13″ diameter, a 4″ long first eyelet round would be about a 3.2 ratio, which I figured was close enough.  I knew I didn’t have quite enough yarn, so I only managed 2 rounds of eyelets, with the planned purple trim.  I also decided that, due to the scale of the hat and the chunkiness of the purple yarn, I would just braid the cord instead of knitting an I-cord.

The finished hat is small, and very cute.  I think it should fit, but unfortunately not for long.  The first set of eyelets is still too short, and therefore the hat isn’t actually going to be adjustable at all, which is too bad.  I’m sure she’ll grow just as quickly as most babies do, and I wish I could knit a hat that would last longer than most.  I’m going to have to keep working on this pattern until I manage to perfect it!

I have a different hat planned for the shower that’s coming up, so I won’t be able to try again right away.  But that means another knitted baby gift post coming soon!

More Baby Gifts

One of my coworkers, B, is going to be a dad for the second time, and we had a baby shower for him, his wife, and their son last Friday.  There were several of us scrambling to get gifts knitted and crocheted in just a week’s time, even though we’ve all know for months that B’s wife was pregnant.  I decided to go with my traditional hat, and something else.  Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, I started surfing for free baby gift patterns, and found a whole bunch to choose from.  I decided that a bib sounded like a good idea, so I started looking at designs.  I came across a really cute pattern called Hippity Hop by Elaine Fitzpatrick.  During my search, I also stumbled across a pattern for a newborn adjustable hat by Frugal Knitting Haus, which sounded like a brilliant idea.  I started out by knitting the hat.

flat hat
cinched hat

The idea is, you knit a tube with three sets of eyelets at the top.  Then you thread a crocheted chain or an I-cord through the different sets of eyelets to adjust the size of the hat.  Pretty simple, but brilliant concept!

Well, as usual, I was working from my stash, so I had smaller gauge yarns than what was in the pattern.  When I tried to do the conversion, I realized that the hat circumference in the pattern was only 11 inches.  I cast on, and after one row it was obvious that 11 inches was simply way too small.  I checked out my go-to pattern book, and discovered that their preemie size started at 15 inches in circumference.  So I started over with the larger size.
I followed the rest of the pattern faithfully, cast off, made my I-cord, and then tried out the middle set of eyelets.  And then it became obvious that I should have adjusted the length of the tube along with the width.  Unless the lace was on the uppermost set of holes, the dimensions of the hat were all wrong.  Plenty wide, but much too shallow.  So next time around, I’ll adjust for the length too and I think it will actually be capable of adjusting.  But even with only one available size, I think the hat is pretty darned cute.
Then I went to pick up some cotton yarn for the bib.  I had already chosen light yellow, dark orange (I know, the pictures make it look red), and light pink for the hat, since I like color schemes that aren’t either all blue or all pink for babies.  I didn’t think the pattern on the bib would show as well on a variegated yarn, but the only options for solid yarn in those colors were bright orange or really hot pink.  So I went for a bright green — I figured, it’s not like you expect a baby to wear their hat and bib at the same time. 
Hippity Hop bib

Hopefully you can see the pattern — I had a hard time getting a picture where the texture would show.   It’s a super-cute little bunny with one ear up and one down.  The pattern has two ways of starting from the bottom, and I opted for the short row beginning, which was easy to follow.  The remainder of the pattern was flawless, assuming of course that I could keep track of exactly which row I was on and where I was in any given row, since the pattern doesn’t repeat. I opted for the all-cotton yarn, although the pattern recommends using a washable wool if you are planning on using the bib as a drool bib, rather than for food.  I knit it up in a single night, so even with a more complicated pattern, it was pretty quick to make.

I’m not sure that my little gifts were as impressive as the full-sized crocheted baby blankets made by my coworkers, but at least B’s wife is a knitter and understood the work that went into all the handmade gifts.  And hopefully their little girl will enjoy using them when she gets here!

Baby Gifts!

I found out recently that one of my cousins is having a baby girl, and her baby shower is coming up at the end of the month.  For years, I gave everyone the exact same knitted baby gift: a hat and matching booties.  But recently, I’ve started experimenting a little with some other things as gifts.

Unless it is absolutely necessary, I always make baby gifts from my stash.  I have bought several skeins of baby-friendly yarn over the years, and rarely use it all in one project, so I like to mix and match and recombine what I have.  I realized this time around that I had a whole rainbow’s worth of baby yarns in a similar weight, so I decided to make a rainbow hat.  But there wasn’t quite enough to add matching booties.  There also wasn’t quite enough of the pink and heather chunky yarn I used on a bunny blankie for a coworker’s baby gift to make another one of those.  And then, as I was rooting through my stash, I found the cat toys.

But you don’t have a cat, you point out.  Why do you have cat toys in your yarn stash?

Well, thanks to L, a master knitter and amigurumi afficionado in my former Fabulous Fibers knitting group, I have cat toys.  Because they are the basis for knitted toadstool baby rattles that are just the absolute cutest thing ever.  L made a few, as did M from the same group, and I just thought they were amazing.  And I definitely had enough yarn to make one!

I went online and found the pattern at the purl bee.  And then I made it.  And here’s how they both came out:

hat and rattle

To be honest, I’m not really sure it’s my best work.  I always have trouble with rolled brims, for some reason, and you can see the single row of ribbing that is supposed to help stop the roll. I had to go with a chunkier yarn for the “sky,” and maybe that’s why the roll didn’t work perfectly.  I did manage to increase and decrease as I was going in and out of the rainbow to make sure the hat didn’t shrink in the middle.  Had I gone with thinner color bands, I could have gone for a double rainbow hat, but I went wider instead, and it took up more of the body of the hat than I’d intended.  And I kinda wish I had some white yarn, so I could add clouds somehow.  I have no idea if my cousin will like a rainbow hat for her baby girl, but I figured, the baby’s room is going to be decorated in Hello Kitty, so it’s probably okay.

As for the rattle, I think it came out pretty good, although I was trying to adapt to a different gauge and only the horizonal gauge was provided in the pattern, meaning I just kinda winged it.  So I think the cap should be a little bigger to fit the stem more proportionally, and the rolled brim of the cap should be a little more robust.  And I also wish I could have used slightly more realistic colors, since it ended up looking like a mushroom out of Mario Brothers or something.  But I like how the spots turned out — they recommend a technique I hadn’t used before, duplicate stitch, where you essentially embroider the pattern on after the fact.  It was a little tricky, but I liked the variability of the spots.  But what I really hope is that my cousin likes them!

The best part of this pattern, for me, is the fact that it’s botanically accurate!  You have ribbing under the cap for the gills, and a little band of garter stitch for the ring.  That’s part of why I think more naturalistic colors would look really nice.

Finding all the boxes with my knitting and books was probably the hardest part of the whole project.  But now that the weather is cooling down and I have them out, I think I’m gonna keep coming up with projects to work on.  Like that really cool stash-buster scarf pattern M gave me last spring… *rubs hands together with anticipation*  Can’t wait!