FO Friday: Baby, Baby

My blog post that has had the most traffic in my four years of blogging has been the one where I posted my family’s baby booties pattern. My mom, aunt and grandmother churned out these booties for every infant that they came into contact with. Kick proof booties, they were treasured by all, and eventually I also began to knit up these cuties for all babies near and far.  I first wrote about the baby booties in a post I called Swedish Knitting Genes, and then put up a tutorial showing how the booties are knitted in a follow up post, Swedish Family Bootie Pattern. I’m still making these booties and have begun casually selling them to people who ask for them.

I get kind of bored knitting the same old booties, though, so I tend to mess around with the pattern each time I make a pair. When Misty, the office manager at the shop where I take my car for its routine maintenance, contacted me for booties and a hat for a new niece on-the-way, I  decided to make a set with lace.

Pink yarn.
First task: a dive into the stash to find some baby girl yarn. Why look at this… Hedgehog Fibres pink yarn just waiting to become pink lace booties.

Misty approved the color of this yarn, so I cast on and got started.

Finished baby booties.
I used a simple 6 stitch lace repeat for the top of the booties. Cute, huh. My Ravelry project notes are here. I have the pattern for the lace and the modifications to the original booties pattern in the notes.

The hat to match these booties was something of a problem for me. I had made a bootie/hat set for this baby girl’s older brother a couple of years ago, and that hat was too small! I then adapted and panic knit a new hat using the Easy Peasy Newborn Sock Hat pattern to make it a little larger and with a ribbed brim, which fit the baby much better. Whew. Here’s the set that I made for that baby boy.

Knowing that this new baby sister would probably have a larger head I wanted to make a hat that matched the lace topped booties and would also have some slight adjustment to the brim size.

Baby hat.
Here it is! What do you think?

I adapted the Easy Peasy hat by moving up to 2.5mm needles and casting on more stitches (102). I used the same lace as the booties on the brim of the hat, and then added a row of eyelets to accommodate the I-cord tie. Easy, peasy girlie hat. Here are the project notes on Ravelry, and I put into the notes my modifications to the original pattern. I can’t wait to hear back from Misty how this fits the baby.

By the way, last weekend was a little rough; my younger son was hospitalized with complications of diabetes. Once again, knitting saved the day as I sat with him that first night in the hospital.

Knitting at the hospital.
Knitting through all crisis…

It is so good to be a knitter. Calming, portable, and always ready to go.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Cats, Mitts, and Baby Booties

The weather continues to be cold here. It is too cold (and snowy) for the cats to go outside so they have been hanging out upstairs on my bed. OK, the truth is that these two boys aren’t really the best of friends. Yellow Boy (AKA the PuffMuffin) steals all of MacKenzie’s kitty treats and hogs the toys. MacKenzie beats up Yellow Boy when he’s feeling grumpy. When he is cold and can’t go outside he is grumpy a lot. Life is tough for Yellow Boy on snowy days… And yet, here they are huddled together on the bed looking miserable together…

Cold Cats
Only these two would sleep back-to-back trying to stay warm. That little red feather comforter just isn’t cutting it anymore I guess…
Happy Cat
So I went shopping for a new warm throw to put on the bed for them. Instant hit!! Can you feel the purr through the screen? 

Happy (and warm) cats means that I got lots of knitting done without them trying to get warm laying on my legs and shedding clouds of fur. Here’s the week’s accomplishments:

Finished Mitts.
What a shock: I made another pair of the Sugared Maple Mitts (by Melissa Schaschwary ) in the last skein of Zen Yarn Garden Serenity DK. I think that these may be my favorite. They are mine, mine, all mine!! Here are the Ravelry notes.
Mitt
I also made another pair of the cable and rib mitts with the thumb moved over so that the cable would stay parked on top of the hand. Since my sister suggested the change these are now Selma’s Mitts; I made the ribbing at the top and the bottom of this pair a little longer. I think that these are cute: I’ll have to see if I can talk a friend into taking a picture of them on my hand. They are really comfy and I think I’ll write up the pattern to use with the alpaca yarn from Alta Vida Alpacas. This yarn is Malabrigo Rios in the colorway Zarzamora.
Baby Booties
I also got an order for baby booties this week. The new mother requested that they be black (!!!) so that is what I did. The lace doesn’t show as well as it would in a light colored set of booties, but they are still soft, squishy and should work. Look!! Almost all of the snow has melted away because today was windy and warmer. The cats came out to run around while I was taking these photos. Everyone is happy again. This pattern is our family pattern from days of yore but can also be found on Ravelry. The yarn is Anzula Squishy.

I think that I have worked my way through the immediate urge to make mitts. I sent a RSVP for the Scleroderma Holiday Party today and it dawned on me that perhaps I should finish up on the Christmas presents. I have knitting (a shawl and a hat) and some quilting to get finished.

And cookies to bake…

And the decorations to put out…

And I will never hear the end of it if those cats don’t get a Christmas tree to play in…

Good thing I bought them a nice cuddly blanket for the bed. 🙂

 

UFO Rescue: Week 1

Monday I waded into the pile of UFOs that I had located in my big hunt last week, and pulled out two projects that I thought I could finish fairly quickly. I’ll be honest: I was motivated by needle recovery more than anything else. These two items are pretty easy to knit, so I thought I would be able to work on them while watching television.  Here they are.

Ugly MItts

I really liked this yarn when  bought it. It’s a single ply yarn that is soft, soft, soft. I liked it so much that I  bought two skeins and cast on to make a pair of mitts right away.

Yarn for the mitt
Malabrigo Worsted yarn in the colorway “Deja Vu”

The mitts did not show off the yarn very well. I knitted one mitt thinking that maybe the next one would look better. Nope. Not so much. I lost heart and quit about halfway through the second mitt.

Mitts with ugly yarn.
I decided that the yarn on these mitts was just too ugly to go on.

Well, enough is enough! Time to face the UFO pile down! I made myself a nice caramel latte, put some cookies on a plate by the latte mug and then pulled the mitts out of the storage bag. There, that wasn’t so bad. I finished knitting the second mitt while reading (so it wouldn’t be too painful), and then took them out for their picture. Funny, I was wearing a pink top and some moss green pants, and the mitts actually looked kind of nice. I’m thinking of maybe keeping the second skein of yarn and might make a cowl from it. It sure is soft yarn…

Finished Ugly Mitts
Finished mitts. They aren’t all that I hoped for when I bought the yarn, but they look better to me now than they did. 🙂

Bronco Baby Booties

I started these booties using yarn dyed by Luna Grey Fiber Arts in Denver Bronco football colors a few weeks ago, and then put them aside while knitting some fun socks for myself. The trouble is that the booties use the same size double-pointed needle (2.25 mm) as most of my socks. Since I just finished those origami socks (June Beetle), I decided to complete the booties while the needles were free. These are square needles, and I just love them as my hands never get tired and the stitches come out looking really even.

Baby booties made from the family pattern in Denver Bronco team colors.
Baby booties made from the family pattern in Denver Bronco team colors.

I kind of like knitting these booties as they remind me of my grandma, and I got them done this morning while it was raining outside. Yeah! Two UFOs moved to the finished objects pile.

Only 14 more UFOs to go…

If anyone else has been inspired to attack their UFO collection, let me know what you are working on. This is kind of fun.  🙂

Swedish Family Bootie Pattern

Wow. This week I was definitely stuck in the baby bootie knitting rut. I went ahead and made two more pairs for friends of my original customer; kind of a ripple out effect. While I was making them I realized that while the pattern is pretty simple and straight forward, it is hard to visualize what is happening. So here is the pattern, exactly the way that it was taught to me, with picture support. The booties in the picture are being made on 2.25mm double pointed needles with Broncos Football colored fingering yarn that I bought at my local yarn store. In case you haven’t guessed, this is Broncos Country since I live in Colorado.

Cast on 10 stitches. Knit each row (this is garter stitch) until you have 18 ridges on each side.

This little rectangle of garter stitch will become the sole of the bootie. Like those Bronco colors?
This little rectangle of garter stitch will become the sole of the bootie. Like those Bronco colors?

You have knitted a cute little rectangle that is going to be the bottom of the baby bootie. Now things get a little tricky as you need to bust out more double pointed needles. You already have 10 stitches on one needle. Without cutting the yarn, turn the rectangle and pick up 18 stitches on the closest long side of what you just knitted with a new needle.  Use a 3rd needle to pick up 10 stitches along the bottom of the rectangle, and a 4th needle to pick up 18 stitches on the final long side. This is what you now have.

Stitches are now picked up so that you can start knitting the sides of the bootie.
Stitches are now picked up so that you can start knitting the sides of the bootie.

Needle management is an issue as you knit these booties. I use square metal needles, which hold the yarn fairly well, but you may want to use wood or bamboo needles as they grip the yarn nicely and won’t fall out. I am using 6″ needles in these pictures, but if you have smaller needles you may want to use those.

Mark the start of the round, and knit four rounds of purl stitches, then four rounds of knit stitches, then four rounds of purl stitches, then four rounds of knit stitches, and then finally four rounds of purl stitches. Got that?  You just knitted up the side of the bootie, and it should look like this.

This is the view looking into the bootie from the top.
This is the view looking into the bootie from the top.
Side view of the bootie after the sides are knitted. The knit stitches don't show as they fold themselves in, but they are there.
Side view of the bootie after the sides are knitted. The knit stitches don’t show as they fold themselves in, but they are there.

Now we are to the part where I always got lost and gave up. My mom would just say, “Now you knit back and forth from one end catching a stitch from each side as you go.” Say what? What she should have told me it that starting with the 10-stitch end I just knit across, turn the bootie and knit back across the stitches with the toe of the bootie towards you. Knit the 10th stitch on the needle together with the stitch on the side needle closest to the corner. Turn the bootie with the heel towards you and purl back across the 10 stitches, and purl the last stitch on your needle with the stitch on the side needle closest to the corner. You are creating the toe box for the little baby foot, and you are knitting stockinette stitch.

Creating the toe box: I'm knitting across the 10 stitches and the stitch from the side is already on my needle (the blue stitch to the far left) waiting to get knit together with the 10th stitch.
Creating the toe box: I’m knitting across the 10 stitches and the stitch from the side is already on my needle (the blue stitch to the far left) waiting to get knit together with the 10th stitch.

Continue doing this until there are only 10 stitches left on each side needle. Turn the bootie and knit one round across all 4 needles. To make things clear let’s call the toe needle #1, and the other needles are #2, #3 (the heel), and #4 as you knit around. You will be starting the round with the toe stitches on needle #1.

Closing the gap after completing the first round of the ankle by knitting the stitch BELOW the the last stitch on needle #4 together with the first stitch on needle #1. stitch on
Closing the gap after completing the first round of the ankle by knitting the stitch BELOW the the last stitch on needle #4 together with the first stitch on needle #1.

As you arrive at the needle #1 again after the first round you need to do some trickiness to close the gap so you won’t have a hole. You can pick up a stitch in the gap and knit it with the first stitch on the toe needle (#1), but I pull up the stitch below the last stitch on needle #4, place it on the tip of needle #1, and then knit the two stitches together. Sweet! If that seems confusing just pretend we didn’t have this discussion, pick up a stitch, or close the hole with a little yarn on a needle when you have finished the bootie. No one will know the difference.

Knitting the rounds of the ankle of the bootie.
Knitting the rounds of the ankle of the bootie.

Knit two more rounds, and then create the holes for the bootie’s tie during the 4th round this way: (K2, YO, K2together), repeat until you have finished the round. Knit 20-25 more rounds (until you think it looks pretty good), and bind off. The top will roll. I think that this top looks pretty good if your yarn is really busy.

Finished bootie with the cookies I baked while knitting the ankle.
Finished bootie with the cookies I baked while knitting the ankle.

If the yarn is a little more sedate I often finish the top by knitting 15 rounds, then 5 rounds of garter stitch (three purl rows), and then casting off with a picot bind-off.

Pink Baby Botties
Superwash wool booties made from Malabrigo Arroyo on 3.0 mm needles for a 3 month old baby.

You can use knotted i-cord for the ties like I did here, or crochet laces like my mom did, or even use a ribbon. Happy knitting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swedish Knitting Genes

I grew up in the world of knitting. The neighbor was having a baby? Baby booties were produced like magic. I needed a red sweater to match a new outfit for school? Ta-da! It arrived in the mail from my grandma. I didn’t know there was any other type of dishrag than the knitted kind. When mohair sweaters became popular, a fluffy pink one arrived under the Christmas tree. All the women of my family knitted, and suddenly, around the age of 8, I was a knitter too. I made slippers for everyone, made clothes for my dolls, and began to collect my own knitting needles and yarn. There were some off years, but by the time I was a mom myself there was hardly a day when I didn’t find some time to knit.

Hey, it’s not like I had a choice in any of this. This is the fault of my mom, her mother and all those ancestors living in the Swedish countryside who passed down these knitting genes. I think that  knitting was probably a survival skill back in Sweden, but once the family was in America and located in the desert Southwest the knitting continued. It’s hot in New Mexico and Southern California, so a lot of that knitting  was done for the house (placemats, bedspreads, pillows, and even a tablecloth) and gifts. In general, if there was spare time and you couldn’t read, some knitting got done: obviously a genetic trait!

Knitting Heritage
My knitting heritage: a placemat made by my mom, a knitting pattern from grandma, and antique wooden needle case and wrapper.

I received a lot of  knitting artifacts from my mother, aunt, and grandmother as the years went by and their knitting stopped. I have antique patterns, old needles and hooks, and even an ancient darning egg. I still have some of the things that they knitted, and a little collection of patterns that my grandmother knit up and sent to my mom over the years. Of all the girls in the family, I am the only one who is a compulsive knitter, and so I got the stash. The knitting gene must be a recessive one I guess.

Pink Baby Botties
Superwash wool booties made from Malabrigo Arroyo on 3.0 mm needles for a 3 month old baby.

One of the patterns that I remember the best from my childhood is for a baby bootie that my grandmother used to make. The big deal about the bootie was that it was kick-proof and it stretched as the baby grew so that it could be worn for a few months. My mom and her sister also made these booties, and the pattern (oral tradition only – I never saw this thing in writing!) was explained over and over to me. I’m not an auditory learner, and I never caught on until the booties for my own boys arrived. Then suddenly I understood the pattern as I tied the little booties onto their tiny feet. Clever, clever, clever. The whole bootie is constructed in one piece and definitely performs as advertised. I loved these booties and used them until the boys were walking. Now I make them for other people.

White Baby Booties
Bootie made from KnitPicks Stroll on 2.25 mm needles for a newborn.

This weekend I made two pairs of the booties for the office manager at my car repair shop, who needs to give them to new mothers as baby gifts. They are just little booties, but they are so much more than that. They are the past, the present and the future all at once. They are my connection to the women of my family who gave me the pattern and the Swedish knitting genes. With each stitch that goes into them the gift lives on.

The baby bootie pattern was written up by Christine Bourquin, a woman about the same age as my grandmother, and was published as a letter to the editor of a magazine in 1989. The pattern and more information can be found online at Fuzzy Galore. There is also a great online tutorial posted by Major Knitter. I wonder if Christine was Swedish?