posts tagged: babies

wee envelope for william

wee envelope | pepperknit

Another cousin is expecting a baby! This time, I decided I’d do something other than the basic Child’s Placket-Neck Pullover that I like so much. But when you research baby sweaters on Ravelry they’re just all so much the same. I favorited several but ultimately I chose Ysolda’s Wee Envelope precisely because it’s completely different from all the others.

For this you start with one sleeve, work across the front yoke, then knit the back yoke, then the other sleeve. At the end you pick up stitches and work the body. It just seemed so much more interesting to knit. I had a decent amount of Malabrigo Arroyo from my Spinster Slouch leftover, and I was able to get close to gauge and a nice fabric on size 6 needles. (I swear I’m not a tight knitter, despite the drastic difference in needle size from the pattern!) I debated what size to knit, since the little one is due in November—and he’ll live in Georgia—so I had to match up my best guess on the kid’s size (his parents are both very tall) with what the weather will be like plus how warm this sweater would actually be . . . so I knit the 3-6 month size. It looks impossibly tiny to me, but I don’t know babies, so I figure he’ll fit into it at some time.

wee envelope | pepperknit

As I’d hoped, this was an interesting knit. It’s not mindless like the Placket Neck would be, and there was some weirdness (you need to pick up across the front yoke, but there’s an I-cord edge there! How do you pick up for that?! The blog post to explain doesn’t address this at all, so I just fudged it, which I have to remind myself is totally the point of being the boss of your knitting), but there were nice long stretches where you didn’t have to think at all. I suspected I wasn’t really going to want/need 2 buttons on each side  (I basically hate dealing with buttons) but since I didn’t know the pattern—and there’s no actual schematic included—I just followed the directions rather than try to make modifications on the fly. In the end, though, the whole thing seemed so small that I just seamed the buttonholes shut. I am not sure that the parents would’ve even noticed the holes, but just in case, I made them go away. If I made the sweater in a bigger size I might include them, but future wee Wee Envelopes are more than likely going to be buttonless from me.

This definitely won’t be the last Wee Envelope I make: cute, fast (knit it in just 2 days), and the pattern includes a huge range of sizes. Yay for a new go-to pattern!

“beach ball” for Jack

Though I knit baby Jack a sweater, since I was getting to meet my first cousin once removed (I’m pretty sure that’s our relation—he’s my cousin’s son) at Beach Week, I had to make him something, right? The little stinker (on the verge of walking unassisted!) just turned one, and he took to the ball immediately. Success!

pepperknit | purl bee fabric beach ball

In fact, during a naptime session on the beach I watched him in the Pack-n-Play struggling with his FOMO but also distracted by his new best toy: he hugged, pet, and babbled to the ball. I dared not take a photo lest I distract him from napping, which was what he was supposed to be doing. But rest assured it was heart-burstingly cute.

pepperknit | purl bee fabric beach ball

The crab fabric was bought at Makers’ Mercantile when I visited in March. I knew I’d use it to make Jack-Jack something, but I wasn’t sure what until I spied the Purl Bee Fabric Ball pattern. I made the medium size, which was perfect for his little arms to wrap around. All the solids are Kona cotton, and I just used heat n bond to affix the red circles—I meant to stitch them down a little but didn’t, and that was probably a mistake. I’ll know for the future. Also I used the cardboard-and-foil trick for making the circles, with middling success. It’s still pretty hinky. But it works!

pepperknit | purl bee fabric ball

put a bird on it!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile -- group projectWhen we found out that one of our own was pregnant, the members of KBC started discussions of what kind of group gift to give. A quilt, sure, but not everyone sews. So we brainstormed an additional knit idea, and we eventually decided a mobile of knit birds would be cute and kind of funny—the parents, recently relocated to the East Coast after years in Portland, would be no strangers to the concept of putting a bird on it.

Finding a bird pattern led to much snickering when we settled on a free Blue Tit bird pattern from Lion Brand. Be warned: It is a finicky knit, and there was much swearing by all involved. The pattern is clear, it’s just a pain to knit. My bad; I am the one who found the pattern and decided it was the one! Ultimately one of us decided to knit the branches instead of wrestling the yarn into a bird (fine by me–finding random branches and ensuring they were bug-free was kind of stressing me out). Another took on the task of quilting and binding the group quilt (more on that separately), so in the end we had 7 unique birds!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile

Here’s my bird—knit using a random assortment of Cascade 220 from my stash. When I perched it on the branch I made it more “squished” than its natural state, so it got a little chubby. And maybe cuter than it originally was!

I set to perching them either in flight or on the branches so that they made a balanced mobile and oh boy was that a challenge. I used to make mobiles a lot in high school, so I thought it would be sooo easy. But hello, that was 20+ years ago, my skills were rusty, and most of those mobiles involved PAPER ORIGAMI. Not heavy, various-weighted knit birds! I did learn a fishing lure knot tying technique that I think is pretty sturdy and is good to use with filament thread (though I never really succeeded in making it look as taut and neat as in the video), and I feel really good about the finished mobile. I so badly wanted some birds to sit atop branches, but they were so heavy they’d flip right over; thinking to string the vertical supports through the birds was an inspired bit of genius, I thought!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile -- group project

We finally gave the mobile to the family at Maryland Sheep & Wool yesterday. And cutiepie Hazel, knowing it was her flock of birds, set to claiming it immediately—nomming on one right away!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile -- group project

fraternal baby quilts!

pepperknit | twin HST quilts

I know that every new quilt is my new favorite, but truly: I love these quilts. I love them because I think they look pretty cool, but I also love them because they are exactly what I intended.

See, these were made for a close friend and coworker. Four years ago I was tasked with working with her team as a sort of adjunct help, and I didn’t know how I’d mesh with her, their leader. But it turns out we see eye to eye on so much—we approach the world in similarly straightforward, logical ways—and now I’m a full member of her team. I feel confident in saying that we trust each other completely, as colleagues and as friends. So when I was thinking about quilts to make for her upcoming twins, well, I felt as if the pressure was on.

pepperknit | twin HST quilts

I wanted clean, geometric shapes. Sharp angles seemed appropriate. Solids, definitely. The design needed to be a complete quilt—not made up of different discrete squares. I want to say “no creativity” but that feels too stark… except it’s exactly what I wanted. They needed to feel logical and sharp, but of course I wanted them to be interesting and attractive. I wanted the two to coordinate in gender neutral colors, even though I knew pretty early that it would be two boys. HSTs were clearly the answer.

They were also so easily executed in a completely logical way: One night, I selected fabrics from my stash of fat quarters and cut all the squares for both quilts (actually, the day she told me she was pregnant with twins). Another night, I sewed the diagonals of all the squares (that’s 128 diagonals—and epic chain-piecing evening!). A few nights later, I cut the HSTs apart. A few days after that, I ironed them all open, etc. It was just so… straightforward. Perfect. The only fussy time was spent arranging, and rearranging, the HSTs until I liked the look.

pepperknit | twin HST quilts

This might all sound weird, and maybe it’s not giving the right impression of my friend. Maybe she doesn’t even see or get what I was going for, but no matter—the babies will have cute little blankets to drag around, play on, or even sleep under!

For the backings I bought a gray gingham that was crazy off-grain or I don’t even know what but it made basting and quilting them absurdly difficult. (And was purchased at Purl Soho, so… that was exceptionally annoying.) A friend who is an experienced quilter was over the day I basted them and she was the one to point out that the fabric was causing my problems, not my skill level. For the labels, I wanted two matched phrases but came up blank. My friend Holly suggested these two sweet thoughts, so I embroidered them and sewed them on on opposite corners (because they’re fraternal! get it?).

pepperknit | twin HST quilts

a sweet granny square baby quilt

There’s no denying that Pinterest has helped me as a sewer. With no central location like Ravelry to go to, it’s hard to see a lot of quilts or garments in one place to gather inspiration and ideas. My “Quilty Inspiration” board is one of my favorites to revisit. I can see trends in my own liking (I started out loving on total rainbow quilts, have moved to different palettes lately), and I can also see that there are certain blocks/quilts that are executed in ways that I prefer over others using the same basic design. Sometimes it’s really easy to see what I like about one execution over another (modern color combinations, say). Sometimes it’s easy to see but hard to know how to execute (some kaleidoscope quilts work SO WELL and others don’t; I know it’s about the tone of the fabrics but picking fabrics to do it seems intimidating). For granny squares, I seemed to like a certain type and not others. What was the defining characteristic, I wondered. granny square quilt

It was the outer ring’s paleness/quantity of white. I liked the quilts best when the granny was treated as a series of concentric rings, and when the outer ring’s contrast with the background fabric wasn’t overly stark, whether because of the high quantity of white or the color of the square. This gave those quilts a sort of “instant vintage” quality, and I definitely wanted that for this baby quilt. So I set about making a bunch those kinds of blocks myself. It wasn’t super easy (and I’m sure you’re all eyeing that block in the lower left and saying ‘hmmmm you didn’t want a stark contrast, you say?’ Whatever, it can’t be EXACT.) but it was a fun exercise. I used up a decent amount of scraps to make it, too, which was satisfying. It also used up every last inch of Kona Snow I had in my stash. In fact, the outer ring of sashing is a white cotton batiste I used as a lining in my Cambie dress; the difference is more tactile than anything and I’m totally fine with that because I was NOT going to buy more fabric just to finish this top! The colors I chose are gender neutral by design, with a mix of all the colors of the rainbow—but all generally softer, more baby. granny square quilt

Because my ability to successfully baste has left me, despite all the best precautions (I starched the top this time! It was suuuper flat!), I wasn’t keen on too much machine quilting. I just did some machine passes in the sashing to get it all held together, and then I hand-quilted around each motif and the center square. I picked hand-quilting colors based on the colors in the blocks, and had a lot of fun doing that part. I still need more practice to be good at hand quilting but in some ways I like the truly handmade look of it. granny square quilt granny square quilt

Backing is a whole piece of fabric in a fun polka dot—I like when a quilt is small enough to be ale to do that! (And I’m really happy to be slashing up my stash so expertly.) The binding is a cheerful Kona yellow (not sure which shade). The label was just hand-written with washable marker and then stitched in some black perle cotton. I love that it’s my own handwriting (OK, a stitched version of my handwriting, so it’s a little weird but pretty close) and says nothing more than what I mean. I am so happy for my friends who are expecting this little one, and can’t wait to be Aunt Erin to their kid, even if from afar (they live across the country from me).

simple handwritten quilt label

I mailed this quilt (via just USPS, what was I thinking! I should have gotten tracking info!) so it would arrive in time for the baby shower; happily the host of the shower tells me it arrived safe and sound. Yesterday was the shower, so I think I can safely post these pictures today!