Garden Party Flax Light

Fingering weight superwash merino wool with nylon is a reliable base across yarn dyers. It’s a workhorse that you can reach for with confidence regardless of whether or not you’ve heard of a brand before because fingering weight superwash merino with nylon is predictable. Each skein will have more or less the same amount of stretch and bloom when you block it. Each skein will handle textured stitches in more or less the same way and each skein will provide you with a thin but warm garment. What I’m really saying here, is that buying a skein of fingering weight merino yarn is one of the safest things you can do.

Honestly, I think my local yarn store only had the one color of Mitchell’s Creations when my husband and I went in to buy yarn a few weeks ago (actually I don’t think I need to correct how I said that, he enjoys choosing colors!). As I poured over the self striping sock yarn, the Garden Party skeins called to him. It was the first skein he picked up and proudly brought over, know that he was contributing to our hunt for gender neutral baby sweater yarn.

I got back and forth with how easy it is to find gender neutral colors as I think our industry is slightly slanted to those with more feminine tastes. So while I wasn’t reaching for pinks and blues (or whites… I’ve never understood why so many people knit white for babies), I was at least looking for vibrant greens and oranges. When he presented his skein of Garden Party, my initial reaction was “are those really baby colors?”. Me, the same woman who knit a hot pink and black baby sweater for her punk friend. Before he even replied with his “I mean I’d like to receive this so my child could wear it” I realized that my own color biases had set in. Adding the skein to the red one I was carrying, I realized that he was right for the same reason I made the right choice to knit a hot pink and black sweater: the baby doesn’t care.

It’s the same reason so many families probably hold first birthday parties for their little ones who won’t remember who was their or what their cake tasted like. It’s a moment for the parent where they get to see everyone surround the little one that they’ve managed to raise for a whole year. Or in the case of this little sweater, a moment where the parent realizes that you’ve paid attention to who they are as people and want them to know they deserve to be warm.

While I want to say that this is my last flax light for a little bit, it’s such a quick little sweater to crank out and has so many modification options that I can really only say it’s my last one for the immediate future. I have a lace shawl that needs to be finished and a cardigan that needs to be started. I’m calling this one Garden Party Flax Light after the yarn’s color way, the “only” pattern modifications is the addition of Justin’s Flannel texturing (I really need to knit myself one of those so that I don’t steal my husband’s all winter!). Despite the colors being more muted than what I typically reach for, I think this little sweater came out really cute!

A handknit multicolored baby sweater with a waffle texture.

Baby Patterns I’m Enjoying Right Now

I suppose I’ve hit the time in my life where all my friends (and a good chunk of my family) are having children. While I am not quite ready to have children of my own, it’s very exciting to see pregnancy and birth announcements pop up in my Instagram feed for two reasons: 1) I’m happy for them! 2) I get to knit for them.

Is it fair to say that I’m happy I get to knit for them? Baby items, as it unfortunately took me way to many years of knitting to learn, make for amazing projects. For starters, they don’t require a ton of yardage. This means that I can use up a special skein of fingering weight that I’ve been saving or purchase new yarn without the price tag that comes with making an adult sweater. While I would recommend a washable fiber, what this really means is that baby items are the most economical things to knit — other than socks of course.

Next, they provide an avenue to work complicated stitches, simple stitches, and everything in between. Want to knit cables? There’s a pattern for that. Want to knit colorwork? Pattern for that. Lace? Pattern for that. Plain garter or stockinette? There’s a pattern for that too. Actually there are thousands of options for each one of those.

Both of the above reasons point directly to my third reason for enjoying to knit for babies: the time that it takes to knit a baby item is short. Want to try a new yarn or technique? You’re not committing to a giant project!

Pattern’s I’ve knit and enjoyed:

  • French Macaroon by The Noble Thread — I’m currently halfway through this one and “patiently waiting” for the yarn I’m using to come back in stalk. More on that in a future post…
  • Flax Light by tincanknits — I can’t even begin to discuss how much I love this “basic” sweater pattern. I’ve knit it a total of 7 times, twice of those were adult sizes
  • Flax by tincanknits — Literally the same pattern as above but written for worsted weight! I love this one for when I knit for bigger kids, but it create a snuggly fabric for younger ones as well
  • Gingersnap for Bigger Kids by Kristen Rettig — Rettig also has a free version of this pattern, but the paid version comes with so many size options I couldn’t resist.
  • Barley by tincanknits — Yes to quick baby hats, they’re such a great use of leftovers!
  • Rye Light by tincanknits — You know what else is great for leftovers? Baby socks. I think these were done in a matter of hours and I used leftovers from my Lava Lake Shawl.
  • Bearly Bonnet by Pure Stitches — Trust me things that have ears make little ones look 10x cuter, plus they add a little bit of something you don’t knit everyday.
  • Harvest by tincanknits — Actually now that I think about it, I’m not sure I ever got a picture of my niece in this one. Still, it knit up fast!
  • Knit Four Points Baby Blanket by Purl Soho — My only complaint is that you need to either pick up stitches or seam. I went with seaming because I’m apparently anti-picking-up-stitches.
  • Simplest Baby Blanket by Paige Scudder — Shameless plug for my own design, sorry not sorry.
  • Crochet Beginner Blanket by Heidi Wells — I adjusted the stitch count on this to 101 and ended up with a stroller blanket.
  • Marley by tincanknits — Yes, I love tincanknits for baby patterns… but I’ve made this one in larger sizes too and always enjoy casting it on again. Unlike the blanket I designed, it’s a rectangle shape.

Patterns that are on my “to-knit-eventually” list:

  • Garden Gnome Hoodie by Knitting Expat Designs — For starters, it’s a Gnome inspired hood. But also, I love the optional textured stitches and would love to see a little one wearing this in the fall.
  • Fox mittens by Eva Norum Olsen — I love these and have had them as a favorite for a while now. Plus, you have so many baby-child sizes to choose from.
  • Octave or Octavie by imawale imawale — This will be the project that I learn how to double knit on. I already know.
  • Dancing T-Rex sweater by Natalie V — Do I really need to say more than “Dancing T-Rex”?
  • Veggie Patch Cardigan by Lisa Chemery — Not sure if it’s the name or the texture stitches that speak to me on this one. Usually anything with buttons is too much pressure for me to take on. After all, it’s hard enough to select the perfect yarn, now I have to pick buttons too?
  • Easy Puzzle Blanket by Purl Soho — So many colors! Although, somehow I imagine that I would have the same problem that I had with their four point blanket…
  • Hosenmatz by Mayumi Kaliciak und Antje Litzmann — Why haven’t I ever knit baby pants before? Honestly, I think I’m holding out for my future children with this one.
  • Pepita by Martina Behm — I think this one focuses on a very specific age bracket and season, but I love it just the same.
  • Daphne and Delilah the Momma and Baby Monster by Rebecca Danger — I’ve saved so many knit toy patterns and have yet to make any. Perhaps these will come into play more as all of the babies that I’m knitting for get older?
  • Shark Attack Lap Blanket by Angie Hartley — Honestly, I want one of these for myself…

In the interest of not making this post much longer and acknowledging that you might like to see the projects that I’ve been working on, I used a tag to make my baby/kid knits have their own bucket. You can view that search at this link if you are signed into ravelry: https://ravel.me/8odg0l

On deciding to crank out a few hand-made gifts after all

An in progress photo of a baby sweater with both sleeves set aside on stitch markers. The body of the sweater is just about ready to be bound off.
Harvest, knit in Rohrspatz & Wollmeise Pure held double

A couple weeks ago, my sister announced that she was pregnant with her first child. As I eagerly await the gender reveal*, and hope that they don’t change their mind on learning the sex of the baby, I realized there was no reason I couldn’t cast something on my needles to add to their Christmas gift. They’re excited, I’m excited, I have some yarn that looks like a rain forest, new born sweaters don’t take very long…. so it looks like I’m taking back what I said about not knitting for anyone. (Remember that post I wrote about it’s ok to change your mind?)

Naturally, as soon as I said that the flood gates opened and I started to think about whether or not there was anyone else I should be knitting for for the Holiday season. I’ve had my loomed warped for a month or so with a table runner I’ve been working on for my mom, it now has an end of December deadline on it. I found this interesting/simple sewing pattern for handmade hand warmers and have a handful of friends that spend their time ice fishing or generally suffer from cold hands. In other words, I made it less than a week before caving and creating a spreadsheet of projects to complete before the end of the holiday season.

I can’t help it! The desire to keep people warm is in my DNA, as is the desire to create. So on that note, I have some last minute gifts to crank out. Here’s to my sanity!

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Completed Harvest with matching Barely hat

*I’ve read a few articles discussing how gender reveal parties are inconsiderate to future transgender children. I will love this baby no matter what, but will also enthusiastically knit little tutus if it’s a baby girl (unless she’s anything like me, then she’ll stop wearing them in favor of outfits more equip for climbing trees). I can’t help it, they’re so stinking cute. To be fair, I would also knit them for a little boy, without judgement, if he wanted them.