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Knitter on the Road

2016 was a peculiar year for my knitting. It was a year of odd whims and obsessive loops. I knit FIVE Littlewing baby vests; why such a simple little shape should have captivated me to that extent is a mystery, but I was determined to hone the geometry and somehow the prototyping never got old. I buckled down at last to write the Lalita pattern, which is in the testing phase now and ought to be ready to publish in a few weeks. I started my Bohus Stickning Wild Apple, completed the colorful yoke, and then had an uncharacteristic crisis of confidence about the short rows and set it aside. (Nothing an evening’s focus can’t resolve, but somehow when evening rolls around I find it’s easier to add a few rows to my Scalene shawl.) Just lately someone asked about my old Minaret sock pattern and I thought I really ought to overhaul it for independent release—and somehow that led to designing a whole new sock that’s similar but better. (And then knitting it twice at different gauges.) In the midst of it all, I decided to drop several holiday gifts of reasonable scale to bust out a sweater for my sister-in-law.

Let’s blame Michele Wang, who can’t seem to design anything I don’t want to knit, especially when it’s in Brooklyn Tweed Quarry. I mean, Snoqualmie and Auster in the same year? She’s killing me. Being BT’s copywriter, I get to see the new collections ahead of time, and on a total impulse I snagged six skeins of Quarry in Alabaster the day before Thanksgiving and cast on a sleeve for Mei on the drive to Cousin Walt’s house in Olympia. At this gauge, it wasn’t long before I had all the pieces of a sweater, and I just managed to sew them together before we left for a pre-Christmas visit to Texas. Luckily, making this trek involves many, many hours of travel. I tackled the collar, which is roughly the size of Connecticut, in the way-back of the minivan while my offspring sang “Charlie on the MTA” and quite a few self-composed nonsense variations for 220 miles. It took a couple of sessions of porch knitting (poor me) and late-night scotch knitting (while my in-laws did show and tell with their gun collection—I had the epiphany that this branch of my husband’s family loves their arsenal in exactly the same way that I love my knitting tools), but I finished in time to pop it in the mail for delivery in NYC on the 24th.

How about some pictures? The light was flat, the camera was my phone, and the wind meant business.




Next up? More Littlewing vests. I got my hands on a couple of skeins of Stone Wool Cormo (send me all the Cormo!) and I’m going to try a worsted-weight + smaller size hack of my own pattern. And I’ll introduce those new socks sometime soon. Tomorrow’s another travel day — the kind where I’m not at the wheel all the time — and the race to the toe is on.

Littlewing live!

Winter Solstice seems like an auspicious day to publish a new pattern—for the shortest of humans on this shortest of days—and to reemerge from blog hibernation, no?


After much tinkering with the geometry, test knitting in all sizes, and a little more tinkering and a whole lot of life getting in the way, the Littlewing vest is now available for purchase! Sized for babies newborn to two years old, this vest uses 150-250 yards of DK-weight wool. I’ve used two yarns from Green Mountain Spinnery—the blue shown above is Mewesic and I did a newborn size for a friend’s baby in New Mexico Organic—and loved the results. But I also did a prototype in YOTH Big Sister


And Martha, mama to this little peach, knit one for her nephew in Brooklyn Tweed Arbor, so really, the options are wide open. If you’ve got worsted weight in your stash that you’d like to substitute, you could probably just knit the next smaller size and come out fine.

My favorite feature of Littlewing is that it’s reversible. For wee ones who can’t sit up or move around much, the front fastening is the easiest way to put it on: just lay the vest out flat, place baby on the back portion, flip the front over her head, and wrap the wings in to button or tie closed. But for inquisitive and coordinated specimens who can’t see a button without wanting to taste it, just flip the vest around and you’ll stymie them completely.


One change I made after the test knitting phase was to add an optional second set of buttons to secure the lower hem. I recommend this modification for the larger sizes. The four-button vest comes out like this:


Littlewing is available for purchase in my Ravelry store. I hope you’ll love this little wardrobe staple for the small folks in your life; I can’t wait to see some out in the wild. (And now, off to cast on two more, because the tiny cousins are landing thick and fast! The good news is that these will be my sixth and seventh iterations, and I’m not sick of knitting this pattern yet. They’re like eating potato chips.)


I’ve got a new favorite dress pattern for wee lassies! It’s not quite on the level of my affection for Geranium, because Geranium has that nice lined bodice and — if you flat fell the side seams the way I like to — no scruffy seam allowances left over inside, and I do love a tidy finish. Merchant & Mills’ Skipper dress doesn’t have that feature, but makes up for it with an adorable sailor bib and little cuffed sleeves. I keep hemming and hawing about this company’s adult patterns, unsure whether I could pull off their oversize sack dresses without looking like a frump in her nightie (and not a nightie my husband would fancy) and yet strangely drawn to them, especially when I see examples like this. I might be tall enough to carry off this look, but I don’t have quite enough spare time for sewing to test the waters. Sigh… maybe next year? Hahaha.

Anyhow, little girl dresses come together more quickly, and if they’re oversize now that just means they’ll fit longer! (It didn’t actually occur to me to check whether kids’ sizing is the same across the pond. I don’t know why I assumed size 6 would mean for a six-year-old girl when my own size basically doubles in translation.) Anyhow, the size 6 is going to fit my daughter until she’s at least eight. I made one for her birthday in a wonderful blue ikat, and since I already had the pieces traced and cut, I went ahead and made another to send off to New York for my niece’s birthday last week.


(I love that Ada wanted her brother’s slingshot as a prop. This looks like a dress you could make some mischief in.) The fabric is from Anna Maria Horner’s Loominous line. (It’s Big Love/Candy, sold out in Anna Maria’s shop but still available in a few other places if you act fast.) It’s got a lovely soft hand, lighter than quilting cotton but not see-through or finicky to sew in the least. It needed a bit of coaxing to lie flat with the selvedges matching so I could cut it precisely. You can see by the seam in the picture above that I didn’t quite manage it perfectly, but oh well.  I am in deep smit with those not-quite-predictable stripes. It’s like madras and ikat had a beautiful baby. I was choosy about laying out the pattern pieces to make the most of my favorite bits.


Apart from my quibble about the unlined bodice and lack of pockets (see below), I really like the details of this dress. Merchant & Mills deserve an award for their pattern layout — extraordinarily clear diagrams often cleared up any confusion I was having about the directions, but those were quite easy to follow as well. I understand about layering seam allowances now! I did manage to sew the collar on my first Skipper upside down, but that was my own fault for sloppy reading. This time I ended up reversing the little triangular flap that snaps the fronts together, but no matter.


One thing this dress has going for it that Geranium doesn’t: my kid can put it on and take it off all by herself. There’s one little snap hidden beneath the collar that opens the front enough to slip over her head; no back buttons squelching her independence! But I had to borrow the Geranium pattern’s side-seam pockets and add them to Skipper. Six-year-olds need pockets, full stop. This 43-44″ fabric just barely had the extra space left over to add the pockets in one piece, but of course I could have patched on an extra scrap.



Golly, that’s cute. Next up: a Tendril dress for me! I am somehow going to find time to sew on the darned bias facings, stitch up the front of it for the resist, and dip the thing in an indigo vat before the week is out. We’ve been learning to build fence and it’s taken up all our time and energy!