Children’s Wear


About six weeks ago I got my greedy little hands on a truly unique yarn called Flock, 1st Edition. It comes from A Verb for Keeping Warm in California, and like everything else Kristine Vejar does it’s clearly the product of a lot of thoughtful intention, community effort, and love. This fingering-weight wool comes from three California farms and is a blend of Cormo, Corriedale, and Targhee. Some of those critters had grey-brown fleeces, and rather than blending the white and the colored wool evenly, Green Mountain Spinnery added the colored fleece into the mix only sporadically. The resulting singles yarn has long color changes, some fairly abrupt and others more subtle, so the knit fabric shifts and stripes in a wonderfully organic way. My two skeins were the Bandana colorway, dyed with madder. I found Flock completely addictive. The hand is soft and dry, but you can sense it’s a bit more durable thanks to the Corriedale. It makes a light but warm sweater that was put to the test this morning, when the temperatures had dipped to the low 50s. Sadly, the sweater was not for me, but it’s one of the most pleasing things I’ve ever made and I’m oh so tempted to replicate it in my size.




I’m always drawn to the purl side of fabrics with variegated color, and as soon as I saw how Flock was going to knit up I knew I had to go for the reverse stockinet this time. I happened to be hatching this project just as I was writing the copy for the Brooklyn Tweed Fall collection, and I fully confess that Jared Flood’s Fletching pullover inspired the addition of the decorative vertical columns that punctuate the purl ground on the torso and sleeves. I knew I wanted to shift the texture for the yoke, and the pattern that leapt off my needles owes more than a little something to Norah Gaughan’s Bannock coat. Norah used the lateral chain element, which is made by purling two stitches together and then purling the first again, in a previous design for BT and I’ve been a little fixated on it ever since. All these ingredients went into the stew and out came this bitty sweater, which just worked despite my shamefully minimal swatching and liberal use of the eyeball in place of actual math. Sometimes the knitting gods are especially kind. And my puckish little fellow is more than pleased with the results, although you can’t quite tell from his suave expression here. I can’t decide if he’s channeling Sean Connery or James Dean, but I had a good laugh when I uploaded the photos.


Luckily I get to keep him wonderfully small and silly for just a little while longer. I don’t think he’s going to run off to Hollywood just yet:



Now I’m wrestling with whether or not to try to write up this pattern. The difficulty is in working short rows across the yoke patterning. It’s not a big deal if you can fluently read your knitting, but it’s hard to describe and I did have to monkey a bit with figuring out how to work the little columns of entwined stitches from the wrong side. I spent some time trying to think of ways to switch back to reverse stockinet below the neckband, but I’m so darn satisfied with the way the shoulders come to a point and the bands of single rib stack perfectly with one more tier on the back than on the front. Maybe it’s meant to be a sweet little pink singularity. But you should definitely go buy some Flock while it’s still available and knit up a totally unique garment of your own. I know I’m going to be helpless when Flock, 2nd Edition appears.



Don’t everybody keel over from all the excitement, but it’s another WGK blog post and another new design in the same week! Let me tell you how Lalita, aka The Rainbow Sweatshirt, was born. Back in early March I started to get a design itch. My Instagram feed was overflowing with handknits in black and white marled wool, and I wanted a piece of that action. I knew exactly the shape of pullover I wanted to make and just what its features and proportions would be, and I wanted to make something that could work for a little girl or a grown woman. I figured I’d begin with the little girl version, since the sample would practically knit itself and since I’m possessed of a little girl to try it on. Happy Knits had just enough black-and-white Cascade Duo on sale. I was all set to pull the trigger when I realized what I was doing.

My kid is four and a half. She doesn’t want a black-and-white pullover. That’s what I want. What Ada wants is the loudest yarn in the store. The yarn that’s as bright and madcap as her personality.





So there you have it. Instead of the Duo, I brought home this Madeline Tosh Vintage in the Holi Festival colorway. If you’ve never lived on the Subcontinent or somewhere with a big Hindu population, Holi is a spring festival, the festival of colors. It’s a day of joy and fun that you can’t possibly miss because of rang khelne (that’s Nepali, I’m not sure about the Hindi), color play. Everyone has packets of brightly colored powders, water balloons, squirt guns, etc., and the ambushing and merriment proceeds from there. (The water makes the powder stick better, you see.) Everybody is fair game—old people, little kids, total strangers, tall white exchange students.


I was right on the mark. My daughter fell on that bag of yarn like a pirate on booty, complete with lustful chortling. When she saw the sweater taking shape on the needles, she exclaimed, “Rainbow sweatshirt!!! Just looking at it makes me want to wear it right now!” You can’t ask for better enthusiasm about Mama’s handknits than that, so I knew I’d done right.


Lalita is a Sanskrit girls’ name meaning “playful,” because this is a pullover built for play. It’s got lots of positive ease, a swingy high-low hem (shaped with short rows but also by the garter-stitch panel at the center front), and pockets for treasures. It’s got modified drop shoulders that don’t add bulk at the underarm and comfortable sleeves, neither too slim nor too baggy. Slipped stitches at the sides produce a faux seam for visual interest and to add a fold in the fabric. The worsted-weight yarn is worked a little over gauge for plenty of stretchy drape. In short, I love everything about it.


And about this terrific growing girl, who offered up all these (and many more) silly poses without any coaching. Glad you like your sweater, kiddo.


The pattern is in the grading stage, where I work out the numbers for larger and smaller sizes. I’m thinking 2-12, but chime in if you have other ideas! A women’s version will be on the way, too.


Back in September I contributed an offer to knit a child’s sweater to the school auction. The winner was the president of the parent-teacher association, a lovely woman who does a great deal for the school, and she’s a knitter herself, so I pulled out all the stops. I was in the mood for colorwork and thought of Jared Flood’s Atlas design, but it’s written for fingering weight. The small nephew who’s getting the sweater lives in the frozen midwest, so we decided something heftier would be appropriate. I opted for Védís Jónsdóttir’s Kambur pullover as a good substitute. I’d just make it a cardigan by adding a steek. I can’t remember why I decided I’d also flip it upside down and work the yoke first… I must really have been jonesing for the colorwork. Anyway, it’s a Kambur Inversion and I finished it at the turn of the year. Our Jolly modeled it for me.

Kambur5 Kambur6 Kambur7

In case you can’t tell, my boy quite likes modeling and he’s a bit of a clown. I should have just shot video; these are stills from a spontaneous boogie as he worked it for the camera in the parking lot outside his sister’s ballet class. I had to make him take the zipper out of his mouth first. I don’t know what it is with little kids and zippers, but they love them. Definitely the way to go if you can stand the extra work required to install them and finish them prettily. And boy did I finish this sweater prettily. Tubular bind-offs everywhere, including on the collar, which I picked up from a provisional cast-on. Natty applied i-cord edges to cover the zipper. And admire, if you will, this ribbon facing that conceals all the hand-sewing on the zipper itself:




(If you follow me on Instagram (@whistlinggirlknits), you’ve already seen that last shot, but I can’t help reposting it here. I just love the attitude.) Was it a little psycho to go to this painstaking level in the finishing of a garment for a toddler I’m never going to meet? You can say it. I know the answer. But as soon as I saw this ribbon at Bolt, matching the colors and motifs of the sweater so delightfully, I was helpless. And there’s such internal satisfaction to be had in knocking it out of the park even if no one’s watching. (Not that I’m quite so zen as that. I carried it around for a week and made all my local knitting friends coo over it. Plus I get to boast to all twelve of you reading here.)

The yarn is Brown Sheep Naturespun Worsted. I simplified the yoke motif to use only three colors because Twisted didn’t have a fourth shade on hand that I loved with the red and grays. I could happily make another Kambur in an alternate colorway… honey ochre with robin’s egg blue and coral pink and navy, perhaps? In Quince & Co. Lark, which I somehow still haven’t tried? Maybe just a pullover, though. I’m not sure my zipper mojo is back at full potency quite yet.