Children’s Wear


I wrote previously that I’d had to revise my plans for Ada’s version of Winter Garden. When I loaded the Halloween photos, I found that I’d had the sense to document my blindered beginnings before I ripped them out to begin again. Now you, too, can appreciate how far astray I’d gone and marvel at the willful self-deception that drove me to persist through 28 two-color rounds on 256 stitches before throwing in the towel. Yes, friends, this photo is no sensible swatch:


… and out it all had to come. That Sap yellow-green on the brown is redolent of the ’70s—and not in a good way. The red is YOUD, as my small son would say, with his hands clapped to his ears and his face battening down for a gale. The purple is so dark it looks like some sort of ominous leaf blight. Rip, rip, rip. Here’s the replacement progression:


…and it’s making me so very much happier. In fact, this Nest brown I chose for the main color of the dress is so friendly and soothing that knitting the stockinet desert of the upper skirt was not at all the slog I feared it might be. Now and then I look down at it reclining in my lap and almost get a lump in my throat, like when a friend gives you a hug you didn’t know you badly needed.

Truth be told, the seasonal change caught me in the teeth this year. The most beautiful October anyone can remember has given way to a November lumping in dreary as can be, bitterly coupled with the end of Daylight Saving Time. I pride myself on being suited to my native climate and latitude, on not minding the short, dim, damp days. But this year only a concerted effort to think of lovely cozy things like wool and tea with friends and Advent calendars and Christmas stockings (oooh, must knit some for the children… fancy my chances? What if I use the fat leftovers from the sheep hoods?) and waddling babes in snowsuits and the scent of fir and cider and molasses cookies is lifting me above the gloom. I expect a good brisk walk would help me find my ley lines, whatever the weather. I’d like to step out my back door and hike a grass track up a high hill. Much as I esteem Portland, I do not have a city heart.

Even so, there is cause for cheer. Winter Garden is swimming along smartly on schedule. The first one not knit by me is winging its wild way toward a beloved granddaughter, courtesy of my fabulous test knitter Leslie. If you’re following this pattern’s journey to publication, make sure you check out Leslie’s bodice variation—she worked the fluted rib “wrong side” out, which looks entirely different but very handsome. Also, I’ve got a free pattern in the works! More on that as soon as I can rope my husband into pointing a camera at it…



I wonder how many years you have to spend knitting colorwork before your instincts are really worth trusting? I’ve had to make a course correction on my new Winter Garden after it forced me to admit that my initial sense of how to shift between reds, purples, and greens was just flat-out Not Going to Work.

From the moment I knit the first Winter Garden, I had a vision of an alternate colorway for my Ada: a friendly brown dress with the flowers done in greens and reds with purple accents. I had the yarn in hand. But then I started lining up the colors I’d chosen and doubting my wisdom. Artifact had too much black and too much yellow. Homemade Jam looked oddly dull against the other colors in anything less than full sunlight. I swapped them out and still there were problems. Birdbook didn’t contrast with Nest sufficiently, while Long Johns was too potent against Woodsmoke, and Plume bisecting anything was as disruptive as ants scurrying over your picnic cloth in the direction of the cake. Argh. Of course, I only admitted to myself that it had all gone awry after I’d cast on a few hundred stitches and stubbornly knit four fifths of the chart in the hopes that it would somehow all come together. Rrrrrrrrrip!

I went back to the original colorway (which had fitted itself together as neatly as you please) …


… and lifted half of it. You can always do something with green and purple, I believe. I upended my progression to keep the greens on the lighter background (Woodsmoke). And as a final touch, I restricted the red to the peerie bands and related the purple half to the green half by lifting Sap to divide the purples, Thistle to divide the greens. And then it worked. Oh, it’s not very traditional, and you could argue that Sap really is a bit jarring and ought to be darker to pair well with Birdbook, but it makes me smile.


I’m still not giving up on the dream of a colorway featuring Birdbook and Homemade Jam. Tent-Birdbook-Homemade Jam-Camper might be the way to go, maybe on Fossil and Postcard with Blanket Fort accents?  Here’s the Loft color range so you can see what I mean. What progressions would you try?