Baby Knits and a design journey

Baby Knits and a design journey

Baby Knits and a design journey – what I started with and how my design ended up

It depends on the design, sometimes I doodle with the yarn, swatch and play around and the yarn tells me what it wants to be. That’s easy, it’s intuitive and pretty much always works out.

Other times, I have a vision in mind, in this case a dress with a bib/bodice top and a lace skirt. I started knitting the skirt bottom up and in the round. I wanted to keep the piece as a seamless dress, minimum finishing.

Mary Eleanor Dress Pattern
Mary Eleanor Dress Pattern

Baby Knits and a design journey – Version 1

Version 1 was knitted half a dozen times as I perfected the shaping of the bib/bodice to make it easier to knit and reduce the finishing as much as possible. There is a neckband at the front to pick up, but that’s the only time you pick up and knit any stitches.

Baby Knits and a design journey – Yarn Choices

My go to for baby projects would normally be Stylecraft Special DK where I know that the Mum is busy, hasn’t time to hand wash and won’t need to worry about the item being washable. In this case I had a bag of several colours of Patons 100% Cotton DK, no two the same and wanted to design something using a cotton yarn.

The thought being that it could be a 3 season layering piece in cotton, cotton/bamboo or acrylic/cotton blends. In a superwash wool yarn, it would be suitable for Winter worn over a long sleeved top or sweater.

I’m not a yarn snob and I truly believe that the right yarn for the project has to be suited to the recipient, how they need to care for it and fit their lifestyle. I use a lot of blended yarns, acrylics and cottons for baby knits and prefer superwash wool to non washable wool. That’s my choice. For tea cozies, I’d like a roving wool which is easy to felt and will keep my tea warm.

Baby Knits and a design journey – Version 2

Version 2 was after discussion with the Testers they preferred the idea of buttons on the fronts and straps on the back with buttonholes. A quick bit of editing and a change to narrow the neck (more stitches for the straps) and it was perfect.

Test knitting is for me, a vital part of perfecting the design but also in getting the explanations right so that knitters can follow the instructions easily. I break down the sections of the pattern so it’s clear which part you are working on, try and make any shaping as easy as possible, chart them where needed and ensure it’s really obvious what you need to do.

I narrowed the neckline to make a better fit, but kept the wider shoulders which should be an inch or so wider than the child’s shoulders. Partly for layering but also to allow for the differences in kids. I was a skinny child but my brother was a chunky kid. We’re all different and the best advice I can give is to knit the bodice/bib to fit the child and make the skirt longer or shorter to suit their shape. All the measurements are included in the pattern so to some extent you can pick and mix, but allow extra yarn if you are adding length at all.

Baby Knits and a design journey, the skirt of the Mary Eleanor Dress

The pattern is available to buy in our online shop on the website, in our Ravelry Shop or our Payhip Shop. 25% off until 31st August with code babybeautiful

There’s no coded needed in our online shop on this site, the pattern is already discounted to make it easier for you.

If you’d like me to chat more about our design process, yarn choices etc, do let me know and what patterns you’d like me to feature.

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Blissful Ballet Wrap Cardigan Pattern for Baby, it’s adorable

Blissful Ballet Wrap Cardigan Pattern for Baby, it’s adorable

Introducing the Ballet Wrap Cardigan pattern, sized from preemie to 12 mths.

I’ve spent part of the lock down working on a new pattern collection for babies. Emma Sadler and working together on this to create a collection which will be released in the Autumn. I’ve knitted a few items so far, but the first pattern ready for testing is this one, the Ballet Wrap Baby Cardigan in five sizes.

The smallest size will fit a preemie baby up to around 5lb in weight, the largest size is to fit a 12-18 mth old baby.

I used Stylecraft Special Double Knit yarn for the sample shown here, in the colours 1064 Mocha and 1080 Pale Rose, with Mocha as the main colour.

Blissful Ballet Baby Wrap Cardigan by Loraine Birchall
Blissful Ballet Baby Wrap Cardigan by Loraine Birchall, photo by Emma Sadler Designs

Ballet Wrap Cardigan Pattern Essential Design Elements

I was trying to minimize the number of seams in the design of the cardigan, partly for the ease of the knitting but also to make it much more comfortable for a tiny (or large) baby.

The Ballet Wrap Cardigan pattern uses a slip stitch or mosaic design, it’s a very easy way to get into colourwork as you only knit with one colour every two rows with the non working colour being slipped. I chose a slip stitch pattern to provide a really warm and soft fabric for baby.

It was a very quick knit. The body is worked bottom up to the armholes, then fronts and back and worked separately. They are joined later with a three needle bind off/cast off at the shoulders.

The sleeves are picked up from the armholes and worked in pattern down and in-the-round to the simple garter cuffs. The border for the fronts and back is picked up after the rest of the knitting is completed and works up in no time. Buttons, or snaps, fasten the fronts on both sides, with one side folded over the other to make the ‘wrap’.

I don’t recommend ribbon fastenings for babies, but snap fasteners or buttons are perfect.

Chest Sizes

SizeSize 1 3-5lb 1.5-2.5kgSize 2 5-8lb 2.5-3.5kgSize 3 0-6 mthsSize 4 6-12 mthsSize 5 12-18 mths
To fit Chest12 in14 in16 in18 in20 in
31 cm36 cm41 cm46 cm51 cm
Chest Size – (All around at underarm when finished)13 ½ in15 in17 ¼ in19 in21 ¼ in
34 cm38 cm44 cm48 cm54 cm
Length from back neck – (below neckband)6 in6 ½ in7 ½ in8 ¾ in9 ½ in
15 cm17 cm19 cm22 cm24 cm
Sleeve Seam Length3 in4 ¾ in6 in6 ½ in8 in
8 cm12 cm15 cm17cm20 cm
Stylecraft Special DK MC11111
Stylecraft Special DK CC11111

It is important to ensure you work to the stated tension/gauge of 20sts and 60 rows per 4in/10cm to create a fabric which is warm enough for a low birth weight baby.  If you have less sts per inch try a smaller needles size, if you have more sts per inch try a larger needle size.

The slip stitch pattern creates a warm fabric that’s also very light for baby to wear, it is super cozy and you can have a lot of fun with the colour. I went with a soft, muted Mocha brown and used a rosy, pink contrast but you could go high contrast in brights, neutrals or monochrome if you prefer.

Ballet Wrap Cardigan preemie to 12 mths
Baby / Preemie cardigan close up of slip stitch pattern and front borders.

If you’re interesting in testing the pattern, there will be a notice in the Woolly Madly Deeply group on Ravelry where you can sign up.

Test knitters will be required to set up a Ravelry project page with details of the yarn used, quantities and at least one photo of the finished item, deadline 12th August 2020 for all sizes.

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