Sgt. Pepper, another totally free and totally adorable cardi!

I had so much fun making this cardigan and hat set. It came about after I cleaned out my stash and saw just how many teeny-tiny odds and ends I'd been saving, thus my super scrappy Sgt. Pepper was born. For a matching hat I decided to go with a solid thinking that making stripes again might be too much of a good thing. Then the multi-colored pompoms popped into my head and I love them. The set is perfect for chilly almost-spring walks with my grandson.

Both patterns are free and you already have the yarn--why don't you make a set too?

Read my tips on making scrap baby cardigans here
that includes other free pattern links for using different weights of yarn.
(The pattern I used for Sgt. Pepper was for DK weight.)

My Ravelry project page for the cardigan and for the hat.

I used the Basic Raglan Baby Cardigan, free pattern by Keya Kuhn.

I used the Debutant Baby Hat, free pattern by Elizabeth Sullivan.

This is my favorite pompom maker. Making pompoms of different sizes is a snap!

Freaked out about weaving in so many ends? Don't be! 
I have my own peculiar way of knitting in the ends as I go, 
but here is a popular tutorial you can follow.

PS: I didn't plan my colors but rather chose them randomly. If I had just knit a bright stripe, I would look for a color that was less bright to go next to it. I also tried to scatter the different shades of blues and greens throughout the sweater; the same for the reds and pinks, but honestly, did not give it too much thought. I think what helps to bring it all together is using one color for the ribbing. I used three different gray yarns for the ribbing and button bands, but they were so similar it's difficult to tell that they are different. Anyway, it's meant to be scrappy!

I made the 12 month size, but my little guy must have a big noggin because it barely fits.
He'll only be wearing it a short time.
Something has caught the eye of my little backyard explorer.
It's a flower!

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Stitches West

Good morning! Yesterday I spent several hours at the Stitches West market where I saw lots and lots of speckled and variegated hand dyed sock yarn; I think close to 80% of the yarn was just that. And while I love to look at it, and imagine would love to knit with it, I just don't see myself wearing it. I tried to put together a five, four and even three color fade that I would wear, but couldn't seem to commit. I came away yearning for gray tweed garter stitch and cream colored stockinette. Still, Stitches West is very fun, like a yarn carnival, and there was plenty to tempt me. And even though I am already very wool endowed, I came home with some pretty woolies. 

 I was not shy about color for my new knitting bag from Offhand Designs.

A bag of Rowan's Cashmere. It's lovely. It's a worsted weight so won't have a problem finding a pattern for this.

I walked by the Blue Bee booth and the saleslady hypnotized me by waving a pretty sweater in front of me, saying, "Try it on. Try it on." So I did. I LOVED IT! The swingy fit is fantastic. I bought the yarn and pattern for a one color Archer by Elizabeth Doherty using Airy Fingering in Chimney Sweep by The Woolen Rabbit.

Five skeins of Rowan Hemp Tweed Chunky will become a Carbeth by Kate Davies.
But before I can cast on for anything new, I have a few things to finish up.
I have a very scrappy baby sweater with hat half-done. It's so bright and happy!
I'll soon finish this pretty test knit for Ankestrick that will be available in March. The fit, so far, is fantastic. The dark gray is Baby Ull by Dalegarn and the beige is Super Fine Merino 4 Ply by Rowan.
Sutton from Sarah Hatton using Rowan Calmer is half finished.

I'm trying out a new yarn for Rowan. Mako Cotton is a summer worsted weight and will be available in March.
It's incredibly lightweight and soft--it's divine to knit.

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Montreal in Kidsilk Haze

Kidsilk Haze--I try to never been without a Kidsilk Haze work-in-progress in my work basket; I love knitting with it and wearing it. This project, Montreal by Lisa Richardson, was made with leftovers from some of my other projects.

To a newcomer, knitting with Kidsilk Haze can seem daunting. I remember my first experience with KSH and wondered what I had gotten myself into.  The yarn is wispy, flyaway, as thin as a spider's web, and appears that it can never be tamed. But it can be tamed and here's how: She's needle fussy so play around with a few needles to find what works best for you.  I find blunt bamboos give me more control by slowing it down; if KSH is rushed and you make a mistake, it's notoriously difficult to frog. If you do find yourself having to rip out a few stitches or even a few rows, go ahead and give it a good tug, then tug again, because it's super strong and resists breaking. I know from unfortunate experience that KSH can be frogged and re-frogged and even re-re-frogged and will hold up beautifully, but just keep your eye on your project and you'll be fine.  I guarantee you are in for a first-rate knitting experience that will produce the most heavenly fabric that rivals anything you'll see in the finest bespoke shops. Also, be prepared to like your garment for more than a few years as it holds up well. My first KSH sweaters made over a decade ago are still much loved and in sweater rotation in the Knitionary wardrobe

The pattern is a snap to make, but I feel it's very oversized. I made the XS size, but ripped it out and cast on again with much fewer stitches. I didn't keep notes, but I recommend making a size or even two sizes down. The original pattern calls for Rowan Mohair Haze, now discontinued, and KSH is a fair sub as the gauge and fabric feel is similar, just fiddle with needle sizes while you swatch to get gauge.

The first two pictures above are me of course, and the last three are of my darling teenage neighbor who will often model for me when she's in town.

Montreal pattern by Lisa Richardson

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Cotton Cashmere

I always love to have an opportunity to share a new yarn with you. Rowan's new spring/summer yarn, Cotton Cashmere, is 85% cotton and 15% cashmere in a worsted weight.  It has a lightweight handle on the needles and even with the predominance of cotton it has a nicely wooly and lanolin feel to it. I agonized over what color to choose, but landed on this shade of linen because I knew it would be pretty this summer with my white linen pants. The fabric is a bit rustic, very soft and drapey and I think it would make a beautiful tank or an open, swingy cardigan. It was very easy to knit with a soft handle and not needle fussy at all. Still, it's good to remember that plant fibers knit up differently than wool. If you've had one bad experience with stringy cotton yarn, allow me to give you a sales pitch to give it another chance. Plant fibers don't have as much bounce as wool but a good cotton yarn will never feel stringy or difficult. The stitches of a hand knitted cotton or linen fabric typically aren't as even as wool, but to me it's part of the charm. The fabric is soft, strong, and breathable. And summer begs for cotton!  I've always said that Rowan does cotton better than anyone else and this yarn does not disappoint. This summer I'll be knitting with Cotton Cashmere again and also have a few sweaters planned with Rowan Handknit Cotton, another wonderful summer cotton I become obsessed with every time spring is in the air. I hope you'll give cotton a chance this spring!  If you've had a cheap cotton yarn experience, come back and try it again!

The pattern is Cool from Kim Hargreaves' Spirit book. It is out of print, but still available to purchase. I'm crazy about this ribbed boatneck design and Kim likes it too as she seems to use it a lot. Pattern changes were to eliminate the stripes and lengthen the sleeves. For them I used the top-down set-in sleeve technique. When you pick up stitches from the armhole and knit them down with short rows, it's easy to stop when you have the length you want. I almost stopped at just below the elbow, but I felt this would be a summer evening sweater and I do like to be warm. Our summer evenings are chilly enough for longer sleeves.

There are a dozen support patterns for Cotton Cashmere, but you can also look for any pattern that uses Rowan's Creative Linen (which what my pattern was meant to be knit with). The gauge was spot on. I think a Kid Classic pattern would work too although the row gauge is different, still, I think it could work. The bonus is that there are a ton of gorgeous Kid Classic and Creative Linen patterns in print. 

Cotton Cashmere should be at your local yarn store by now, but if not, my local yarn store, Uncommon Threads, has it for purchase online:

Here I go again making another very plain stockinette sweater. But I know what looks best on me, and I know what I'll get the most use from: a plain sweater in a gorgeous fabric with a great fit. For this sweater I wanted a relaxed fit--not too tight, and not oversized. The ball band says this yarn can go in the washing machine, but I'm not so certain if I will do that. I don't anticipate any problems machine washing it, it's just that the fabric feels so lux I feel like I want to baby it. Either way I decide to wash it, I'll pat it to shape to dry in the shade, then give it a quick fluff in the dryer while it's still damp. I like my cotton sweaters to take about 10 minutes in a warm dryer to fluff them up.

Here's how to knit a top-down, set-in sleeve with short rows. It's easy!

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Acharn Romper pattern discount

Hello! Today I have a new pattern to share with you from Rainer & Bear. The Acharn Romper was part of a hand knitted collection designed exclusively for Fortnum & Mason, and now you can knit it too! Rainer & Bear patterns are beautifully produced with instructions that are easy to follow with a style that is vintage inspired and classic baby. Isn't this romper just precious with the cable detail down the sides and on the straps? The designers have kindly offered my readers a 30% discount on the pattern until the end of February using the coupon code: knitionary. I've got my yarn chosen and my pattern printed and I'm ready to knit this for my beautiful seven month old grandson.

The Acharn Romper by Rainer & Bear

It's super easy to use a coupon code, but if you've never used one, here's how it's done:

How to use a coupon code:

Click the pattern link above.
Select "add to cart", then select "checkout" on the pop-up window.
Hit the "add a coupon" button and type in knitionary.
Hit the "apply now" button.
The adjusted price will reflect the 30% discount.
Ater purchase, your pattern will be available to download and print.

It is a fact that all babies look scrumptious in hand knits. I've knit baby garments for years and feel so lucky that I now have a baby model right in my own family!

I make sure that all my baby knits are made with soft, machine washable fibers (I use mostly wool, cotton, or a blend of both). The Acharn Romper calls for DK weight yarn and I have chosen the soft and machine-washable Rowan Softyak DK for my new project. I love this yarn. It is predominately cotton with 15% yak and a dash of nylon. It knits up easily and beautifully, with a bit of sheen, and soft enough to go next to anyone's skin. It has a chain construction and therefore has a bit of bounce that helps to make the stitches line up evenly. Definitely not your everyday cotton. Below is a list of my favorite knitting yarns for baby; all are machine wash, super soft, easy to knit, and readily available:

Three Irish Girls Springvale DK--100% wool
Rowan Summerlite 100% cotton in either DK weight or fingering weight
I also love the Debbie Bliss Cashmerinos in sport weight or aran weight,
a blend of wool, acrylic, and cashmere.

This winter our little guy is wearing the knits I made for him before he was born. Likely he won't fit into any of these next winter, but we love them so much I'm planning to knit them again using the same patterns and the same yarn but knitting a size or two larger. The first one below is the Alaskan Pullover by Ainur Berkim. My son wants it again exactly the way it is--same colors, same yarn, and in fact is obsessed with it and wants one for himself! The designer says her husband wants one too so she is working on adult sizing. When I hear it's available, I'll make sure to let you know.

Stitches West is next weekend and I'm heading straight to the Three Irish Girls booth to get some Springvale DK again to remake this darling Silver Birch from Sarah Cooke below in the next size up. Won't this be too cute in red? Or a bright blue? I'm open to anything, including this pretty sea glass color again.

He has his learner's permit already! 

The Jump For Joy hoodie uses aran weight yarn. The machine wash Rowan yarn I used was discontinued so I'm bringing the pattern with me to Stitches to see what I can find. I'm open to any color but the kids do like this gray with the yellow and red touches. The pictures above and below are of our backyard explorations. He sits low in his little push car and we circle the garden a few times to pick flowers, swat oranges, pat moss, pick up sticks, that sort of thing. It takes a good half hour to do all this and when I have him for the day, we explore once in the morning and again in the afternoon. It's so sweet to see him concentrate on some tiny thing, but I wish I had a nickel for every time I've asked him not to put something in his mouth.

My little explorer has found something he likes! 

It looks tasty!

He's very good at stopping when I ask him to not put something in his mouth.

 But seconds later he tries again.

The stick was a terrific find. He held on to it for ages.
My little darling. I love him so much.

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