Friday, July 20, 2007

free pattern fridays: super-natural stripes


Once I started knitting this little baby cardigan, I couldn't stop. The color changes are worked on the wrong side, to accent the interplay of naturally-occurring colors in this great undyed organic cotton yarn. I noticed this technique in a little sweater that the Yarn Harlot was knitting and loved using it for this design.

This is a quick little knit - perfect for a summer baby gift. And of course, organic cotton is a great choice for delicate newborns... though I think you've heard me say that once or twice before. Happy knitting!

[Revised 4.17.08 with largest size added]
[Revised 2.15.09 to correct cast-on error in largest size]
[Revised 12.30.09 to correct an omission from sleeve decreases]

3 (4, 4) skeins (1 each color) Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton
color A: sage, 1 (2, 2, 2) skeins
color B: bone
color C: nut
size 7 (US) needles, circular and DPN
size 5 (US) needles, circular and DPN
size G (4.0 mm) crochet hook
one 1-inch button
sewing needle & thread
tapestry needle
stitch markers

gauge: 16 st and 22 rows / 4 inches

size: 0-6 mos (6-12 mos, 18 mos, 2-3 yrs)
chest measurements: 20, (22, 24, 30) inches

starting at the top
Using color C and larger needles:
CO 1 (1, 1, 2), PM, CO 8 (9, 10, 10), PM, CO 14 (15, 16, 18), PM, CO 8 (9, 10, 10), PM, CO 1 (1, 1, 2). 32 (35, 38, 42) st total.
Row 1: Knit across, Kfb at the st before and after each marker (8 st inc)
Row 2 and all even rows: Purl
Row 3: Kfb of first st, Kfb at the st before and after each marker, Kfb final st. (10 st inc)
Cont inc 10 st every row (P even rows).

At the same time, follow this guide for color changes every 6 rows:
Row 6: Do not P. Change to color A and K across.
Row 12: Do not P. Change to color B and K across.
Row 18: Do not P. Change to color C and K across.
Row 24 (final color change for the three smallest sizes): Do not P. Change to color A and K across.
For the largest size, cont with one more repeat of the color changes.

When there are 22 (23, 24, 26) st between the back markers, next odd row: Do not inc first and last st. Kfb at the st before and after each marker (8 st inc).
Continue inc 8 st every odd row and purling every even row.

When there are 40 (45, 48, 58) st between the back markers, next right side row: K to first M, remove M, place all shoulder st on scrap yarn to hold for sleeve, CO 2 st, remove second M, join to back st, K to next M, remove M, place all shoulder st on scrap yarn to hold for sleeve, CO 2 st, remove M, join to front st and K to end. You will not inc any further. 80 (88, 96, 118) st total on needles.

Knit sweater in color A until body measures 8.5 (10, 11.5, 14) in long from back neck.
Next even row: Change to smaller needles. Do not P. Change to color B and K across.
Next row: Change back to color A and K across.
Knit 5 more rows in garter st. BO loosely.

back view & close-up of the color changes

Using larger DPNs, place all held st on 3 DPNs, PM and join to K in rnd. 36 (41, 44, 48) st total).
Follow the color guide above to resolve sleeve color changes as for the sweater body.

Knit 4 rows even.
Next rnd: K1, K2tog, K to last 3 st, SSK, K1 (2 st dec).
K 2 rows and dec 2 st on the 3rd round.
Dec 6 (8, 10, 10) total st in this manner. 30 (33, 34, 38) st rem.
K even in color A until sleeve measures 5 (5.5, 6, 7.5) in long from armpit.
Next row: Change to smaller needles and color B, purl 1 row.
Next row: Change back to color A, K 1 row. Knit 4 more rows in garter st, BO loosely.
Make both sleeves in this manner.

button bands & collar
Using smaller circular needle and yarn color B, begin picking up stitches for the button band on the lower left side (RS). Pick up and knit 3 out of 4 st to collar (around 45, 52, 60, 70 st). Pick up and knit all the shoulder and back neck st (30, 33, 36, 40 st). Pick up and knit 3 out of 4 st down the right side of the cardi. You will have about 120 (137, 156, 180) st on your needle.

R1 (WS): Change to yarn color A. Knit 4 rows in garter st.
R5 (WS): BO loosely.

Sew down button just below the collar line (about 3.25-3.75 in. from shoulder) on the left side of the button band.
On the right side of the button band, make a crochet loop by attaching an 8 ch SC to the button band.

Weave in and trim all loose ends.

button closure close-up

P.S. Looking for a matching hat? Danielle has designed a great one... check it out here.

important notice: This is a free pattern and you are welcome to use it for all the non-commercial purposes you like. However, you may not reproduce this pattern to sell, and you may not sell what you make with it. You may donate what you make with it to charity, and you may use it for charity fundraisers only if 100% of the proceeds are donated to the charity (and by charity I don't mean your kid's college fund). Thanks for understanding!


  1. Off to start this one rigth away. I was hanging around in blogland waiting for this pattern today.

  2. What a darling cardi! Thanks so much for posting the pattern.

  3. Yay! I am VERY excited about this pattern and just finished printing it out. I have 4 skeins of Patagonia Nature Cotton (which has a similar gauge) that I didn't know what to do with - well now I do!

  4. So cute! And good for boys too :)

  5. So CUTE! Now I just need someone to have a baby for me to knit a sweater for!

  6. lovely! thanks for sharing your design :]

  7. This is too cute! I love using this yarn for baby items, too- so soft! Thanks for sharing another great pattern!

  8. thanks, i think this will be a perfect pattern for all the Blue Sky Cotton i've got kicking around, both organic and dyed - whatever, i'll be cute. thanks again!

  9. your baby jackets make me wanna span! and that's saying alot, since after 2 babies, i don't think i like babies so much!! so sweet!!!

  10. I love this sweater! Thanks for the free pattern- mind if I link to it?

  11. I followed Faith's link back to your baby sweater pattern. It's lovely! I glanced at your Free Pattern Friday archives and I was struck by the phrase that you used of "trying to decommercialize". I think that's fantastic. You have inspired me to follow your lead.

  12. Thanks for sharing, f.pea.
    Could you tell me what size around the finished cardi measures? It looks a slight bit "narrow" and there's a BIG baby boy due in November and I don't know if it'll be too small, even at six months, not knowing the size completed. Thanks so much.
    You are very generous.

  13. I finished my first cardigan a few days ago. The pattern was flawlessy written and turned out adorable. Here's a direct linkif you want to check it out- thanks for the pattern, loved it!!
    Click Here To Go To My cardigan

  14. Thank you so much for sharing your patterns! I am always on the lookout for a new baby cardigan pattern and this one looks fun. Printing it out right now. Thanks!

  15. This baby cardi is adorable and I have added it to my to-do list. Thanks for sharing your patterns!

  16. LOVE. you are the queen of baby patterns! i really need a little one to knit for that doesn't live in florida... hmmm. :) xo

  17. this is a long-overdue response to lisa's comment... sorry lisa that i don't have your email to respond directly. the chest measurement for the smallest size is 19". but since there's only one button, it shouldn't matter too much if the baby is super-grande size. alternately, you could do a few more increase rows before separating out the sleeves.

  18. Thank you so much for the pattern. I will be making this for sure!

  19. I'm going to give this a try in organic cotton! Thanks for providing your pattern for free, it's exactly what I was hoping to "invent" -- you saved me some work!

  20. I think I have spotted an error in the 6 - 12 months size:

    "When there are 40 (44, 48) st between the back markers, next even row: K to first M, remove M, "

    I don't think there can be 44 stitches between the back markers. The prior instruction said:

    "When there are 22 (23, 24) st between the back markers, next odd row: Do not inc first and last st. Kfb at the st before and after each marker (8 st inc).
    Continue inc 8 st every odd row and purling every even row."

    It would not be possible to increase by two between those back markers on each RS row and go from 23 to 44. It would have to be an odd number right?


  21. pamela, you are right! i think it should read "When there are 40 (45, 48) st between the back markers..." but i'll double check before posting a correction. thanks!

  22. Love the pattern, its so cute. But I think Pamelamama is right. I've been knitting the 6-12m. size tonight and have spent ages trying to figure where I went wrong. But I don't think I have made any errors.

    According to the instructions, row 24 is supposed to be the final colour change. Judging by the photo in the pattern, its even before this point that the sleeve stitches are separated out, or its at least AT the point of colour change. But at that stage I have 39 stitches between the back markers, ie at row 24. I know it can't be an even number (44 st as the pattern stated) because I started with an odd number between the back markers (15 stitches) and have been increasing by 2 stitches in every odd row. Therefore it should be an odd number.

    I can't see how I would end up with 45 stitches at this point, either. I'm sure my 39 are correct. I've jotted down the increases and added them again and again, and they still come to 39 at the back by row 24.

    I think I'll just need to keep knitting and increasing in my main colour till I get to about 45 stitches. This will make the sleeves and body a little wider, and I think possibly that's a good idea anyway.

    Next time I might add one more row of colour changes at the top, so that perhaps I'll use Nut first, then bone, sage, nut, bone, then the final colour change will bring me into sage for the bottom of the jacket.

    I'll be looking out for the correction. But thank you again for a cute little pattern!

  23. thanks everyone for the helpful comments! i've posted the revision, and i think that the questions above have all been resolved. note that i've also added a larger size for 2 year-olds.

  24. I'm nervous but I'm going to attempt this pattern. It's harder than anything I've tried before but I'm tired of sticking with scarves and hats.

    It's a gorgeous piece so thanks for sharing the pattern!

  25. Love this sweater. Thanks for sharing with all of us

  26. Hi, I made this sweater in the smallest size for my newest grandson. It made quite a hit, even though it was huge on him when he first got it. Mom and dad really loved it. I used colors as close as possible to yours in organic cotton. It really is nice!

    Wish I could figure out how to send you a picture of him in it at

    Thanks for the great pattern!

    Linda (

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  29. Thank you so much for sharing! I made this pattern for a dear friend, and it was a hit! This was actually my very first knitted baby sweater, but I found the pattern easy to follow :)
    Click to see photo
    I've been a crocheter since age 4; just learned to knit a few months ago and I am falling for it too :D

  30. I found your site for the knitted baby pattern (very cute), but where did you get the stunning quilt design in your header????

  31. Anonymous: It's not a quilt, just a snippet of vintage fabric.

  32. I absolutely adore this pattern, and have for a few months. I am considering taking the plunge to knit the largest size for my daughter who will turn 3 in Feb. She is on the smallish size ... do you think it will fit her through her 3 year old summer? Is the 2-3 size a bit on the big side or the small one?

    Also, is the number of stitches to cast on correct for the largest size? It says co 2, pm, co6, pm, co 18, pm, co 6, pm, co2. Is the 6 correct?

  33. Anonymous: The cast-on instructions should be correct. I made the largest size myself recently.

    As for sizing: The sizing lists a chest measurement for each size. The largest size has a 30" chest measurement. The best way to know whether the sweater will fit is to measure your child's chest circumference an add an inch or two for ease. If you're under 30", the 3-year size should be fine (at least til the next growth spurt).

  34. Great pattern! I have completed my first one, except for sewing on the button and loop for the button. I cannot wait to give this to a pregnant knitting friend. I know she will love it. I am ready to knit another one to stash for a future baby gift.

  35. Someone should make this into an adult size pattern and send it to me.

  36. I am confused, I do not think the cast on is correct for the largest size, or the additional add on numbers for the largest size, I think the numbers were placed in the wrong place. If I cast on for the large size as written I only get a total of 34 instead of 42, but if I use the 18 month size numbers for the 2-3 it works out. Please advise before I go any further, and thanks in advance

  37. I agree with Gloria - I tried to begin the larger size and I think there's an error - after the first marker the progression from small to large is written as 8, 9, 10, 6(?) - should it be 11? That would make the row 44 stitches before you start the increases.

    I have another question, on the 6 - 12 mos. size, what is the final length of the body and the sleeves?

  38. Hi, me again, I am making the sweater with the large as 8,9,10,10 and this comes out to the 42 stitches. I have started the sweater and hope there aren't anymore errors. Looks like sleeves for 6-12 size should measure 6" from armpit and then do ribbing. For sweater length I think it is 10" from back of neck before final 5 rows. At least that is what it looks like to me, :-)...cute pattern, hope it works out, have written to author, but no response as yet :-(

  39. Hi Gloria & Anonymous,

    Sorry about that error! Just a typo. I appreciate your leaving comments about it. Gloria is right, the large size should read 8 (9, 10, 10). I will edit the pattern ASAP.

    As for measurements, the body length for the 6-12 mos size is about 10.5 inches, and the sleeve length is about 6 inches. Of course, you can always lengthen or shorten to suit your needs.

  40. Thank you so much for responding to my question. I really appreciate it.

  41. Hello, f.pea.
    Would you mind telling us which size you have pictured here? I've just finished the body for the 2nd size (6-12 mo) and noticed that the stripes end before the sleeves separate off. I'm not unhappy at all about it but am curious whether it's a function of the size I've selected (& resulting number of stitches) or the guage (tighter than yours.) I think it's the knitting friend think's it's the guage...and we're at a stand still.
    Thanks so much for this lovely pattern.
    Best wishes,

  42. hi anne,

    i'm sorry, but i don't remember anymore which size that was (i'm thinking maybe the smallest?). you can always keep repeating the stripes if you want them to continue further into the sleeves and body. you are right though, it's the size, not the gauge.

  43. Thank you, f.pea. My end product wasn't quite as beautiful as yours, but my pregnant friend was moved and very happy with the little sweater I knitted for her first child.

  44. Hey there Fawn. I made you sweater last week and loved it so much that I designed some pants to go along with it! Check them out at Hope you like them :-)

  45. I am on my second sweater! I love this pattern. Thank you so much for sharing it!

    "nbrenchley" over at Raverly!

  46. it doesn't say how long of a circular needle you should use. it does make a difference, why don't patterns tell you how long as well as the size of the circular needle.

  47. Anonymous: Truly, the length of the circular needles does not matter for this pattern, since it is not knit in the round (it's a cardigan). Use whichever length is most comfortable for you. For a baby sweater like this I prefer needles around 24" long, but I'll use whatever I have on hand.

  48. Hi! Love the sweater- very, very cute. I just wanted to make sure of something..
    At the beginning, the instructions state:
    "Cont inc 10 st every row (P even rows)"

    and later on they state:
    "Continue inc 8 st every odd row and purling every even row"

    For the 10 st increase portion, do you increase every row (by doing a pfb at the beginning and end, and before and after each marker) or do you only increase odd rows.. I keep going back and forth on this...

    Thanks for all the great patterns and posts- I'm too struggling with green parenthood.

  49. Anonymous: Increase only on the odd rows.
    Thanks for your comments!

  50. Help! I am knitting the smallest size and I am at row 24 with total of 150 stiches (24+32+38+32+24). I have no idea what does "22 stiches between back markers" mean... I am stuck because I don't know what to do next. Please help me!

  51. Tynka: Sadly you have gone toooo faaaar. "22 stitches between back markers" means between the second and third markers on your needle. Those stitches make up the back of the sweater. [The first section of stitches is the front left of the sweater, the second section is the left sleeve, then the back (between the back markers), then the right sleeve, then the right front.] Please feel free to email me for more detailed help: f.pea[at] Or see the FAQ page for general help with top-down knitting:

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  53. Hello! I have a question for you.
    in the beginning of the pattern it has the odd rows as knits and the even rows as purls.

    Later in the pattern it says:
    When there are 40 (45, 48, 58) st between the back markers, NEXT EVEN ROW: K to first M.....

    if you were to knit on the even row (which is the purl row) is that going to make a garter stitch row across the sweater? like this one:

    thank you!

  54. Jessica: thanks so much for your comment! I can't believe you're the first person to catch this mistake. It should say "next RIGHT SIDE row." I will fix the pattern now. Thank you!

  55. You are welcome! I kept thinking "am I just not getting something in the scheme of things??" LOL

    I love the pattern! I have also done the Mossy Jacket and it turned out great. You should see the picture at the end of my blog post:

  56. On your states to knit to the last 3 stitches then ssk. Do you want a K1 after the ssk leaving two stitches between the decreases?

    Or do I knit one before I ssk leaving only one stitch between the decreases?

  57. Comfort wool: Yes, there should be a K1 in there! Thanks for pointing out this omission.
    So it should say:
    Next rnd: K1, K2tog, K to last 3 st, SSK, K1 (2 st dec).
    Good catch! I will correct the pattern right away.

  58. I hope you don't mind. I knit up a little hat to match your sweater and wanted to share the link to my blog.

    1. Just found this! I was looking for a hat pattern to match the sweater. Thanks!!

  59. Sorry for my ignorance but what does "PM" indicate in this pattern? I've never read it before. Darling sweater!

  60. Vicki: Sorry, PM is "place marker." Just stick a marker there. I get carried away with the abbreviations sometimes.

  61. Absolutely beautiful. I scoured my entire town for the right shade of brown for color B and finally resolved to rip out a half-finished project. This is WONDERFUL!!! Thank you SO MUCH!

  62. I'm upset with the pattern. I was supposed to stop increasing on the first and last stitches when the back section reached 22 stitches. The pattern didn't tell me that until after I had done the ridges. I ended up having to rip out half my work. This section needs to be put before the ridge section.

  63. As a beginner knitter, I'm confused about the front panel sts. On the largest size: When the back sts equal 58, the front panel sts equal 25 sts each side. I need to have 28 sts per front, plus the 58 back sts, plus the 4 sts cast on to equal 118 before continuing with the body of the sweater. Did I miss something? What am I doing wrong?

  64. Hi anonymous, I'm not sure what happened, but you can fix it from here fairly easily. You can knit one more increase row, which would give you 60 in the back, and 26 in each front panel. When you cast on the joining stitches in the armpit, cast on 3 each side instead of 2 each side. Voila! 118 stitches. Nobody will ever know the difference. : )

  65. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  66. Hi f.pea

    I absolutely love this pattern :o) I made one for my daughter 3 years ago with bamboo tape and it turned out beautifully. I would love to make her another, she's 4.5years now and I was wondering if you have ever calculated this pattern into bigger sizes, something I'm not confident with at all I'm afraid! Thank you!

  67. Thanks Lisa! I'm sorry, I haven't calculated any larger sizes.
    If you want to go for it, you just need to keep on keeping on with the increases until the chest circumference is as big as you need, and lengthen the sleeves. Feeling bold?? ; )

  68. Thank you for this great pattern. As I knit for charity, I'm looking forward to trying this sweater. Bless you for sharing it with us.

  69. Thank you for sharing this lovely cardigan. can you please clarify if the decreasing on the sleeves should be every other row or every third row? I have done every other row and it looks a bit funny. I will do the other sleeve to match, but would like to know for next time. I'm sure I will make this pattern again.

  70. Why is stitch count off. On smallest size when there are 40 stitches between back marker the count is like this 17-34-40-34-17 for a total of 142 stitches. You put the sleeve stitches on scrap yarn = 68 stitches. 142-68 sleeve stitches = 74 stitches. You're going to cast on 2 stitches on either side, 4 stitches, add that to 74 that's only 78 stitches. Not 80.

  71. I've really enjoyed making this cardi for my son. I'm making the biggest size (he's 20 months). I've had the same problem as someone above with the stitch numbers. I have 112 (25-50-58-50-25) I will try the fix above too. Also I was wondering if there was any plans for a bigger size, my daughter wants one and she's 4!

  72. I do knit for charity, unfortunately the place I am going to sell everything, makes me put a prize on everything and I have to pay taxes, but I promise, every penny made will go to a local animal rescue

  73. The mom I'm knitting this for is wanting a sweater not a cardi. But I love this one, I'm new to knitting, is there some way I could adjust the pattern so that below the collar I can work in the round to make it a sweater? I'm making the largest size. Thanks

  74. What a sweet wee easy pattern to do! Thank you! Can I ask though what weight of yarn did you use? Ie double knit, aran, chunky? Ive just knitted the smallest size in dk and although it looks like it'll fit a newborn perhaps not a 6 mth old baby? thinking i should have used a thinker yarn? Thanks

    1. BSA Organic Cotton is a worsted weight cotton. Did you get gauge? That's the key to getting the sizing right: 16 st and 22 rows / 4 inches. I think DK would come out tiny.

  75. I usually crochet but I am going to try and knit this adorable sweater. Once I place the markers on the needle, do they stay there thru the whole project? If so, how do I count the stitches between the markers on the later rows when the markers have moved away from the needles?

    1. Hi Lynne! Thanks for your question! It's a great one because it illustrates one of the many little quirks that make knitting and crocheting so similar... and yet so different: Stitch Markers.

      In crochet, when you place a stitch marker you attach it directly to the stitch. It's shaped like a little lock so that you can move it from one stitch to another as needed.

      But in knitting, you place the stitch marker BETWEEN two stitches, and it rides along on the needle as you knit. Because you're knitting on a circular needle, the stitch marker hangs out on the needle cord, safely between two stitches. Each time you come to that marker, you slip it from the right needle to the left needle, so that it magically moves up a row along with you each time you get to it.

      This may be hard to visualize, so just trust me. You'll definitely be able to count the stitches between the markers on later rows.

      Happy knitting!


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