Friday, October 12, 2012

free pattern friday :: apiary jumper

This little sweater dress is all about the yarn. Choose a variegated yarn in bold colors with medium-to-long color changes – the stitch patterns in this dress will really show them off. And choose superwash if this garment is going to be a gift! The jumper is designed to be worn over a top and pants or leggings. The straps are adjustable, so your child can get 2 years of wear out of this sweet three-season tunic.
Yarn suggestions: Malabrigo Ríos, Brooks Farm Solana, Creatively Dyed Yarn Woodbrook, or Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted. The dress shown was knit in Malabrigo Ríos in color #103, Archangel.

sizes: 12-18 mos (2-3 years, 4-5 years, 6-7 years)

12-18 mos size: chest circumference: 20 inches.  overall length: 16 inches.
2-3 years size: chest circumference: 24 inches. overall length: 18 inches.
4-5 years size: chest circumference: 26 inches. overall length: 19.5 inches.
6-7 years size: chest circumference: 28 inches. overall length: 21 inches.

Malabrigo Ríos, 2 (2, 3, 3) skeins
Size 8 (US) circular needle, 24 inches
Size 6 (US) circular needle, any length
2 buttons, about 1-1/8 to 1-3/8 inches / 28 to 34mm
Tapestry needle
Sewing needle
Sewing thread to match

gauge:  20 stitches / 4 inches on size 6 needles in stockinette stitch

slipped honeycomb stitch
work over an odd number of stitches
R1 (RS): Knit
R2 (WS): K1, *Slip 1 with yarn in back, K1. Repeat from * to end.
R3: Knit
R4: K1, *K1, Slip 1 with yarn in back. Repeat from * to end.

You will begin this dress at the lower edge and knit in the round on circular needles.
Note to the purl-averse: The first 14 rounds are based on garter stitch, so if you’re one of those people who can’t stand purling, knit the first 14 rounds flat and sew them up later.

Using larger needles, cast on 125 (151, 163, 175) stitches, place a stitch marker, and join to knit in the round. Knit the first 6 rounds in garter stitch (alternating knit and purl rounds).
Round 7: K1. Knit, wrapping three times for each stitch, to end.
Round 8: Purl, dropping all the extra wraps.
Knit 6 more rounds in garter stitch.
Change to stockinette stitch. Continue knitting in the round until dress measures 9 (10, 10, 11) inches from cast-on edge.

Decrease for bodice:
Change to smaller needles. *Knit 7, work a centered double decrease. Repeat from * to end. As you come to the last 5 (2, 3, 5) stitches, K2tog, K to end. 100 (120, 130, 140) st remain.

Centered double decrease:
Slip 2 stitches together knitwise. K1. Pass the slipped stitches over the knit stitch. 2 stitches decreased.

You will now divide the front and the back of the dress, and knit each side of the bodice flat in Slipped Honeycomb stitch. Just hold the back half of the dress on scrap yarn while you work the front.

R1: K 51 (61, 65, 71) place the remaining 49 (59, 65, 69) stitches on scrap yarn to hold. Turn, work row 2 of Slipped Honeycomb stitch.
Continue knitting this section in the stitch pattern for 2 (2, 3.5, 3.5) inches.

Make armholes

Note: Through the rest of the bodice and the straps, you will begin every row with a slipped stitch, with the yarn held in front (WYIF). This creates a very tidy, even edge for any garter stitch-based stitch pattern and eliminates the need for a border to be picked up & knit or sewn on later.

Note also: Throughout the remainder of the bodice, you will continue to work the honeycomb stitch pattern as established. Because of decreases at many row ends, you will sometimes need to work row 2 instead of row 4 of the honeycomb stitch, or vice-versa. The important thing is to keep the slipped stitches staggered as established when you began working the pattern – this is easy to follow with your eye.

Decrease row (RS): Slip 1 WYIF, SSK, SSK, K to the last 5 stitches. K2tog, K2tog, K1 (4 st decreased).
Next row (WS): Slip 1 WYIF, K to end (maintaining pattern).

Repeat the last two rows 2 (4, 4, 5) more times, until 37 (41, 45, 47) stitches remain on the needles.

Sizes 12-18 mos, 4-5 years:
Next RS row: Slip 1 WYIF, SSK, K to last 3 stitches. K2tog, K1. (2 st decreased)

35, (41, 43, 47) st remain.

Continue working in patt until the bodice section measures 3.5 (3.5, 5, 5) inches.

Work neckline:
* *You will still slip the first stitch of every row (RS and WS) with yarn held in front!**
Next RS row: K16, BO 3 (9, 11, 15), K16.

Right front:
Keeping the first section on a holder, work the second section of 16 stitches, maintaining the honeycomb stitch pattern and the first stitch slipped every row.
WS: Knit in patt to end of row (neckline).
RS: Slip 1 WYIF, SSK, SSK, patt to end. (2 st dec).
WS: Turn, patt to end of row (neckline).
Repeat these last 2 rows til 10 stitches remain.
Next RS row: Slip 1 WYIF, SSK, patt to end. 9 stitches remain.
Continue working these 9 st in honeycomb stitch pattern for 3 more rows.
Next RS row, work buttonhole: K3, BO 3, K3.
Turn, patt 3, cast on 3 st using backwards loop cast on, patt 3.
Work 2 more rows in patt.
RS: Bind off all stitches as follows: Slip 1 WYIF, SSK, BO all stitches to last 3, K2tog, BO.

Left front:
Join yarn to held stitches at the neckline to work the left side.
WS: Knit in patt to end of row.
RS: Slip 1 WYIF, patt to last 5 stitches, K2tog, K2tog, K1.
You will work the left front just as you did for the right, but working your neckline-edge decreases as K2tog’s (as instructed for previous 2 rows).
Work buttonhole and bind off as you did for the right front.

Join yarn and work the back as you did for the front, right up through the armholes. Work the armhole decreases until 35, (41, 43, 47) st remain.

When the back bodice measures 4.5 (4.5, 6, 6) inches, work the back neckline exactly as you did the front.
However, once 9 stitches remain on each side, do not work a buttonhole.
Instead, work these 9 st in patt until each shoulder strap measures 3.5 (4, 4.5, 5) inches from the point where you separated out the two sides. Bind off on the RS, using decreases to shape the ends just as you did on the front side.

Sew up the sides below the armhole.
Weave in all ends.

Button placement:
Wash and block the garment before sewing on buttons. Try the dress on the intended recipient if you possibly can, using safety pins to mark where you want the buttons to go. If you can’t try it on the child first, the default setting is to sew on the buttons such that the finished armholes measure about 5 (6, 6, 6.5) inches. Stretch the straps gently as you measure, since these straps will stretch a bit lengthwise during wear.

If the dress is to be given as a gift, wind a generous length of sewing yarn around a small card and present it with the dress, so that the buttons may be moved down the strap as the child grows (you may wish to offer to provide this service to the recipient’s parent, since many people today are unfamiliar with domestic arts like button-sewing).

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

new free pattern coming friday!

One thing about being at home with a new baby: I have time for knitting.

Not for sitting in a cozy chair for hours with yarn, This American Life and a cup of tea knitting, but for ten minutes snatched here and there. That's certainly enough time to make progress on hats, socks, mittens and baby gear.

Anyway, I've been working on a hat for the Little Bee to serve as her Halloween costume. Based on the available yarn in my stash, she is going to be a fish. I'm having fun adapting this little bonnet pattern into a fishy-looking headpiece. Hopefully it will be worth the effort!

And some truly amazing news: I have a new Free Pattern Friday coming! I designed and knit this dress (pictured above) for the Pea and for our friend Vee months ago, and have been way behind on silly things like sewing on buttons and proofreading the pattern... but it's finally just about ready! Just need to add photos to the pattern.

I hope it will make some fun fall knitting for someone with a little girl in their life. Til Friday!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

build a backyard sand table

The Little Pea loves to dig in the sand. When we go to the playground, she often spends the whole time sprawled barefoot in the sandbox, happily building and destroying towns, castles and farms.

With a new baby on the way, we decided we needed to make our backyard more fun, since trips to the playground and the museum might slow down a bit this fall. So we built our own sand table. It was really easy and cost us less than $20 total. A retail sand table starts at $30 for a very small & chintzy model, and I've seen them sell for more than $100. I think the Pea especially loves hers because she helped us build it.   

Here's what you'll need:

- An under-the-bed storage box with a lid (about $7 at the store, or you might already have one).
- A wooden crate or small coffee table to mount it on (we had one sitting in the garage).
- Four large, flat screws with washers (about $1.50 from the hardware store).
- An electric drill with a small drill bit (we used a 1/16-inch bit).
- Two 50-lb bags of play sand ($5 each at the hardware store).
- Assorted sand toys (repurposed yogurt containers work great if you don't have beach toys).

Mount the storage box on the crate or table

First I positioned the storage box on the crate just the way I wanted it to go, and then drilled holes for each of the four screws. 

Then I screwed each one in place with a washer in between, which I thought might help the plastic last longer without cracking.

Drill some small drainage holes

I drilled lots of tiny drainage holes all over the bottom of the storage box so that if (when) the Pea dumped water into the sand table, it would have a way to drain out. I wanted the holes to be large enough to let water through, but not so large that sand would leak out. We used a 1/16-inch drill bit. If I had it to do over, I would probably go one size larger.

Fill the play table with sand

This part was fun for all of us! Two big bags of sand were plenty. The storage box was quite full, but that's okay because it wasn't long before sand started migrating all over our yard.

Keep it covered

We were sure to get a box with a tight-fitting lid to keep out the rain. Make sure to cover it up whenever your child is done playing - nothing worse than an unexpected thunderstorm to turn your sand table into a mud pit. If it does get very wet, just leaving the lid off on a couple of sunny days dries it out pretty well.

Have fun!

The Little Pea and her friends spend a lot of time at this table. It's fun to watch how they combine the sand play with other activities in the backyard, like garden digging, restaurant, and "beach" play with the wading pool. I'm looking forward to seeing what else they do with it, with the onset of lovely fall weather and more time outside.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

welcome, little bee

The newest member of the Pea family arrived last week. This is the Little Bee.

It was a wonderful day for our family. Bee was born on September 27th, my father's birthday. He would have been 63 - we gave her his name to celebrate. He was very much with us throughout the anticipation and the arrival.

It has been indescribably sweet to see my family so full of joy. I feel a deep, contented, peaceful happiness that I've never quite experienced before. It's wonderful.

The Little Pea (not so little anymore) is a terrific big sister. She loves the baby and is all about helping her parents care for her. She's also on emotional high gear as she adjusts to sharing us with her sister, which has been a bit of a roller coaster. Luckily the breastfeeding hormones are keeping me happy and spacey, which helps a lot with toddler management.

Looking forward to knitting itty bitty things again. Next up I think will be a funky animal hat for Hallowen. The Pea is going as a parrot. What should the Bee wear?