Evolution of a Knitting Pattern

January 30, 2015

I finished this baby cardigan recently.

IMG_5938It is for an almost-here neighbour. It is knit up in some cotton from deep in the stash, Patons Gem, a smooth unmercenized 4ply from an oppy many years ago.

The pattern is my own. Well, more correctly, it is an evolved pattern.

IMG_5950Six years ago, in preparation for the birth of our second child, I knit up a new born Baby Sweater on Two Needles, that classic pattern by Elizabeth Zimmerman in Knitter’s Almanac, also known as the February Baby Sweater. I knit it straight up without any modifications other than changing the stitch pattern on the body. It was knit with a natural brown Polwarth from Tarndie. I remember being in the Dennis farm shop with a toddler in tow, the beginnings of a baby belly and very clear knitting plans. I also knit the EZ leggings from the same book and added a simple beanie…it was almost a layette. Funnily enough, Our Dear Girl grew into the separate bits at different times so I don’t recall they were ever worn together. As I remember, she wore the beanie first (when less than an hour old) and only the beanie as she nestled in for those first feeds.

IMG_5935I made that cardie a number of times for different babies changing the stitch patterns but little else. Then when Our Dear Girl was in her first summer, I made a cotton cardie, in the pale green Patons Gem. I had seen a pic of a similar one in an old black and white Patons book but I didn’t have a pattern (I knew not of the Ravelry powers then). I found the yoke stitch pattern in a stitch dictionary, and with the encouragement of EZ, I thought I would use the bones of her baby cardigan to knit the one I wanted.

IMG_5946The heart of the genius of EZ was to see into the relationships of a knitting design, distill them in a commonsense way and encourage experiments. So with that in mind, I kept the three sets of yoke increases and inset the stitch pattern in between. And yes, it looks a lot like Granny’s Favourite but I didn’t know that at the time. Where EZ had placed the textured stitch pattern, I put in stockinette. Stitch counts and button bands remained roughly the same.

IMG_5943It was a great cardie, got washed a lot and eventually grown out of. Which brings me up to this last cardie which I call Green Grow the Babies O. Β Same stitch counts, same sets of yoke increases but this time I have a knitted on garter stitch button band and I increased into the skirt to give it the slight A line shape so handy over the nappy bottom.

IMG_5940This is my favourite kind of knitting: a clear set of shaping relationships and yarn from the stash. Something exciting always happens.

Postscript: I started this as part of Summer of the Single Skein, but the button band needed just a wee bit extra. And if you like reading about knitting modifications on a grander scale, you will surely enjoy The Gift of Knitting

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  1. I have EZ’s book and I haven’t read it. The shame. Those greens are so cheerful and the first one you made so special. Work that is easy to love! I agree – sometimes all you need to know is “how the puzzle works” to gain confidence to step out. I took a course with Isolda Teague a couple of years ago, which took a different approach to design, but it was useful nevertheless. I wish I 1) didn’t have so many interests and 2) actually organized myself and did some of the many knitting things I want to do. πŸ™

  2. Lovely post, Rebecca. Your baby sweater name is perfect for a birthing ballad, something to hum as I knit like a demon to get a baby kimono off the needles and onto a new arrival to the neighborhood.

    Your thoughts about extending the life of a pattern were spot-on. Returning to an old standard and pushing the edges around has a kind of joy to it. Don’t you think?

  3. How special that knitting this little cardi brought back memories of earlier knitted items. The story of your little one wearing a beanie you made an hour after she was born is so touching. The latest cardi is so wonderfully green and stripey, and those red buttons just pop with colour.

  4. After retiring a couple of years ago, I chose knitting as one of the major ways to spend my time. But, I am often overwhelmed as there are so many books, videos and yarns out there. So, this post is affirming as I am reading EZ’s book and find pattern adaptation is a great way to learn and create at the same time. Maybe it’s the knitting in the stitches of the “greats.” Thanks, Rebecca.
    The cardigan and its name are lovely.

  5. Funny, I think something exciting happens WHENEVER you pick up the needles! Love this new take on a classic baby pattern, a cheery way to welcome your almost-here neighbour πŸ™‚ xo

  6. GREEN!! Love it πŸ™‚ Similar (but lines extended) to the Gilliam H cardi. I like it very much. and was so happy to see you knit a Brown cardi for your daughter, people here see brown and have a ‘fit’. I am going to spin and knit a Polworth grey hoodie for a friends baby. So there!!

  7. Oh I adore that little green baby cardigan. What a perfect color combination of the 2. I have a few of EZ’s books apart from one I think but have not knit too many patterns from them. Isnt it funny how you knit so many things for your babies and some things get worn a lot and then some others hardly at all.

  8. It’s wonderful to see how the “bones” can be personalised and adapted, isn’t it?

    All three of these darling cardis have their own personality and it’s such a sweet tale of evolution that runs through the three.

  9. I love your versions of EZs classic, and the latest has transformed it into something very cute and contemporary. I’ve also knit this pattern several times and changed the stitch patterns, but not as cleverly as this

  10. Great colours and patterns. I had to laugh at ‘other’ Susan who talked about people having a ‘fit’ with brown for a baby! I love it and all shades of it and grey. I REFUSED to put pink and blue on my children and they had reds and plaids etc etc etc. Am about to do this in dark BROWN with a green for the leaves for a 1 year old. It is also nice to knit for babies/children as one doesn’t need to be SO precise with measurements. Thanks for your brown cardi πŸ™‚

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