Winter Garden

Published on Tuesday January 17th, 2012

UPDATE: If you’d like to purchase Winter Garden, it’s in my Ravelry store. There’s also a link to buy it in the sidebar of my new blog.

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words about the new jumper! I originally had a mad plan to knit one in a different palette for Ada to keep… I think I’ll follow through on that, but I’ll have to knit her the next size.

WinterGarden (1 of 6)

WinterGarden (3 of 6)

Fierce! With crooked teeth!

Winter Garden features Brooklyn Tweed’s new fingering-weight American wool, LOFT, which I could happily knit till the end of my days. The only trouble with using LOFT for colorwork like this is that the skeins are much more generous in size — 275 yards/50 grams — than you typically find for this weight: Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift, for example, comes in a put-up of 115 yards/25 grams and is therefore less than half the price. I had to splurge to acquire the six gorgeous shades I chose for contrast colors. One could certainly just purchase two skeins of the main color and go stash-diving for the rest (the yardage needed is very little per color), but it is dreadfully hard to resist once you’ve ogled Jared Flood’s luscious and thoughtfully edited palette of heathers in person. And I’m really so pleased with this motif that I’m dying to knit myself a whole pullover of stripes and flowers to use up the substantial remnants! (The red — Long Johns — may not last that long, though. I have my eye on Gudrun Johnson’s new Norby hat.)

WinterGarden (4 of 6)

I had planned to weave a 1/4″ velvet ribbon through the eyelets and tie a bow, but decided the effect would be too fussy for my tousle-headed girl. The eyelets form a sufficient visual divide between the skirt and the bodice as they are… though part of me still thinks that ribbon would be irresistibly sweet.

WinterGarden (2 of 6)

I have written up the pattern for the 12-18 month (20″/50 cm around at the bodice) size shown here. I think this will be the smallest size, but I’d like your input on that before I grit my teeth and buckle down to the onerous process of grading it. Would you want to knit this for a smaller baby, say 6-12 months? With the buttons placed as they are I wouldn’t really consider it practical for anyone who still spends most of her time lying on her back. And what about for bigger kids? I was thinking, on the supposition that most folks won’t want to knit a larger garment on 3 and 3.25 mm needles, about going up to 4T. I also figure a child gets pretty opinionated about her wardrobe by then and it would be a tragedy to put in this kind of time and love only to be rejected! But tell me what you think about the sizing.

WinterGarden (6 of 6)

WinterGarden (5 of 6)

My experience knitting Winter Garden lead me to a scheme for 2012: I believe I shall try to buy only non-merino wools. My friends think this is utter madness, and of course I feel the world of wool would be a sadder and itchier world without the contributions of the noble merino. But what about all the other breeds, each so full of its own character and history? Merino has long been the gold standard, but now that it’s so widely available it’s also become almost the only wool many knitters (and the loved ones who wear their creations) will touch, and our choices at the yarn shop reflect that demand. I fear other breeds may already be suffering as fewer farmers raise them for the high-end hand-knitting market. And it may be no good thing for the merino sheep themselves to be so disproportionately favored. Understand that I’m speaking entirely from instinct, not from having done any thorough research into the state of the world-wide sheep industry. But on a personal level, too, many of my favorite and most-worn projects are of breeds other than merino. Amanda, my warmest and best-looking sweater, is knit from Wensleydale grown here in Oregon. My Blue Thistle jacket, also still unpilled and looking great, is Perendale. Mr. G’s Fishtrip cardigan is who-knows-what sturdy wool. My Pas de Valse is BFL (and pretty pilly now, but I blame this on the loose gauge the design requires, not the wool itself) and my Rorschach jacket is Icelandic wool. So let the non-merino stash diet begin. I predict I won’t even miss it (and of course there’s plenty of merino already residing in my yarn closet if I do). Anyone care to join me?

26 Comments to “Winter Garden”

  1. tracy Comment Says:

    Hmmmm…..I like your non-merino plan. I could possibly get on board with that. I’ve often tried to limit my purchases somehow or another, and it never quite works out. This one I might be able to work with! I’ll let you know how it goes.

  2. Karen S Comment Says:

    It is such a beautiful little dress!
    I think 12 mo should be the smallest size, I at least wouldn’t knit for a girl who couldn’t stand up in it and show off its beauty.

    Cool non-merino plan. I look forward to reading about your experience with it.

  3. Ivana Comment Says:

    First – the dress is gorgeous! No advice on the sizing though, since I’m not a mom 🙂
    Second – I am surprised to read about merino being the gold standard… It shows to me how much I yet have to learn about the world of knitting! Anyway, for me personally wool is the absolute best material…

  4. Siga Comment Says:

    Hmm… I think the jumper/ dress is really from 12 months onwards and agree with you that it is not the best thing for somebody who spends their days laying. On the other hand, my little one was sitting from 5 months onwards. And this cute dress would work with that. I’m already waiting impatiently for the pattern to show up.

  5. Seanna Lea Comment Says:

    While I don’t have any kids (yet), I have seen a lot of women at the knitting circle working on fairly complex sweaters with relatively small needles. I have a baby sweater for my next friend who has a baby and while it is for a new born, it is knit on size 2 or 3 needles. I think there are plenty of people who would like to make something cute for their older little ones.

  6. Phoebe Comment Says:

    After spending a lot of time knitting sweaters with merino that pilled like crazy and looked totally old and ratty after a couple of wears, I am all about the non-merino wools. They may not be as soft, but I always wear a shirt underneath a sweater anyway. I love the durability and rustic look of hardier wools.

  7. Max Comment Says:

    I might join you on the other wools front. I do think I want to branch out a bit. However, I would be knitting just for myself. Not a bad thing as I have a lot of wips for my daughters and my man can knit for himself. He can knit for the girls too now that I think of it. I am getting a little tired of knitting in purple and pink all of the time!!

    My youngest is one year (and 20 days old), but she has been wearing 12-18 month sized clothes since she was about 9 months. She is taller than the usual. She has just learned to walk. For ease of dressing her, I would still move the buttons, perhaps to left shoulder. Or I would just make one button at the top and shorter placket. I have a five year old too and I have been going to bigger needles for her. I have however made 3 mm gauge stuff for her as a 4 year old. If I were to knit this, I may go for a size for about a 6 or 7 or 8 year old. It would take some of the pressure off immediate completion and I could have the 2 for 1 benefits of having the younger grow into it. Of course, what you say about being opinionated is perfectly true, but Iris has always chosen the colours for the sweaters that I knit for her since she was about 3. I let her explore my tickle trunk of yarns and she often requests things based on what she finds. She has also been asking for a dress.

  8. torirot Comment Says:

    I love the dress, especially the flower border! I would consider making one for my niece, who is 1,5 years old, so size 2 years would be perfect 🙂

  9. Kelly Comment Says:

    I agree with others that 12-18 month size ought to be the smallest. Learning to crawl is a complicated business without a dress/tunic/jumper tangling about ones legs.

  10. frances Comment Says:

    I’d love to make this jumper for my granddaughter who’s 4 — so cute! You might be right about any older a child balking at it for whatever idiosyncratic reason, but still, I’d hope for a size 5 . . . 6. . . I suspect you could budge a child’s intention a bit by providing different-coloured (and itch-distancing) t-shirts and tights/leggings for the first layer.
    And your little girl is the most delightful model — thanks for sharing this joyful photos!

  11. Holly Comment Says:

    I can’t wait to buy and make this pattern. I think 12 months being the smallest size is great. That way it gets most oohs and aahs when they’re walking. I’m due in 8 weeks and a slow knitter, so please hurry!

  12. Kim D. Comment Says:

    The dress is simply beautiful and she looks so like you. What a little stunner.

    As to sizing… I think that you could consider going a little larger in sizing and not worry about the finer gauge and smaller needles. Remember Dale patterns are still made for girls 6-8 at smaller gauges and they have that Hanna Anderson look, so I think it would be beautiful with a pair of leggings. My daugther when a little younger, the 6-8 range, would have happily worn it.

  13. Therese Comment Says:

    I’m with you on the merino boycott. Give me a rustic, toothy, sturdy non-merino wool any day! Shetland, Icelandic, BFL…love them.

  14. linken Comment Says:

    I love the dress 🙂 and your model is too cute! I think you are right on staying closer to the walking size/age of kids. Jumpers and dresses were so hard at the crawling/tottering stage. Such a lovely elegant design for a child. If only I had a daughter who was smaller and less opinionated *grin*. Last year my daughter asked for a fushia sweater with an icelandic style yoke. I let her design it, I knit it on 4’s in roughly a size 14 youth – she loved it, she would come inspect it after school daily and pet it. Yet have I seen it out of the closet since? Nope. Oh well. Not all knits are winners.

    Yeah for knitting with other wools besides merino! I so enjoy spinning lincoln, romney and wensleydale and it is a treat to knit with in my book. Crown Mountain Farms also has quite a large offering of fibers that are non merino – and grown and milled in the USA!!! (So awesome in my book.) Though finding commercial yarns locally available outside of BFL and Merino seems to be like finding a needle in a haystack. 🙁

  15. Projektmanagerin Comment Says:

    I’d love to knit this – period.
    I have nieces aged 8 weeks to 7 years who would probably more than happy to wear this supercute dress, too.
    And I agree – there is nothing wrong with sturdier, more “classic” or diversified – if itchier – wool, if it is not worn against the skin. This dress would qualify totally!
    Can’t wait for the pattern!

  16. lizzie Comment Says:

    So cute!! Look at her going up the steps by herself !! So much personality ! The dress is gorgeous also !

  17. Allison Comment Says:

    Such a cute little girl! I would love that jumper in a grownup size, but if you’re making it for kids I could just buy the pattern for the flower motif and improvise 🙂
    A year without merino sounds great, and I had already planned to knit with American wools, which are turning out to be mostly Heritage…you’ve got a taker!

  18. Britt Comment Says:

    Oh the sweetness!! I think that a 12 month size is the smallest needed – crawlers just don’t wear skirty things well, do they? And because my daughter is 1.5 – I selfishly desire a size 2 and 3. Much older and they will pick their own things to wear. Please and THANK YOU!

  19. Christina Wall Comment Says:

    Yes, I totally agree, cut down on Merino, it pills dreadfully. It’s rare to find someone who is willing to make the sacrifice on softness. But I do find the non-merino sweaters look the nicest as time passes. Love the little jumper. So adorable!

  20. Linda in NC Comment Says:

    Lovely little dress on a lovely little miss. I think 4T would be pushing it just because of the “I don’t want to wear it!” factor though perhaps not every small girl is as opinionated as mine was. Personally, I wouldn’t knit it smaller than 12 mo. or larger than 3T.

    I love your idea of buying other wools than merino for the year because I think you’re absolutely right about demand and supply. I am on a total yarn diet for the year however, so won’t be indulging in any wools, merino or otherwise. 🙁

  21. Meg Comment Says:

    At least in the boy knitwear department, I feel like there is a dearth of patterns covering the no-longer-a-baby, not-yet-a-big-kid phase of about 12 months to 4 years, so I agree with your thinking on sizing. That said, I do know a fashion plate of a 7 year old girl who would eagerly wear a dress like this one!

    I will reassure all the little merinos running round down here that it’s not them, it’s you! xx

    PS The dress is absolutely divine. And she looks so confident on the stairs!

  22. Martha Lazar Comment Says:

    I agree about kids younger than 12 months having problems crawling in a dress. I have an 8 year-old girl and there are precious few patterns for her age. Loads for babies and up to 4T, but not much for her age. She loves what I make her and would probably love this sweet dress.

  23. misa Comment Says:

    An absolutely adorable dress. In general I don’t think crawling babies work well with dresses, but that doesn’t stop the shops from being full of them. I’m on a toothy wool quest this year, not quite non-merino, but I’ve had some bad experiences with soft wools pilling horribly so I want garments that will last and last.

  24. chrissie day Comment Says:

    with you on the anti merino jaunt whether fettering or knitting see my article re this subject in Fibrearts now the new magazine
    Good luck

  25. Joni Comment Says:

    What an adorable little dress. I really must put down the socks and try some kids sweaters!

  26. Kimi Comment Says:

    i hope you get to this pattern soon because I love it!