Published on Wednesday January 16th, 2013

My dear friend Mia produced a lovely baby at the end of December. This was a second baby, and it’s my personal feeling that little siblings born into a life of hand-me-downs deserve something special on the knitterly front—something created just for them. And I was feeling creative, so I thought I’d cook up a spanking new cardigan for this wee person. I wanted to nod to the season without going Full Reindeer Jumper, so I began to think about festive garlands of greenery, spiced cider, and the fragrant pomanders we used to make by spiking oranges with cloves. I swatched a sort of coin motif filled with seed stitch, imagined it swagged around the yoke, and a Pomander cardigan was quickly and pleasurably born. The chart is giving me fits and rendering me totally daft—making charts with changing stitch counts always does that to me—but as soon as I’ve wrestled it into submission the pattern will be ready for testing.

I used Oceanwind Knits BFL Fingering, remnants from my Pas de Valse. I love this yarn. It is much more softly spun than almost kinky BFL fingering weight you’ve probably seen indie dyers offering as sock yarn. (I love that stuff, too, as it happens, but think Oceanwind’s base makes a nicer sweater if you don’t need it to wear like iron.) Blue Moon Fiber Arts’ BFL Sport would be a good alternative, although it’s a bit heavier and you might need to knit a size down on a larger needle. I think Pomander would be glorious in The Fibre Company’s Canopy, too… I might take the chance to finally try knitting that stuff after years of fondling it in yarn shops. A more tightly spun sock yarn would yield a different look—less halo, more pop to the yoke motif—that could be very pleasing, too.

Mia didn’t know what flavor of baby she’d be having, so I tried for Generally Cute rather than Gendered Cute. As it happens, wee Margaret is a girl, but I think her sweater looks pretty great on my own strapping lad, too. (You’ll notice I went with girl-wise buttons, but honestly I think gendered button placement is silly for anyone these days, especially babies. I’m told the left vs. right conventions originate with gentlemen buttoning themselves vs. ladies being buttoned by maids. But no six-month-old gentleman is going to be buttoning himself, and it’s only easier to fasten someone else’s buttons when they’re placed on the right side of the cardigan if the buttoner is right handed, anyway. I say put the buttons wherever you like.)

Jolyon can’t sit reliably without a spotter yet, so I tried to get his sister to prop him up for some clear shots of the front. Here’s the best photograph that approach yielded:

To be fair, she only has ten pounds’ advantage. And he’s kind of a flailing handful when he’s excited. The cardigan is a bit snug on my big boy, you’ll notice. But this is the 3-6-month size he’s wearing, his 6-month birthday was on the winter solstice, and he’s a large specimen, so don’t judge the fit by these pictures. I was kind of amazed it fit as well as it did… three cheers for stretchy knitting!

We four say welcome, Baby Margaret! You landed a fine family and a knitting mama (I happen to know there’s a super cute pair of owl mittens waiting for you in a couple of years)… and that’s a fair start in this world.

11 Comments to “Pomander”

  1. Prairiepoet Comment Says:

    The cardigan and the baby are darling. I’ll look forward to the pattern. If Baby Margaret is as sweet as Jolyon (and I’m sure she is) she if off to a good start in life. And she has a sweet warm sweater.

  2. Sophie o. Comment Says:

    This is a beautiful and very cute cardigan! I knew about different sides of buttoning but didn’t know the reason, thanks for the info. It will be very useful to me as I’m pregnant and don’t know the flavour yet (love this expression) and I was wondering which side to place the buttons on 🙂
    I’d love to test your pattern – if you don’t already have an army of testers, otherwis I’ll eagerly wait for the pattern to be released.

  3. Seanna Lea Comment Says:

    The sweater is super cute. I need to double check when my next round of baby knitting is due by, and get to it. I think I have a bare two weeks because I think I misjudged the time available.

  4. Susan Comment Says:

    Such a sweet little sweater! I have to admit I never have, and probably never will, understand gender button placement. I can’t wrap my mind around why they have to be different.

  5. linken Comment Says:

    Beautiful. 🙂 Are those cables down the sleeves? Now you have me racking my brain to think if any of my friends need sweaters for little ones…this sweater is timeless…alas after 8 years, we seem to be in a lull. (This sweater would look smashing in handspun too. Ooh. Now I have to go dig through the fiber stash!)

    P.S. Your little ones are adorable! Too funny about your eldest only having 10 lbs on the youngest. (Similar story over here- however my middle child just now surpassed my eldest. But we are trying to keep it a secret. ;))

  6. lizzie Comment Says:

    Well, you can tell Ada is doing her best in an unwieldy situation. I cant figure out the button placement either, my mother s generation was the last one to nail that.
    Beautiful kids and beautiful sweater………

  7. Kristyn Comment Says:

    The cardigan is sweet and the model even sweeter.

  8. Laura Comment Says:

    I love this cardigan! Looking forward to the pattern – I have a new niece to knit for!

  9. Jennifer Comment Says:

    I love that design!! When the pattern is ready I’d love to attempt it. Your photos are great!

  10. Rose Comment Says:

    Gorgeous sweater, anxiously awaiting the pattern!

  11. April Comment Says:

    Love the detail on the Pomander! I hope the pattern is forthcoming. (Your kids are precious too!)