Baby Boots

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These are Frankie Brown’s “Baby Boots.”  Actually, these are Isaac’s baby boots, but Frankie Brown designed them. Brown is an amazingly prolific, creative and generous knitwear designer. She has 212 patterns currently posted on Ravelry and I’ve not yet encountered one that isn’t a freebie. All she asks, in exchange for knitting her patterns, is that we consider donating to the UK charity “Children’s Liver Disease Foundation.” The Foundation “takes action against the effects of childhood liver disease, providing information, emotional support, research funds and a voice for all affected.” You can follow Brown’s fundraising here, at justgiving.com.

These baby boots are knit in 100% superwash wool, Wollmeise “Pure,” a 4-ply fingering weight. They are the cat’s meow if I do say so myself. They fit an 8-pound newborn, with a little room for growing.

Isaac’s grandmother even has a Color Affection Shawl that matches her first grandchild’s boots:

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And, just to let Isaac’s inner hippie shine a bit, one of his boots–just one–has a hidden stripe:

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Wollmeise Color Affection

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This is my first time knitting with Wollmeise, a yarn so sought after in the United States that knitters watch Twitter feeds for its availability and buy grab bags without even knowing what exactly they are buying. And, it is also my first Color Affection, a crescent-shaped, wildly popular shawl by Veera Valamaki, of Rain Knitwear Designs. More than 6100 Color Affections are posted on Ravelry and it’s currently in nearly 8200 knitters’ queues, awaiting casting on. So, two firsts and the opportunity for two reviews.

This is how my Color Affection started out:

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Three gigantic 575-yard skeins of fingering weight superwash wool, in the Wollmeise Tandoori Marsala colorway (the red wine), Campari Piccolo (the burnt orange) and Sternschnuppe (the bright yellow). I was aiming for an autumnal shawl. At times, I thought it was just turning out to look like Halloween candy corn. But it sort of grows on you. Or, at least it did on me once I added a lot of Tandoori Marsala as the shawl got wider and wider and wider.

I’ve always been a willing “but the emperor wears no clothes” kind of person, hopefully only if the situation warrants. The color saturation is what everyone loves about Wollmeise and on that score I’m a huge fan. These colors grab hold of your eyeballs and won’t let go. And the garter stitch fabric produced on my size 4 needles has a great feel to it. Bouncy, as is always true of garter stitch. Wooly but not a bit scratchy. But knitting with this stuff was not really wonderful. I found the yarn to be quite splitty. That tendency was reined in some when I ditched my old Addi circular and bought a new Addi lace point circular. But I still had to knit with a lot more care and attention than I usually devote to mass quantities of garter stitch.

I decided to make a few modifications to the Color Affection pattern. I couldn’t get anywhere near the 18 stitches to 4 inches that is the gauge for fingering weight with this yarn and not have it go all loosey goosey on me. So, I decided to follow the lace weight instructions instead and aimed for 22 stitches to 4 inches. I didn’t like that either. On size 4’s my gauge was 26 stitches to 4 inches and that’s what I went with. Valamaki says that gauge doesn’t matter much, except in terms of running out of yarn, and I was confident I had lots to spare with these huge Wollmeise skeins.

I followed the instructions and used raised bar “make 1’s” rather than the knit in the front and the back and yarn over combinations a lot of Ravelers have used instead. They are trying to avoid the tightness that results from an edge constructed of “make 1” increases. An admirable goal. My edges were very tight. They relaxed with steam and almost blocked out.

In the last large section of the shawl you are carrying 3 yarns along the edge and that brings up the question of how you will treat those carries. Valamaki recommends just twisting the 3 yarns together every other row. I decided that was likely to look rather sloppy, a conclusion I was helped to reach by looking at some close ups of projects on Ravelry. So, instead, I knitted the first stitch of every other row with all three yarns. I’ve never done that before and wouldn’t recommend it except with a fingering or laceweight yarn.  But it worked out well.

Since my gauge was puny by comparison with the pattern, I knew I would have to do something to gain depth to the shawl. I worked all the short rows one stitch less (3 instead of 4) and then repeated the sequence of 12-short row sets a few extra times, for a total of 13 sets of repeats.

I thought I’d likely have to wet block my Color Affection, but my trusty Jiffy steamer did the job, well, in a jiffy.

And now, a few more views (click to enlarge):