Head to Toe: Kids' Knits Accessories

Sometimes I think I need a tin foil hat. 

No really, hear me out! I was pondering cowls for mini people the other day. I have a good success rate with knitting baby hats for new arrivals and I often want to make a sibling gift to say 'Hey, you have a new job to do and you rock'. Trouble is, most parents admit that their little ones tend to rip off any hat made for them and scarves just aren't practical for clambering and streaking around. My answer was cowls and I needed some patterns. 

'Mallard', (c) Katya Frankel
Just as I was thinking this, Head to Toe' by Katya Frankel dropped into my Ravelry inbox. Uncanny right? This fab  collection includes 8 hats, 7 scarves/cowls, 4 gloves patterns and 5 sock/ slipper designs. The patterns are sized from toddler and work for both boys and girls which is a big plus and I think makes the book greater value for money. All designs have a contemporary and practical feel to them so rather than being loaded down with cute ruffles and such, these should raise few complaints or provide an obstacle for running, jumping and generally being a kid. It's nice to have the novelty factor in knits but these are often subject to whimsy and easily discarded so a trusted hat or gloves is a must quite frankly. 

'Bowburn', (c) Katya Frankel
There's good sizing information in the book and comments about ease and where it should be applied. The photography is great: clear and detailed but full of fun and mischief too. I thought the models were so beautifully captured as well as wrapped in gorgeous knitwear!

'Rainton', (c) Katya Frankel
There's also a great mix of patterns for different levels. In my experience of working in a yarn shop, many people come to knitting through children's knits. Whether it's an expectant mum or a relative wanting to surprise a niece or nephew, I was often approached about patterns that were good to gift and easy to make. As your knitting level progressed, you wouldn't be turning away from these knits either as there's all sorts from cables to fair isle and good support for both in the form of written instructions as well as charted. 

'Cannonfire', (c) Katya Frankel
A big thumbs up round here. Stay tuned to see what I'll be casting on. I suspect I'll be using this collection a lot! Get your copy either directly from Cooperative Press or on Ravelry here. A big thanks to both Katya and Cooperative Press for letting me review such a packed book of really well thought out knits. 

For All Daughters (but especially mine)

This wonderful poem appeared on my timeline a little while ago and as I prepare for the Playful Baby's first birthday, I have been re reading it constantly. If you want to learn more, please visit the Mighty Girls website, a must for mother's of strong daughters everywhere. 

"For My Daugher" is written by Sarah McMane, a poet and English teacher in upstate New York with a two-year old daughter. Clementine Paddleford, who is quoted in the poem, was an American food writer and journalist active in the early 20th century.

FOR MY DAUGHTER

By Sarah McMane

“Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”

 – Clementine Paddleford

Never wear only pink

Never play the princess when you can

be the queen:

rule the kingdom,

swing a scepter,

wear a crown of gold.

Don’t dance in glass slippers,

crystal carving up your toes --

be a barefoot Amazon instead,

for those shoes will surely shatter on your feet.

when you can strut in crimson red,

sweat in heather grey, and

shimmer in sky blue,

claim the golden sun upon your hair.

Colors are for everyone,

boys and girls, men and women --

be a verdant garden, the landscape of Versailles,

not a pale primrose blindly pushed aside.

Tramp muddy through the house 

Chase

 green dragons and one-eyed zombies,

fierce and fiery toothy monsters,

not merely lazy butterflies,

sweet and slow on summer days.

For you can tame the most brutish beasts

with your wily wits and charm,

and lizard scales feel just as smooth

as gossamer insect wings.

a purple tutu and cowboy boots.

Have a tea party in your overalls.

Build a fort of birch branches,

a zoo of Legos, a rocketship of

Queen Anne chairs and coverlets,

first stop on the moon.

Don a baseball cap, dance with Daddy,

Dream of dinosaurs and baby dolls,

bold brontosaurus and bookish Belle,

not Barbie on the runway or

Disney damsels in distress --

you are much too strong to play

the simpering waif.

paint your toenails, climb a cottonwood.

Learn to speak with both your mind and heart.

For the ground beneath will hold you, dear --

know that you are free.

And never grow a wishbone, daughter,

where your backbone ought to be.

Featuring: BomBella

Many months ago I was working on some words for a website and got chatting to Ella Austin, the designer behind BomBella. It turned out that she too was expecting a baby and we swapped stories and I learned about her fab knit kits. She offered one up for review to which I winced and admitted, 'I can't knit toys, my RSI can't take the tight gauge . Unfazed, I received a package of beautiful patterns and a ready made owl from Ella that now sits wisely in Playful Baby's nursery. I adore these fuzzy friends and have been looking forward to sharing this delightful designer. 

(c) Ella Austin
Ella designs kits with an amazing eye for beautiful features and details. She enlists the best of British providers such as Fyberspates and Skein Queen to bring exclusive kits to create her charming designs. By working with yarnies, Ella is able to ensure quality kits that match her gorgeous patterns. When I received my sample of patterns I was blown away by the quality of print and layout, not just the gorgeous pieces. 

Ella currently has three popular kits available via Etsy, with plans to launch more very soon. Tawny Owl, as shown above is my personal favourite with the cute little fuzz body from gorgeous Fyberspates Faery Wings yarn in a soft brown palette that highlights the delicate motifs across the body. I think I actually squealed with delight when I open this one up!

(c) Ella Austin
Then there's 'Intrepid Fox', a rather charming chap who calls for Skein Queen's merino 4ply. I think the leg detail is just perfect and am slightly sad my wrists wouldn't hold up to this. I would love to make the fox as it looks like a really satisfying knit. Finally, there's the Bunty Mitts, a retro wallpaper influenced kits, also making use of Skein Queen yarn. 

(c) Ella Austin
I think this is what I enjoy the most about Ella's designs: detail. She just has an ability for taking a motif to a whole other level in a way I haven't seen before. I love the designs and the idea of a kit ready to go is very appealing. I keep pondering who I could gift some too! 

Since receiving my lovely gift for the baby, Ella released another stunning design, 'Leighton House Handwarmers'. As always the patterns are available on Ravelry and the kits are on both her Etsy store as well as the yarn provider, Fyberspates. The inspiration was initially from the damask or brocade style of heavy curtain fabrics that might belong in lavish traditionally decorated mansions. Leighton House was the home and studio of one of Ella's favourite artists, Lord Frederick Leighton so again you can really see Ella drawing on delicious and enticing details. 

(c) Ella Austin
Like what you see? Well, leave a comment below telling me which kit you love best to be in with a chance of winning the kit of your choice. Be sure to enter by 25th Jul 2012 to be in with a chance of winning. Good luck!

Tiny Treads by Joeli Caparco

Right out the gate I want to say this is a long overdue review and feature. I had plans to interview the oh so talented Ms Caparco but you know, babies happen. I still predict this in my podcasting future but in the meantime I've been dying to share this because it's such a good bit of work. Let me tell you why.

(c) Cooperative Press
Tiny Treads features 12 sock patterns for infants and children by a mother who knows her knit stuff. It's packed full of practical tips from how to get little ones to wash their own handwash socks (oh yes) to sizing for different tiny feet. What makes this super practical is that it's written by someone who is a whizz tech editor so the patterns just make sense. This is what happens when good editors design: the patterns are thoughtfully and carefully produced with that critical eye for detail.

With tiny feet, it might be tricky to measure, get gauge, get the correct size and yarns and so on, especially if you want to use a partially leftover skein rather than break into a beloved whole skein of deliciousness. The solution is simple: Joeli provides options for whatever gauge you are knitting at. That's genius quite frankly and so much more practical for busy mum's who've grabbed yarn and a 5 minute knitting time out and don't have time to perfectly match yarn.

Gepetto, (c) Cooperative Press
As for the designs themselves, they're practical, fun and make good use of a range of yarns. There's slippers, leg warmers, socks and different weights of yarn so you can find some good foot solutions in here. As someone who baby wears everyday, I predict a lot of these in my future knitting. I also like the fact that it's produced by Cooperative Press, so has clear layout and availability both in print and digitally. It ticks all the right boxes for me when I'm looking for new pattern collections.

Banbury Cross, (c) Cooperative Press
A few highlights I particularly liked were 'Gepetto' legwarmers: a worsted weight pair of cabled leggies that I know I'll be casting on. Also, I loved the 'grown upness' of Banbury Cross socks, a sockweight ribbed pattern that I should imagine work super fast for teeny feet. I am also completely charmed and intrigued in equal measure by these Cinderslippers in two colours of Sock weight. Aren't they cute?

(c) Cooperative Press
If you like mini knits and mini feet and would like the chance to win a digital copy of Joeli's book, please leave a comment below telling me which of the designs you would most likely knit first. The random number generator will select a winner on the 29th April 2013 and announced here on the blog. Good luck!

Of course if you can't wait that long, you can always purchase your copy here or simply check out more of the fab designs in this book.