Monday, March 25, 2013

A free pattern

One thing I love about free patterns is...well...they're free! Need I say more? But on the flip-side of that, you also have to take your chances with how well the pattern is written. I often have to blunder my way through the first try, ripping back and starting again. It's not a lot of fun. But then you figure it out and you get something like this as a reward...

I've knitted two jackets now and the blue one is my first attempt. It's slightly smaller and the instructions didn't come with buttonholes, so I had to add two crocheted loops later on.

The blue jacket was made per the original instructions, yet it didn't stipulate what kind of ply to use (just worsted wool) and the gauge wasn't very clear either. I purchased a small amount of 4 ply baby wool, because that's what I know in Australia is good for newborns.

The original instructions claim the jacket can be made in 5 hours, and if you're a dab-hand at deciphering patterns, you'd be able to whip one up within that period. I'd still be lucky to finish this jacket in less than 3 days, because one of things I love about knitting is the slow meditation  If I have to rush (like I did with the first jacket, just to see if it can be done) I don't enjoy the process.

Here's a quick pictorial of what I managed to achieve within the first 5 hours:

After one hour

Yes, really, that's all I managed in the first hour. I was trying to figure what kind of knitting needles to use - circular or straight - the pattern wasn't very clear. I also learned that US needle sizes are different to Australian ones. I had to rip back my work several times after realising the needles I was using were too large for the wool.

TIP OF THE DAY: check the guide on the wool/yarn label for correct needle size!

After three hours

I had such a hard time starting off, that I reached the 3 hour mark before I finished the "yoke". So much unraveling and starting again, plus I was always checking with the computer to find knitters who have attempted this pattern before. It didn't stipulate what "increase" to use when it mentions "increase", so my stitch count came out wrong. I persisted though.

After four hours

I finished the first sleeve after the four hour mark, which made knitting the second sleeve that much quicker. I started to crack the whip, because I really wanted to see how far I could get in the five hours!

After five hours

I probably got two-thirds finished within the allotted time. The rest was fairly simple to complete however. In truth, it probably took me double the 5 hours to complete!

I also include web searching in that time bracket. Apart for pattern deciphering I also needed to learn how to knit multiple colours without cutting and tying off, as I thought a nice pin-stripe might look cute on a boy's jacket. I'm throwing in links, for people who may have an interest in learning something new about knitting.

That's one thing I have to thank for a pattern which didn't lay it all out for me - I had to learn how to do it for myself. Which really isn't that bad when you think about what you end up with.

Shepherd baby merino wool 4 ply
colours: blue and soft lime

You would think the second jacket would take less time to knit. In a perfect world, where you didn't try to re-write the pattern for 4 ply wool (because the ultrasound says you might not have a tiny baby) it would take less time. I like to live dangerously (is that possible with a knitting needle) so the second brown jacket took an extra day or two longer.

Yeah, crazy, right? But I'm proud I could adjust the pattern to make it with a smaller ply wool, and also include buttonholes.

 30 weeks and counting!

We'll have to give them both a try, once the baby arrives in a few months time. Come on May!

I will share my re-worked pattern at the very end of this post for those who may want to try it. To sum up my take on this pattern in general however, it's one of the better newborn patterns available on the net for free. I tried another free jacket pattern, which was just awful - shapeless and I'm sure would restrict the baby's movements.

 Big cuff or narrow armhole?

I have several gripes about the pattern though. The main one is how the sleeve is constructed. It's very simple (which is nice) however, when you follow the instructions and slip-stitch right to the armpit, you end up with a disproportionate sleeve. I imagine it would grip under the baby's arm, so I tried to widen this area with my second jacket, simply by adding a few more crocheted stitches, as I was sewing it up.

I didn't write this in my pattern modifications however, as it would be confusing! Some things you just have to "wing it" yourself. You can see by the blue jacket, (original pattern) it doesn't look so bad with the narrowing at the armholes.

The second gripe about the pattern, is how it wasn't written with buttonholes. So for a novice like me, it adds a few extra hours of time trying to learn how to do them.

Fixed buttonhole

A word of caution when doing knit2tog, yarn-over buttonholes, always do the yarn over, in the same direction you would do a normal knitted stitch. The link above takes you to a youtube video (1min 22 seconds).

I was confused by the video instructions because how the needles were being held in the clip, isn't how I normally hold my needles. I copied how the video did it, only to realise by the second buttonhole, I didn't have the same neat hole. I was able to fix it with a few tacking stitches with a darning needle, later on, so you don't notice a difference at all. But just remember with the yarn over buttonhole, make sure it's applied in the same direction you would do a normal knitted stitch. The theory is sound, it just takes practice! I figured it out by the last two buttonholes!

You should also note, the video linked to is for a "double" yarn over buttonhole, because I think it gives a nicer size for the buttons I used. You can do a single yarn over, for very small pearl buttons, like on my first jacket. With 4 ply yarn though, I would advise the double yarn over technique.

I enjoyed making these jackets, even though it was challenging. I only hope they fit the baby!  Now onto the modified pattern.


Paton's Dreamtime 4 ply Australian merino wool
colour: donkey

 Adapted from original pattern here
Also found in PFD on Ravelry with handy comments (if signed in)

Yarn: 50 grams (4 ply) baby wool
Needles: 1 set circular, 1 set straight 4mm (#8) needles, 1 stitch holder
Gauge: I didn't test a gauge, sorry.
Size: estimating newborn to several months - depends on the size of your baby


CO: A simple cast on, placed on right hand needle.
KFB: Knit 1 st into front and 1 st into back of the same stitch.
K2TOG: Knit two sts together
YO2: Yarn over right needle twice
KYO: Knit 1st yarn over
slip YO: Slip second yarn over, off the needle
st: stitch

DIRECTIONS: Start at the neck edge, with circular needles, bind on 39 stitches, to left needle

Rows 1 - 4: K.
Row 5: K1, K2TOG, YO2, K2, P to last 5 sts, K5 (1st buttonhole)

(Always K first 5 and last 5 sts, even on P row, unless otherwise instructed for a buttonhole.)

Row 6: K5, * KFB, K1, repeat from * to last 7 sts, (end with KFB) K2, KYO, slip YO, k2 (54 sts)
Row 7: K5, P to last 5 sts, K5
Row 8-9: K

Row 10: K5, *KFB, K2, repeat from * to last 6 sts, K6. (69 sts)
Row 11: K5, P to last 5 sts, K5.
Row 12: K
Row 13: K1, K2TOG, YO2, K to end (2nd buttonhole)
Row 14 K5 *KFB, K3, repeat from * to last 8 sts, K4, KYO, slip YO, K2 (84 sts)
Row 15: K5, P to last 5 sts, K5
Row 16-17: K
Row 18: K6 *KFB, K4, repeat from * to last 7 sts, K7 (99 sts)
Row 19: K5, P to last 5 sts, K5
Row 20:K
Row 21: K1, K2TOG, YO2, K to end (3rd buttonhole)
Row 22: K5 *KFB, K5, repeat from * to last 10 sts, K5, KYO, slip YO, K2 (114 sts)
Row 23: K5, P to last 5 sts, K5
Row 24-25: K

Row 26:You will now be placing markers (pm) to show positions of fronts, back, and sleeves:
K6, CO1, K6, CO1, K6, CO1, K1, pm (21 sts for front),
K1, CO1, K6, CO1, K7, CO1, K6, CO1, K1, pm (25 sts for sleeve),
K2, CO1, (K6, CO1) twice, K6, CO1, (K6, CO1) twice, K2, pm (40 sts for back),
K1, CO1, K6, CO1, K7, CO1, K6, CO1, K1, pm (25 sts for other sleeve)
K1, CO1, K6, CO1, K6, CO1, K6 (22 sts for other front)

Row 27: K5, P to last 5 sts, K5
Row 28: : K row, KFB before and after each marker (142 sts)

Check markers are at 23 sts front, 27 sts sleeve, 42 sts back, 27 sts second sleeve, 23 sts second front. Re-position if necessary.

Row 29: K1, K2TOG, YO2, K2, P to last 5 sts, K5 (4th buttonhole)
Row 30: K row, KFB before and after each marker to last 6 sts, K2, KYO, slip YO, K2 (150 sts)
Row 31: K5, P to last 5 sts, K5

Knit 24 sts, then place on a st holder. CO 2 sts to left-hand needle, and knit across the next 31 sts (first sleeve), CO 2 sts to right hand needle, Working with another set of straight needles and on these 33 sts, work in stockinette stitch for 22 rows.

Sleeve Decrease Row: K3, K2 tog, K3 repeat to end (27 sts)
K 7 rows.

Bind off leaving last stitch on needle. With right sides together slip stitch sleeve closed (with a crochet hook) being careful to close up all the holes at the underarm. Place last stitch on left hand needle. Knit 2 tog and knit across to next marker. Place back of sweater stitches that you just knit on a stitch holder.

Work second sleeve same as first. Knit across remaining stitches (Body Row 1) and now work body of sweater.  All these stitches worked for remainder of the body, are best transferred to your circular needles again.

Sweater Body:
Body Row 2: K 5, purl to last 5 sts, K5
Body Row 3: Knit
Body Row 4: K5, purl to last 5 sts, K5
Body Rows 5-26: repeat Body Rows 3 and 4
Work 8 rows in garter st
Bind off.

Weave in remaining yarn ends, then sew on button.

If confused at all by any of the instructions, click on the links supplied in this post. They will explain much!

Thanks to the original author of the pattern, for taking the time to write and submit the pattern on line for free.


  1. Adorable and gret work Chris. Here is a good pattern site- all free- Drops design:

    You probably saw some of their work on ravelry too.
    Also agree that it's nice to be challenged sometimes, but it can be frustrating if you just want to enjoy the process. Anyhow, happy knitting:)

  2. Thanks for the link - I'll take a look!

    Sorry for the late reply, I've had a few things on my plate lately. :)


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