Wearing hand-knitted clothing was pretty much the bane of my life when I was a little girl. Pleas such as: ‘but Nana made it just for you’, and ‘just while they’re visiting,’ were employed regularly. The garments in question were usually oversized, ill-fitting and terribly daggy. Most often it was a jumper of some sort – and the biggest crime? It was always itchy. Always. These were my first concious impressions of knitting and they stuck with me for a very long time.
Imagine my surprise when, whilst reading one of my favourite blogs (find it here) I discovered that Retro Mummy knitted. She’s young, she has a lovely craft habit, a great writing voice, and a passion for knitting sweet things for her little ones. It immediately challenged my image of elderly women hunched over ancient patterns click-clacking away with ill-matched, itchy wool. The more I read about Retro Mummy’s knitting adventures, the more I became enchanted with what she produced. I was pregnant wth Piper at the time, and I fell in love with the idea that I could make something sweet and small for when my baby was born. So I did what I always do when there’s new crafty things to learn: I rang my mum.
Actually, I sent her an SMS. It said something like: “So I think I need to knit. Please help.” To this day, I’m not sure which of us was more surprised by that message. After a few careful questions, Mum was at my house within 24 hours, wielding some soft (not itchy at all!) baby wool, a cute pattern book and some knitting needles. I couldn’t wait to start. Mum convinced me to learn the basics with a bigger set of wool and needles but I couldn’t get my mind away from a sweet little raglan cardigan in the book and before long I had scorned my practising and was onto the real thing. I still remember how proud I was when I showed her the first part of that cardigan, which I had knitted solo after carefully learning the knitting pattern lingo.
Shortly before Christmas, I was once again reading Retro Mummy, and she was knitting a kina. I’d never heard of it myself but it’s basically a sweet, short sleeved cardigan for a little girl. (If you’re interested, her most recent post on the kina is here.) I loved the cape-like feel the little garment evoked and decided on a whim to knit one for Piper for Christmas. Unfortunately I didn’t have any cotton in my stash, which would have been my wool of choice for a summer knit, but I did have a lightweight 8 ply in lovely blues and purples that I had been waiting for a chance to use. I followed Retro Mummy’s advice for knitting this pattern in 8 ply (the pattern is intended for a smaller ply wool) and set to work.
My original plans to have the kina ready for Christmas ended up derailed due to an unexpected project – which is a post for another day – but before I knew it Christmas had passed and Piper was enjoying a massive growth spurt. I looked at the kina and wondered if it was worth finishing. It was almost done, so I set my mind to the task and after a few hours’ work (spread over several days because that’s how it is with kiddies) I had managed it. A sweet little button at the top and voila!
Now, what did I think? To be honest I was actually mildly disappointed. The kina I made is a size one, and Piper’s only 18months, but the finished product is a little short for her. I’ve actually discovered this is a trend with many knitting patterns, new or old. Piper herself is tall, often needing a size two for height, but skinny enough to still fit her size 0 pants. (I take tucks in all her things so that they fit around the waist!) As much as I loved this sweet kina when I knitted it, I was a little deflated when I put it on Piper and realised that it was several inches too wide and too short. The slightly stiffer wool didn’t drape as nicely as cotton would have done, so it tends to puff out a bit where it’s been gathered, particularly across the back. That said, I am happy enough with the finished product to knit it, or something similar, again. The second time around I would try a more drapey wool and definitely knit it much longer in the body. The concept of a short sleeved cardigan in summer really appeals to me and on a mild, low 20’s day this really was the perfect layering choice over Piper’s strappy maxi dress.
I wanted Piper to model the kina for me at home but she absolutely refused to stand still! I chased her around with the camera all morning before my Grandma turned up, ready for our shopping day. She took one look at the kina and told me how much she loved it. I relayed my concerns about sizing but Grandma poo poohed me at once, insisting the kina was a perfect fit and commanding me not to be so fussy. We both knew she wasn’t completely correct, but I let her convince me to leave it on Piper whilst we went shopping, and what do you know? I liked it the more I saw her walking around. Passers-by stopped to tell me how cute my daughter was, and one lady in particular commented on her sweet outfit. So clearly I’m a little too much of a perfectionist – which is no surprise to anyone who knows me well. To make my day even better, Piper did some lovely posing while we were stopped in the food court for a cuppa. Unfortunately I had to snap the pictures with my phone, but I am not complaining! I’d never have these cute shots or this fabulous pebbled background if I’d insisted on taking the pictures at home.
My biggest challenge now is to decide what I should knit next. I desperately want to take another crack at the kina (or something similar) with adjustments for Piper’s body shape and I have this pattern in mind. Logic keeps trying to tell me I wouldn’t get it finished before the season turns and would be smarter leaving the kina for next summer, but it was sucha cute knit to do! In reality I should be focussing on starting a winter knit now, so I have plenty of time to get it finished. Perhaps a winter dress? I’ve had this one from the lovely Tikki Knits earmarked since I was pregnant.
If you’d like to try the kina yourself, you can find the pattern on Ravelry here. Keep in mind it’s been translated into English, so read everything carefully before you start as it can be a little confusing at first. This pattern also comes in a version for older children and I think there’s even an adult version!
What about you? Have you ever knitted for yourself or your kids? Do you think the kina is hot, or not? What do you think I should knit next?