Cardigans for Barbie

This project is actually the one I cast on before the shrugs but finished later. Why? Because it’s fiddly.

Knits for Barbie by Nicky Epstein

Here’s the book the last time Jen tempted me to knit for dolls. 🙂 It’s called Knits for Barbie and is by Nicky Epstein. It’s out of print, so that’s a Ravelry link. There are a lot of cute patterns here, and they’re styled nicely for inspiration.

The specified yarns are often tapestry yarns, but many people on Ravelry use sock yarn. What’s distinct about these patterns to me is that they’re made exactly like sweaters for people from traditional patterns. No top-down seamless stuff here. I’ve never been so glad to finish a project as these two sweaters – and the process definitely made me appreciate the seamless shrug pattern I shared with you last week.

Timely Twinset by Nicky Epstein knit in MadTosh Twist Light by Deborah Cooke

But let’s talk about the cardigans. I decided to make the Timely Twin Set, (another Ravelry link there) which is a cardigan and sleeveless shell. For my first attempt, I used some leftover Madeline Tosh Twist Light in Lepidoptra. This is kind of kettle-dyed and so it didn’t make stripes even on a small garment. I knit the back, the two fronts, the two sleeves, sewed it all together, then picked up the button bands on each front, and finally knit the collar. Just like a big sweater, but teeny teeny tiny!

One thing I learned quickly is that no matter how small the stitches, Barbie fingers are smaller. It’s much easier to try these sweaters on Barbie if she has a pair of mittens on. (Barbie “gloves” are actually mittens as the fingers aren’t separated.) If you don’t have any, you could wrap a piece of cloth or the corner of a sandwich bag over her hand to put on the sweater. My vintage doll has a gap between her pinkie and the other fingers, as well as between fingers and thumb, and it was that pinkie that gave the trouble.

This cardigan pattern has no buttonholes, just buttons on the left, so the sweater is always worn open. I used teeny tiny snaps (five of them) and sewed the buttons on the right front instead. These are 3mm clear snaps that I ordered online. They’re very tiny, which I like, but they’re hard to fasten. I wouldn’t recommend them for little fingers. I might (gah) take them off and sew on plain old metal snaps.

Timely Twinset by Nicky Epstein knit in MadTosh Twist Light by Deborah Cooke

Here’s the finished cardigan from the side:

Barbie is wearing a pair of pants I made for her of cotton twill. They’re a bit too long for her, but we both like the color.

The cardigan is pretty bulky for Barbie – I think it looks better in the pictures than IRL – so I didn’t knit the shell to go with it. Instead, I tried an experiment and knit the cardigan again, this time in Elann Silken Kydd (which is like Rowan Kidsilk Haze).

This time, I eliminated the side seams and knit the body to the underarms, then divided it. I still knit the sleeves separately and did the button bands etc. I did the five snaps and buttons again, and here’s the result:

Timely Twinset by Nicky Epstein knit in Elann Silken Kydd by Deborah Cooke

It’s still pretty fluffy, even though this one came out smaller in the thinner yarn. (Same needles.) It reminds me of a mohair sweater I have myself – it’s exactly the sweater I want when the power goes out, but not so much otherwise. It’s really fluffy and warm, but not flattering at all. It’s knit of that thick mohair that used to be prevalent. I want Barbie to be glamourous not practical!

Here are the two sweaters beside each other, so you can see the difference just by changing the yarn:

Timely Twinset by Nicky Epstein knit in MadTosh Twist Light and in Elann Silken Kydd by Deborah Cooke

So, I’ll try a variation, a top-down cardigan with a lot fewer seams. Stay tuned for that!

A Shrug for Barbie

I was tempted into knitting for dolls by my friend, Jen, and this is dangerous territory. It’s really addictive to knit teeny tiny projects – the assumption is that projects will be finishing quickly, but I’m discovering that my need to get it “just right” means these little sweaters take a while. (We’ll talk about sewing for dolls later. I’m further down that rabbit hole.)

Jen has a Blythe doll and I knit this little shrug for her.

Shrug for Blythe knit by Deborah Cooke in Kidsilk Haze

This is extremely teeny and I wish I’d put something in the photograph for scale before sending it off. It’s maybe 2″ wide. The pattern is a free pattern on Ravelry called Shrug for Blythe, and it’s a great pattern. I found the instructions very clear and the results adorable – with no seaming! I knit it in some leftover Elann Silken Kydd, which is discontinued (that’s a Ravelry link) and a lot like Rowan Kidsilk Haze.

Bacall, a shrug pattern from Rowan designed by Sarah Hatton

I tried this sweater on Barbie, because I don’t collect Blythe dolls, and it was too small. The length was good and the back width, but the fronts were small. Barbie definitely has more of a bust than Blythe! I played around with the stitch counts and made a few more changes, too – I wanted a shrug king of like Bacall, a Rowan pattern for actual people. (The Rowan site has been redesigned and I’m not sure this pattern is even there anymore, so that’s a Ravelry link. It was originally published in Rowan 44, and was a free download for a while.)

This shrug was designed by Sarah Hatton – I think the sample garment is too broad in the shoulders for the model shown here (or maybe too wide in the neck), but I love the roll collar.

I knit the long-sleeved version of it in Kidsilk Aura for myself, and it’s a wonderful squishy soft warm sweater. (Yes, I actually used the specified yarn. It happens sometimes.)

Here’s my finished sweater and here’s my Ravelry project page.

Bacall by Sarah Hatton knit by Deborah Cooke in Rowan Kidsilk Aura

And here’s my modified shrug in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, adjusted to fit Barbie:

Shrug knit for Barbie by Deborah Cooke in Rowan Kidsilk Haze

It has cap sleeves and a garter stitch collar. There’s also a loop and button closure at the front. The collar can be rolled as above, or lifted so it makes an opera collar. See?

Shrug knit for Barbie by Deborah Cooke in Rowan Kidsilk Haze

My model, btw, is the 35th Anniversary Reproduction Barbie from 1993, the brunette version. I bought her on eBay NIB, and removed her from the box. (Yes, I am an un-boxer.) The plastic tie in her hair had disintegrated so I had to redo her hair, and the adhesive from her strapless bathing suit had also dried into a sticky mess, but I got her cleaned up. (I think she looks happier after 28 years in a box.) She’s a bit cheeky, wearing this shrug with nothing underneath, but she needs some tops and dresses. The Kidsilk Haze is really soft…

I still have a couple of tweaks to make to the pattern and will knit another one to be sure I have it right. (See how this goes?) Then she’ll need the perfect dress to wear with it…


I can never resist a new project, even when I have a lot of projects to finish up. There’s something very satisfying about casting on.

In November, Andrea Mowry published a new pattern called Stripes! which I liked a lot. (That’s a Ravelry link.) It’s a top-down pullover with lots of options to vary the results. It looked like a quick and easy project – plus I had the perfect yarn in my stash (or so I thought).

I bought some Sugar Bush Motley at Spinrite last year because I really liked how it looked in the skein. (That link goes to the Motley project page on the Sugar Bush site.) I was expecting it to create an all-over speckly pattern. Once it was caked up, though, it was clear that this yarn was dyed to make repeating stripes. (This colourway is called Peppered Teal.)

Sugarbush Motley in Peppered Teal

I set it aside then, but pulled it out again for this sweater. I’d have stripes without changing colours every 8 rows. Of course, the stripes would vary in width, depending on the number of stitches on my needles, but I thought it would be okay.

Here’s the sweater so far:

Andrea Mowry's Stripes top-down pullover knit in SugarBush Motley by Deborah Cooke

This yarn is a merino-alpaca blend, so it will be warm. I decided that I wanted a turtleneck on this sweater, so I did a provisional cast-on, then knit down the sweater yoke as instructed. When I had a few inches done on the yoke, I picked up the neck stitches and knit up in ribbing to create the turtleneck. I also inverted the colour sequence – starting from the other end of the skein – because I knew the collar would be folded down and I wanted it to match up with the body. I had a hard time assessing the depth to knit – I thought it was long enough because I tried it on before the yoke was done. Once I divided for the underarms, though, the neck pulled down a bit and I had to rejoin the yarn and knit a few more inches on the neck.

I like the yarn, even though it’s a single-ply, loosely spun and a bit splitty. I like it because of the result. The knitted fabric is soft and light, with a really nice drape. I think this will be a sweater I wear a lot.

I can hear you asking why I’ve only managed this much since November. As is so often the way with “quick” projects, I made a mistake. I had knit this sweater well past this point, almost to the waist ribbing, when I took it off the needles to check the size. I find it hard to assess the size of a top-down pullover, even when I try it on, until I knit past the bust. It was huge, way too huge – because (ugh) my gauge was off. I figured out that I needed 50 less stitches in the body and would still have a loose fit, so I ripped all the way back to the neck. I could have changed to smaller needles, but I liked the drape of the fabric I was getting, so I followed the instructions for the next smaller size. That made a difference of 30 stitches in the body. Then I added 20 less stitches at the underarm, 10 less on each side, and carried on. I’m quite happy with the fit now.

And I figured out a new trick. Instead of transferring all the stitches to a length of wool to try on the sweater, then putting them back on the needle, I knit half the body on one 80cm circular, and the other half on a second 80cm circular. That means I can put the sweater flat to measure it, and also that I can (carefully!) try it on, without transferring the stitches. 🙂

Onward with this one. Looks like it will be a sweater to wear next winter…

Another Finished Navelli

I finally finished my second Navelli. Even though it’s not blocked yet and the ends need to be sewn in, I wanted to show it to you. I love it so much!

Navelli knit by Deborah Cooke in MadTosh Merino Light

The yarn is MadTosh Merino Light in Cardinal and Spicewood. The black is some Malabrigo Sock I had in my stash. This one fits more closely than my first Navelli, which is very boxy.

For contrast, I put them side by side – here they are:

Two Navelli knit by Deborah Cooke

The neck is a little higher on the red one so I must have done something differently. (?)

I don’t wear the teal Navelli, even though I love the colours. I thought it was too wide, but actually, it’s too short. I kind of like how loose and boxy it is. So, my current plan is to pick up the stitches all the way around just below the underarms, on two needles, take out a row to split the garment, knit two inches of teal, then graft it to the top of the sweater. I think I’ll wear the teal one then, and I won’t have to frog the sleeves and top.

If I make a third one of these (!!) I think I’d knit it between the two sizes. That would make for an odd number of repeats on the border pattern, which might be weird. I have to think about that.

In the meantime, I’ll make the teal one longer.

In other sad knitting news, I had to frog a top-down pullover. I’d knit eight inches of body, took it off the needles to check the fit (for the third time) and discovered it was way too big. Just a teeny bit off guage, but it added up. Off to frog pond.

What do you think of my new Navelli?

Pink Socks

The problem with finishing big projects is that I haven’t had much to show you. You’ve seen enough in-progress pictures of everything currently on my needles.

I did make a pair of socks, though. There’s something particularly cheerful about self-striping yarn in bright colours, isn’t there?

Of course, I had to make them match. 🙂

socks knit by Deborah Cooke in Online Supersocke Comedy Color

The yarn was in my stash – it’s Online Supersocke Comedy Color, and the colourway is 1280. The yarn is discontinued, so that’s a Ravelry link.

Finishing Audrey

Rowan Angora Haze

Audrey is a cardigan designed by Martin Storey in Rowan Angora Haze. It was the design featured on the cover of Rowan Angora Haze pattern book (that’s a Ravelry link, since the book is out of print). It’s another project that I cast on very soon after the pattern was published – in the specified yarn – but then lost my mojo. As usual, it was the sleeves that got me. The book is now out of print and the yarn is discontinued.

I started this one in February 2016, and blogged about my progress a couple of times. Knitting Audrey was the first post in 2016, then there was an update in 2019: Navelli, Nightshift and Audrey. I talked about the sleeves in this post about my Navelli.

Audrey by Martin Storey knit in Rowan Angora Haze by Deborah Cooke

I made a few modifications. In the book, the sweater is styled with a ribbon at the neck, like a bed jacket. The collar is actually a casing for the ribbon. I did a regular round collar instead. I omitted the increases in the body – the design is a bit 80’s with the shoulders being wider than the waist. Mine is just boxy.

This was my last progress shot of the sleeves:

Audrey by Martin Storey knit in Rowan Angora Haze by Deborah Cooke

And that’s pretty much where I stopped cold. I had a feeling the sleeves were too wide, so put the project aside to think about that. I took it out in January when my Starling Wrap was done and knew I was right. 5.5″ into the sleeves, they were 12.5″ wide, even though I was making the smallest size. So (sigh) I frogged the sleeves and cast on again. This pattern has a couple rows of garter stitch at the cast-on edge, then increases in R4. This time, I didn’t do the increases, but just switched to the larger needles and started the cable pattern. What a difference that made!

Here you can see the new sleeve, which is knit to the underarm. (Yup. There I go, tossing my knitting into the snow again. The light is so much better outside right not.)

sleeve for Audrey, designed by Martin Storey, knit by Deborah Cooke in Rowan Angora Haze

I’m much happier with these proportions – the top of my new sleeve is about the same width as I’d reached in a few inches, following the pattern directions. Now I need to figure out the sleeve cap since my stitch count is much lower. I’ve ended on the same row of the pattern repeat as for the body of the cardigan, so the pattern will line up. It’s just a case of working out the decreases. I have a plan, and we’ll see how it goes – I’ll put in a lifeline, just in case.

Finishing Up the Cyochin

A few weeks ago, I showed you my wonderful new Felix cardigan in Noro Cyochin. I started with seven skeins of Cyochin and had a little over two left after finishing the sweater. I decided to use up the yarn on a hat and mitts.

I used my go-to hat pattern, First Snow, but added some ribbing and another repeat to the circumference. (That’s a Ravelry link for the pattern.) I also added an extra repeat to the length.

Then I used Tin Can Knit’s free mitten pattern, The World’s Simplest Mittens, and got two pairs of mittens out of the rest. (That’s another Ravelry link.)

The pompom is from Yarnspirations. It’s the Bernat one in Black Mink.

They look so nice in the sunshine on this winter day!

Starling Wrap

My quest for self-isolation – which is the same as my quest every other year – is to finish up some of the projects I have on my needles. Here’s one that’s been hanging around for a while that is finally done. (Phew.)

Rowan Fine Art Collection

The pattern is called Starling Wrap, knit in Rowan Fine Art, and it’s included in the Rowan Fine Art Collection – which was published in 2013. I loved this shawl and bought both the yarn and the book immediately. Rowan Fine Art is a fingering weight yarn, so the book has patterns for socks and shawls. Here’s the Ravelry link for the book, so you can see all of the patterns. I’m not sure how readily available the book is anymore, because the yarn is discontinued.

Starling Wrap in Rowan Fine Art

Here’s the picture from the book of the Starling Wrap. I ordered the same colourway that was used in the sample. And here the perils of online shopping begin to show up. First, for some reason, I thought this colourway (Waxwing) would be reddish or burgundy – in fact, it’s russet, gold and brown. Second, the yarn is also spun hard, which surprised me when it arrived. I was thinking it would be more squishy. Its spin means it’s probably a really good sock yarn for socks. If I had felt it, I probably wouldn’t have bought it for a shawl, and I wouldn’t have chosen this colourway if I’d seen it in real life first. Finally, if I’d flipped through the book before buying it, I would have seen that there were no charts for the lace stitch – just oceans of text instructions. I didn’t cast on until June 2014, according to my Ravelry project page. I made my own chart of the lace stitch and things went reasonably well.

The project then stalled because Rowan chose the Starling Wrap as the free download pattern from the book – I had ordered the book from the UK just for the one pattern – and then they discontinued the yarn, which meant it was half-price everywhere. I was a bit annoyed, which is not conducive to happy knitting.

This yarn is handpainted, btw, but it’s done in a very precise way. (Or maybe it’s precise to each batch or dye lot.) In order to ensure that the variegation worked the same way with each skein, when I got near the end of a skein, I matched the variegation (and its direction) on the next skein by placing the two ends alongside each other.

Last spring, I decided to get it done. The shawl takes three 100g skeins of Rowan Fine Art: I’d knit up two skeins and was well into the third. So, I pulled out the project to just crunch through the rest of it. It’s not TV knitting and it went back in the bag again. Until last week. Out it came. I had started the tenth repeat of the pattern. I was thinking I had to do twelve and use up the yarn to get the length – lo and behold, it was already longer than the pattern specifies. I could have cast off after nine repeats, years ago! LOL So, I finished that repeat and cast it off Saturday. I gave it a good soak and blocked it, and voilà! The endless shawl is done!

Starling Wrap designed by Marie Wallin knit in Rowan Fine Art by Deborah Cooke

It’s enormous, too. I couldn’t take a picture of the whole thing, so this is less than half. And yes, the ends still need to be sewn in. Here’s a detail of the pattern, which is very pretty. The variegation in the yarn made a narrow stripe, which is nice, too.

Starling Wrap designed by Marie Wallin knit in Rowan Fine Art by Deborah Cooke

What do you think?

Finished Nightshift

This was a project that I feared would never be done. It’s Nightshift, a pattern by Andrea Mowry, (that’s a Ravelry link) but I knit it in Koigu KPPPM – a fingering weight yarn – instead of the aran weight yarn specified. It took a while, but it’s finally finished – and here it is!

Nightshift knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke

And here’s a detail of that left corner:

Nightshift knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke

Yes, I threw it in the snow for the picture. I haven’t blocked it and the cast-off edge (on the left) is rolling a bit. It’s pretty big and has fourteen repeats of the 40 row pattern.

I’ve blogged about this one a couple of times – here (August 2019) and here (September 2019) and here (June 2020). A year and a half. I’m so glad it’s done!

Nightshift shawl by Andrea Mowry knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke

It’s knit in five colours of Koigu KPPPM and I used up all of the yarn – that’s why there are tassels. They used up the last bits.

Here’s my project page on Ravelry with all the nitty gritty details.

What do you think?

Another Felix – in Noro Cyochin

I had so many fingering-weight projects on my needles last year that it felt as if they were all taking forever. For a quick break, I cast on another Felix cardigan, this time in Noro Cyochin. (That’s a Ravelry link – Cyochin is discontinued now.)

Iced Blackberry designed by Claudia Wersing in Noro Cyochin

I bought this Noro when I fell in love with this poncho, called Iced Blackberry. It was designed by Claudia Wersing, specifically for Noro Cyochin, which is a blend of wool, mohair and silk. I bought the same colourway as shown in the pattern photo – that’s the picture from the Noro book, Sweet Winter.

Here’s Sweet Winter on the website of the distributor, Knitting Fever, so you can see all the patterns included in it. They were all designed by Claudia Wersing. This is her website, which is in German.

I love this poncho and bought the book for this one pattern, but partway through knitting it, I realized I’d never wear it. I love the look of ponchos, capes and stoles, but I never wear them. I didn’t want to waste the Cyochin, though.

Tithe by Jane Ellison knit in Noro Cyochin by Deborah Cooke

I ripped it out and then knit a Jane Ellison sweater called Tithe. (That’s a Ravelry link. My finished sweater is on the right.) This pattern is included in a book called Noro Unlimited – that’s a link to Knitting Fever – which includes all Jane Ellison designs. This is her website. I got gauge but the fabric was a bit stiffer than I wanted. I discovered that I don’t really like sweaters with 3/4 sleeves or floppy lapels. If it’s warm enough for a bulky sweater, I want long sleeves! And the lapels drove me a bit nuts. This one lasted long enough for a picture before it was frogged.

I have learned (alas!) that my taste in sweaters is deeply conventional.

I really like both of my Felix cardigans (here’s the red one and here’s the green one) so last fall I cast on a third with my Noro Cyochin. It spent some time on Sleeve Island, as all of my sweaters do, but I finished it up last week. Here’s the finished sweater:

Felix knit in Noro Cyochin by Deborah Cooke

I like the fabric better than the Tithe sweater since it’s knit at a looser gauge. It’s nice and soft. I had lots of yarn but couldn’t get matchy-matchy – of all my skeins of Cyochin, I had only one run of those turquoise-y blues. The Cyochin seems to have more variation skein-to-skein than other Noro yarns I’ve used – that run of icy green doesn’t appear in every ball either. The sleeves couldn’t be matched – and yes, I thought about ripping it out for a while. I do like it, though – it’s comfy, warm and purple – so this one is a win.

I’m currently in the Land of Use-It-Up with my knitting wool leftovers, so next week, I’ll show you what I knit of the remaining Cyochin.