30 Oct 2014

my top 3 maternity buys

Just a short list of 3 items I use now on a daily base and I think worth to buy. Probably not surprising, but 2 of the items I consider as my best investments during pregnancy are from the category underwear...

1st trimester: a good maternity-bra

While I was able to wear my own bra's during the first 10-11 weeks, suddenly around week 12 I needed to invest in a larger size bra.
I choose to get a very good quality and therefore not cheap bra which I can wear and wash on a daily base. It is a long-term investment because I will be able to wear it through both the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. (It is completely individual how much 'everything' grows during your pregnancy, so you might need to 'upsize' more than once in the nine months)
Mine is wireless and has an extra inner layer in the cups which is stretchy and easily can grow a size or 2 with you. When buying I choose a size larger cups than I needed at that time and I'm happy to report that this bra still fits!

2nd trimester: maternity support pillow

From the 20'th week on I sleep with my diy maternity support pillow and I can't imagine the nights without it! Normally I sleep on my belly, and with the pregnancy it is impossible after a while. Very annoying! Now I fall asleep on my left side hugging my support pillow!

3rd trimester: bump-supporting shapewear 

Since I work full-time as a nurse and I have to stand, walk around most of the time I noticed that my bump tends to feel heavier after a day at work.
Past week I decided it was time to buy a bump-supporting brief to support both my belly and back. There is enough choice from different maternity brands, but since normal shapewear was on sale in our local HEMA (a Dutch company) I decided to buy one of those for my last 11 pregnant weeks.
I choose a brief (for work) with a light support, and 2 sizes larger than I'd normally buy. Normally I wear size S clothing items, but for underwear size up to M anyway. The shapewear/supporting I've got now is size XL.
The price was just a bit more than 6 euro's and it works great! The 'supporting' upper part stretches comfortably over the lower part of my bump and while it doesn't squeeze, it really makes the difference at the end of the day!
Note: to keep my abdominal muscles active, I only wear it when at work and since today during running.

24 Oct 2014

How to knit and attach neckline/armhole ribbing separately

I used a for me new technique to attach the ribbing at the neckline and armholes on my latest baby-knit. Above a close-up of the finished ribbing. Looks neat, right?

The basic idea is to knit the ribbing separately and sew it on separately.
I've never used with this technique before. Seems like the Phildar booklets I've got use this method for their patterns, instead of picking up stitches along the edges.

- the edges are smoother, while you have a bulky edge in the back when picking up stitches
- the ideal solution for smoothly curved lines, because you work on the right side (it looks pretty much flawless when finished!)
- it is easier to distribute the stitches evenly
- the backstitch has elasticity
- though the sewing took some time, I found it quite satisfying work to do

- slow!
- you really need to take time to secure each loop separately (though the results are really rewarding)
- you need to have a basic understanding of construction, in case you make a mistake or 'loose' one of the loops
- you need to know the exact stitch-count to start with (most patterns instruct to pick up a certain amount of stitches anyway)
- you can't really manipulate and store the separately knitted pieces for a long time before attaching them because of the loose ends

how to:
- Here is what you start with: a ribbing knit to the desired width and length, finished with a row (I used two) of stocking stitch in a contrasting color, but same weight yarn.
- After knitting you just pull the pieces from the needle without casting off the stitches. I used cheap acrylic, since you need to rip out the extra rows while sewing
- I only attached the shoulders before sewing on the ribbing (this way I could work on a flat surface)

My tip: don't forget to leave a very long strand of yarn after the last row, you can use that for stitching! 
You secure the ribbing by stitching the loops down with a simple backstitch, working from the right to the left, after pinning it on the garment:
- bring the needle up through a loop:

- push it down through the loop of the stitch on the right:

- bring the needle up through the next loop on the left after pulling out the contrasting color yarn:

My tip: do 2 rows in another color instead of one. When sewing, pull the first row from 4 stitches and then the second one stitch by sitch. This way you avoid losing your loops by accident.

22 Oct 2014

How to knit a neat V-neck ribbing

When knitting a V-neck sweater you need a neat finish for the neck ribbing. Of course, you could do it in two pieces which overlap, but for the classic finish like above you need to decrease in a special way. I used this neckline finish on my Phildar 093/30 baby pullover.
To be honest, when doing some research I found most written instructions confusing, and the original Phildar instructions didn't work for me, while the technique itself is relatively easy.
  • You work from the bottom up (you can either pick up stitches along the edge of the V-neck or knit your ribbing separately and attach it later)
  • To make this finish you need to decrease one stitch in every row, both on the right side and the wrong side of the work
  • you need a cable needle or an extra needle (I used a short sock-needle)
step-by-step instructions:
It looks like there are a lot of steps, but basically you just need to twist your stitches before knitting, like you would do when knitting cables.
  • You need to pick up an uneven amount of stitches
  • You want to be the center stitch of your ribbing (on the right side) a knit stitch. To do this start the first and every row on the right side with two knit stitches and then rib, alternating purl 1, knit 1 
On the right side:
- rib until you reach the 3 center stitches, then slip the next stitch to the right needle:

- place the next (center) stitch on a cable needle in front of the work:

- slip the next (3rd) stitch to the right needle:

slip the center stitch back to the left needle:

- then slip the other stitches back on the left needle as well:

- knit the 3 stitches together:

On the wrong side:
- when you reach the 3 center stitches, slip the next stitch to the right needle:

- place the next (center) stitch on a cable needle at the back of the work:

- slip the first stitch from the right needle back to the left needle:

- finally slip the center stitch from the needle back on the left needle as well:

- purl the 3 stitches together:

Continue to the desired length, cast off loosely.
The result will be a straight line of neat knit stitches in the center front:

Here is how it looks from the wrong side:

Phildar 093/30 retro inspired baby pullover finished!

Here it is!
The only thing missing are the push-buttons for the neckline, but other than that finally an item that I not only knitted but actually assembled as well!

I used drops baby merino, which is a baby-weight, 4-ply 100% merinos wool.
Needle metric size 2,5 for the borders and size 3 for the main pieces.
The amount of yarn I used is surprisingly little:

  • light beige (color nr.23): 65 gr
  • light turquoise (color nr.10): only 16 gr

My stitch-count is different to the original, I have less stitches in the same width which means that the finished garment should be a little larger.
Using the 6 months old measurements I was aiming for something large enough for a 12-months old and when I compare the measurements it is almost spot on!

  • my finished width (measured from armpit to armpit): 26,5 cm
  • length from shoulder down: 29 cm