Debbie Bliss cardigan with Fair Isle yoke (for 0-3 month baby)

Debbie Bliss Fair Isle cardigan

Since I made my first jumper embellished with a little bit of Fair Isle I’ve been desperate to try kitting one of those glorious garments with a lavishly patterned yoke. Finding a Debbie Bliss knitting pattern for a new born baby was just the thing. A nice little yoke meant I could have a go without investing too much time, wool or energy should it all prove to be a challenge too far. Once I got going I really enjoyed the rhythm, and I was often found sitting over my needles chanting “red,red, yellow, yellow yellow, red, red” oblivious of those around me.

Debbie Bliss Fair Isle cardigan: after blocking

It seemed to go well and a nice horseshoe of yoke at the end of it all looked promising. I then knitted the front bands (for the buttons and with the buttonholes) – just as the knitting pattern said – picking up wool for some 56 stitches. Disappointingly, the resulting bands looked much too puckered and stretched, so I undid them and re-knitted them but this time, in the spirit of nothing ventured, nothing gained, I picked up over 80 stitches! This looked so much better and, having increased the buttons from 5 to 8 the band looks less gappy. By the time I got this far, wouldn’t you know it, I had run out of wool so I had to experiment with different colours. Curiously in the end I settled on a slightly different grey which would have looked terrible if I’d had to use it anywhere else in the main body of the knitting but which for the front bands and in rib look surprisingly perfect. Very satisfying when odd bits of a random ball of wool are so useful.

Debbie Bliss Fair Isle cardigan : detail of yole

Blocking was necessary. The slope of the yoke over the shoulders looked much too steep and even after blocking it still doesn’t look quite right. My tension is not usually a problem but perhaps I need to make sure the threads looping across the back of the pattern are just a bit looser. The cardigan in the pattern book certainly does look looser than mine. How glad am I that I began with such a small garment. I’d like to repeat the pattern in other colours but I’m just not sure whether even a looser tension would make a difference. I think a trip to Loop is called for so they can give me advice on the cardigan I’ve just finished and perhaps recommend another pattern to try. Any advice from any readers would also be appreciated.

Debbie Bliss Fair Isle cardigan as it appears in the pattern book

Meanwhile I’m working on a simple band of Fair Isle around the bottom of a jumper for the three-year-old – infinitely relieved that I don’t have to think about such things as tension around curves.

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  1. Posted February 20, 2017 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    I think you can see on the model that this is a peculiar example of a yoke — look at all the fabric bunched around the child’s armpits! It’s somehow trying to be a drop shoulder construction and a circular yoke at once. Your tension doesn’t look bad to me. Ysolda Teague has some fetching child-size versions of her yoke patterns; she’s a designer who’s usually quite attentive to fit.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      I think you are right about the photograph, Sarah, thank you for confirming what I was lacking the courage to think. It’s a pity there was no little line line drawing of the cardigan as that might have made clearer to me the strange mixture of drop shoulder and yoke where I would have expected raglan sleeve with a yoke.
      I really want to do another little cardigan with a Fair Isle yoke but a cursory internet for Ysolda Teague search hasn’t yielded anything similar – do you know of something you could send me a link to (if yo have time – forget it if you’re busy).

  2. Caro
    Posted February 20, 2017 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    I think it looks enchanting. You’ve made me long to make another fair isle cardigan – I made several Debbie Bliss jumpers for my children when they were small.

    On the tension point, I’ve taken to going up a needle size as soon as I start colour work. Recommended by someone in Ravelry, it works well.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 25, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Kind words much appreciated for something that isn’t as nice as I expected. I’d love to hear any recommendations for similar patterns.
      Definitely worth remembering about upping the size of needle for the Fair Isle -so would that be say 3.25 mm upped to 3.5 mm?

      • Caro
        Posted March 5, 2017 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        Sorry for the delay in responding – it was only the arrival of your latest post on my blog feed reader that reminded me to check to see if you’d replied! You’re spot on re needle sizes.

        I’m afraid the D Bliss patterns I knitted for my now-17 year old and her sister are probably long out of print. In case you can find it secondhand, her Jaeger Handknit booklet for babies and children was my favourite.

        The best small child jumper of all was one in which the splendidly easy structure came from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Without Tears (this little book is really worth tracking down) and the fair isle yoke came from the Jaeger booklet. There’s a picture of it here:

        • Mary Addison
          Posted March 11, 2017 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          Thank you for being so helpful and taking the time to reply.
          I have ordered both books and await them with excitement. It’s a shame when patterns go out of print as good straightforward children designs never really date.

  3. Posted February 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm. It does look a slightly odd slope of shoulder, but I’m no knitter, so I’m afraid I can’t offer any advice.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 25, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Yes, well, it’s always worth being reminded when the emperor has no clothes, so thank you Rachel!
      Living and learning never stops – that is until death of course – does it?

  4. Sharon
    Posted February 22, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    With those about the ‘odd’ shape of the yoke!

    Maybe try a different pattern, one that uses a ‘proper’ curved yoke – where you knit the body and sleeves to the correct lengths, then join them in order and knit the yoke.

    Other than that, pull out your colour work occasionally as you knit it to try and keep everything a bit looser.

  5. Linda Pennell
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Yes, as above re yoke. Babies generally do not appear to have much of a neck so not sure how this might fit! But the knitting itself looks great. I imagine you are now living dangerously close to Loop so definitely pop down there for friendly advice! I agree about how seductive colourwork can be and bands round cuffs, hems etc very manageable

    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 25, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Comforting thoughts about babies lacking necks and thus holding the promise of a possible fit!
      Am dying to get to Loop – all of 15 mins away on foot but with lots of things to be attended to, not sure when I’ll get there. GRRR
      At the moment, and in line with what you suggest, I’m working on another jumper with the much simpler band of Fair Isle around the bottom of the jumper, though this isn’t assuaging my desire for baby cardigans with patterned yokes!

  6. Posted July 6, 2017 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    I love fairisle but would not attempt it, my knitting skills are severely limited. This looks so beautiful, but I can understand your frustration with the pattern, after all your work. My mum (an excellent knitter) is making a fairisle baby cardigan at the moment, I will ask her what pattern she is using and pass on the info to you x

    • Mary Addison
      Posted July 9, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Would love recommendations for patterns – especially a Fair Isle cardigan – from such a skilled knitter. Please do ask your mum.
      I have Kate Davies book on yokes but for a early years knitter it all seems too complicated. I long for a straightforward pattern to get going on.

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