My favourite Debbie Bliss baby pattern – cardigan with Fair Isle Yoke

Lovely Fair Isle cardigan (from Debbie Bliss: Baby Cashmerino, 2002)

I started this pattern trepidatiously as I wasn’t very happy with the first Fair Isle yoke pattern I tried (also by Debbie Bliss). But the picture in the book was alluring (see below) and the construction was different from before so I flung myself in with fingers, toes and everything else crossed.

Lovely Fair Isle cardigan (from Debbie Bliss: Baby Cashmerino, 2002)

And… I was so happy for the most lovely cardigan has resulted. It is such a clever pattern in so many ways and an absolute delight to produce. Most cunningly of all the Fair Isle band is just that – a band of pattern unhindered by decreasing which happens above and below the coloured strands and yet, with just one change to smaller needles in the middle row of the pattern, the whole yoke curves effortlessly round the shoulders and fits snuggly.  (You might notice that the picture from the knitting pattern shows the yoke stitches picked up in a way that shows the casting off stitches and mine doesn’t – both ways obviously work I just preferred not to have them showing.)

Baby modelling lovely Fair Isle cardigan (from Debbie Bliss: Baby Cashmerino, 2002)

Don’t you just love it when you follow a pattern doggedly and almost blindly, with no idea how the desired result is achieved and then boom you get to the end and it’s worked! Knitting alchemy!

Close up of yoke of brilliant Fair Isle cardigan (from Debbie Bliss: Baby Cashmerino, 2002)

I love this pattern so much and it has met with such approval that I’ve immediately started another one, making use of the fact that ANY Fair Isle pattern of 9 rows or less can be used as the decrease rows occur before and after these.  There’s also room for a simple 2 row band before the first decrease and after the last which gives the pattern more impact. I suspect the pattern could even be turned into a jumper – but then we decided a cardigan was so much easier for small babies. In spite of having more buttons than I shall ever use up in my life time (jars full of mother-of-pearl bought for me by daughter No 2 when working in Vietnam), I had come to London without any. A quick trip to Ray Stitch resulted in these lovely little pink buttons which probably work better, being less glossy and shouty, than mother-of-pearl.

Close up of back yoke of Fair Isle cardigan (from Debbie Bliss: Baby Cashmerino, 2002)

Meanwhile I am still looking enviously at Kate Davies’s book ‘Yoke’ which not only tells you about the origins of the different styles of yoke but also has patterns for 12 different stunning jumpers. I’m assured by my husband’s daughter-in-law that they’re not difficult to knit or to get the right fit as long as you get the measurements right.  But I don’t really want to knit one for an adult and I don’t think I could get my head round working out my own sizing for someone much smaller  unless or until I have made one for an adult first. Perhaps I’ll get in touch with Kate and ask her to do a range for babies.

Photograph from book showing Fair Isle cardigan (from Debbie Bliss: Baby Cashmerino, 2002)

I returned to Cheltenham just as the Literary Festival  was packing up and made a mental note to try not to be on nanny duty throughout its entire duration next year. Books have been very much on my mind during the last couple of years as possessions have surged from one part of the country to another and then off again. The family children’s library is now shelved in daughter No 1’s house, admittedly somewhat higgledy piggledy but fine tuning on that will come later. While away we’ve had a few more bookshelves made and this week I’ve been working my way through painting them, eager to have them finished and the rest of our books out of store.

Kate Davies invaluable book Yokes (Kate Davies Designs, 2014)

Part of me looks back to all the books we gave to charity (and the few we sold) with regret but another bit of me looks to the ones that remain with fingers itching to continue culling more of  those too. Coincidentally 2 articles in newspapers recently made me realise we had done the right thing. One described the months it took to go through the tangled mess of books in his late father’s rented Cotswold manor house. Another took us through the pain and indecision of reducing his dead father’s library to a manageable wallful (!) of shelving on which sat the books he wanted to keep. Both felt the burden of their fathers’ untidy largesse and were saddened by the guillotine they had to wield over the intellectual heritage of a close and loved relative.

Are these sleeves long enough? I’m only 5months and this is supposed to be 9-12 months. (Fair Isle cardigan rom Debbie Bliss: Baby Cashmerino, 2002)

Sometimes it seems book’s physicality trumps their content.  I did once ask one of my children if they would have my craft books when I’m either no longer here or should I have to move to somewhere much smaller. Now I think, get rid of them, cut the bits you like out and put them in a scrapbook. You may never want to look at the knitwear book by Jamie and Jessie Seaton – now of Toast fame – and it does indeed seem remarkable that such ill fitting brightly decorated knits should have enchanted so many. I can’t yet get rid of Jocasta Innes’s Paint Magic, but that’s no reason why someone else shouldn’t (good pics for the scrapbook there). Few even know who Jocasta Innes was – especially when her fame has been eclipsed by her daughter Daisy Godwin who is riding high as the muse behind ITV’s series Victoria. Use them or lose them, to paraphrase the urging of rugby coaches. But from now on I must try harder to not buy so many…

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  1. Posted October 21, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I cannot bring myself to cut things out of books, and although it was quite a challenge and took several weekends, my godmother and I rather enjoyed doing the inventory of the books in her late godmother’s house, and giving the rest of the family a chance to ask for them!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Well, I can’t bring myself to do it to that many either – just a few craft and cookery books. But we must have had to find homes for at least a thousand books over the last year and a half – if not more (doing a brief tally of how many books fit on one shelf and then multiplying it by the number of bookshelves) and it has not been enjoyable. Glad you were able to find delight in helping your godmother to go through her godmother’s books. She was very fortunate to have you.

  2. Posted October 21, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Your baby knit with that Fair Isle knit is enchanting – lucky baby, lucky parents! I was intrigued to read what you wrote about large private book collections as both my parents and my husband’s father had such collections of very much loved books – truly a life time’s pleasure in assembling these books. They were lucky in that we – my husband and I and our siblings – love books so many of these old books now grace our shelves. But future generations – Generation Rent – aah, I don’t think they’ll want them …. I don’t think I could bring myself to cut things out of books either!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Selling a 6 bedroom London house just over 10 years ago, it was noticeable how many people were put off by the our bookshelves and our, mostly built in, bookcases. I blame Kevin McCloud’s “Grand Designs” – hardly ever a book to be seen, let alone a wall of bookcases!

  3. Sue
    Posted October 21, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I have Jocasta Innes’ ‘Country Kitchen’ and couldn’t do without it, I also have a Miranda Innes craft book and am having a problem evicting that one too! I had no idea Daisy Godwin is JI’s daughter, obviously a very creative family.
    I also have Kate Davies’ ‘Yokes’ and two of her others…there seems to be a trend here! Impossible to say goodbye to the old, yet still buying new books, despite having cleared rooms (literally) of books over the years due to a few emigrations. I fear I may never be cured!
    The cardigan is so pretty, well done. Sue.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      I fear the book collecting bug never really leaves those of us afflicted. It’s ok if you don’t move house regularly.

  4. Bev S.
    Posted October 21, 2017 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Kate Davies did do a baby/child version of Bluebells, appropriately called Wee Bluebells. It can be found in Cross Country Knitting volume 2 via Ravelry or through her website. I have the yarn, but have not knit it yet.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Bev, I do remember seeing the little bluebell jumper and now you’ve told me where to find the pattern I may well add it to my list of things to do.

  5. Amara Bray
    Posted October 22, 2017 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    I love the colors in this cardi. I feel the same way about cookbooks. I covet and then buy far too many, especially when you think about how much is online these days. Sigh.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      The funny thing is I often end up cooking from the online version so as to keep the book clean – how crazy is that?

  6. Ann
    Posted October 22, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Your sweaters are lovely and thoughts of culling out books reminds me of the 20 cases we donated on our last move. Sadly, homes today are built without bookcases no matter where you live.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      I do agree, Ann. We are busy shoehorning bookshelves in on any spare bit of wall (even if a sofa hinders access to the bottom half)!

  7. becky
    Posted October 22, 2017 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Kate Davies does a child’s version of her lovely owl jumper – the “w-owl-igan”

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      I’ve seen the owl jumper Becky and as yet it doesn’t appeal to me. But you never know, should a small person develop a passion for birds, it’ll be top of my list!

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