A couple of weeks ago, baby E was born to friends of ours, and she’s beautiful. Babies, you will agree, deserve handmade garments more than anyone else in the world, so we looked for the nicest one we could devise.
It had to be Owlet by Kate Davies. This is the baby version of O w l s, from this booklet and as you’d expect from Kate, it’s clever, easy to knit and dotey beyond belief.
We used Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in a sweet dusky pink, so it’s soft as anything and it’ll be easy on Baby E. It washes (even in the machine) and dries fast, so it’ll be easy on Baby E’s parents as well.
We knitted the second size, the one that’s suggested for a nine month old. It has thirteen owls, and that meant…twenty six cute buttony eyes.
Twenty six buttons is a not inconsiderable number, so we started to think: what if there were a way of adding the buttons that didn’t require sewing them in after the fact? It turns out that there is. You can knit the buttons in as you go, and here’s how.
Take a very generous length of your yarn – at least six times the circumference of your Owlet round to be safe – and thread all your buttons onto it, using a yarn needle. (We’re only demonstrating with two, but for the size we knitted, all twenty six were pre-threaded.)
At the beginning of round 14 of the Owls cable chart, drop the working yarn and take up the strand of yarn with the buttons on it. Use that to knit the round.
We placed the buttons on the two eye stitches closest to each other, so there were two stitches between buttons. When you come to an eye stitch, bring the yarn to the front of the work…
…hoosh a button up close to the work…
…slip the next stitch without working it…
…and then bring the yarn back to the rear of the work and work on. You’ll have trapped the button at the front of the work. It’s a good idea to tension the yarn rather firmly here.
Continue all the way around the row, and when you’re finished it, take up the original working yarn again and knit on. You’ll have just four extra ends to weave in, and your owls can watch you contentedly as you finish the jumper.
This technique won’t work for functional buttons, which need to be attached rather more firmly. But any time you want buttons to be a purely decorative element, it will save you a lot of fiddle at the endgame.
So, baby E, you’re only with us a fortnight and already you’re inspiring us to try new things!