How I knit the Puerperium Baby Cardigan
I’ve put together a step by step tutorial for knitting raglan sleeves and picking up stitches. This sweet little baby cardigan is a great way to practice garment knitting skills!
The Puerperium Cardigan is a free pattern available on Ravelry from designer Kelly van Niekerk. As of today it has almost 12,000 finished projects! That’s incredible and a good sign that this pattern is well loved by knitters and the lucky babies that get to wear one.
I’ve knit a few of these sweaters over the years playing with techniques, modifications and of course, squishy yarns. Here’s the detailed view of how I knit this darling little sweater-coat.
Yarn & Needles
The yarn I used was Drops Extra Fine Merino. It is a wonderful yarn to knit with and it washed/blocked beautifully. It’s a very soft and squishy 100% wool yarn, plus it’s superwash, which is perfect for babies.
I used 4mm (US 6) circular needles. Because the yarn is superwash and squishy, I used my Lykke Driftwood 80cm (32″) needles. I like the look of stitches on a wood needle, there’s no logic to it, its just something that makes me happy.
Stripes, yes please
Stripes are a fun addition, especially for tiny people clothes!
This cardigan is knit flat, top down. After the armhole bind offs, I knit 4 rows in the main color, then started 2 row striping. I worked a knit row and purl row (down and back) in the same color, then switched again.
The last purl stitch before the end (and color change), I knit in the new color, so I could slip-stitch the 1st stitch of the next row in the new color. It creates this lovely wrapped/striped edge to the garter band.
Sleeves & Underarms
Knitting raglan sleeves and picking up stitches for the underarm can be intimidating, it certainly was for me early on. I’d sit and stare and try my best and almost always ended up with a hole and have to sew closed at the end. Not anymore! I have figured out a way that ensures all my underarm stitching is as neat as I like and I haven’t sewn up an underarm hole in a very long time.
This is NOT where we want to pick up stitches.
This is a good spot!
Insert the needle under 3 bars (strands of yarn) rather than 2. You can see right away which creates a hole.
Because we’re picking up stitches near the raglan increases, moving the pick-up point over/down 1/2 a stitch keeps the work neat.
With your left hand, hold the bars your needle went under while you wrap the yarn…
and pull the new stitch through.
Look at that newly picked up stitch!
Now keep going…
The bottom/center of the underarm is probably the trickiest. Look at the big hole this placement would create.
DON’T pick up a stitch here!
This is what we want!
Look at this close up compared to the last. Move the needle 1/2 a stitch to the right of the center and pick up through there.
Hold the yarns like before and pull the new stitch through.
And that’s it! I only picked up 3 stitches for this tiny-person cardigan, but even on a larger garment, those few at the bottom can be the biggest problem.
These 3 stitches are perfectly placed:
- below the row of increases (seen on the right)
- offset 1/2 stitch from the center
- along the garter (button) band
Once I pick up my stitches, I hold the needle up (as in the last photo) and check for any gaps or issues. It’s no problem to pull the picked up stitches off the needle and start again. Its’s a fun challenge for me to make it as need as I can before I continue knitting!
Sewing on Buttons
Make absolutely sure the buttons will fit in the holes you’ve knit! Trust me… speaking from frustrated experience here… A trick for measuring size if you shop online is to use coins, slide them through the holes and measure the width.
Rather than trying to match colors with embroidery thread, I separate the yarn plies. This yarn was 6-ply, so I untwisted them and used 2 plies held together, thread through a standard sewing needle.
With a 4 hole button, sew in one direction 3-4 times, then switch. To keep them all looking the same and straight since these were oval shaped, I stitched side-to-side 3 times, then top-to-bottom 3 times.
2×2 Rib vs Garter Edge
Totally a personal preference here, but I love love love how 2×2 rib looks for cuffs and bottom edges of garments. The pattern is written for garter edges for the neck, bottom and sleeve cuffs. I kept it for the neck only and knit in rib for the others. Garter stitching keeps the edges flat and not curled up, but hey, so does a nice rib. I think it looks really sweet and more like a tiny version of an adult sweater!
If you haven’t knit one of these, I highly recommend it. The pattern has some odd labeling for the stitch markers, but it’s easy to understand for a beginner. It’s a fun way to perfect garment knitting skills and you end up with an adorable little sweater at the end. Win win!