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Old 09-24-2007, 11:06 AM   #1
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Exclamation Please Read: Tealeaf's Wool Tushies Tutorial

Ladies (and gents),

Tealeaf has been gracious enough to write up an article about Wool Soakers, Shorties & Longies. I will post it up here and would like your honest feedback. Please post your recommendations and encouragement concerning the article as this will help Tealeaf to revise it. Please keep in mind that this article was written in MS Word and that the formatting has not transferred correctly. I have tried to match it up as much as possible but it may still not be the way Tealeaf intended it to look.

We need you to critique the content and not the formatting per se. When it is completed, we will post it up as a help to new members and begin a series of articles to help our community. These articles will not be "threads" but rather entries into a separate "Articles" section on the site.

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Last edited by Juan M; 09-24-2007 at 02:12 PM.
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Old 09-24-2007, 11:14 AM   #2
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Re: Tealeaf's Wool Tushies Tutorial

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Tealeaf’s Wool Tushies Tutorial

There are tons of free and paid patterns on the web to knit and crochet wool soakers, shorties and longies, but there are limited resources to explain the concepts behind the soaker construction. This guide is intended to help provide additional details regarding wool cover design for crafty mammas to knit up.

Styles and Patterns. There are two basic body styles for knit soakers, for which each type has additional variations. Both free and patterns for purchase are available on the web. In general, free patterns tend to be simpler and a good start for a beginner. More advanced knitters tend to appreciate the design options offered by purchased patterns.

Soakers. Soakers are generally front leg loading or side leg loading. Many mammas prefer front leg loaders for younger babies, and side loaders for walkers.
o Front leg loaders: There are many free patterns available on the web, including Punk Knitters and Fern & Faerie. Fern & Faerie also offers a paid pattern, as does Wooly Wonders, which has two styles available (one with ribbing to last an extra long time), and Little Turtle Knits (which offers one with a skirty pattern).
o Side leg loaders: Free patterns include the Tiny Birds Organics pattern (knit in the round) and the Curly Purly pattern (a trim pattern which also offers a creative waist). Paid patterns include the Little Turtle Knits and Warm Hearted Woolies (another trim style which includes built in cuffs).

Longies/Shorties: This style of wool cover looks much more like clothing, rather than a diaper cover. Most patterns will work for any type (Longies, Shorties, or even Capris) depending on the length of the legs chosen. Many mammas carefully choose the length of this style depending on the age of the baby (ie. crawling babies can wear out longies or be hindered by longer shorts). As with soakers, there are many free patterns on the web, including the Aubrey Doodlepants, Tiny Birds Longies and Knitty Cargo Pants (the last two knit flat) and many popular paid patterns, including Fern & Faerie (sold in a package deal with their soaker & fully customizable), Wooly Wonders (which offers two styles for various knitting expertise), Little Turtle Knits (which also offers two styles with a variety of options), and Bella Donna (which includes options for ribbing).

Construction and Design: Basically all knit wool covers are comprised of key basic construction elements: waistband, body, legs, and cuffs. In addition, there is the optional element of adding short rows at the back for fitting, and longies/shorties have the optional element of a gusset. It is the mixing of these elements that lead to the unique designs.

Waistbands. All wool covers will have a waistband that is knit in a manner that is often different from the body. Waistbands can be comprised of ribbing (k1, p1; k2, p2; k3, p1; Curly Purly; etc.), elastic enhanced (fold over or Knit in Your Pants); or can include a combination of ribbing and a drawstring. Some patterns will build in a smaller waistband with increases towards the body for a more contoured waist/hip ratio. For most ribbed waistbands, needles are recommended to be 2-3 sizes smaller than that to knit gauge to accommodate the looser knitting which results from ribbing. Some knitters also use a different color of wool for contrast, or a different type of softer wool for the waistband from the body. Care must be taken when knitting a ribbed waistband to ensure that an even number (4 or 8, depending on the pattern) is used.
Body. The body of the cover is the portion that covers the diaper. This portion is most often knit in stocking stitch, but can be knit in garter, ribbing, cables or any type of stitch imaginable. Care must be taken with the gauge of body ribbing to ensure a fairly tight knit (to help contain wetness) but not too tight as to not offer enough stretch. Many mammas prefer patterns that are knit in the round for a seamless look. Often times short rows are incorporated into the back of the body to ensure a form fitting shape to offer better diaper coverage.
Legs. All patterns knit in the round will require the knitter to split for the legs.
o Soaker Legs: With soakers, a portion of the stitches (either front or back) will be often placed ‘on hold’, while the knitter knits the opposite side flat. Most often, unless knitting a ribbed crotch, the knitter will be required to make matching decreases on either side to accommodate the legs. When the two sides are completed, the knitter will be required to join the front and back by seaming (either through binding off or the Kitchener stitch). Side Loading styles are split on or close to the hips, whereas front loaders generally have a smaller front and wider back. When knitting flat, the first stitch of each row can be slipped for a neat edge. However, if this is done, care needs to be taken when picking up stitches for the cuffs to ensure that holes aren’t created.
o Shortie/Longie Legs: Some patterns will incorporate a gusset into the design prior to splitting for the legs. The gusset is basically an upside down V of matching increases & decreases, either done front and back, or on one side. The gusset will help provide flexibility to the knitting to accommodate movement and diaper coverage. Most patterns require some seaming at the crotch, and often require stitches to be picked up to prevent the creation of holes.
Cuffs. Most patterns incorporate the option of cuffs into the design. The options for cuffs are endless. They can be ribbed, crochet, seed stitch, rolled, picot, hemmed, ruffled, etc., and in the same color as the body or in a complimentary color. Ribbing requires an even number of stitches to be worked. Some stitches work best with a needle size that is smaller than the body. With soakers, are should be taken to ensure an equal number of stitches are picked up for each leg opening. When picking up stitches, often a pattern of picking up 3 out of every 4 stitches offers the best ratio and ensures that the leg openings are not overstretched. When slipped stitches are used along the leg openings, a one to one ratio will result in a gathered style of leg opening which is very stretchy, but care must be taken not to create holes.

Supplies. There are basically knitting supplies needed for every soaker project (needles and yarn), and some additional supplies that are optional based on the selected pattern.
Needles. There are various types of knitting needles available in a variety of styles, of which just a few will be touched upon here.
o Material. Metal needles tend to lead to quick knitting, but can be heavier and lead to more slipped stitches. Bamboo needles are light and warm, but can stick to the wool a bit more than metal. Some knitters prefer metal needles for circular knitting, and bamboo for double points because of these differences. Points on needles are important to consider, too, as some knitters prefer pointer tips to more blunt tips.
o Type. Many soaker knitters prefer the seamless look of knitting in the round, which requires circular or double pointed needles. Circular and double points can be used either for knitting in the round or flat. Straight needles can only create flat knit garments.
*Double Pointed. A set of 8 bamboo double pointed needles, in 7” or 8” length, from sizes 3 through 10, offer the most economical option for soaker knitters. With this set, nearly all styles and sizes of soakers can be knit.
*Circular Needles. For knitting soakers in the round, most patterns will work best with a circular needle length of 16” for the body and 12” for the cuffs and/or legs. An ideal set of circular needles would include needles in 16”, from sizes 5 through 8, will work for nearly all soaker knitting patterns, in addition to a set of sizes 3 through 8 in 12” length for cuffs/legs. Since collecting circulars can be costly, the basics for knitting can consist of a few circular needles in 16” length in the most commonly used sizes for the body (5, 6, 7, and 8), and dpns sizes 3 though 8.
*Interchangeable Needle Sets. There are several interchangeable needle sets on the market, including Denise, Knitpicks, and Boye. When choosing an interchangeable set for soaker knitting, make sure to select a brand that offers cables that allow knitting down to 16” and 12” lengths (whether as part of the set or for purchase separately). This is the total length of cable and needle – not just the cable length.
Yarn. Ahhh….. Yarn….. Yarntopia….. Yarnaholics…. Soaker knitters can be obsessed with finding the perfect yarn for the perfect soaker creation. The colors, fibers, and weights, when added to hand painted and hand dyed art yarns, and infinite. No knitter should every feel guilty about the size of their yarn stash, no matter how great it maybe (unless it requires them to rent a storage unit or look for a larger residence).
o Weights. The weight of yarn most often used is worsted (from light to heavy) and less often bulky. Wools lighter than worsted are not often used as they result in a thinner fabric that is not as efficient in containing wetness.
o Wool. The vast majority of soaker are knit in wool or wool blends that are at least 75% wool, although some soaker knitters have been known acrylics from time to time. Wool is preferred over acrylic as wool actually can absorb wetness, whereas acrylics just repel liquid. Acrylic yarn is great for experimenting with new patterns and for its machine washability.
*Wool fibers. Wool yarn varies dramatically in its texture, softness and elasticity depending on the breed of sheep. Some preferred types of wool include:
Merino
Corriedale
BFL
*Wool sources. Wool, either 100% or blended with other natural fleece like alpaca, is the most efficient and common yarn for soaker knitting. There are 4 primary sources of wool. In general, before investing a huge amount of money into any particular brand or type of wool, it is best to purchase a color card first.
Mainstream. Many of the brands available in discount craft stores are highly processed and have a minimal amount of natural lanolin remaining, which reduce their effectiveness for soakers. Their affordable price and convenience, however, make them staples in the knitting community. Preferred mainstream brands include KnitPicks and Cascade 220 (both from Peruvian Highland sheep), Paton’s Merino, and Lion Brand Wool and Fisherman’s Wool.
Farm Yarn. The closer a yarn is to its natural state (ie. the less amount of chemical and mechanical processing) the more effective it will be for soakers. Many soaker knitters prefer natural yarns purchased directly from smaller scale farming operations. Favorite types of more natural yarns include Peace Fleece, Marr Haven, LTK Farm Yarn, Beaverslide, …..
Hand painted and Hand dyed Yarn. Once a knitter becomes experienced with soaker creation, their preference in wool often becomes more sophisticated, and they expand their stash to include more artistic yarns. Many work at home mothers hand paint and hand dye beautiful yarns and offer them for sale on Hyena Cart, Esty, and Ebay, and also on forums such as Diaperswappers. These yarns can be made of an infinite breeds of sheep.
Co-ops and Boards. Many of the above yarns can be purchased in bulk at a reduced cost through co-ops or FSOT boards on forums such as Diaperswappers, Diaperpin, and through online groups such as those on Yahoo.

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Old 09-24-2007, 02:03 PM   #3
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Re: Tealeaf's Wool Tushies Tutorial

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Old 09-25-2007, 06:58 AM   #4
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Old 09-25-2007, 05:19 PM   #5
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Re: Please Read: Tealeaf's Wool Tushies Tutorial



no comments? anyone?
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Old 09-25-2007, 05:45 PM   #6
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Re: Please Read: Tealeaf's Wool Tushies Tutorial

I know that crochet patterns are a little different... will there be a crochet tutorial after this? or could the crochet differences be added to this one to make it more universal and not "knitter" biased . Also, if you could emphasize the flat patterns a little more in the supplies section... it makes it seem like the only way to go is circular and I know that circular patterns can be really hard for beninning knitters. Thanks for the article!
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Old 09-30-2007, 03:54 PM   #7
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Re: Please Read: Tealeaf's Wool Tushies Tutorial

I would love to see additions to this for crocheting as well. I was going to try to start knitting, but after seeing this, I think it may be a little too complicated for my blood. Can we get a separate one for crocheting or add some info to this? Other than that, it seems pretty good, but I'm not a knitter yet, so I don't know how qualified I am to judge.
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Old 06-09-2010, 07:32 PM   #8
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Re: Please Read: Tealeaf's Wool Tushies Tutorial

this had a lot of great info! Thanks I wish I would have read this earlier because I just went out and bought some circular needles but they're 29" long. Guess ill have to go shopping again tomorrow.
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Old 06-09-2010, 11:20 PM   #9
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Re: Please Read: Tealeaf's Wool Tushies Tutorial

I also noticed the knitter-bias, for example, mentioning needles and not hooks, and no mention of popular crochet patterns. This would be fine if it was clear from the introduction that you were choosing to focus on knitting.

Another thing you may want to discuss is the use of superwash wool for soakers. I've seen on here that there are differing opinions as to whether they're just as effective as non-superwash wool. It's probably worth touching upon in your article. Also, the question pops up as to whether it's acceptable to use soy or silk blends, and you may want to address that. Additionally, discussing how three-ply yarn is more appropriate for crawlers than single-ply would be a good idea also, as well as a discussion on how not all wool is scratchy or equally soft, and ways to soften wool by conditioning and lanolizing. My tip when shopping for yarn is to hold the ball up to my neck and see if it feels soft to me. If it feels soft against the neck, it's appropriate for a newborn!

You can also mention how skirties are constructed-- first as a simple soaker with perhaps a purl row that you pick up stitches from and add the skirt to (for knitters).

Also, people will ask how to learn how to knit/crochet. You may want to point them to websites or books, or suggest their LYS and ravelry.

To me, the article was perfectly comprehensible, but I am an experienced knitter and already know what you are talking about. I think that it would benefit greatly from photos and visual aids to explain the various terminology-- picot, ribbed, rolled, etc.
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