Knitting and a book - the perfect travel companions

5 May 2011
I'm sure it is no surprise to most of you to know I took knitting with me when I went to the Blue Mountains. There is nothing quite like a knitting project and a book in your bag when you travel.  Either of them will get your through long train trips, very talkative fellow travellers, and those moments of boredom when you feel you can sit still no longer. Both of them combined make a long journey treasured time to create and reflect. I am knitting with Vivian's beautiful yarns from Eco Yarns now and every time I pick up the needles and feel the quality of the organic cotton she sent, I fall in love with knitting all over again. I am knitting for my grandson Jamie at the moment so only the best will do. While I was away I finished a pure cotton kimono top for him. It will be soft on his delicate skin and I won't be concerned about introducing him to any harmful chemicals in the yarn or dye because I know it is organic, whisper soft and completely safe. I used the pattern in this Cute and Easy Baby Knits book and a fine set of Clover bamboo needles.

Baby clothes need frequent washing so using quality yarn that will stand up to all that washing is essential. When you knit something as a gift, it is a very good idea to include some information about the yarn and how to care for it. I always give washing instructions for that particular yarn to the person who will do the washing, in this case, Jamie's wonderful mum, Sunny. It makes the task easier and will keep the garment wearable for many long years, and possibly for other babies who come along.

This is the label from the cotton used in the kimono top.  I'll pin it to the top when I give it to Sunny and hope that she reads this post on caring for cotton. She usally reads the blog, so she may have already seen the top and read the instructions before I give it to her.  Hello Sunny! 

I believe hand washing is best for this type of garment.

Fill an enamel dish or plastic bucket with warm water.  Don't use hot water because untreated organic cotton can shrink in heat. There are chemicals in ordinary cotton to stop shrinkage.

Place the garment in the water and completely soak it.  Add either homemade liquid soap or bar soap, or dissolved Lux flakes and move the garment through the water gently squeezing it while it's under the water to allow the warm water to swish through the fibres. Natural fibres are much better washed with pure soap than anything else, and handwash if you can, the washing machine will weaken the fibres over time.

When you know the garment is clean, pour the water down the sink and fill the basin with clean water for rinsing.  Never wring out natural fibres - it will stretch and weaken them. When the garment is thoroughly rinsed (at least two changes of water), squeeze as much water as possible out of it(without wringing), support it with both hands and place it on a clean dry towel. Roll it in the towel into a cigar shape, and press down to remove the water again.  Do this a couple of times and replace the towel if it gets too wet.  When most of the water is gone, lay the garment on a clean dry towel in the shade and allow to dry. Do not hang the garment because it will stretch. I have to admit, I like the ritual of hand washing special items of clothing - it's like paying respect to something special.  I know many of you don't have the time for such things though so ...

Alternatively, when the garment has been hand washed, you can use the gentle spin cycle on your washing machine to remove most of the water.  When it's finished spinning, place it flat on a towel and place in the shade to dry.

If there is a food spill, remove the garment and treat it before the stain dries. If there are dry stains on the garment, plunge it into a basin of cold/warm water, apply soap to the stain and rub gently. If this doesn't remove the stain, add the garment to a half bucket of warm water with a lid full of powdered oxygen bleach added.  Leave overnight and wash as above. This bleach is peroxide-based, not chlorine, so it won't harm the fibres.

The day after I finished Jamie's top, I started a new project, this time using Vivian's baby alpaca (see above). I'm knitting a rolled edge beanie from the Simple Knits for Cherished Babies book. It will be a soft and cosy winter hat for Jamie.  When I've finished that, I'll start on a few things for our other grandson who be be along soon - in mid July. I always think it's impossible, but life keeps getting better.


  1. My mother-in-law gave my younger cherub a knitted cardi when she was a baby, and to be polite, but against all my better judgement, I put it on her. She'd never had anything against her skin that wasn't pure cotton. Straight away her skin flared up, and straight away that cardi was banished to the bottom right corner of her wardrobe (along with some other choice items including hot pink pants with lips- for a newborn!). If you (or any of your readers) are looking for a lovely baby clothing label Pure Baby is just divine.

  2. Hello green mama. I had not heard of Pure Baby so I just checked it out. Thank you so much. Their clothes are lovely and I'll definitely buy there in the future. Thanks for the recommendation - it's always better to be directed towards something by someone who has used the service.

  3. The kimono top is lovely Rhonda, you've done a fine job with it, I am sure Sunny and Jamie will be delighted with it. I love the colour, soft but not pastel.

  4. There is nothing nicer than knitting for babies! I love it!

  5. Thank you for this tutorial on how to handwash organic yarn garments. I will be using this in future. Also it's lovely to hear of all the special things you are doing for your new grandson. So sweet!

  6. I am just learning to knit. I too am finding it so relaxing. I think I am hooked. Cheers, Wendy

  7. Rhonda, have you noticed as I have that it is rare to see someone knitting in public? I am often at swimming carnivals with my children - long days with lots of waiting between events - and will take my knitting (and reading) with me. I've never seen another knitter in the four years I've been attending these events. All that wasted time!

  8. Hi Rhonda!

    I've been reading your blog for years, but this is the first time I've commented!

    I just had to compliment you on your knitting - the kimono top is so gorgeous and looks really snug and comfy. I've been wanting to learn to knit for a while, but this top might just be the thing to encourage me to actually do it!

    My baby girl is 10 months old and she was gifted a lot of knitted cardigans by a local congregation, however many of them were made with coarse wool that doesn't look nearly as soft as your wool. I'll be sure to give this brand a go.

    Thanks for your blog Rhonda - it often inspires me with a timely post when I'm feeling a bit gloomy about doing another load of dishes. :)


  9. The kimono top is gorgeous. Jamie is one lucky boy.
    The other night I presented my friend, a new mama, with a little vest I'd knitted her baby. She loved it but you should have seen her face when I said she had to be sure to hand wash it. I think I might send her a link to your post. Thank you.

  10. What a beautiful knitted baby kimono and thank you so much for the washing and care information, I'm sure a lot of readers will find these really helpful.

    I also knit quite a bit in public places, and I love the way onlookers find it fascinating and it's a great conversation opener.


  11. Hooray for gorgeous looking little clothes for Jamie and Shane & Sandy's little bub, travelling and good times in general!

    This time of the year is perfect for enjoying such lower key activities.

    (the other) Jamie
    (Sandy's friend)

  12. Hi Jamie! Good to "see" you again.

  13. I don't have any babies to knit for at the moment but that doesn't stop me pining for gorgeous soft baby yarns! I'm knitting a small summer throw in cream bamboo. It's meant to be a baby blanket but my daughters and I think it will be perfect for the upcoming cool summer evenings - looks like my wrap won't be mine after all!
    BTW I take my knitting with me everywhere, I find socks are perfect for knitting on the move as the needles are small and I can tuck them in my bag easily.

  14. My washing machine has a wool-cycle, so all my hand knits go in there, apart from some very delicate lace things. So far I didn't destroy anything and hand washing would just be too much on my already long list these days. Maybe some day, when I can spend more time at home...

  15. For me, it is crocheting and a book. I never could figure out how to knit! You little sweater is beautiful. I can tell from the picture how soft and cozy it must be. What a special treasure it will be!

  16. Hi Rhonda I was reading one of your older posts the other day about being yourself. It had me thinking about my life and the choices I have made. By the end of the day I was happy and content in the way I have choosen to live my life. So I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for your wise words. I hope you dont mind but I have included a link to your blog in one of my blog posts XX XX XX



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