Designing seed-stitch baby booties in Dona yarn

Dona by Fibra Natura is one of my favorite merino yarns. I wrote about it at length back in the Spring of 2016, as a perfect alternative to washable yarns made of manufactured fibers. I enjoy knitting with Dona yarn so much and love the palette of 38 colors that are available. This soft yarn is great for both colorwork and texture. The twist and sheen in the yarn makes seed stitch really pop, so I thought I’d design some baby booties.

This soft pink merino yarn looks great in seed stitch.

Designing has got to be my favorite activity next to knitting or crocheting. I’m inspired by many things and approach designing by looking for a catalyst that sparks my imagination. This could come from sewing, movies, music, or even something I’ve read. It could come from the yarn itself, from stitch dictionaries, and from swatching and playing around. In the case of these booties, I saw a sewn bootee that had a Japanese style with folded layers. When I looked at the construction of it, I immediately saw how, with some modifications, I could have a really unique looking knit bootee. My knitted version has no layers, and it really doesn’t look Japanese, but I think you’ll like this version.

My design desk covered with evidence of hard work.

I started with a swatch first and then did some calculations to get the shaping I wanted for these baby booties. I started first with size 3 US [3.25mm] and while I liked the density of the fabric, and knew it would hold its shape well, it felt a little too firm for a baby’s foot, so I re-swatched with size 6 US (4mm) needles and was much happier with the result. Then I had to redo all my previous calculations, and knitted this sample.

Picture of baby bootee from the top down.

The photo above shows a tidy i-cord bind off that serves as the cuff for the bootee. If you look inside the shoe, you can see that the bottom isn’t complete. For this design, the sides and toe are all knit in one piece and then the bottom is added on later. The top of the slipper is shaped by decreases and short rows which give it its distinctive look.

The bottom of the slipper is added on as you knit.

In the above photo, you can see the sole of the bootee. There are a few stitches picked up at the heel seam and then as stockinette stitch progresses, a stitch is picked up from the vamp and added to the base. At the toe, the last few stitches are grafted to the tip of the slipper toe.

I’m really pleased with my design, but there is one problem. While I used a size guide for shoes that claimed to be for baby, it turned out to be children – children older than toddlers! So, after this bootee was done, it seemed, well, very, big – no, actually huge! I suspected something was wrong but thought maybe it was my gauge, so I pushed through. But then I realized that I had the wrong size right from the start.

Undaunted, I swatched again to make sure…and got the same gauge. I finally consulted a different sizing guide for infants, and found just how far off I was…so I redid the calculations once more. Tomorrow, I’ll share with you my progress on the other, correctly-sized baby bootee and the pattern too. That way you’ll be able to knit a pair with Dona yarn yourselves.

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: Creative shaping makes excellent knitted baby booties!

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