Welcome Baby with Handknit Booties
My mother was a prolific and gifted knitter. We were part of a large family (my maternal grandmother had 9 brothers and sisters; all but 2 had children), so Mom knitted a lot of baby booties over the years. (She also knitted me a blue-and-white Chanel-knockoff suit . . . but that’s another story for another post!)
The sweet knitted example here—Baby’s Bootikins—is from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 3, published in Victorian England in 1888. Most of the patterns for baby footwear in Weldon’s are called “boots”; the word “booties” isn’t used at all. Perhaps the word “bootikin” denoted an infant to Victorian knitters.
Dee Lockwood adapted and knitted the Weldon’s pattern for the November/December 2001 issue of PieceWork. Here are some tips from Dee to help in knitting the bootikins:
- The bootikins are knitted flat on two needles then sewn up the bottom and the back.
- Knitting short-rows creates the instep (when turning for short-rows, do not wrap the yarn around the adjacent unknitted stitches.
- To knit short-rows, knit only part of the stitches on the needle: the unknitted stitches are left on the needle until a later time. Upon reaching the end of the short-row, turn the knitting around and knit the short-row stitches back, ignoring the other stitches.
The original pattern called for Scotch fingering wool in White and size 10 needles and suggests that these bootikins are suitable for “drawing on over a child’s white cotton socks and slippers for extra warmth in a perambulator or when traveling.” Knitted in Cocoon wool or Andalusian wool and size 13 or 14 needles “will make a pretty and useful house-boot for an infant.”
Dee used 1 ball of Knit One Crochet Too Richesse et Soie, 65% cashmere and 35% silk yarn in #9249 Burgundy and size 2 (2.5 mm) needles.
Whether you call them booties, boots, or bootikins, a handknitted pair for a special baby is always a welcome gift. Keep the tradition alive or start a new one! To learn about one family’s long-standing tradition of knitting booties, see Heather Vaughan Lee’s Barron-Gibb Baby Booties and Toddler Socks in the January/February 2018 issue of PieceWork and in Heather’s blog post, “Barron-Gibb Baby Booties and Toddler Socks: A Family Tradition.”
Find more booties for babys in PieceWork and Weldon’s Practical Needlework!