#5 knitting needles (I prefer bamboo needles, but any are fine), or needle size needed to achieve gauge
200g wool yarn (Organic Merino Wool Yarn is recommended)
Gauge: 23 stitches per 4 inches, and 29 rows per 4 inches
Cast on 35 sts (double tail method - see videos at link above) Tip:
For a stretchier cast-on, if you have larger knitting needles handy, you
can cast on with size 9 needles and then switch to the size 5 needles as
you work on row 1 below.
Row 1. knit 2, purl 1, knit 2, purl 1, repeat to end of row (this pattern will result in ending the row with 2 knit stitches)
Row 2. purl 2, knit 1, purl 2, knit 1, repeat to end of row (this pattern will result in ending the row with 2 purl stitches)
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you have completed the 10th row
Here is what it should look like so far (this will eventually be the top front of the soaker, which will stretch out to show the ribbing when it's worn)
Row 11. knit entire row, then cast on one additional stitch by just making a loop of yarn with your thumb and putting the needle through (or use whatever method you prefer for adding one stitch to the row - I just learned the easy loop method when I was a little girl and still use it since the edges will be sewn up with the side-seams anyway)
Row 12. purl entire row, then cast on one additional stitch (or use whatever method you prefer for adding one stitch to the row)
Repeat rows 11 and 12, adding one stitch at the end of each row, until you have 53 stitches total
This is a picture of what it will look like after adding a few increase rows:
Row 28 purl across
Row 29 knit across
Rows 30-38 continue to repeat rows 28 and 29 (each row should have 53 stitches still)
After row 38, it should look like this:
Beginning with row 39, decrease 1 stitch each row (knit two stitches together at beginning of each row) until you have 29 stitches remaining (this is the front leg shaping)
After decreasing to 29 stitches, it should look like this:
Then knit/purl 4 more rows without decreasing or increasing (29 stitches each row)
Then begin to increase 1 stitch per row until you have 53 stitches (this is the back of leg shaping)
After that it should look like this (ignore my finger, I was just holding the corner to flatten the edge-curl for the photo)
I then add a little piece of yarn to mark the last row, so I can count the next 30 rows more easily.
Then knit/purl 30 rows (all with 53 stitches) - this is the back of the soaker, so if you want to add a design, this is the place to do it (you'll be starting with the bottom of your design and working upward toward the top of the soaker in the back)
Now you can begin to see the soaker take shape when you fold it like this:
Then begin decreasing one stitch per row for the waist shaping (until you have 35 stitches left)
Then, starting on what would have been a knit row, begin the ribbing as for the front top of the soaker (knit 2, purl 1) - basically repeat rows 1 through 10 above.
Use a stretchy cast off, as shown in this Word file (if you don't have Microsoft Word, please let me know and I'll try to get the instructions up on the site sooner).
Then use a large needle and yarn to sew up the side seams. When
I sew up the side seams, I occasionally (like every 3rd row or so) sew
2 rows of the back together with one of the front rows in the mid-section
(below the ribbing and waist shaping) in order to provide more room in
the back/rear of the soaker. Here is how it looks before adding the
Now it's time to get out the crochet hook (or follow another pattern to find out how to add a knit edge - I prefer crochet though and it's easy to learn)
For a boy's soaker, you can add a simple crochet edge for the leg openings, or for a girls soaker, leg ruffles can be made by crocheting 3 double crochets for every row of knitting as you go around the leg edge. Note this ruffling greatly widens the leg openings (stretch the opening with your hand to get an idea of the leg opening size it will be after adding the ruffle), so first sew the side seams down a few stitches into the leg opening, or start the ruffle a little down the back of the opening and decide when you get around to the top front how much more of the side seam to sew for the leg opening to be the size you want it to be. With soakers the legs don't need to be tight against the skin to work well, and actually are probably more comfortable for the baby if they are loose anyway. If it comes out too big or small, you can pull out the crochet and try again. Happy knitting!
Here are some photos of the finished soaker (roughly 10 inches tall
and 9 inches wide)
The first time you put the soaker on the baby, it will be a bit tight, but will loosen up quickly after the first few times it is worn. I made the waist tight to start with after finding it gets way too loose with time unless this is done. I don't like adding drawstrings to my daughter's daytime soakers simply because it makes for faster diaper changes. You can add one later though if you want as the waist gets looser with time, so you might make a string now and put it in a drawer to save for later in case it is needed.
Little knit shirt pictured
in photo at top of page
Here is the pattern for the shirt (roughly, though I'm still adjusting it each time I make one), sized for my daughter (23lbs and 31" tall):
Cotton Soft yarn (buy 2 balls to be sure and have enough yarn, though you'll only use 1+ a tiny bit more for my daughter's size shirt) You can do a web search to find the yarn somewhere, or a similar weight cotton like Stork brand.
size 5 needles
For straight needles, each side of the shirt is the same, and then sewn together. Alternating knit and purl rows for the entire front/back piece:
cast on 61 stitches and do 36 rows straight , then reduce 2 stitches every 4 rows (one at start and one at end of every 4th row), about 80 rows total for each front/back shirt piece (including the first 36 rows), ending with 39 stitches
After sewing up the side-seams to about 3" below the top, then I do
a simple crochet edge along the top back, continue with 2" (roughly 12
chains on size H or smaller crochet hook) up over the right shoulder, then
continue crochet along front edge, then up over other shoulder and tie&weave
in ends. I would try it on first to see if the top width looks okay.
Sometimes I pull out the crochet and do it tighter or looser depending
on how it looks (and to make sure it fits over her head pretty easily).
It will shrink a little in the wash.
You could also use circular needles if you want to avoid sewing up seams.
I wash these on cold in the machine and dry on hot, with all our other clothes, and they hold up really well. I like the little speckles because it conceals any slight staining (nice for a toddler, right?!)