And then there's the new "Vivacious KIDS" collection, the latest offering from Fyberspates by Ella Austin and Rachel Coopey. Fun just giggles right out of its pages and it might take you a second reading to be able to see the knitwear past the smiling faces of the children seemingly relishing the photo shoot as much as you'd hope any youngling would enjoy their time outside. And this is where the magic starts: For me, this is an aspirational collection for, as much as the knitting, I want my boys to be outside having that much fun – and yes, wearing those clothes. Which I have knitted for them (obviously).
I probably don't need to tell you about the Vivacious Yarn: It's available as DK and 4ply, comes in a range of gorgeously rich colours (all hand-dyed) and, because it's 100% supermerino, it's not itchy and it's machine washable. Tick, tick, tick and tick.
"Viviacious KIDS" is a collection of seven designs for children between the ages of 2 – 10 years - great to be able to easily knit so many sizes and there's probably a bit of wiggle room at either end of this range. Aside from the "Ring-a-ring" tunic dress (which I would love to knit for me), all other patterns are suitable for both girls and boys. More than suitable: They're delightful, no matter who's wearing them. There are two hats (one cabled, one striped), a hooded jacket, cabled jumper, mittens and socks – all that's missing is some cherry cake and ginger beer (and maybe a dog).
Most designs are photographed in at least two colour ways – fantastic for picking out details that you might otherwise miss. For example, while some parents might shy away from the "Swashbuckle Hoody" when knitted in "Dove Stone" – perhaps it reminds them too much of theirs or their offspring's grey school uniform - it is a great canvas for showing-off the garter stitch detail. The "Copper Tones" may be more to your liking but the garter stitch can get a little lost. I would never normally knit a jumper in yellow but after seeing the "Snip-snap-snorum" sweater in "Sunshine", I could be swayed: The cables shine bright and even the rib stitches gleam. That said, neither garments look bad in "Blue Lagoon" and "Peacock" – whoops! Sorry: I'm thinking of me again. And my blue-eyed boys :-)
Whilst, as you know, I love a good cable, I would knit first the striped "Jack-be-nimble" hat over "Likety-Split". Why? Just look at the neat stripes, note how they get narrower towards the beautifully shaped crown. I love the defined ribbing and I love it in the "Mixed Magenta" and "Silver and Bronze" combination. And no, I'm not just thinking of me this time.
Which leaves us with the "Margery Daw" socks and "Tickety-boo" mittens. I'm a little disappointed at their lack of prominence in the collection – particularly the socks (says the sock knitter). Surely they could have been poking out the top of wellies, underneath trousers or in full view when the models are shoeless? With such a comfy-looking cabled sock – and such a wealth of available colours – surely could be worn all the time?! Says the sock knitter. Others might think a sock is a sock is a sock, and one example knitted in one colour is suffice. And they could be right. And yes, I'm probably thinking of me again.
As the knitter who's actually going to be doing the knitting, don't forget to read some of the very helpful notes: How often do you see mention of growth spurts or an implied understanding that it's not going to take five minutes to knit said garment so choose the size mindfully. This book really does hold your hand from project start to finish – clearly stating the required skills for each pattern, excellent explanations of the pattern instructions, where to find tutorials demystifying unfamiliar techniques and explicit care guidance to maintain the "just off the needles" look.
Vivacious KIDS is an engaging collection of modern classics. The designs are ageless (it's a little unfortunate that the patterns aren't – but, no doubt, the most persistent of us will create the fabulous tunic for themselves!). There's just enough detail to keep the patterns interesting – both to knit and wear – but not too much as to be fussy. They're thoughtfully written with necklines that won't strangle your child as they dress but won't gape or fall of the shoulders at play - and hats that promise to stay on heads and not require constant adjustment (leading to their inevitable loss). The large sections of stocking-stitch, common to all the designs, allow the unique colour ways to remain a prominent feature by exploiting their subtle colour variegations. At the very least, this collection is a fun read – even if you never put yarn to needles. Perhaps it'll remind you of your childhood adventures or those you want your own children to experience. It'll certainly bring a smile to your face.
And perhaps I can help turn your smile to a grin: The very generous folk at Fyberspates are offering the chance for one lucky reader to win their very own digital copy of "Vivacious KIDS"! All you need to do is leave a comment below (here on my blog please, not facebook or other) between now and high noon on Sunday 12th July after which the winner will be selected at random. If you can't wait until then, this discount code "KatheryarnVivacious" will give you 25% off purchases of any of the Vivacious KIDS single patterns or the eBook (and if you turn out to be the lucky giveaway winner, Fyberspates will reimburse the cost of the book! See, they've thought of everything!). Just follow the links from Ravelry to buy the eBook or individual patterns, select the "use a coupon code" button as displayed at the bottom of your cart, and type KatheryarnVivacious.
Wishing you all happy knitting days - on your needles or as worn by yourselves and your loved ones