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Debbie Bliss Baby Shrug Help

I just discovered that the pattern for the Debbie Bliss Baby Shrug which I knit a few months ago is available as a free PDF online. Since it’s “legal” to talk shop on this pattern, I’m going to bust out some notes. (If only so that I can refer to them the next time I knit this.)

debbie bliss baby shrug

This pattern is incredibly confusing. First of all, the super-condensed format means that you have to read very carefully. Second of all, it asks you to knit a seriously weird shape, and the pattern doesn’t give a schematic.

Here’s a schematic overview.

(Click for big.)

The shrug is knit from the bottom up, over the shoulders, and down the fronts. The “notch” for the neck is pretty deep, because you’re going to add on a really deep ribbing.

I’ve noted the seams with matching numbers. You seam 1 to 1, 2 to 2, and so forth.

I added several rows of moss stitch along the bottom, to keep that band from flipping up. (You can even see how it wants to flip in some of the pattern pictures.) I didn’t realize how it would be seamed, so I also added moss stitch up the sides, which turned into the seam to the armpit. Oh well – design element!

This next schematic focuses on one particular part of the instructions. If you don’t have a mental image of what the finished item will look like, this is the hardest part to wrap your head around.

(Click for big. Depending on your browser, you may need to click a second time to see the full-size version. It’s a big image.)

You divide for the fronts while you’re in the middle of knitting the sleeves. This makes perfect sense if you look at a schematic. Hopefully, since the pattern doesn’t provide one, my hand-drawn schematic will do.

56 comments to Debbie Bliss Baby Shrug Help

  • Lori

    Thank you!
    I picked up this pattern and then after reading it put it down. The schematic helps a lot!

    :o)

  • That is my biggest complaint about her patterns, the lack of schematics. I knit the child’s version of this patterns a while ago and grumbled at the time about it.

  • It looks like a pushmepullyou.

  • Oh my gosh free? Already downloaded.

  • KellyS

    and you went through this for Emelia? awwwww!!

  • Have you knit the baby raglan from Debbie Bliss: The Baby Knits Book? Because I made one, and it looks… strange, and I don’t have a baby to test it on. It seems like the sleeves are wide and the body is short (sleeves and body are kind of equal in length). So I don’t know if it’s me, or if babies are actually shaped like that.

  • Is that site really legit? I looked through it and they have a number of DB patterns but they don’t really attribute the patterns to her. I am wondering if it is just some person copying her patterns.

  • Jadalyn

    Thank you. I just started this pattern and I’m going insane trying to figure it out! :)

  • Jill

    I have loved this shrug, and attemped the pattern 3 times and given up becasue I don’t understand it. Your schematic helps alot. My biggest problem is that I don’t understand how to start it. I don’t know understand how to cast on at the beginning of the rows to get up to the 88 stitches. It looks uneven and messy. Is there a trick to this? Thanks.

  • Erika

    It IS a little uneven to cast on stitches, then keep adding on stitches at either end to build it out from there. (I just used a backwards loop cast-on, myself.) Technically you end up with kind of a zig-zag effect, it’s true. However, once you attach that deep ribbed edging, it’s pretty hard to notice.

    I’m glad the schematics helped! Isn’t it a strange shape?!

  • Justine

    I am a novice knitter and have almost finished this pattern but I can guarantee I wouldn’t have made it this far without your blog. THANK YOU!!!

    I am just about to start on the ribbed edging (for the front of the shrug) and am completely stumped.

    The pattern reads “K4 sts from the holder, pick up and K22 sts evenly around right front to top of shaping.” Does this mean I should K4 (even though I am working on a purl side) and then double back and pick up 22 sts including those 4? If so, why wouldn’t I just bind-off those last 4? I didn’t know you could pick-up stitches from a ‘live’ row. I am so confused.

    Any suggestions??

    Thanks again!

  • chloe

    Erika:
    I have had this pattern for quite some time but would never have attempted to knit it without the help of your blog.
    It has been a lifesaver for me.

    I am at the same point as Justine above and am eagerly awaiting your answer.
    chloe

  • Erika

    This has to be the most complicated pattern I’ve ever run across – I’m glad my notes have been helpful to you so far!

    The bit you’re stuck at: you start “with right side facing,” so you’ll want to work that purl row before starting the instructions.

    “K4 sts from holder” refers to the stitches you set aside at the end of the “Shape front” instructions. i.e. the very last stitches at the tips (on my diagrams, the very top-most part).

    Then you work around the edge, picking up stitches, until you get to the “armpit” (where the sleeve meets the right front).

    Does that help clear it up? I remember being puzzled by this, as well. Maybe I should add another diagram sketch to that post!

  • chloe

    Thanks Erika:

    Exactly the information I needed.

    I could not have knit this adorable little shrug without your help.
    Debbie Bliss needs you on her team!!!

    I greatly appreciate you taking the time to share your expertise, with all of us.

    You have a great blog — please, keep up the good work.
    chloe

  • Denise

    I am trying to knit a Debbie Bliss shrug for an adult. I am finding the instructions very complicated. It says to cast on 14 sts, purl a row, then in stock. st add 10 sts to the front of each row for 4 rows. It looks terrible! What am I doing wrong???

  • Jen

    I’m stuck on the ribbing around the back of the collar: How do you pick up more stitches than you have? In other words, she says to pick up 26 stitches from the area where you only bound off 18. What am I missing?

    Thanks so much for helping to clear up this confusing pattern!

  • Erika

    It’s too bad the end result is so cute, because this is the worst pattern ever! The problem is that in order for the collar to lie flat without being all stretched out, you have to really cram the stitches into the back neck.

    I ended up doubling up most of the stitches – picking up the left side of a stitch, then the right side of that same stitch, picking through only one strand of yarn each time. It’s not the sturdiest way to pick up stitches, the collar would wear right out in a grown-up’s garment, but it should be alright for the few months a baby will be wearing the shrug.

    You could also just pick up a normal amount of stitches, then increase across that part when you get back to it, but that might end up looking a little weird.

    Good luck, and let me know if you run into any other problems! You’re almost there!

  • Darcy

    I found the pattern to be quite challenging and started it at least 5 times, thinking there must be an easier way to get this shape. Thank you, Erika!

  • Shelagh

    I am having trouble with a Debbie Bliss Essential Kids pattern. It’s the zipped gilet and I can’t follow the armband insructions. Help!

  • Pat

    Shelagh re the Debbie Bliss zipped gilet. I also had trouble with armbands, so unpicked them and then picked up & knitted the 50 sts between the 2 sets of 6 cast off sts. You can then follow the sewing up instructions and end result is very good.

  • Nanny Chris

    Thank You So Much!!! I could not figure this out. I don’t know if I will try another pattern by Bliss unless of course you’ve completed it first. Once again, thank you.

  • Teresa

    I need some help with the insturctions in the section “Divide the fronts” at the step where is says to Work 5(5:7:5:7) rows straight.
    Previous rows were stst…what does “straight” mean.is it still stst or just knit?
    I appreciate any help…I am fairly new at knitting.
    Thanks

  • Erika

    Well that is a bit of a puzzle! Typically “work straight” would mean “work back and forth instead of in the round, knitting the right side and purling the wrong side.” And this is what you actually do – work stockinette stitching back and forth just like before.

    The only thing I can think is, I notice she specifies the use of a circular needle at the beginning of the pattern. (I never noticed that, actually.) So she or an editor may have decided to put in “work straight” so that no one got confused and went off joining the round and knitting around???

    Anyway – your first instinct was right – just do stockinette!

  • rudy huskey

    In a moment of blissful ignorance I bought Ms. Bliss’s (a deceiving name for those who attempt her patterns) toy pattern book.
    I have now ripped out the poor pig at least 6 times….
    It is contradictory, inconsistent and
    why I continue to fool with it, except that I admidt to being stubborn.is beyond me…
    She may well understand her own directions, but obviously many do not.
    After this last ripup… I am looking for another pig……..even I know when to call it a day.

  • Leah

    I am up to the sleeve shaping and am having trouble understanding why the pattern says I should cast off only on one side. Am I reading this correctly?
    …”cast off 7 sts at beg of next and 3 foll alt rows..”
    Does that mean all the cast offs are on one side?
    Help!!!!

  • Erika

    Are you at the very end, where you’re working the right front and left front separately? (There are a couple points where you could call it “sleeve shaping,” I just want to be sure we’re talking about the same part!) On my 2nd diagram, these are the bits I’ve labeled “lt front” and “rt front.”

    If that is the case then yes, you’ll only be casting off on one side. The fronts of the jacket come down straight to the very end, it’s just the outer parts that curve. If that makes any sense? Let me know! And don’t forget to breathe!

  • Erika

    WAIT WAIT I HAD IT BACKWARDS. Aha, and now I see I need to correct one of my images! The front of the jackets (the parts you’d zip, if it was a zippered jacket) curve. The seam (armpit) side stays straight.

    I think I also misunderstood your question. This is a really complicated pattern – even *I* still get confused!

    I believe that you are at the spot where, in my first diagram, I have marked “BO” with a little arrow on each sleeve

  • margo

    I am thinking some of you might be able to help me with a Debbie Bliss Junior Knits pattern, Bolero. I too am running into a situation where I’m asked to pick up many more stitches than were bound off. At first I thought this was a mistake in the pattern instructions; now I’m thinking I should “double up” as I pick up the stitches in order to have the amount she specifies. But I’m afraid it will have a “ruffled” appearance. Help if you have any suggestions!

  • Sandrine from france

    thank you so much!
    exactly the information I needed.
    I wanted so much knitting it; but it was too hard without the schematic.
    furthermore, it’s gonna be my first pattern written in english.
    long live the internet!

  • Victoria

    I am having an issue with the cuffs – all the rib really! I have done the back and neck and shoulders – I had too many stitches but continued and it looks ok – it asks to pick up 30 stitches where there is about 38 – thinking I will continue as I have done so but worried that they will look very loose – this is my first attempt at knitting a wearable garment, I have used You Tube heaps but can’t find anything to help me with this!

  • I’ve always been a knitter who skipped charts and schematics in favor of written instructions. However, this pattern has nearly pushed me to tears (having only a week to knit it before the baby shower may have helped!). Anyway, thank you for your schematic and notes. They helped clear up my confusion.

  • Anonymous

    Hi this pattern is literally killing me because i can’t even knit beyond the left front 9th row…arghh! Can anybody explain “working extra sts into patt panel then TW2R, p2, and st-st, cast on 6 sts at beg of next row” means? I’m knitting the biggest size 8 to 10 years and so i’ve have 19 sts but cannot work the pattern panel as that’s worked over 23 sts?

  • Erika

    Oh no, Anonymous! You seem to be knitting an entirely different Debbie Bliss baby shrug. I updated this post with a picture of the pattern, to make it easier to tell which shrug this is.

    I would highly recommend posting your question to the Ravelry forums. Those people are super smart! You can post to either one of the main forums (like Patterns) or post to the Debbie Bliss Knits group.

    Good luck to you!

  • floortje

    wow, I now realise I can throw the whole thing away.. I had the RS WS all wrong. (I accidentally CO on only the RS in stead of both. stupid.) But it’s so unclear! And because I had no idea what it had to look like (thank you for the schematics!) I never knew how wrong I was going.. For example, in the second column where it says “sleeve shaping” (not shape sleeves :)), which side are you supposed to start? I ended the part before it with a RS row (last inc row), and the following part says to start with RS, so is there one P row missing, or am I AGAIN not getting it? haha, I considered myself beyond beginner level, but this pattern makes me feel like a complete idiot. :) anyway, I’m really glad I found this article, to know I’m not the only one.. thanks!

  • Erika

    Aw, I’m sorry I had to be the bearer of bad news! But no, you are definitely NOT the only one!

  • Hi Erika,

    This has been incredibly helpful, thanks again for posting it.

    I just finished the right front section of the shrug, and I’ve left the four stitches on a holder. Do I need to cut the yarn before moving over to work on the left side? The pattern doesn’t say anything about it, so I’m a little unsure . . .

    Cheers!

  • Erika

    Yep, you can break the yarn, and start on the left! I believe those stitches get left on a holder or a scrap of yarn, to be picked up for the ribbing later on.

    Good work, you’re almost there!

  • Great — thanks again. :)

  • Jeanne

    I’ve managed to get the whole thing knitted…and am really confused about sewing up the seams. I have a lot more fabric in the back then I do in the front. Am I supposed to ease all that in…or did I do something wrong along the way?

  • Erika

    I guess I would ask what you mean by “a lot.” The back IS a bit bigger than the front – the front parts don’t overlap (it’s just a little shrug), and the back is kind of scoop shaped.

    I’m not sure I would say the back is “a lot” bigger than the front, but it is definitely “some” bigger. If that makes any sense?

  • Arlene

    Dear Erika

    There is comfort in numbers—I thought I was daft! I thought I followed the pattern pretty well but it does not look like your schematics so I have to figure out where to rip. I have never followed such a convoluted pattern—I thought Sirdar was bad.

    I have the fronts right but the back bottom part is skewed to the left so I have to figure out where to rip. Is this worth continuing ?

    Thanks so much for your help.

    Arlene

  • Erika

    It’s a small enough problem that I would probably start over if only to prove to myself that I could best it!

    My guess is that you increased on every RS row, rather than at the beginning of every row, so that all of your increases ended up on one side of the work.

    I’ll be rooting for you either way!

  • jenn

    thanks for this. found your site from ravelry comments (that whole circular needle bit had me confused too!)

  • Glenda

    I am so happy to find this blog. I am half way through this adorable little, well not so little, shrug. I posted a question on Ravelry with the same concern as Leah (Mar 2010)and now feel I can continue and hopefully finish it soon. I also wondered what I was knitting as I watched the odd shape evolve and feel it must be a lot like the ‘Baby Suprise’ sweater, which I have yet to tackle. I know your schematic will be very handy when it comes time to stitch the seams and finish it off. Thanks!

  • Chantel

    Can you help with the following: On Divide for fronts – the last bit says Rep last 4 rows 2(3;3:4:4) times more and the inc row once more. 40(46,52,58,64)sts. I have done repeat 4 rows 3 times but unsure what Debbie Bliss means by “and the inc row once more” – as there is already 52 stitches. Do I do another row but that will mean I will start on a purl on the Sleeve shaping which I do not think is right, or do I knit 1 row and purl 1 row more before going into Sleeve shaping? Sorry, I am also a beginner…

    Thanks!
    Chantel

  • Erika

    Hi Chantel, I’m so sorry it took me so long to get back to you!

    As you mention, there are two issues here:

    1. The number of stitches.
    2. Where your needle is when you start the next set of instructions.

    It sounds like you may have accidentally added another stitch somewhere else, so no big deal there! This is a very forgiving pattern as far as stitch count goes, as long as you remember to do the same thing on the other side.

    My bigger concern is that you start the next set of instructions (sleeve shaping) on the correct side. You are working the left front in this set of instructions. If you check the second diagram I have on the post, and remember that the right side is facing the viewer, you will need to cast off stitches while working the purl row.

    On the right front, you will be casting off stitches on the knit row. (Which curves in the other direction.)

    So in your case, if you are not starting at a purl row, I would knit one more row to get you on the correct side, then proceed.

    I hope that’s clear! This is a really complicated knitting pattern, and I STILL have trouble decoding it sometimes!

  • Chantel

    Hi Erika

    Thank you for your help. It makes a lot of sense. Yes, I have miscalculate the stitches and so have taken out some rows. But your help to know what to do if I ever do the same on this pattern is very helpful indeed. I am learning to decode patterns and also learning how to rectify mistakes like this.

  • hannah

    this pattern is so annoying i am very new to knitting and thought i was doing will till i saw your picture and my shrug is nothing like it!! i have some how mannaged to cast off on the wrong side when shaping for the fronts on the first half of the knitting, ony now i am on the other side have i notice my massive mistake how on earth do i go back and sort it out??? help me

  • Erika

    Oh no, Hannah! Sorry to hear that! If it makes you feel any better, a lot of people make that same mistake – myself included.

    The only way to fix that particular problem is to rip back to the row before you made the mistake. Then pick up the stitches and proceed. Wish I had some better news for you! On the up side, at least it’s a small item, so you won’t have to rip too much back.

    Here’s a great video on how to rip back knitting, if you haven’t had the chance to learn this particular technique. As someone who’s been knitting for a while now, I can attest that this is a skill every knitter will have to master eventually!

  • Hannah

    Thank you, your help has been great, just got stuck doing the picking up for the rib, but looked on here again and you’ve saved me again! You should be working for Debbie bliss making her patterns easier to make!!! For us novices it’s a nightmare! So thanks again x