Look what I found in the garden!
Last year for Halloween, Wyatt was an elephant. This year, he wanted to be a panda. I offered to knit him a panda hat and sew him a panda costume. He vehemently objected. "NO MOM. I want you to knit one JUST LIKE last year, only black and white, and we can paint rainbow buttons." Little known fact: Pandas are creatures of habit.
There was no way I was knitting another Union Suit, especially considering the first one still fits. Also, one of my rationalizations for knitting an entire Halloween costume is that I get to learn something new, so repeating a pattern wouldn't work. It took me several weeks, but I finally convinced Wyatt that the way to go this year was a pair of Hammer-style knitted play pants and a cardigan with a simple, panda-esque yoke. I sold him on the practicality of having a two-piece garment when he needed to go to the bathroom, promised he could paint buttons for the panda hat, and told him I'd put as many buttons as I could on the cardigan. It was May when we reached an agreement, in case you're curious about the timeline on a project like this. Then it was time to shop for yarn.
In addition learning something new, this knitting exercise requires my using sustainably and ethically made materials. While the yarns suggested for both of the patterns sounded lovely, I opted to use Quince & Co. yarns. Quince uses 100% American wool, and the wool is processed, spun, and dyed responsibly in the United States. I also used the leftover cotton fabric and thread from last year, and got buttons, once again, from Honey Be Good.
Substituting yarns in a pattern can be tricky, and the sweater and play pants patterns were no exception. I opted for Lark, which is a worsted weight yarn, even though both patterns were written for lighter weight yarns. I did a lot of swatching, modifying, measuring, and cursing as I went along. In the end, I made it all work.
I started with the hat (in Puffin), went on to the play pants (they photograph terribly, so there's no image of them alone), and then I did the cardigan. Why this order? As I told Marc, if were hit by a bus before finishing the cardigan, he could go get a 3/4-length sleeve black and white baseball shirt, and Halloween would be just fine. The big thing I learned from this costume is how to steek a cardigan. After getting past the terror, there's something truly empowering about slicing up the middle a sweater you just finished knitting, especially when it works as beautifully as it did here.
Last, Wyatt and I built a belly for the panda. We sewed three sides of a belly-sized rectangle of pink cotton interlock fabric to an old t-shirt of Wyatt's, stuffed it medium-full with stuffing I had stashed in a closet, and then we sewed the fourth side. Instant panda! Ha.
The one thing we forgot to do was grow bamboo. Does "fast growing" mean we can have stalks in a week? We'll see.