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Dear Ann,

The other day somebody asked whether we would ever bring back some of the old classic MDK patterns.

Bring back?—I wondered, in a mild (and also fake) huff. They’ve never gone away!

I will always cast on a Ballband Dishcloth like it’s the latest thing. “Hey, have you seen this yet?” I say.

But there’s another pattern that will always be as young and adorable as Harry Styles.

You know which one I’m talking about.

It’s Blu. Cristina Shiffman’s free baby jeans pattern rocked back in 2005, and continues to turn baby-shower goers into an ecstatic mosh pit of love. Every time I’ve made a pair of these wee dungarees, the response has been beyond gratifying.

The model is now in college. But sometimes his folks and I still talk about his baby jeans.

Here’s the rub, though. The Blu pattern calls for Rowan Denim, a yarn that was dyed the same way the yarn for denim jeans is dyed, so that over time, anything you knit with it will fade like blue jeans. It is heavenly stuff. But it’s gone to the big discontinued bin in the sky, and I have to face that. (And continue to buy up Denim destashes wherever I find them. Ping me!)

You would not believe how much time I’ve spent thinking about what yarn to substitute for Denim to make Blu baby jeans. Well, I suppose you would believe it. I want babies to continue to wear handknit jeans that make people shriek at the cuteness, and I want knitters to continue to have the joy of making them.

New Yarn for Old Jeans

There’s always been one great substitute for Denim in plain sight: Handknit Cotton. It’s the same gauge, same fiber, same yardage, and it’s gorgeous, hardy stuff. I endorse it 100 percent. Choose your cuff color and your main color, and Bob’s your uncle. They will be darling, and the baby shower will lift you up in a chair for making them.

But could there be another yarn, just as good or possibly even better for giving tiny knitted blue jeans a high degree of realism?

I had an epiphany, and it made me cast on a pair of Blu jeans immediately, to test it.

Hear me out: Creative Linen.

For these little jeans, in the smallest size, I used one skein of Stormy for the main color, with remnants of Silver for the cuffs and Pumpkin for the seams and embroidered detail. To change things up a bit, I used duplicate stitch for the embroidery, with thanks to Jen Arnall-Culliford for her excellent video tutorial.

I think we all know that the elastic is not in that waistband yet.

Stormy is as close a match to vintage workwear denim as you can get. It will not fade the same way Denim would, but the flat, matte color gives that authentic miner forty-niner feeling that a proper baby blue jean should have.

suitable for panning gold or listening to Hozier on vinyl.

I didn’t have a size 0 months baby in house to model them, but I did have a smol bear who wears his britches real high.

I am really happy. Be right back, I’ve got more baby jeans to make.



P.S.  I anticipate this pattern question: What about the shrinkage factor of Rowan Denim, how are you accounting for that with this substitution? I am accounting for it by ignoring it. Denim only shrinks because it is cotton. If you wash any cotton or cotton/linen blend garment in hot water and dry it in the dryer, it will shrink. If you wash it cool, and air-dry it, it will not. I am following the pattern exactly as written, without adjustments. If you’re concerned, take a look at the hundreds of happy Blu projects over on, made using all kinds of yarns.


  • Thank you Kay!! We are just finishing up an exhausting but great fun week of babysitting our 14 month old grandson George. These are going to be perfect for him!! (And for the new babies coming all the time!!)

  • Baby jeans.
    The only thing cuter is the baby itself.

  • Somewhere in my stash is a whole bunch of the Rowen Denim yarn in the blue but also black. With a new grandson making his debut next month I need too get busy

    • If this is the yarn I’m thinking of, it knits up very nicely. My friend, Susan, made a cable black cardigan out of black denim cotton yarn. It’s my fav make she has knitted for herself❤️

      • I really do love that sweater!

  • I see Rowan has “denim revive”. Also was happy to see that during rowan connect — Arne and Carlos were going to feature their Glow Field Guide patterns — trying to figure out how I can skip out on work and attend……

  • “I am accounting for it by ignoring it.” ❤️❤️❤️

    • The story of my (knitting) life.

      • I clicked on this article because it said Tiny Little Jeans! I learned crochet basics over 10 years ago but recently began actively crocheting a out 3 months ago. Now I’m crochet crazy and even though I don’t know alot I’m always trying to make something. I have a 3 year.old and a new baby due in June. I clicked on this article so fast because I had just had to see those jeans. Unfortunately I found myself in a conversation that has left me feeling sooooo out of the loop. The article however was funny and informative and I like that I learned a bit more about yarn. I don’t have enough yarn to even say I have a stash and I would love to try out using the yarn spoken of so anyone with extra or some they don’t want heck yeah I’ll take it off your stash!

      • Indeed. Thanks for the breath of fresh (honesty) air!

  • From the Rowan Connect sessions starting tomorrow. This is a complimentary session on Sat. “Rediscover Denim Revive
    Saturday 25 March at 08:30-09:30 GMT-4”

  • I know this was about the baby jeans, but THAT BEAR! My Stanley Bear must have these! Thank you, Kay ♥️

  • Ha, I see our little email exchange got you into denim and faux denim mode, Kay! Incredible little baby jeans, and a forever pattern.

  • Why does a knitter ever say ‘no more new yarn until I lower this stash??’
    I ordered some Creative Linen to do thank you wash cloths for those that supported me for Sundays Knit for food. Why didn’t I get the blue and pumpkin to save on shipping???????
    Great article, Kay!!

  • Bear! I might be tempted to give him some little bear suspenders!

  • Too stinkin’ cute – I forgot about these!

  • Whenever I see those little jeans I think of the BRUCE pair that you made for Cara’s baby shower! So flippin’ cute.

  • Adorable as always! And always available to me as I bought both your books hot off the presses. They are even, on occasion, my comfort reading.

  • So achingly cute and loveable! There’s some decent substitutions with Rowan Revive on Ravelry too.

  • Pray for me. I am going to try to knit these before my 15 month grandson gets too big. If I can knit socks sure I can do this! Also, just realized that my “old” book Mason Dixon Knitting is one and the same as the creators of this site. Who Knew?

    • I have both their “old” MDK books, autographed to boot. Maybe you only recently discovered this site? They made a conscious decision to change the name because of the many negative associations of Mason-Dixon, and that was discussed and documented here. It was quite educational for me, I am an immigrant and my knowledge of US history is embarrassingly inadequate.

  • Wait a minute. If I’m reading that PS correctly, Kay’s substitute yarns will shrink to fit, just like the brand-name jeans the baby’s parents wear. Now to get that worn, stonewashed look without using chlorine bleach in the bathwater and some sandpaper….

  • Fanfreakintastic!

  • I do have a stash of Rowan Denim, I think in three colors, that I will never use.

    • Kay is not kidding when she says she’s a serious collector of this yarn. Send her an email – perhaps a barter for Atlas?

      • Turns out the yarn I have is Texas by Almedahl not Rowan but I do have a lot of it.

    • Do you wish to sell it,

  • This is my favorite post in years. I was laughing so hard at “wears his britches real high” that even my normally-oblivious-to-knitting-humor semi-demented husband was giving me the side eye.

  • You almost made me cry. My oldest was born in 2006 and I jumped on the Blu wagon happily. Didn’t know that rowan denim is gone…sob. My son just had his 17th bday on St. Paddy’s…wahh

  • Dungarees!!!! Adorable! Perfect pattern Cristina!

  • These are seriously cool. I love it!

  • I am going to be grandma to twin baby girls and can’t wait to make these! They are due the end of August. First grand babies….so excited!

    • Congratulations! Your life will be so joyfully enriched with their addition. It’s hard to describe the love you’ll feel. Enjoy!!

  • Dear Kay, I began a sweater with the Rowan Denim – never finished but could not bear to do anything so I kept in at the bottom of a very large basket. Now I hope to have found a home – if you would like it. Tonight I will begin to unravel but I will leave one small knitted piece. Please let me know and I will send it on. The jeans pattern is delightful – my baby project for oh so many years has been the Portuguese Fisherman’s Sweater. Hope to Hear from you. Best, Kyra

  • Kay,
    I have some of the original Denim yarn and am open to selling/trading. Feel free to PM/email me if you think you might be interested!

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