Archives for posts with tag: baby

My friends Kelly and Josh are having a baby soon and I made them a couple of tiny kimonos as a present!

Kimono #1:

Kimono #2 (please excuse the awful photography):

Pattern: Lucy’s Kimono, from Heather Ross‘s Weekend Sewing

Fabric used: Kimono #1: anonymous pale blue quilting cotton with black swallows; black store-bought bias binding. Kimono #2: all Amy Butler, all the time–the main fabric is Full Moon Polka Dot in yellow, and the bias binding is homemade, from a fat quarter of Acanthus purchased at Purl Soho, so between the designer quilting fabric and the crazy markup at Purl, this basically means it is the most expensive cotton bias binding ever. (By the way, I love Amy Butler but what on earth is this Photoshop disaster going on on the splash page? And why does it take 5 minutes to load the fabrics list for each collection?)

Pattern notes: Heather Ross suggests in the pattern intro that this is one of the easiest patterns in the book, which I think is not really true. It’s small, which is nice, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a lot; the pajama pants from this book were much larger but also much easier to sew.

I found it pretty difficult to sew the bias tape around the curve of the neck because the front meets the back at a very acute angle that the bias tape has to be eased around. I couldn’t catch the second side of the bias tape consistently on kimono #1 when I was machine-sewing, so I ended up hand-sewing the bias tape in place to finish it.

I didn’t think the pattern pieces were clearly marked (I may have traced them off wrong, admittedly, but I don’t think there were any notches and the pieces are big blocky shapes, so you could conceivably sew them wrong by 90 degrees). The back and sleeves seem to be gentle trapezoids; I assume the wide end of the back-trapezoid goes towards the bottom end of the baby, and the wide ends of the sleeve-trapezoids get attached to the body of the kimono.

I didn’t use the super-narrow bias tape called for in the pattern; I think mine was 1/2 inch. It seems incredibly fiddly to work with the suggested 1/4″ bias binding for this pattern, and my version doesn’t look terribly different from the one in the book, so I’m not totally sure she used 1/4″ bias tape in the sample, either.

There are errors in the pattern–for instance, it calls for 1/2 yard of bias tape, but I think you actually need 1 1/2 yards; it says to sew the shoulder seams with wrong sides together, which is wrong, of course–they should be sewn right side together, unless you’re going for an edgy deconstructed look for your baby garment.

The book is pretty unclear about how the ties should be handled. As any woman who has worn a wrap dress knows, both sides of the wrap cannot be treated identically, because one side ends up on the inside of the dress and one side ends up on the outside. You are instructed here to “make sure the ties themselves… extend on the right side of the Kimono Front and Back in your sewing set-up” but I don’t know what that means for the side inside the wrap. I figured that there were basically three alternatives here:

  1. Don’t do anything with the inside part of the wrap (I didn’t think this was right because the book instructs you to make two ties.)
  2. Sew the 2nd tie to the inside of the wrap and tie one bow inside the kimono and one bow outside the kimono. This might be what was intended, since the photo in the book doesn’t show two sets of ties visible on the outside of the kimono. However, this seemed both annoying for the parent dressing the baby to fasten and annoying for the baby to wear–how would you like to have a bow tied on the inside of your shirt? Probably not a whole lot.
  3. Leave a hole for the second tie to go through so both ends can be tied on the outside. This is what I ended up doing, taking a cue from every wrap dress I’ve ever owned.

I did this by basically just leaving about an inch and a half of the side seam unsewn and stitching the tie onto the seam allowance on one side rather than catching it inside the seam like on the other side. Here’s a view of the inside of the kimono: you can see the hole with one tie passing through it, and the second tie sewn to the seam allowance: these two ties are tied in a bow on the outside of the kimono.

Here’s a view of the outside of the kimono, with the one tie extending through the hole:

As you can see, the seams inside the kimono are pinked. I think it should be pretty easy to do French seams instead, since most of the seams are straight and very short, but the fabric I picked was sturdy enough that I figured pinking would hold up fine.

Lots of corners on the inside of this sucker. I accidentally pressed and sewed down the seams down kind of randomly because I wasn’t always keeping future seam dependencies in mind. Some are pressed open, some are pressed to one side. The book probably instructs you on what to do, but at a certain point I gave up on following the instructions in any kind of detail.

If you decide to make this kimono and make your own bias tape, I strongly recommend a Clover bias tape maker. You will be one cranky cowboy if you try to make bias tape with one of the crappy metal ones instead. Also, Yahaira has posted an excellent tutorial for making continuous bias tape–including a link to the conversions for how much fabric turns into how much finished bias tape.

A mother at the baby shower said “I like the kimono style because if ‘things happen,’ this can be taken off without having to pull it over the baby’s head”–a practicality that hadn’t even occurred to me, naive as I am in the ways of baby-vom, but seems very sensible.

Oh, and I got them this, too:

Why, yes! That is a Captain Kirk onesie from thinkgeek.com. A necessity for any well-dressed baby. (By the way, Josh and Kelly, if you’re still working on narrowing down names, check out this book. I think Cthulhu is a beautiful name for a little girl. Or Zaius, if it’s a boy.)

I’ve been laid out flat by the flu for the last half a week or so, with the result that I ended up missing nearly all the things I had been looking forward to this weekend… knitting night (I was going to wear the beard hat!), working at the business school, drinks and fresh-baked cookies with friends, the farmer’s market, dinner at the new Ethiopian restaurant with a friend I haven’t seen in months, a Prince party (does my sunflower beret count as raspberry-colored?), and an ice cream-themed birthday party. No, instead, I spent my whole damn weekend lying in bed, all achy and coughing and feverish. I’m still not feeling well, but at least the hacking cough is nearly gone.

The weekend did have a few upsides.

I got to watch parts of various movies–I got bored of Flicka, and my DVD player refused to cooperate with more than 15 minutes of Winged Migration, but I managed to make it through Cat Ballou, and that was fun. I saw the Oscars. I liked the part about the Batsuit.  Helen Mirren looked stunning, just like last year. And I’ve sort of met Glen Hansard (the guy who won the Oscar for Best Song). He’s a friend of a friend, so I made it into his company after a concert–but if I remember correctly, there was just about a minute of quick chatter between the two of them before he had to dash off somewhere, and I never actually got introduced. In any case, it was definitely interesting seeing someone I know (if not directly, at least within a degree) win an Oscar on TV.

I was determined to make it out to the new yarn shop, In a Yarn Basket. Bloomington Ravelers have been waiting with bated breath and much discussion for it to open for months, since I spotted the Under Construction sign while dropping off a package at UPS in the same strip mall. So perhaps ill-advisedly (since this short trip wiped me out for the rest of the evening) after I dropped Rahul off at his band practice on Saturday, I decided to go down to the yarn shop.

I looked through the window. People were inside, peacefully browsing. I tried to open the door–and it was locked. I looked at my watch: 3:30. I rattled the door again. The woman came and opened it and said “We’re closed. We close at 4 on Saturdays.”

“But it’s only 3:30.” I showed her my watch.

She looked up at the wall. “It’s 4:20.”

My watch had stopped and in my feverish, cough syrup-addled state, I had no idea!

I looked in anguish at the people inside and she took pity on me and said I could come in if I didn’t take long. True to my word, I took a quick walk around the store. I took note of the price of Cascade 220 as a benchmark ($6.60, and they have tons of colors, and superwash). Then I picked up a hank of Cascade Eco Wool, one of my favorites, and nearly dropped it. $7.50 a skein. For 478 yards! The normal selling price is $15, and it’s a bargain at that price, since it’s soft, sturdy, fairly heavy weight (though I’d call it aran, not chunky as the label suggests) and I haven’t run into a single knot so far in any of the 3 478-yard skeins of it I’ve wound.

I checked a few skeins, just to be sure the price gun hadn’t misfired. They all said $7.50. So I picked up a couple of skeins in white and bought them. (I should have bought more–but I was trying to restrain myself, thinking I could always come back and get more.) I remarked on what a great price it was at the register, and to my surprise they didn’t look at it and immediately say “Oh, this is a mistake!” They just smiled and said “Yes, isn’t it great!”

But then, wouldn’t you know it, it was too good to be true. Someone else on Ravelry went in the next day and bought some and found them repricing all the skeins. They had made a mistake. They sold her the skeins she’d picked out at the cheaper price anyway, so I don’t feel too bad about holding onto the ones I bought, but alas–the permanent price of $7.50 for local Eco Wool was not to be. (Deep sigh…) At least the store has a different selection from Yarns Unlimited, and they seem to be very reasonably priced, so I look forward to going back to browse when I’m less sick and have more time. Oh, and they were giving away reusable fabric shopping bags rather than disposable plastic. I don’t know if that’s a permanent thing or not, but I appreciated it.

Since I didn’t have things like an appetite or mobility in the outside world to distract me, I also spent the weekend working on some creative projects. I got my Ravelry PDF pattern downloads working, sorta. You can download from each individual pattern page, but for some reason my store keeps saying “no PDF uploaded” when I know that’s untrue. I’ll give it a few days and try again. It’s exciting seeing people download my work–not like there’s any huge number of them, but still. Cool! I’ll add Ravelry download links to the individual pattern pages. The PDFs should print out nicely, no sidebar or comments or other browsery nonsense, and I’ve deleted most pictures from the pattern pages to make a nice copy to work from.

I also got back to work on rewriting a shawl pattern I’ve been working on for months. I think I finally have it right now–it’s a good thing I sat on it for a while, because some glaring charting errors jumped out at me when I picked it up again and started working. It’s kind of amazing how much work lies in the divide between your own scribbled notes and a product that can be used and understood by other people.

I slaved away, too, at a pattern for a little sock yarn baby sweater and a test-knit of the smallest size, only to run into various annoying pitfalls, first numerous problems having to do with getting the length right, since the front border repeats are rather long compared to the total length of the sweater, and then, as I was nearing the raglan decreases at the top, running out of sleeve stitches to decrease. AAGH! I have test knitters for the other sizes waiting for me, so I can’t let the frustration stop me, but trying to resize a sweater while your head is fogged up with germs and generic cold medicine is seriously difficult.

Here are some pictures of the prototype of the baby sweater I’m working on. I’m calling it the Botany Baby Sweater (rav link), and hoping it will be a nice sock yarn stashbuster. This version, knit at light speed in Brown Sheep Wildfoote in Mistletoe for a baby that’s due any day now, was subject to numerous terrible math errors and last-minute fudging,  and I was hoping that the new version I was working on over the weekend would be immune to the same problems. Alas, it had its own, different set of problems.

I feel like the usual 8-sts-every-other-round ratio of increase/decrease for raglan shoulders doesn’t really seem to work when it comes to babies, because, as I mentioned in an earlier post, they are apparently very squat, fat creatures. So if you want to go from a reasonable body and sleeves size to a reasonable neck size, and you decrease 8 sts every other round, it seems to me that you will end up with an extremely long and ill-fitting raglan.

Of course, this is all still a theory, since my stupid nearly-finished test knit is sitting on the dining room table looking even squattier than I had planned for, and the baby raglan patterns I’ve seen always seem to follow that same rate of increase/decrease, so it’s possible there just may be some kind of underlying fundamental problem in my calculations. Will report back later. But not tonight–I think tonight I might need to take a break, rest my brain, and work on something relaxing that won’t stand such a high chance of being ripped back after 20 hours of work.

My old friend Detergent Baby is modeling. I really need to find a more photogenic model.

The sweater’s cute, at least, isn’t it? But like I mentioned, it’s annoying trying to get all the leaves to match up with the desired lengths in the different sizes. I’m working up my new sample in Colinette Jitterbug in Velvet Leaf, and if one thing kept me going nonstop on this sweater all weekend, it was the absolutely stunning look of the Jitterbug. I love the color and the softness and the bounce of it.  The body of the sweater is knit in reverse stockinette stitch and the sleeves in stockinette, and I just love the effect of the semi-solid yarn in reverse stockinette. (Plus, it hides the slight unevenness of my reverse stockinette better than the solid Wildfoote.)

The strange thing about the Jitterbug is that, like alexandrite, or maybe like Gwen the two-face in Seinfeld, it seems to look completely different in different types of light. In incandescent light, it seems like sort of an ugly, muddy brown, but in natural sunlight, it takes on a beautiful, rich, dark green color, tinged with gold.
My thought, by the way, with the Eco Wool was to make a Botany sweater sized up for adults, with pockets–but I’m really getting ahead of myself. Maybe once the pattern is in the hands of my test knitters and I’ve successfully finished at least the newborn-sized version.

So also over the weekend, I was horrified and kind of depressed to read this story about Virgin Mobile using random Flickr photos licensed under Creative Commons in their Australian ad campaign without contacting the photographers or the people pictured in the photos for permission. It made me all sad and paranoid to read people’s comments saying that a lot of people thought the 15-year-old girl in the linked story didn’t have a legal leg to stand on because the photographer (her camp counselor) had put up the photo under a Creative Commons attribution license, meaning Virgin Mobile could use it to promote their products without paying a red cent, and (according to some commenters) Australian law doesn’t require a model release for normal, everyday people who are neither celebrities nor professional models. Even if they’re not legally obligated to obtain a release or inform the photographer, it seems like the courteous, ethical thing to do–and it seems like they should have at least paid what they would have for normal stock photos. I mean, they’re Virgin, it’s not like they can’t afford it! I don’t want to watermark my photos, and it annoys me mightily when people disable right-click on their webpages out of fear of other people stealing their content, but sometimes I wonder if they have the right idea. I mean, there really are worse things to worry about, but it sucks to think of a multinational corporation grabbing your photos off Flickr and using them for their billboard ad campaigns without your explicit consent or knowledge. Especially since some of them are considerably more derogatory/defamatory than the “dump your pen friend” one.

Ravelry’s blog feed feature has been acting up (at least for me) and lately I’ve been getting new blog posts dumped into the feed in big chunks every couple of days–so it seems like everything’s quiet, then suddenly I have a huge list of blog posts to wade through. I’ll have to spend some time going back through everything I’ve missed because of the hiccups.

If I am to believe various online design resources,

- children require approximately 6″ of positive ease in their garments to be comfortable

- a three-month-old baby has a back waist length of 6″ and a chest size of 16″

- a baby of approximately that age also has an armhole depth of 3.25″, leaving the distance from armpit to waist 2.75″

- Nobody is very forthcoming about an appropriate neck size for a baby sweater, but thankfully this is a cardigan and I can put off such decisions for a later date, should I ever decide that I simply MUST design a baby pullover. Elizabeth Zimmermann suggests a neck size of 50% of the chest size, but I think even the most diminutive 3-month-old probably has a skull larger than 8″ in circumference. (Perhaps I am mistaken.)

Looking at these numbers, I must be misunderstanding something, like the definition of “underarm” or “length” or something, because I feel like a baby of these proportions would be incredibly wide, squatty and bizarre, like a wombat or a bulldog. Possibly a Dr. Moreau monster wombat with gorilla arms.

The basic point I’m getting to is that based roughly on these measurements, I came up with a quick-n-dirty baby sweater pattern (to be further refined) for a friend who’s expecting this week. About 3/4 of the way through the body (which I sized at 4″ from hem to underarm), I discovered I’d cast on 10 sts less than I thought I had, i.e. the chest measurement was about 1.5″ less than what I thought I had: about 16.5″ total, for only about 1/2″ ease instead of about 2″ ease as I’d planned.

Then, 3/4 of the way through the raglan, I realized I had accidentally forgotten to include the back stitches in my calculations for the decreases, and would wind up with a Tempting-style neckline if I didn’t take some fast action, and knit a Frankensteined compound raglan out of necessity.

The result, while apparently more or less adhering to the Yarn Standards idea of 3-month-old baby size, seemed drastically wrong in shape. The arms seem super long (though the cuffs can be rolled up, of course), the body seems super wide (despite being a couple inches smaller than I had planned for) and short–and this design is not one that is easily lengthened by picking up stitches and knitting downwards. I have a hard time believing babies are really this shape!

The sweater will be gifted as-is, but I’d like to write up the pattern and refine it for use with future babies. If you know of any good resources for accurate baby sizing, or if you have any helpful tips for sizing for babies, please do share! I have a few books with baby patterns in them (Last Minute Knitted Gifts, Knit 2 Together, The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, Knitter’s Workshop) but have little idea of how well these books actually reflect normal baby sizes, and the schematics are of varying degrees of detail and helpfulness.

I’m thinking that checking out some Debbie Bliss books from the library might be a good place to start for compiling a non-wombat baby schematic, as she’s famous for her baby designs, but really my master plan consisted of going to Target and measuring some baby clothes in various sizes. I know babies are not just shaped like miniature adults, but are their torsos really almost 3 times as wide as they are long? It should be easier to design for babies, because they’re small and not very sartorially sophisticated or demanding, but the free resources out there for baby sizes are much more scarce than the ones for adult women, it seems.

In other news, I’ve decided that manicures are vastly overrated. I got a manicure and pedicure tonight; hadn’t had either one in years and had forgotten all the unpleasantness that can go along with a manicure. I cut my nails very short, but they felt obligated to “shape” my nonexistent nail stubs, i.e. diligently apply an emery board to my fingertips like I was a safecracker on the lam and they were trying to rub off my fingerprints as a favor to the Don. I was kind of terrified when they started trimming my cuticles, as I don’t have a lot of cuticle to trim and was imagining painful, open cuticle wounds resulting from overenthusiastic, well-intentioned snipping; and as the final blow, I had forgotten how long the smell of nail polish lingers. I enjoyed the pampering, having my hands rubbed with lotion, having pretty pink nails to look at, etc.; but it’s been five hours since the polish dried and the smell is still coming off my hands in thick chemical waves and making me feel kind of sick.

Pedicures still have my seal of approval, since I am in no danger of smelling offgassing from my polished toes, and I guess my callused toes can take a little tiny bit of sanding.  But manicures, ugh, thumbs down.

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