Posts Tagged ‘baby carrier’

A moment of pure elation always follows the completion of a project that has posed creative problems along the designing way. The feel of that pure elation is always greater and more satisfying than the aggregate of troubles. The happiness and deep satisfaction I feel having completed the carrier is worth every bit of angst and hard work I put into it. It’s even worth the lymphedema I am now suffering through.

This piece is all I wanted it to be. The lights and darks of the river’s water, the heavy ropes of a boat, the visual feel of the boat’s movement in the braids, even the orange of the underside of the boat that shows above the waterline when the ship is not laden. What I saw in my mind is exactly represented before me. It’s a high like no other.

North River Baby Carrier

North River Baby Carrier

Two sizes, 0 to 6 months, and 6 to 12 months are designed to fit a fully clothed and diapered baby without restricting movement. The button front opening provides no fuss easy in and out for baby. The carrier is that extra little covering to help keep baby warm while running errands with mom and dad.

My next obession project is very interesting and I have much to learn. Darning as Art. I’ll explain next time.

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TGIF. While I am not doing more, the time I have to do it in seems to have shortened. I don’t understand why 24 hours does not seem like 24 hours anymore but that’s the way it’s been around here.

Water is still on the basement floor, not from the washing machine, but the monsoon rain. The sump pump is working. It’s a sensitive object. The smallest things upset it and it stops working. When its quiet for a while, I open the cellar door, remind it that it’s a nice sump pump, and nice sump pumps always pump water. It chokes and gurgles to life and I go about my work until I don’t hear it again.

Yarn Rascal has relapsed into deviant behavior. Ripping out grouted tile, tearing up rugs, and totally new behavior: stealing circular knitting needles. He likes to tightly clamp the cable part in his mouth and tear around the house like a Ferrari. Even when I catch him, it is pretty near impossible to get him to give up the needles. When he doesn’t want to open his mouth I can’t do it for him. So I’ve resorted to food treats, a piece of cheese (he likes cheddar) or his favorite bacon biscuits as a sort of hostage exchange. The negotiations before the exchange takes place are a bit long, depending on how determined he is to keep the knitting needles. His favorite pair is a 16″ (41 cm) length 5 mm / US 8.

Which brings me to the North River Baby Carrier. I am knitting the sleeves in the round on dpns. The sleeves are done in Seed Stitch. Since the Seed Stitch pattern can’t be easily maintained through decreases the same is true with increases. Sleeves need to have a gentle taper that grows wider as it reaches the upper arm. In a moment of delusion hope I thought of working the sleeve from the widest point down since I had spent so much time figuring out the decreases on the hood. It seems, (surprise, surprise), that a hood and its decreases are way different from a sleeve and its decreases. The major distinction being the distance between the decreases. In a row on the hood the distance in stitches between decreases is greater. In a round on a sleeve the distance between decreases is only a stitch or two. The sleeve decreases need to be kept in the middle of the sleeve underneath where a seam would be if I were working them in rows. The decreases with only a stitch or two separating them didn’t look all that great.

Back to the main idea, gently tapering to a wider upper arm. Swatching, ripping, swatching, ripping, research, research, swatch and rip some more and finally I learned a few things. There is no way to keep the Seed Stitch pattern completely intact and so I decided to use a little knitting trompe l’oeil.

Basically the knitter can use whatever increase is his/her favorite. Mine happens to be the lifted increase. An increase of 1 st on either side of the central marker keeps the disruption at the center of the sleeve underneath where a seam would naturally fall. The only two stitches affected are the immediate ones on either side of the marker. They got the knitting trompe l’oeil treatment when I decided to keep them as the same stitches within the round but alter them on each round.

Normally the two stitches would be k1, p1 on one round then change to p1, k1 on the next round. The increases atered that so the two stitches wanted to be the same stitch on each round. On the first round after the increase they wanted to be k2. So I thought let them be k2, on the next round they will be p2, on the one after that they will become k2 again. I was “maintaining” the way Seed Stitch alternates on each row. After working more rows I looked at the effect and the eye cannot see the increase. Neither does it pick up the two stitches that are similar within a round. Because the increases have a large number of rounds between them, there is virtually no disruption of the Seed Stitch pattern either on top or underneath the sleeve.

I am planning to have the baby carrier completed by the end of the weekend. Go ahead, laugh. But really, am I not due for a break?

Have a good weekend.

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I had a Dr. Frankenstein moment this weekend after much swatching, ripping, researching decreases, swatching and more ripping. When it all came together late Sunday night, despite all the distractions the fates threw at me, I knew the deep satisfaction and amazement Dr. Frankenstein felt when he screamed “It’s alive! The Monster is alive!” (I don’t actually remember if these were his exact words but they were mine, replete with hair standing out on end and a crazed look in my eyes.)

I morphed into the mad scientist mode when faced with having to shape and turn the seed stitch hood of the baby carrier while maintaining the seed stitch pattern. Decreasing and maintaining the seed stitch pattern seemed to be diametrically opposed goals. Lots of swatching. Lots of ripping. Lots of angst.

Adding to the anxiety, the decreases had to be directional, left leaning and right leaning, to get the hood shape. My basic idea was to turn the hood the way the heel of a sock is turned. But a sock heel is knit in stocking stitch, which easily lends itself to the simple p2tog and ssk decreases. These decreases stand out like a glaring mistake in seed stitch.

After researching, more swatching, more ripping I came up with 2 unorthodox decreases that worked in nicely with the seed stitch pattern on a very tiny swatch. The big test was to see if they worked correctly shaping both sides of the 67 stitch hood down to 23 stitches.

At this point, my hair looked like I had come through a tornado and I had a persistent tic in my left eye. Anyone with any sense would have taken one look at me and stayed far away. But I live with a human and a dog, neither of which can read the nuanced signs of someone who is coming apart. That’s why I stood in the middle of the living room and announced that I was now sitting down to work on the hood and I couldn’t be disturbed. I paused for a moment to let my left eye tic away for added emphasis.

It wasn’t long, maybe the second or third row, before the math and numbers show The Skipper decided to watch threw off my internal counting of rows and stitches. On the 5th row, Yarn Rascal sat in front of me dangling Mr. Dragon from his mouth as a warning that if I didn’t pay him attention Mr. Dragon was going to be toast. At about the fourteenth row I started to hear a strange noise. Sometimes it sounded like a raccoon had gotten into the wall, other times it sounded faintly like a gurgling stream. Without pausing my knitting I asked The Skipper about the noise. The man who can hear a flea cough in the next county said, “What noise?”

The tic in my eye became more pronounced and I was beginning to get pain in my jaw from clenching it, as I increased my knitting speed and repeatedly asked these two questions of The Skipper: What is that noise? and Where is the dog? The tension built as I continued knitting, the stacked decreases needed little adjustments here and there as they began shaping the hood, the noise continued on and off, Yarn Rascal was MIA, and The Skipper now began discussion about the math and numbers show.

Upon the completion of the last row, I jumped out of the chair, held the carrier up, saw a hood had formed without ruining the seed stitch pattern and yelled, “It’s alive! The baby carrier lives!”

hood baby carrier 2

hood baby carrier 1

PS: Mr. Dragon needs his arm sewn back on. The noise I heard was really two different noises. One was Yarn Rascal. He excavated the tile in the upstairs bathroom again. The second noise was the washing machine draining the water onto the floor. As for the math and numbers program it was something to do with the cosmos. The Skipper yammered on about it while mopping up the wet floor.

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My knitting mojo is on the wane. I’ve been here before and I know that the best way to handle it, for me, is to continue to knit through it.

Between all the things going on that are not knitting related and my work on two big knitting projects and seeing them through to completion without a break in between I’ve come up a bit short in the enthusiasm area.

One of the big knitting projects is the baby carrier which I have tentatively named North River Baby Carrier.

North River Baby Carrier and my ever present assistant.

North River Baby Carrier and my ever present assistant.

(An aside here. No knitting, photographing of knitting, handling of yarn, is done without the presence and assistance of Yarn Rascal. I’ve come to accept that anything to do with yarn will take me twice as long with his help.)

I have some design issues with the carrier. The issues have to do with this particular grouping of stitch patterns vs. the construction techniques. Notice I’ve literally cut the sleeve out of the armhole on the right. I didn’t like the way it fit before I sewed it in and instead of stopping, like a sane person would do, I went ahead and sewed it in then fretted about whether blocking would iron out the problem. It has been my experience that blocking solves some problems but will not correct a sleeve that simply needs refitting. But, I went ahead and wove in the sleeve ends anyway.

I have a phobia about woven in ends. The entire time I weave in an end I am 100% sure it will come undone, the whole project will unravel, the work will be for nought. Think about it: a knitted garment held together by a woven thread. How precarious. Because it seems like such an uncertain way to hold a garment together, I have done more research on weaving in knitted ends than a doctoral candidate conducts on a doctoral thesis. As of this date, I have never had an object unravel from a woven end. My phobia, although baseless, rules.

To undo a part of a garment after weaving its ends is an exquisite form of knitting torture. In this instance, I had to take scissors to the sleeve to get most of it off because I couldn’t get the ends undone. I still have about an inch (2.5 cm) yet to separate from the armhole, but that will have to be carefully removed by hand, strand by strand. And that is where I am. Sorting and picking threads one by one. My knitting mojo receding with each chopped strand I tease out.

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Say the word gauge to knitters and after a laugh and an eye roll, they will talk about stitches. Listen politely. Ask what about row gauge and after a strange look they will say, that doesn’t matter. This is the crux of the issue with my baby carrier design. If the knitter wants to duplicate my results, row gauge is paramount or the braid design will not finish off nicely at the shoulders and neck line. How does a designer get the knitter to be as cognizant of row gauge as stitch gauge in a pattern?

I could stress the importance of row gauge and provide a brief explanation supporting it in the Pattern Notes section. But really, how many of us actually pay attention to what’s written there? In the rush to start the project this section is brushed aside or skimmed over at best.

I could put a blaze orange box with the words WARNING! Know Your Row Gauge! on it. This would be novel. I haven’t seen anything like it in knit or crochet patterns to date. It would probably stop them for a second, but then they would brush this aside too.

The only way I can figure to get knitters to pay attention to row gauge in this pattern is to give the length measurements in number of rows and make centimeters and inches secondary. The written directions are row centric. Neckline decreases begin after a specific number of rows are knit. The decreases take place on specific rows. They cease on a specific row. Dividing the front opening as well as dividing for each armhole opening begins on a specific row and finishes on a specific row. In short, I am hamstringing the knitters. Saying this takes place now, this stops now.

I’ve never written a pattern in such a manner before. But it is crucial they begin and end shaping on certain rows for the braid to fit nicely at the neck and shoulders.

While the body of the piece is finished, I am knitting up one of the sleeves tonight. I still need to decided whether the sleeve will be all seed stitch–my eyes cross and twitch at the thought–or whether I will center the braid on the sleeve to break up the seed stitch. Right now I can’t quite imagine the sleeve without the braid.

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One use of baby carriers was to swaddle a baby so it couldn’t move. Literally. Keeping baby where it was placed was an important use of baby carriers in the Middle Ages and with Indigenous People. The carrier performed the duties of a baby sitter. Some were rigid enough to stand up right, others, especially in the Middle Ages were used to hang up the baby on a nearby wall or fence, while the mother attended her work duties.

edward s. curtis. the nez perce

edward s. curtis. the nez perce

The picture above is of an actual baby carrier used by the Nez Perce. At the left side, one of the two straps that would go over the mother’s shoulder is showing. When I look at this picture, the tightness of the swaddling literally takes my breath away.

While rigid swaddling was used to ensure straight, strong limbs, often it did just the opposite, causing bones to become malformed. But mostly, the baby carrier was used by the mother to keep the baby with her at all times. With a baby strapped to her back, she could travel about and perform her daily work inside and outside the home. Life, it seems, has never been easy on women.

Initially, the baby carrier I was asked to design was supposed to be tight. The baby was to fit through the hood opening. I couldn’t do it. Each time I tried, my own claustrophobia undid me and I’d walk away from the project feeling like I couldn’t breathe. After much discussion between all involved, I was relieved to get the okay to throw out the restrictive tight fit. I could think about proportion and form without feeling restricted and needing air myself. I decided to divide the front to create a center opening, add sleeves, and enlarge the width of the carrier to account for both baby, baby clothes and diapers.

My walk alongside the Hudson River was my inspiration for the stitch pattern combinations. The Hudson is a working river. Tugs, barges, battleships, schooners, tankers, sailboats, the occasional sloop, and recreational boats move up and down it at different times of the year. Ice cutters regularly traversed it this winter to keep a shipping lane open.

The play of light and dark on the water along with a large barge going up river helped me settle on what I wanted to achieve. When I thought of the ship I thought of the heavy ropes on board. I chose to interpret the ship with a braid whose movement reminded me of ropes laid along a deck. I also wanted the braid to resemble the feel of a deck that rocked up and down. To compliment the braid I chose the humble seed stitch pattern. The texture of the pattern and the way it absorbs and reflects light reminds my of the way the Hudson looked that day.

Still on the needles, this is how it looks at the moment. Excuse the lighting, I am still learning my camera.

baby carrier 2

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