Sunday, January 20, 2008

In the Nick of Time

When Abigail was born, I was admonished from all quarters to enjoy every moment of her babyhood because babies grow like mushrooms after a warm rain.

I thought I comprehended this fully, until I arrived for Christmas to find the sweet but mostly inert lump-in-a-blanket I'd seen in July had sprouted arms, legs, and motor skills. Here she is accompanying me in selections from Schubert's Winterreise on Christmas Day.

Winterreise

That was a real kick in the ass to finish the incomplete Debbie Bliss baby kimono I'd had lying around the apartment since August. I'd made it in the 9-12 month size when Abigail at 9-12 months seemed a remote possibility. Now I had minutes to sew the thing up before she'd outgrow it.

My experience with seaming is limited, but I admit (at the risk of being smacked in the head by several of you) that I actually enjoy it. The seams (in spite of my incomplete grasp of proper shoulder technique) were not the problem.

The problem was the embroidery. In My Baby Is Better Dressed Than Your Baby, Ms. Bliss covers the kimono with little daisies rendered in embroidery floss. The effect is charming and in perfect taste, but I wanted...I dunno. Something with a little more oomph. And there was no way I could finish until I'd settled upon the perfect solution.

I consulted Ravelry to see what others had done. No help there. Of the four Ravelers who list this piece as a finished object, only one has bothered with embroidery–and she notes that she hated doing it.

I wanted to push the envelope, if at all possible. Grandly disregarding that my needlework skills have been rusting in the toolshed for over a decade, I hunted down photographs of traditional Japanese, Chinese, and Arab motifs. For a long time I fancied the idea of a dragon swirling around the back, over the shoulders and down the front. Alas, a few small samplers brought home the realization that it would take me another year of work to bring my skill set and my idea into alignment.

Meanwhile, Abigail would move out of baby clothes entirely and begin asking "Does this cut me in the middle?" and "Does this make my butt look big?" and the other questions forced upon ever-younger females in our present Era of Enlightenment.

I was on the verge of giving up and sprinkling the damn piece with the damn daisies when I looked down at my breakfast and realized what I'd do.

Not a dragon. Dragonflies.

Dragonfly Plate

That motif, happily, was within my grasp (once I'd practiced French knots a few dozen times). I actually used the simplified insect on the plate to work out my own design.

Motif Detail

For good luck, Abigail's kimono has a very tiny swarm of three. One on the front:

Kimono Front

And two in the back:

Kimono Back

Now all I have to do is ship it express to Maine before she begins work on her dissertation.

They grow up so fast.

87 comments:

Terri said...

Childish notation, but I get to be the first to comment - hahahahaha!

I love the dragonflies on the kimono. They are nothing less than inspired, and they work perfectly! Your needle work looks very skilles, and I like the number of three, as well as the placement. Kudos to the fiber artist!

jackie said...

So pretty! and such a cute baby!

amy said...

Oooh, I covet your dishes. I do like dragonflies--nice touch to the kimono. And thanks for yet another laugh out loud--this time for the title of the Debbie Bliss book.

Evelyn said...

The perfect solution, and so well executed!

Knit Wit said...

OK, I *love* the dragonflies (and as a frequent peruser of baby knitwear, I don't say that lightly)

Would you mind if I nicked your embroidery idea for my store?

thereyougothen said...

Heh! I used to crochet all my seams together, but one day I decided that if I wanted to be a real knitter(TM) I really must learn to mattress stitch. and you know what? I LOVE it. I just love pulling the yarn and seeing it all come together.
Your dragonflies are gorgeous. Must learn to embroider, I really must.

Carla said...

Amazing! So beautiful!

sahara said...

Your dragonflies are quite nice, as are your needlework skills! I don't know how you went about it, but as I tend to put in my two cents prematurely, I'll ask a question first––did you use a stabilizer for the knit? With yarn as the thread it's okay to embroider on knit itself, but check out some stabilizers if you want to expand your creative forays into embroidery; it doesn't have to be hateful.

I love your thoughts on how fast kids grow. When Lewis Carroll(aka Charles Dodgson) wrote Alice In Wonderland, he remarked that by the time he finished, Alice Liddell would be in her twenties.

So, 'git crackin'. LOL

quinn said...

What a lovely sweater for that Big Girl ;)

I love dragonflies - fantastic, jewel-y creatures, and such useful metaphors for many things.

And I love including them in design work. Drawing - not needlework. Less chance of personal injury from a pencil.

shannon said...

oh my word.

gorgeous!

MaryB said...

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! So incredibly cute and what I really, really like is that it is not girly-girl. After she's done with her piano work she'll turn to science, I'll wager. Thanks for the inspiration! MaryB

Veronica said...

I think the dragonflies were a very nice choice - not too fussy or girly but they definitely add a lot of interest to the garment. I don't have any little ones to knit for these days, but I think they might be nice on a bigger sweater, too.

Sister Sue said...

Eeep! I love it! Can't wait to see it on my little Bean!

Sue said...

Oh, the dragonflies are the perfect touch. The jacket and she are precious!

Saralyn said...

Charming dragonflies. Perfect for a baby kimono, elegant but not pretentious, ephemeral and tiny but not twee. Your embroidery skills are better than mine. I'm a bit envious. Every little girl in our enlightened era needs an uncle to tell her that certain questions should not burden the thoughts of little girls, or big ones. We all have more important things to think about. Somebody's got to save this crazy world, after all.

Alwen said...

Yeah, it's one thing to hear, "Babies grow fast" and another to see that their little hands are bigger by the end of the first week!

I'm convinced that babies and adults have some kind of inverse time-slurp relationship, so the faster something (birthday!) is coming up to the adults, the slower the time goes for the kids.

Marcy said...

Oh my! That kimono is so darned cute, it's making my retinas detach. So sweet. Nice work on the dragonflies.

picperfic said...

hte Kimono is perfect, you words are a treat!

Jocele said...

Those dragonflies kick ass. Cute sweater and cute neice, too!

Kathleen said...

Fabulous!!!!

sloth-knits said...

That is way too cute! I think the dragonflies work perfectly on that kimono.

Roxie said...

It's astounding how that kid is stimulating your creativity. Inspiration from your breakfast dishes? What next?

Dee said...

Oh my gosh ... they are too adorable! Well done!

JoVE said...

That is gorgeous and so suited to the colour scheme you had, too. I am also admiring your breakfast dish. I don't suppose you could find an excuse to post a picture of the whole plate?

Melissa said...

Oh, it's lovely!

dale-harriet said...

Franklin - to what the others say, I add only 'Yup!'. And I love those dishes too, I think I've seen the set at World Market and admired them for ages. They just don't go with my decor (early student housing/middle dynasty Goodwill). And yes, the dragonflies are perfect - we used to know them as "darning needles" or "sewing needles".

Sarah-Hope said...

Great embroidery! It gets me thinking about all sorts of fun possibilities.

Thanks for sharing!

Ruby said...

Absolutely beautiful, I love the dragonflies!

Anonymous said...

She is one gorgeous little girl! The picture at the piano is wonderful. I like the color combo for the kimono and I LOVE the dragonflies! Great idea. (The dragon would have been a bit too much LOL!)

Kay

materfamilias said...

Must de-lurk -- this kimono with its dragonflies cannot pass by uncommented -- it's just too fabulous!

Helen said...

Good for you not to be silly about seaming and embroidery. That book is lovely; I especially recommend the little cardi that ties in a knot at the front (I did it in ice-cream stripes and it was delicious), the hooded top (do a three-needle bind-off on the hood, not a seam) and the little jacket on the front which I have knitted twice now. I think I feel a third one coming up. And yes, you better do them fast :)

Iris said...

Ooo, nicely curved pinky on that right hand - by George, she's got it! (I spent an hour with a piano student yesterday trying to get her hand to look half that good!)

Beautiful kimono and lovely dragonflies. What a lucky niece.

Anne O'Nymous said...

Fortunate, lovely child, wonderful kimono, dragonflies with exactly the perfect sighworthiness factor (not cutesy at all), and a talented, adoring uncle.

canknitian said...

I think I need a kimono with dragonflies on it. I wonder if Debbie Bliss has it in a 375 month old's size?

Ms. P said...

Love the dragonflies - good choice, Uncle Franklin!

knitnzu said...

Love the inspiration! And you do know that the next time you see her, you'll probably be giving her the talk about boys, or she'll be asking for your car keys.

Bobbi said...

It's beautiful!

southern gal said...

Winterreise hmm? a little depressing non?

The dragonfiles are gorgeous! She is a lucky little girl (i unfortunately only have nephews, sigh).

LaurieM said...

Oh yeah! That is sooooo cute. Love it.

rick said...

LOVE the dragonflies, what a great idea!

Darci said...

I am loving the dragonflies...very hip. I also love the new masthead. Fabulous shade blue.

la takahashi said...

lovely!
and yes they grow up FAST! It seemed just yesterday that mine was running through the grocery store in a sarong and bells on her ankles singing Deck the Halls! Now she is in Purcell's Dido and Aneaus in her first year of college. Yikes!

:O)

Ella said...

Beautiful kimono, I love the colour;
and where did you get those breakfast dishes? Love the colour of them too ;-)

alice said...

you get to eat off of plates that look like THAT? how beautiful! i love the dragonfly embroidery... if you check out my other blog (http://unravelmeblog.blogspot.com) you can see my new dragonfly tattoo :)

Dorothée said...

C'est ravissant !

Anonymous said...

Hello, I've only just discovered this site and was amazed to see your lovely dragonfly design on the kimono. I knitted this pattern last year for my grand-daughter and doggedly stuck to the daisies. The only thing I changed was the regularity of the flowers and I made them a little larger. It has been through the wash a hundred times and still looks good. It has also grown with Clemmie.

Guernseygal said...

Beautiful! The dragonflies are perfect :-)

Marlena said...

Beautiful choice! Daisies are just too common for an infant on the cusp of greatness. She will be the envy of everyone at the ball pit.

sweetfigs said...

Beautiful baby! Clever man!

Courtney the Knitting Goddess said...

nice job with the embroidery!

elsie deluxe said...

This is deftly done, and looks perfect. The jacket looks great. I hope we get to see some pictures of Abigail wearing it.

Miss T said...

The kimono is beautiful! And what's that dragonfly plate? [Dish queen]

Carol said...

Adorable sweater!

MX said...

Divine!!

Yarngineer said...

>sigh< dissertation.

Gorgeous. I love the kimono. I love your color choices. You are a really cool uncle. :)

I need orange said...

When my kid was very little, someone said to me "Other people's children grow up so fast!"

True, very true.....

One's own? Not so fast, in my limited experience. Not until they get to be about 16. Then things speed up.

FiberQat said...

Nice job, Unka Frank. Lovely dishes, too.

Laura said...

The addition of dragonflies makes it absolutely beautiful! I have seen the kimono and thought about it for my son, who just turned one this weekend, and I'm knitting him the Classic Cardigan from Ms. Bliss. Dragonflies are also one of my personal favorites.

ponyknit said...

Lovely! Cute finishing touch!

Yvonne said...

Damn cute kimono. Damn cute baby, too. Gawd they grow so fast.

Sue said...

tht may be the cutest baby sweater ever.

Dr. Steph said...

Beautiful. You're the bestest Uncle.

Marin (AntiM) said...

I'm with Amy -- covetous of dragonflies. And the kimono flies are particularly delectable.

BTW -- I have long said that anyone (and I knew there had to be some out there) who likes seaming and finishing could make a very comfortable living charging more... (I don't want to use the word "normal") ...status quo knitters for such services.

Jodie said...

The rate you make baby garments! Good thing your sister can't make babies that fast!

I love the dragon flies. Much better than daisies, or whatever was originally there.

Vicki Stammer said...

Glorious, Franklin!

What a lucky baby she is to have a talented and caring uncle like you.

BerkeleyBecca said...

That's a beautiful touch.

K & C said...

That is absolutely darling.

Sarah said...

I covet the dishes too! The dragonflies are the perfect finishing touch to the kimono. You are soooo clever!

Kristen said...

Add me to the list of people who covet your dishes! I love your satire of Ms. Bliss. (I hate to admit that I have a few of her books, but...)

firefly said...

I second (or one hundred?) everybody on the dragonflies. They look great particularly because they are minimalist and suggestive.

What I found while embroidering pillow slips was the simpler the better. I did some rather elaborate overstitched flowers and I'm not liking it so much now -- kind of the Victorian over-upholstered nightmare look.

However, with what I went through to get there, I'm not ripping those stitches out. If I get tired of them, I'll just turn the pillow backwards :-)

CherylAnn said...

Dang, man, are you planning to have kids someday? Your love for that baby girl is so palpable! It chokes me up! I hope to see you be a papa someday. The sweater is gorgeous, too, but I'm sure enjoying this new facet of your posts as you experience this indescribable feeling and yet describe it so aptly.

MollyBeees said...

The cutest kimono ever for the cutest.baby.ever!

chandra said...

i'm jealous that abigail gets to wear that - so cute!

alana said...

Wow. Sweet but not too precious. Lurvely.

MonicaPDX said...

Not only gorgeous and creative, but a proper sense of the fitness of things. A kimono has to have something Oriental on it. Dragonflies are perfect!

Kimberly Pye said...

That's perfect! I love it!

(I like your plate, too.)

Carol said...

Perfect!

tracey in mi said...

Dragonflies. Brilliant.

Perfect pic to capture Abigails growth- I immediately thought--- "Oh my, she's such a big girl now!" And a beaufiful little pianist as well;)

Deborah C. said...

Another vote for the dragonflies, I love them too. The dragonflies definitely trump the daisies - daisies would be too twee for me.

Would you please post where you got those dishes? I covet them.

Flavaknits said...

I love it - my sister will love it but will kill me when she sees your photo's. For our friends babys' christening , she knitted the kimono and embroidered the daisies - even on the bits you don't see. It looks gorgeous (hey we're Presbyterian Scots - fancy is as fancy does!! lol)
I've not put it on Ravelry yet - cos its my sisters work - but might to show it off , or would have done until I saw yours with the Dragon flies. Its beautiful - we hate you and your talent ( not really , just really really really jealous!! lol)

Anonymous said...

Adorable without being cloying. The dragonflies and the color scheme are both wonderful! They'd better take lots of pictures.

doulicia said...

Just precious.

Michele Vogel said...

absolutely adorable!! Yes, they grow so fast. It just amazes me.

bipolarbear said...

I love love LOVE the dragonflies! Nce bit of inspiration there.

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