You never think about how difficult it is to get your hands on a baby until you really need one in a hurry.
Such was my situation recently. I was photographing this thing and it was made absolutely clear to me that no substitutes for an infant head and shoulders would be acceptable. No pretty dollies, no hat stands, no Styrofoam balls or wads of crumpled tissue paper. Only the genuine article, and pronto. Knitty waits for no man.
I live in a neighborhood that, in spite of its long-standing reputation as a haven for what used to be known as Confirmed Bachelors, is now increasingly home to young families. These days, you’re as liable to trip over a nanny on Halsted Street as you are a drag queen. Soccer mommies mixing with the leather daddies. Ah, progress.
Still, having more kids in the vicinity makes them no easier to borrow. You would be amazed at how reluctant city parents are to cooperate when you rush up–camera in one hand and baby hood in the other–and ask if they would kindly bung this onto junior’s head so you can snap a couple of quick frames. I had no idea strollers could move so fast.
Not neighborly, if you ask me. Downright standoffish.
I was about to concede defeat when a friend-of-a-friend obligingly gave birth to a bouncing baby girl. Together, we collaborated on a series of images that, judging from the response they’ve generated, are either too precious for words, or evidence that I am a child-hating untalented hack who should have my camera taken away and my knitting needles broken in half.
Me, I fall somewhere in the middle. These are far from my best work, having been made in five minutes in dim light so as not to tax either the baby or her mother. I did the best I could, which is sometimes all you can do. On the other hand, I applaud the model’s artistic choices. I feel they lift the series above the banal. Smiley kids are a dime a dozen. This one, like Margo Channing in All About Eve, obviously detests cheap sentiment. I love her for that. If the aura of enfance véritée turns some knitters away–well, I suppose that is the price one pays for pushing boundaries.
In lieu of payment, the model’s parents agreed to accept a hand-knit baby hat. Not the hood, obviously–it’s a wee bit much for daily wear in 2009. But a hat of my choice, and of course I want it to be a good one.
I started to whip up a little number of my own devising from the remnants of my Exceptional Niece Abigail’s™ Tulip Jacket. Some of it had gone into the embroidery for Bird and Berry, but there was still plenty to spare.
I did some pondering and charting, and cast on. At about this point in the proceedings,
I realized I have a problem.
I love this hat. Really love it. Really really really love it. Knitting it has been like a ride on a supercharged merry-go-round and I don’t want to get off. And there’s no way it’s leaving the family. It can’t go on me, since I don’t wear pink in the winter. So it’s going to Abigail.
Which means making another hat for the Other Baby. It won’t make any difference to her, or her mother. They haven’t seen this hat. And the other hat will be just as nice, I promise.
So why do I feel guilty?
Stop staring at me. Just stop. Stop it!
Invading America's Dairyland
A reminder to those in the vicinity of La Crosse, Wisconsin that I will have the honor and pleasure of joining you for your annual Knit in Public Day at the La Crosse Public Library. The theme is "Keeping You in Stitches: Knitting and Humor." I shall do my best to be especially funny from 6:30–7:30, when it's my turn to speak. (Natives, please advise. Are cheese jokes off limits?) The rest of the time, I will pursue my more usual course of trying not to say anything too stupid.