Monday, February 22, 2010

Go Go Kimono

Once upon a time (January 2008) a knitter (me) put the finishing touches (three embroidered dragonflies) on the baby kimono from Thoroughly Exceptional Babies and the Men Who Knit for Them by Debbie Bliss.

Kimono Front

I wrote in this entry that I'd begun working the 9–12 months version when it seemed impossible that the exceptional baby in question–Abigail, my niece–could ever be so large as to fill it out. Each flat piece was a square acre of stockinette; Abigail could have fit into a shoebox. Not that we tried it, but she could have.

But she did grow. She grew at such an alarming rate that I accused my sister of feeding her on a diet of breast milk and

Alice Large

small cakes inscribed EAT ME.

I finished the kimono in what I figured was the nick of time, so that Abby could cuddle up in it for a month or two before it would be relegated to the chest of outgrown knits. It fit her like a mid-length spa robe (simple, but chic) and became a go-to woolen garment for chilly weather.

Kimono 01

A year later, when the frost returned to the pumpkins, it still fit. But it had become a short jacket.

Kimono 02

Kimono 03

A year after that (two days ago, in fact), a freak spell of mild weather in southern Maine caused my sister to reach for it again. It is now a little shirt with three-quarter sleeves.

Kimono 04

For those of you who knit, crochet, sew or otherwise fashion handmade clothing for children, I need not explain to you why this series of photographs fills me with matchless gratification.

For those who do not, let me walk you through it:

  • I made it for her to wear, and she wore it.

  • Her mother made sure I got to see her wearing it.

  • There's honorable evidence of heavy use (note the pilling on the sleeves) but also of proper care (and it isn't machine-washable).

You make a baby garment hoping it'll fit for an entire season. Three seasons? A small miracle. And sometimes I think the small ones are the best.

107 comments:

yarnbookschocolate said...

What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it.

JelliDonut said...

This brought tears to my eyes, and I don't cry easily. (My Dog Skip? Not a drop.) Isn't this what we live for as knitters? Thank you. I will feel good for the rest of the day!

Kris said...

Thank you for sharing that great story! As a proud auntie of a niece and nephew, I love seeing them in the stuff I knit them. And one of my happiest moments? Unpacking my nephew's room during his family's move and finding a box full of sweaters I knit, loved nearly to death. The ones with "tummy wear" from an active baby got me the most :)

Rox said...

I once made a Debbie Bliss cardigan for one of my babies who could still wear it when she was in Kindergarten (she was only 4, but still).

Sarah JS said...

I love how the sweater gets shorter and the hair gets longer.

Kudos on the sweater's longevity for fit.

Trillian42 said...

That's so lovely! And she's getting so BIG! I love getting peeks at her on your blog.

Norm Deplume said...

I haven't even made any sweater-type objects for my own kids, for fear that my precious stitches would never see real use. But apparently handknits for kids can actually be used, and used well. I'm so happy for that sweater!

hokgardner said...

Both the sweater and the girl are adorable. I may have to knit one for my tiny girl, who will easily fit it for several seasons.

BTW - I'm knitting a pair of socks out of your panopticon yarn for knitting olympics and loving the stuff. The colors, coincidentally, match those of the olympic bannering and such.

Debbie said...

Such a cute sweater -- and such a sweet story! You've renewed my interest in knitting baby items; as of late, I've been frustrated because I never get to SEE the babies wearing my sweaters or at least sitting on my afghans.

larheel said...

Thanks for your story! I've had similar experiences lately--not over that lovely length of time (2 years!) but just seeing some friends of mine dress their newborn son in the jacket/hat/booties set that I made him...twice now...has made me happier than I could say.

I share your smiles.

livnletlrn said...

I had a similar experience recently with a baby hat that's getting worn and loved to death. (see 2nd pic and links on this blog post:
http://livnletlrn.blogspot.com/2009/12/tis-season.html )

Makes a knitter's heart go pitter pat, and not just from love for the wearer of the handknits. Congrats on hitting a home run with the kimono. Looks like Abby's personal knitter will need to replenish her stash of handknits this fall -- girl's growing fast! :-)

Jody said...

she is a beauty, that niece of yours, and your knitting is ageless and lovely! Thank you for sharing this ditty as it reaffirms all that we knitters know to be true about knitting for babies!!!

Gail said...

So true. And how she has grown!

Geek Knitter said...

Now that is a thing of beauty.

Two things of beauty.

junior_goddess said...

And that's a sweet thing for a knitter in the family to see, isn't it. Glad you let us savor it with you.

Lily said...

Only a man would knit something for a baby that isn't machine washable. Sigh.

alce said...

Oh my god, those photos are so sweet.

Grace said...

she has grown up so fast!!! what a doting uncle you are--good for you and her!!!

Virginia said...

That's a wonderful story! How gratifying!

And your niece is beautiful. I bet she's an absolute joy.

Trish said...

gotta love it!

YogaNan knits, too... said...

Totally warms the cockles of a knitter's heart! I can't wait to someday knit for my own grandchild, whose mother is also a dedicated knitter, and will absolutely cherish each item. What an angel she is--enjoy every moment!

Oh, and that reminds me how the little dresses I smocked for that 32 yo knitter are waiting to be passed on to little girl #5, after working their way through the cousins.

heather said...

That is wonderful - it is great to see a piece worn again and again, not just for the obligatory "thank you" shot.

Raveller said...

Lovely and so practical. What will you knit for her next?

Anonymous said...

Adorable model, especially the little topknot. You've given us a big warm AWWWWWWW and hug!

(formerly) no-blog-rachel said...

All that wear and appreciation. Awesome.

And she is SOOOO cute!

Mady said...

So heartwarming to see your sweet sweater worn, loved, and cared for. You have a good sister and a precious niece.
I knit a baby blanket for my great-nephew in October and I still haven't heard if it was received (despite an email and a light-hearted query on our Christmas card). Next baby, all-in-ones from Penney's.

Penny said...

good things come in small packages. especially handknitted well loved ones. :)

ccr in MA said...

Most excellently knit, worn, and documented; kudos to you and to your sister!

I made sweaters for my friend's twins, and she had the boys wearing them for their Christmas card photo--I was so touched to see that.

not supergirl said...

How perfectly gratifying! I love to knit for my sister and my nieces (her daughters) for the same reason. She appreciates all things handmade more than anyone I know, and she's all about USING those things as intended.
By the way, I'm a woman and a mom, and I have made stuff out of yarn that must be handwashed for my nieces. Not everything, but some things.

Mel said...

She was probably wearing it when I heard her chattering away in the background the other day, whilst I was on the phone with her father regarding your dog-niece's, ahem, slight dietary indiscretion. I expect she'll end up leaning a bit more toward her dad in the height department.

Carol said...

I especially love the parents who apologize that the child has outgrown my creation. I assure them that it happens all the time.

Neeley Notes said...

Way to knit!

seashells said...

awesome

KnittingPuppy said...

that's so wonderful! I knit a sweater for my choir director's new baby almost two years ago and they didn't put it on her for a while because it was too big. I never got a photo, maybe saw her in it once. I asked about it once and my 'friend' said, "oh, the one you quilted?' (I don't quilt.) So, he wasn't even sure what it was I'd given them.

Riin said...

Wow, she's getting big! And she's still adorable, especially in her beautiful sweater.

And who can resist cakes that say "eat me"?

KnittyLynn said...

That is so sweet and that sweater is gorgeous! The colors looks so wonderful on her and it's nice to have something NOT pink. ;) Even if they adore pink, I know my 2 do, it's nice to see them in something else.
That sweater will end up in the heirloom box for sure and will cause many smiles when it's seen again.

Thank you for sharing. :)

Anonymous said...

and; when i look in the albums of my babies, photos 30 years and more old, i often say; i made that, and that; and that.

marie in florida

Jenny said...

What a sweet story. Your niece and the kimono are both beautiful. I'm glad that she wore it enough to make it pill! I love when hand made things are actually used.

Anonymous said...

Abigail is a doll!! The girl can really work a hand-knit - let's face it. Not every child wears wool that well.

Speaking as an aunt who last year knit a complicated fair-isle sweater/hat combo for my niece and have seen her in it ONCE ... let's say I'm happy for you and incredibly jealous too!

Meanwhile - today Amazon dropped off a package on my porch that included "It Itches" and it is GENIUS. I laughed a good deep belly laugh over and over until I had to go to work. Bravo and thanks for the hilarious book.

annie said...

She is so beautiful and sweet, and what a wonderful thing to have this story of the sweater Uncle Franklin made. I'm happy for you both.

FiberQat said...

Yippee! It lasted 3 seasons and was worn! Nice job, Unka Fwank!

Amy said...

Two things:

Wowie Wow wow wow WOW. I need to make that.

and

Gosh she's gotten big.

CCK said...

I think this post falls into the "priceless" category. Thanks for sharing.

Teresa said...

Wonderful... I knit a lot for my granddaughter and I love it when I see a photo and she is wearing something I made, and not a posed for photo but an everyday one!

Jennifer said...

AWww - that's the best knitting story ever! There's nothing more rewarding than a handknit item that is loved and documented. BTW - I agree. I think this young girl is being fed Miracle Grow! The pictures are so adorable - but it really looks like she's growing before our eyes in your post. Too cute!

Mandy said...

Awww! When pilling means wear, it is a total happy-maker. I made a tomten for my not-yet-1-year old. Now she's nearly 4 and it still fits. My link shows the series of pics. :)

Anna said...

This has made me so happy this morning, thank you!

Knitterwockey said...

1.) That little girl is ADORABLE.

2.) That is such a lovely story and hopefully when she's old enough that will be one of those things that she treasures from her childhood.

Alwen said...

I got tears.

Or as we say at our house, "You made my eyes leak."

Winterhart said...

That's adorably gratifying - may all gifted knitwear be so lucky!

As an aside, can I just say how much I'm looking forward to your classes in St Louis in a couple of weeks? I know that I mostly lurk here, but I do read, and am just beyond excited!

NeedleTart said...

No doubt the superior yarn and construction details had much to do with this garment's longevity. Well done.
As I was perusing the new Knitters what to my wondering eyes did appear but a knitting hunk in a leather jacket. Recognized you immediately. Not only are you a fab photographer but a kick ass model.

Seanna Lea said...

That is awesome. I made a hat for one of my friend's little baby boy, and am thrilled that it has lasted more than 2 years. I am totally thrilled that you got to see your niece get 3 seasons of use!

Martha0051 said...

Your sister rocks.

=Tamar said...

Awww.
She may get another year or two out of it. At that age they start to grow taller more than wider.

Samina said...

3 seasons? That's impressive. I can't finish a project before my duckling seems to have outgrown it. I need to pick larger projects or knit faster!

Bobbi said...

An aunt knit Panda a sweater that we called the "Magic Growing" sweater...she wore it for many years and many photos that I too shared with my aunt...and then I learned to knit and my aunt stopped knitting sweaters for my girls. :-) :-(

mbcrui knitting olympics said...

Amen. I used to think it strange when my mother would open the box of mittens from my great-great aunt, put them on us (in August?) and take pictures.

Now, as a knitter, I have to say that seeing the knitted-with-love iten actually ON the child is wonderful, and sometimes the only reward for spending a gazillion hours working on something.

Wool Free and Lovin' Knit said...

Your sister is wonderful -- both for appreciating your gift and for sharing her appreciation with you. Your neice is darling and that sweater has grown with her -- thanks for sharing its evolution!

Wool Free and Lovin' Knit said...

Your sister is wonderful -- both for appreciating your gift and for sharing her appreciation with you. Your neice is darling and that sweater has grown with her -- thanks for sharing its evolution!

Jeanne in Nevada City said...

Too cute - I made the same little kimono for my nephew - thinking it was sooo large, by the time he was a year old, he filled it out so you could see the rolls on his rolls. I love babies in handknits.

Penny said...

Beautiful sweater, beautiful child, beautiful story.

Anonymous said...

3/4 sleeves are in for spring,

cute sweater

KnitNana said...

Well THAT small miracle is the best - she's utterly adorable. And that's one well-loved gift.
Congrats, Uncle!
(((hugs)))

sue said...

What a nice story! And I can't believe how tall Abigail had gotten! They do grow up, don't they!

LadyTr0uble said...

What a lovely story! 3 seasons for a baby sweater is a miracle as they grow so quickly.

knitinsage said...

Like.

Suzanne said...

Lovely, Franklin. Ms. Abigail is stunning and when you write about her, I'm always touched. Thank you.

Peg said...

Lovely sweater, niece and phones I had a similar wonderful experience. I knit the Yarn Harlot's watermelon hat, but with Socks that Rock leftovers. I threw in some bobbles. The hat got worn for almost three years on two kids and was considered by the mom to be the perfect hat - fit many size heads and never popped off. The mom recently asked me to knit a replacement or two because despite her best efforts the hat had gotten lost and none of the store-bought ones matched the fit of the one I knit. I am thrilled to comply. I have also had the no sign of a thank you note.

Cara said...

And it looks adorable at every stage, almost adorable as the little girl wearing it.

Crochet Goddess said...

She is so cute.

Erin said...

That is absolutely gorgeous! I want to knit one! Just need a girl to knit it for!!

Rosi G. said...

isnt it the greatest, warmest feeling to see these pictures like this?

i hope that in about 20 or 22 years, i get to read in your blog this same post with pictures added at the end showing your grand-niece now wearing the well-loved and cared-for kimono.

many blessings!

Terri said...

Love this so much.

Teresa said...

Wonderful post. And fun to see how much your niece has grown.

Isn't it great to knit for someone who 'gets it'?

Samira said...

This is why I love Debbie Bliss' designs. Many morph beautifully from one type of garment to another as the child grows. My first Fair Isle sweater attempt was from "Country Knits" and I made it for my then 3 yo daughter. I think she wore it until she was at least 6. After all that work it was particularly satisfying to pull it out year after year! My niece is still wearing a fairly intricately cabled and bobbled Debbie Bliss sweater coat that is now just a sweater after a couple of years.

SusieQ100 from the Netherlands said...

Wonderful! Made me feel good all over!

Ragnar said...

I've been cramming my two and a half year old into the same old top down Raglan for two seasons now. A few weeks ago I remarked on how it was getting a little short in the arms and I should knit him a new one. He followed me around for two hours chanting "Knit me a sweater Mama."

Isn't it great to indoctrinate the extremely small into the cult of hand-knits. Congrats.

Emily said...

That's awesome, Franklin. What a great knit for your niece! I can only hope to make my own little ones things that get as much wear!

Kayten said...

Your niece is gorgeous. I am fortunate enough to have 3 kids to knit for. One outgrows everything in a hurry, but the other two seem to have a pheromone that causes knitwear expansion, which delights me. My granddaughter has a BSJ that I knit out of chunky yarn and added rolled cuffs and collar. She got it when she was 3 and she will soon be 5 and still wears it regularly. Warms the heart, it does.

Sara in WI said...

Well said, Franklin!

Lisa said...

It's always nice to be reminded about the things that really matter. So, hugs and thank-you, Franklin!!

Piapie said...

I made a very similar Debbie Bliss kimono sweater for my oldest daughter. She got much use out of it and now its been passed onto the next one. The design is great for longevity. And I love seeing kids wearing those precious knits. If you are going to spend the time knitting it, they should wear them and wear them and wear them!

Anonymous said...

Great timing! I was considering a similar kimono to have for a co-worker's March baby of as yet unknown gender. I'm pleased that this type of garment can fit for a long time--and hope it will see as much use as Abigail's.

As a born Mainer, the recent pic was astounding. I'm sure is was colder down south in CT.

obscure

Cherye said...

I'm not sure if "gratifying" is a strong enough word to describe THAT feeling. It only happens once in a while that some thing you make is so well loved. It's a real "warm fuzzy". She's a very lucky little girl! I have no girls (or nieces) of my own but at least my husband and my oldest son love the stuff I make for them. Hats for the former and slippers (a la Phentex) for the latter - who knew what I would find in an old pattern book :-)!!

JustJen said...

Bless you for knitting for Abigail, and bless your sister for Getting It!

(Aren't nieces and nephews the best?)

Petra said...

Totally cute. Isn't it great when the things you knit get cherished and obviously loved!

Laura said...

Aw, what a lovely post, Franklin. :o)

Anonymous said...

So...did anyone else spew coffee when they read the title of the pattern book?

Sena Çeyiz said...

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byy

Kathryn said...

How wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I noticed the pilling, too! I immediately thought how it showed it was a well-loved garment. Also well-enough made that it lasted to the pilling point. Nice job all around.

Janet said...

Eureka!!

Steph said...

Is this pattern really from:

Special Knits: 22 Gorgeous Handknits for Babies and Toddlers (Hardcover)????

My mom (a fabulous knitter) turned me onto you and I am repaying her by demanding one kimono for my 12 mo old daughter to wear FOR-E-VER, but just want to make sure this is the book to get....

Thanks! Love your blog!

Franklin said...

That's right, Steph - the book I linked to from the tongue-in-cheek title is the one with the pattern inside - it's a lovely book overall. Thanks for stopping by!

Kate said...

Lovely. I'm glad I came across your blog today... I'm adding you to my blogroll!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see you in Kent, WA later this month for LACE! Wonder what you have cooked up. Hope it is easy and I can take the class.

Handmade clothing is always the best and will have wonderful memories for all.

Cindy

Heather said...

You have a great sister, and she has a wonderful brother. Thank you for sharing this story.

I love the dragonflies more than I can say.

Anonymous said...

I love this Kimono! So, so cute!

BeanMama said...

SO true. I knit my daughter a dress out of fingering weight yarn for her to wear to my BFF's wedding. This was when she was 2. It hit her ankles. She is now 6 and can still wear it, though it ends just at her knees. And she does wear it, and has worn it, a LOT. Hugely gratifying. I'm thinking of knitting her another.

Amber said...

My little BubbaLou is still wearing a simple raglan sweater her Nan knit for her. Nan used leftover yarn from a pullover she did for herself. We're going on year #4. Started a little big, now it's a cropped, 3/4 sleeve layering piece. I think it's going to wear out before I get to put it away for safe keeping!

K said...

Beautiful child and sweet time progression! LOVE your knitting, and this one is tops.

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pasta tarifleri said...

Both the sweater and the girl are adorable. I may have to knit one for my tiny girl, who will easily fit it for several seasons.

pasta tarifleri said...

Oh my god, those photos are so sweet.

mobilya said...

Totally cute. Isn't it great when the things you knit get cherished and obviously loved!