From the Studio: Designing for bitty babies

Some of you who follow my blog may know I have been close to releasing a newborn/infant pattern called “Milk”.  I love this design, it is so sweet and exactly as I imagined, but I’ve had some bumps in the road designing it that I thought I would share. The design was inspired by the little Gerber wrap tops for newborns. They were always my favorite top on both of my girls for the first 3 months of life. They are cuddly and snug fitting, but stretchy and the front wrap has two full layers that make it warmer then a normal top. Most newborns spend a lot of time without any pants on, so many diaper changes why even bother. Just pop on a warm top and swaddle them up, and you are good to go.

I did get some very cute photos of LG wearing the top, but she was a bit too big for it at the time. It was knit between a newborn and a 0-3 size, and while she did fit in it, it was a bit snug, and I was disapointed she would not get more wear out of it. Also, I bound off way too tight (the pattern will instruct the knitter to bind off loosely or swap up a few needle sizes to create a more stretchy bind off. I did try some “stretchy” bind off methods but they did not work well when I had to pick up for the crochet). So being bound off too tight it didn’t stretch very well around her, I would have actually been able to have her wear it a few times had I not made that mistake. I did get some amazingly cute pics, and she looked adorable but I knew it was not 100% representing the top as I wanted.

So I had my tech editor look at it, and we wound up adding 2 additional raglan increases, so that the top would meet “standards” better, and then I went to work knitting up the 3-6 month size. I was not happy with the new one at all. I didn’t like how the raglan increases we added made the sleeves much wider. I had wanted this to be a “snug” knit, not meant to fit like a normal cardigan or top. After all, LG at 3 months was 12 pounds and too big for it, but it was extremely easy to get her arms in and out of it, and I thought it fit her arms rather well, although from the pictures you can see it is very “snug” but it was not tight.

LG is now only 5 months old, and while it may sound like 4 months (as I knit the second one a month ago) is a long time to finish to two tops, well a newborn and a 2 year old. What else can I say, it took me a while. I also had to just *think* a while. I would finish it and then just think on it, put it away and come back a few weeks later to look at it again. We wound up adding another sleeve decrease on the second version, because the wider sleeves meant it was too loose near the hands and on the wrist. But the decrease was so low down on the sleeve I was not happy with it. Back to the drawing board.

So just a few days ago I e-mailed my tech editor letting her know I just wasn’t happy with the changes we made, and she has re-sent me a new version I now need to re-review. In the mean time, my friend had a baby. She has tiny little adorable babies. Her new baby’s name is Tatum and is terribly sweet, with a wonderful shock of dark hair on her wee little head. I can’t stand it, so cute! So today when I went over to visit, we tried my original milk on her, and wow is it adorable. It fits so cute, and I love that it also fit LG at 3 months, it has a lot of stretch for growth and that made me very happy. I designed a good thing! Also trying it on the newborn I realized that I do not want to do so many buttons on the front as I originally imagined, instead I am going to just do 1 button and let the wrap top sway a bit kimono style, the perfectionist in my wanted it like the top photo, straight like a line and buttoned down. That seems to work better with a knit fabric, as in fabric you can cut, it has enough stretch to do that and handle the snaps pulling on the fabric, that just doesn’t translate to a delicate knit fabric as well. So now I am going remove the other buttons and take some fancy pictures on Sunday.

I also used a slightly smaller crochet hook on the second one (I didn’t have a matching size when I knit the first one) and realized I liked the crochet on the larger needle much better. It made the edging a bit larger and easier to hide the buttons, and I just liked it better (the way I like it is in the photos above). So I will be making sure the pattern calls for a crochet hook of a slightly larger size then the top is knit in.

So I am that much closer to releasing this pattern. I do want to apologize for it taking so long, I had more then one person e-mail me wanting the pattern sooner rather then later, for newborns that were due soon! It’s just the perfectionist in me, I just don’t feel comfortable releasing a pattern I am not 100% happy with. I was so excited when we tried it on Tatum, and I am excited to introduce a 3rd model for my patterns! I will make sure to include a photo of LG in the top though, because well, I think it’s required as the top was knit for her to begin with! So hopefully I’ll have some wonderful photos to share with you next week, and maybe a finished pattern to offer finally!

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