The proposal for the Shadow Pets set published in Knit Now #44.
The inspiration was mixed: Thai shadow theatre, a dress I had as a toddler, and a dull evening when I entertained myself by figuring out how much detail I could pack into a 1″ square. The high contrast is much more interesting to babies than the usual pastels, and helps to develop their vision. Neuroscientist moment: babies are born colour-blind, and only able to distinguish (blurry) high-contrast shapes. Colour vision develops through accidental firing of neurons associated with retinal cells (again, kinda accidentally) responding to colours in the environment. In theory, it may be possible to cause total colourblindness by preventing access to colours! What a horrible idea! (Shame on me for thinking it).
Then, moons later, Knit Now put out a call for a Designers’ Challenge – a time-limited mini-project with minimal instructions, using a small quantity of a specific yarn. I opted for JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool, having discovered even more moons ago that 4-ply is great for knitting babywear: you can use an adult pattern in, say, Aran weight yarn to produce a wee version! NB: great fun, but not an exact science – always knit a gauge swatch (tension square).
You’ll note the inclusion of the ugly-botty back of the swatch. I thought this was important to show that there needn’t be any floats to snag on babies’ uncooperative fingers. The proposal called for a long string connecting the mitts, to be run through the sleeves – ah, the memories! However, the pattern ultimately did not feature this saviour of maternal sanity, opting for a closure instead. And the most adorable baby EVAR!