{11} The view from the cot

Image Details: “{11} The view from the cot”, by scribbletaylor, via Flickr

Now you may be as surprised as me to discover that it is really hard to find anything on Google to tell me the origin of the baby mobile. I can buy swathes of horrid plastic mobiles in varying price ranges from seemingly every purveyor of goods on the planet, but yet no-one wants to tell me why we have them or, indeed, whose idea it was in the first place!

The term ‘mobile’ was first used to describe a scultpture made by Alexander Calder in 1931, by a chap called Marcel Duchamp, and was meant to descibe the kinetic nature of the artwork in question. A mobile has a series of objects hanging from rods, which balance each other out, and the rods are connected to one string, allowing freedom of movement around the string. At some point, someone decided these would be entertaining for children to look at, and the cot mobile became popular.

But seriously, what’s with the creepy music?

So, onto the make: a cot mobile. I am a little bit anti the wind up mobiles that play the plinky plonky tunes that are supposed to be soothing to infants, as I find them intensely irritating and more than a little bit Steven King/horror movie. The tunes that is, not the infants. I mean, why would you start playing high pitched music to a child who is trying to get to sleep? And the whole spinning things above the head has got to be just a little distracting, surely. So I definitely wanted a non-motorised, non-annoying music mobile that would provide suitable nursery ambience without overstimulating the child to distraction. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one to match the rest of the nursery, so I decided that simply wouldn’t do, and dove head-first into Ravelry to see what it could offer me by way of inspiration.

Luckily for me, people love to knit things for babies (probably because everything is smaller and therefore quicker!) and there are a whole host of patterns for toys of varying types on there, both free and paid for. I wanted something that matched the bedding, so I was looking for a bird of some description. This was when I happened across the fab ‘Sweet Little Bird’ pattern, which is available both via Ravelry and the Knitted Toy Box blog. The pattern was written by a lady called Raynor Gellatly (aka Jellybum on Ravelry) and she has written a load of toy patterns, some free, which are published on the blog, and some paid for, which can be purchased from the Jellybum website. They are all super-cute, so I get the feeling I might be making a few more of these!

Hung up!

I knitted 4 of the birds for the mobile, using Sublime Soya Cotton DK for the greeny/blue birds, Debbie Bliss Cathay for the yellow bird and Sirdar Organic Cotton for the beige bird. They were knitted up on 3mm needles, which were a bit fiddly with the horrid Debbie Bliss yarn, but would be much easier in an acrylic or wool yarn, which would have a bit more ‘give’. I made the cords to suspend the birds by finger-crocheting to make them a bit stronger, although this wasn’t strictly necessary as the birds weigh next to nothing, so a single strand of DK would more than do the job. I stuffed the birds with toy stuffing and made the eyes and beaks from felt which I glued on, although you could embroider these or use securely sewn on beads for the eyes. The hanger was made from dowel rod, which was about £5 for a 3m piece from Homebase, and was expertly dremelled and then painted by Mr Shinybees. Luckily no fingers were lost during the producion of this, as I’m not convinced bloodstains are such a great look on baby goods (I refer you to the earlier Steven King comment). The birds were attached through a hole drilled in the dowel, with the yarn knotted on top to hold it in place. Despite Mr Shinybees measuring the holes with a micrometer, the mobile didn’t balance due to the difference in yarns used and amount of stuffing, so a bit of bodgery was required to get it to stay level. This kind of thing is best left to someone with more patience (Mr Shinybees) and he put a couple of nuts from his electronics stash in the lighter birds to make them level out.

And here is the finished item in situ…

Plastic birds need not apply...