Fabrics and yarns have played as big a part in the history of baby clothes as colour.
In these days of cheap, mass produced clothing, a hand made garment, especially one in a natural yarn, is regarded as a luxury, as something a bit special to be sought after and treasured.
When I was a child in the 1950s just about every woman could knit - and did. My grandmother, who had fewer daily commitments than my mother, would spend most of her time knitting. She knitted her own clothes as well as garments for her granddaughters. Most memorably she knitted us vests, swimsuits and, joy of joys... knickers!
The wool my grandmother used for our underwear was pure but it lacked the softness of modern 100% merino and cashmere yarns. Few people had washing machines so everything was hand washed yet our woollies still used to shrink wash by wash, becoming itchier as they got smaller and tighter against the skin.
Knitted vests were just about tolerable. Knitted swimsuits were ok until you tried to come out of the sea wearing them at which point the shoulder straps would sag so the whole garment enveloped your knees. But the worst of all were the knitted knickers!
As a five-year old I simply couldn't bear the feel of them.
But, as luck would have it, in those days we had a bath which stood on legs (that's another former fashion that's now back in vogue). Many a morning, before going to school, I'd remove my knickers and throw them far under the bath, unable to tolerate their itchiness a moment longer. Going to school without any was heaven.
Sometimes my mother found them when cleaning and when I went home for lunch would insist I put them back on. What amazes me, in retrospect, is that she never checked I was wearing them before I left the house in the mornings.
Anyway, eventually the embarrassment of continually sending a knickerless child to school got to her and my mother bought us manufactured ones.
But in the main, in those days, factory-produced clothes were more expensive than homemade ones and were something of a status symbol.
How things have changed!
Modern natural yarns have made itchy handknits for children a thing of the past as they now offer a supreme degree of softness as well as being eminently washable. Despite that, I still wouldn't wish to inflict knitted knickers on anyone!