That noise.

Have we ever spoken of my love for babies? I know that there are many people who find them tiresome and complex, but I love them. Generally speaking, if you are under three months old…I’m your lady. I know what they want, I know how they want it, and my patience for them is just about infinite. I will, very, very happily walk a baby for hours to put them to sleep. (Although this is seldom necessary, since human beings that small seem to find me boring on a cellular level. You put them in my arms and they check out.) The only exception to this rule, naturally, was my own children. Amanda (who I credit with teaching me many of my skills) screamed herself purple-faced for just about every moment of the first three months of her life. This experience has left in me a profound aversion to what we call “that noise”. I will run around the block, I will swing, dance, sing and jump, anything to keep babies from making “that noise”. Such is my dedication to preventing *that noise*, along my profound belief that babies cry because they have problems, (even if we don’t know what they are) that me and my team of dedicated baby-wranglers will perform any feat of human endurance regardless of it’s ridiculousness.

Once, when Hank (who is still using the downstairs bathroom…to update yesterday’s trauma) was a tiny baby, my sister had to leave him for a few hours. She left the wee bundle here and he began to make “that noise”. I worked my baby voodoo. I danced, swayed, thumped, jumped, patted….I put him in the baby sling and wandered the night, all to no avail. Hank and I were both beside ourselves with my failure. As we approached critical meltdown levels of “that noise”, one of the girls needed me upstairs so I tucked the tiny Hankster under my arm football style and jogged up the stairs. Silence. Complete blessed silence.

I walked to the bedroom…”that noise” returned. I jogged back down the stairs…Silence.


The next two and a half hours were spent with Joe, Ken and I running up and down the stairs with my nephew tucked under our arms in shifts. When one persons legs began to burn out, they would stagger to the living room, breath ragged, arms outstretched, wee babe extended and desperately pass off the tiny dude to the next waiting adult. We were crippled for days, we still talk about it, it has become an epic family story spoken about in hushed tones and with great reverence. It was insane, it was maniacal…it could likely be used to lock me up, but the important thing was that while we did it…the baby did not make “that noise”.

Consider then, how I must have felt when I got this picture in my inbox with the subject line “Quinn loves her new sweater”.


That, is Quinn, the baby next door. She is wearing a Morehouse Merino sweater and hat made by me. As much as you and I know that it should be impossible, the sweater and hat are apparently making her cry. (I have enough experience with babies that I understand that explaining to her that this is very good merino is not going to do me any good) She is making that noise, and it is my knitting that is doing it. This disturbs me to no end, but somehow, the only way I could think of responding to that picture was like this.


Maybe she’s crying ’cause her feet are cold. Yeah, that’s it. Please don’t judge me for never even considering for a moment that the answer to Quinn’s troubles might be less merino…and not MORE.

(psst…Greg and Kat, go look in your mailbox, but for the love of your neighbours sanity, warm them up before you put them on her.)

The parade of thank you gifts continues!

The charming and kind Nina has 7 skeins (one bag) of Dyed in the Wool, Wool/Silk, 60% fine merino, 40% cultivated silk, 3.5 oz hanks, 234 yards each that looks like this


and will be travelling the mail service to Pamela R.

Nanette Blanchard has graciously donated a copy of her book “Stranded Colour Knitting” (which would be a big help if you were to say…give up your life to knit Latvian Mittens?) and the lucky recipient is Kimberly Q.

Remember “I never win anything” Caroline L. from yesterday? She donated three kits to make her beautiful Mobius Scarf


and one each will be making their way to the needles of Seanna, Erin L. and Lori G.

Yesterday Jayme sent me the most beautiful stitch markers, gold, hematite, rose quartz…


and in her remarkable generosity has a set each to give to Lori in Ohio and Tara T.

and a beaded handle for a felted bag for Cate (you get to choose a colour if you email before friday. run Cate run!)

My most sincere thanks to the donors and congratulations to the recipients! (whom I have emailed)

Live near me?

My darling man is holding a concert/party fundraiser for MSF at his studio, MonuMental Sound and Music on Saturday night. Joe and I will be partying with the likes of The Skydiggers, The Cash Brothers, Jessy Bell-Smith, Peter Elkas with local genius and all round good guy DJ Sky fillin’ it in.

There’s no way to go wrong with this much talent in one place, and it’s destined to be an exceptionally good time. To get on the list, all you need to do is make a donation of $25 or more to MSF and email the receipt to Joe at

or email me and I’ll send you more info. Party with the Harlot. Do good works, hear good music.

You heard it here first.

Llama, llama, DUCK.

(see yesterday’s comments)

60 thoughts on “That noise.

  1. My kids(all 4) went off to school singing llama, llama, duck. One singing opera style. I’m waiting for the phone call from her teacher.
    We used to put my son on in his baby seat on top of the running washer or dryer. Worked every time.
    Wish I could jet up to Toronto to party. Have fun.

  2. My loser streak continues, but oh! Am I happy for the winners! Are they ever going to have fun. And I’m happy for MSF…that total is fabulous!
    Party with the Harlot? I just may have to start driving. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. we “did the stairs” with maddie (now 8) nightly for i don’t remember how long … mostly pete got good thighs for it, as i was nursing older sister becca to sleep (gee and i wonder why the babe was crying? duh! what you don’t know when you’re young)
    jayme, happy to say i’m the tara t. who will be marking stitches with your beautiful donation!! thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Downstairs toilet? Was there any hint of a downstairs toilet in yesterday’s tale of trauma? Here I thought Hank had to carry a cork…
    And Quinn’s ability to convey That Sound in a photograph is nothing to the sound I made seeing 7 skeins of that Merino silk going….elsewhere.
    Llama, llama, ****k!

  5. I WON I WON I WON something!!! Forgive me my gloating, since I never win anything I’ve never gotten to practice being a graceful winner.
    Honestly, though, the real prize is seeing that amazing total every day. This is just icing on the cake.
    Off to do the happy knittin dance…

  6. Ok, we were trying to figure out if there’d be a response to the Llama song. My whole family is singing it.
    Llama, llama, duck!

  7. Poor little’s Quinn’s cries must be caused by cold footsies. Those booties should do the trick. No way could that noise be caused by morehouse merino. Please! Red Heart maybe, but not Morehouse Merino. Could be the concept of a hat. I know my twins totally hate hats and their new mittens aren’t very popular either. Of course it doesn’t stop me from knitting more unpopular stuff for them.
    I’m thankful I never had to do the stairs to quiet the noise. I was lucky that the twins came after the invention of the vibrating bouncy seat. I could have bought stock in Duracell for the number of D cell batteries those seats ate, but I wouldn’t have traded them for the world. It was the miracle that replaced having to do a load of laundry to put the baby seat on top of something. Now you can just put the seat on the floor, turn on the switch and sit back while the baby is lulled.

  8. I’m still laughing at your crying baby tale. My MIL and I took my 2 month old nephew with us for a weekend at my parents. He cried almost the whole time. Four experienced baby handlers could not make him happy. We rocked, walked, sang, bounced, jumped and would have done stairs if there were any. Little did we know that *this* baby wanted to be LEFT ALONE when he was tired and cranky. All we’d had to do was put him down! Mom, Dad, and MIL are gone now, but it’s one of my great memories of our usually wacky excursions.

  9. Ok, I made the mistake of pushing “play” for the llama song…with my children in earshot. They promptly showed me the other annoying song.
    So, then we had dueling “llama, llama,….badger badger” until I sanely remebered the snow and kicked them out of the house. I love my children. really.

  10. I live near you. I would love to party. I have a 10-week-old who makes “that noise”. Wanna babysit while I hang with the ‘diggers? She’s really, really cute!

  11. Just for the record, I woke up this morning singing, “but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake…” llama llama duck, indeed.

  12. You have no idea how many times I’ve thought about flying you to California to be my doula when I have another baby. Your baby voodoo works magic for their mommies too.
    Wish I was in the neighborhood so I could come party with you and Joe (and maybe a Latvian mitten or two?).

  13. Perhaps the wee boy is not making “that noise” but is in fact yawning in a happy merino-induced stupor of blissful snuggly warmth? Just a thought….

  14. I do not mean to gloat, but my two babies did not make much of “that noise”. I know full well my husband and I had absolutely nothing to do with this-it was just pure dumb luck. However, I am very patient with other’s babies, and I am proud to say that I have lulled a few “impossible” babies to sleep in my day. As a *footnote*, my now 6 year talks my ear off from the moment she gets up, walks back in the door from school, and until she gets in bed at night-and then some. My 3 year old son is a screamer-whether he is happy or upset. This is, I believe, where my patience stems from.
    Congrats to today’s winners-yummy gifts. And dammit all to hell, Toronto is just too far for me to drive, even for a kick-ass, good cause concert (and a chance to party with the Harlot-in person). Damn, damn, damn….

  15. I LOVE that llama song, and often play it to amuse myself. In this house, we cannot say “lemon juice” without following it with “doorknob ankle cold”.

  16. That crying baby picture is so funny! Someone should make a gallery of crying babies in knitwear, like the funny crying Santa pictures that were going around.
    My newborn little neice hasn’t made much of “that noise” yet- thank goodness!

  17. Aw, C’mon, fellow Harloteers. There are those of us (me) who don’t know the llama llama duck song.
    Will someone please teach me? I have two grandsons. I feel this is vital info if I am to remain up-to-date, in their estimation.
    Stephanie, I would truly love to be at the party.
    Do people still tell people to “Rock On?”

  18. Gee, I sure am glad you’re enjoying the llama drug rather than abhorring me for inflicting it upon you ๐Ÿ™‚
    My daughter made That NoiseTM rather effectively. Loudly enough to have neighbors call the police on us. Twice, actually, although the second time was last year.
    The cops showed up, the first time, to ask what’s with the baby and why we weren’t picking it up when it cried. I had come to the door with the baby, still howling, on my shoulder, and my hair looking more than usually bedraggled. I pointed at her. “She cries like this. All the time. I haven’t put her down since she was born.”
    “oh, alright then,” said the cop, and disappointed our neighbors from the apartment two floors up, who were students around exam time and thought I should do *something* to stop That NoiseTM so they could study.
    I hope they had big time screamer-babies, too. They sure deserved them!
    (We found out the reason, later. Like, last month. Sensory Integration Dysfunction. That accounts for the screaming that brought the cops here last year. It’s been a long journey from here to there. Long and LOUD. And that bootie-hat-sweater set is to cry for!)

  19. Aw! Why does Toronto have to be so far from Iowa? ๐Ÿ™
    I want superinstanteous travel to be my superpower!!!!
    Party with the Harlot indeed. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Congrats to today’s winners… So jealous. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. That Dyed in the Wool looks luscious, and while I am sorry that I did not win it I am glad in that I still have a chance for – The Mittens!!!???

  21. Sorry, Stephanie, I might seriously consider driving down from Ottawa for the party, except I have tickets for David Francey’s (rowll!) Robbie Burns day concert at a small inn in Wakefield, Qu๏ฟฝbec.
    My son was so proficient at That Noise that the nurse at my GP’s office greeted my frequent phone calls with, “It’s the New Mommies Club again!”.

  22. Oh, poor little Quinn…all that GORGEOUS merino and still tears? I think the cold feet is the trick. Must be.
    If I could count how many times “Once I was a treehouse, I lived in a cake…” went through my head last night, and the schnotts almost flew outta me nose on the little llama hand dance thing–I did it at my desk, realized I was doing it and almost blew my monitor over. Classy, I know. You guys are killin’ me. Thanks.

  23. OK, Renee stole my line… And I’m pretty sure a 10-week-old gets more cuteness points than a 6-month-old. My poor little girl has been making That Noise a lot yesterday and today, I’m betting it’s the first little tastes of solids that upset her tummy. Anyway, Stephanie, you are very welcome to visit us anytime… My husband is getting tired of tap-dancing with the baby. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I’m trying not to go green with envy seeing the wonderful gifts, and am instead trying to see the bright side: the total gathered of TSF is incredible, and it’s nice to see good things sometimes do come to people who try to do good themselves. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. My eldest daughter screamed steadily for 3 months. She screamed so loud that it made a strange buzzing in my ears. On more than one occasion she reduced me to a puddle of tears. Aargh. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. 26 years have passed since my daughter was born and yet, somehow, that picture of Quinn doing the “silent” scream, caused me to shudder.

  25. It must be cold feet. It HAS to be cold feet. Poor little thing.
    Have you ever seen a llama kiss a llama on the llamma? Llama llama llama llama llama llama DUCK! *flails llama hand dance wildly*

  26. My “liitle” one still makes THAT NOISE. She’s three, and awfully opinionated. (Carma, not a word.)
    I must say that partying with the Harlot does make me want to make the roadtrip. *sigh*
    Maybe little Quinn just hates pictures??????

  27. As the mother of a child who slept no longer than 2-3 straight hours at any one time (24/7) until he was 3 months old, I can personally vouch for the miraculous effect a hair dryer has on a crying baby. No, silly, don’t aim the dryer in the child’s direction; simply turn it on in the next room. Instant quiet.

  28. Yes – I know THAT noise. I experienced THAT noise with my older daughter for the exact time you did with Amanda – three very long months.
    Funny how we forget alot of things about our kids growing up, but that noise, well you have to live with it to know it.

  29. I forgot to mention in my email to you earlier that, yes, in fact, I am doing ** my first stranded knitting ** and that, yes, in fact, it is MITTENS.
    Also, that it is a complete disaster. That book could not be more apropos. Thanks to Stephanie and Nanette!!

  30. My youngest made “that noise” in super loud stereo for her first 8 months. I think she was just a realllly unhappy baby. Nothing worked. She always had to be carried and jiggled pretty much 20 hours a day. You would often see one or more family members out doing the stroll around the block at 3 am. She hated the sling carrier and could only be carried/bounced in one position at one speed or woe was heaped upon the insensitive parent (namely me)! One memorable day at around 5 months she was howling..I mean expressing her displeasure..and I reached for the first available object out of desperation. Wouldn’t you know it…the screaming stopped. My ears were ringing but I’m pretty sure she was quiet for a whole 10 minutes! What worked this miracle? Why none other than a ball of pink wool! Guess who’s side of the family she takes after?!?

  31. I love the stairs story…my kids loved “the rock”, as in I could not stop rocking while holding them – not while sitting, standing, walking (heh- YOU try it!), lying down, on the bowl (sorry TMI), etc. If I stopped rocking, “the noise” started.
    My mother swears I still rock back and forth while I’m standing, even with no babies in sight.
    Now if I could just stop the twitching…
    Congrats, lucky recipients of yummy prizes! Lion Brand rocks, Harlot rocks, and the prize donors ROCK!!
    Happy Wednesday.

  32. ah “that noise” whenever anyone mentions “that noise” in this house Jesse will tell of the many Many MANY hours he spent every night for 8 weeks stomping our hall to the delicate strains of Bach. If only we had had a staircase!

  33. Thanks to the llama llama duck/kitty cat/elements singalongs, I will be busy memorizing lyrics for months to come.
    When I play bingo I never get bingo, always one number short. Lotto works sort of the same way except that I usually match only one number in a whole collection of random numbers. So the fact that none of these drool-worthy prizes are coming to me is no surprise, but I take comfort in knowing that the lucky ones who win are part of this whole delightful group called the Harloteers. Happily, I am part of it too, which also makes me a winner.

  34. I love babies! That sound can be pretty bad, but I’ve also gotten pretty good at making it stop. Don’t know if I could have made it through the great stair climbing incident. I’m tired just reading about it. What a cute little outfit you made for your neighbor baby!

  35. Hi Harlot – I have been reading your blog for some time now, and I always want to comment, but feel like – who needs a 66th comment, really? You are a heck of a funny lady, and today, in my most stressful moment, you made me laugh, out loud. So today, I am leaving a comment – even if it’s the 254th! Thanks for the good laughs!

  36. What a wonderful baby, baby ensemble and booties ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I too can’t stand that noise babies make when something is off. Especially in the library and the parents (mainly the moms) could not care less cause they are browsing some magazines or books. For me, that noise always comes first. There must be something that can be DONE to stop it. I think its some inherent mother instinct that’s probably larger in some people and real small in others. Its not that the noise itself gets on my nerves, its the uncomfort of the noise maker that worries me…. My kid still to this day (he’s 20) does not believe me that he was the most wonderful baby and really only once made some terrible noise, and right he was. I had my parents visiting for the first time and the whole family completely forgot to feed the baby LOL… so much for motherly instinct.
    Oh, I ordered your book today from amazon! Says its going to be delivered sometime in august ๐Ÿ™‚ that’ll be a great surprise, all those things that supposedly will be delivered in august here, I am sure to forget between now and then that I even ordered stuff!
    rock on!

  37. My daughter and I love the Llama song.) My sister has 6 llamas – she had 5, but had an expected baby last month:) We were trying to see who could sing it faster! But – somehow going to that website I ended up with some stange pop up windows just popping up all the time. Did that happen to anyone else? How do you get rid of that? Thanks, Tamara

  38. I read about a way to quiet babies and having tried it on “that noise” can testify that it works beautifully: hold the baby close to your chest and emit a low-steady-deep-gutteral sound from your chest. For some reason this soothes/stupifies them. I have done this with other people’s babies (unfortunately I read about it after my own was past that particular noise stage). The weird thing is that adults marveling over the power of the sound will want you to stop and explain it to them, which breaks the connection to the baby, and so it cannot be explained while the baby is in arms or awake. Of course a little quiet walking around and rythmic breathing while essentially groaning to the child helps too (never met a baby yet that wanted an adult to sit down).
    Loving all the knits, the yarns and other gifts… what a nice bunch of people!

  39. Oh, God. Just reading your mention of That Noise made my spine get all tingly and my insides stiffen with apprehension. My daughter made That Noise continuously until she was 5, and still, at 8, has been known to break it out when faced with something really unbearable, like homework. Like you, I will do anything to make a baby stop making That Noise, but cannot see how the lovely set you made Quinn has anything to do with her meltdown. Perhaps she just doesn’t think the merino goes with the leopard throw.

  40. My daughter made THAT NOISE frequently until we discovered that she had smaller-than-normal ear canals and had constan ear infections. (Had to change pediatricians, because #1 seemed to think I had a smaller-than-normal brain…). And, sometimes I think they just have general frazzlement and have to discharge it the best way they know how. Perhaps letting them wind down is the kindest thing.
    Oh, and ms. ear infection couldn’t stand anything itchy, either… although the’s now (at 25) fallen in love with cashmere and alpaca. She smartened up!

  41. Whoo hoo! What luck! My only disappointment is that this puts me out of the running for the mittens sans frontieres. I’ve run to email so I can pick my color, and I can’t wait to add a felted bag to my list of WIPs. Thanks so much!

  42. My mother loves THAT NOISE. I kid you not. Not because she wants to fix it — she just likes it. I don’t think she has ever thought about how scary and odd that is, but there it is. Trust me when I tell you she will WAKE A SLEEPING BABY (which should be a crime!) and see if it cries.
    A crying baby horrifies me on some physical level; I’d love to know what my heart rate, adrenaline levels, etc., do when I hear one. But unlike you, dear Harlot, I have never had any luck with crying babies, INCLUDING MY OWN.
    Maybe THAT NOISE freaks me out so totally that babies sense it and think something must be really really wrong….I dunno. But just looking at that picture made me mad at the person who took it, who should have been HOLDING the unhappy little thing, not memorializing the moment!
    I love teenagers like crazy, although they are much harder, on many levels, to knit for.

  43. I was in line at the grocer’s last week and a two year old was losing it like only a two year old can. Screaming at the very top of his lungs. I was three lines away, too far to make eye contact with his parents, but the clerk waiting on me just totally tensed up. I caught his eye, glanced in the toddler’s direction, and said, “Yeah, I’ve had days like that.” He totally cracked up, and everybody around us relaxed. Except the poor parents, who hadn’t heard.

  44. Ah, yes. That Noise(TM). I remember it well. All three of my children had colic for 4 months –days upon days of never-ending That Noise(TM).
    I discovered that a vacuum cleaner in the room, turned on, and the doors closed seemed to help too.
    Or perhaps I just couldn’t hear them make That Noise(TM) any longer.
    My heart goes out to poor Quinn and her parents.

  45. This popped into my sleepy head as I was falling into slumber last night (the weird things you think of at nighttime) . . . was wondering if Hank’s daddy is a baseball fan, with a wife named Erin and a boy named Hank . . . Hank Aaron????

  46. The llama song was great – very funny! Though if you have any anti-virus programs on your PC, you might want to run them… I got three spyware programs that attempted to load from that site (Favoriteman, NetPal, and Ezuli). Most programs and detect and remove them (Spybot, AdAware, SpySweeper).
    If you’re tired of the llama song, don’t forget the badgers…
    Hoping to finish the second Mitten from H*ll tonight. My fault; I know better than to fall for those “Hey! Wouldn’t it be cool if… ” moments.

  47. ah that noise… i had the pleasure of stopping that noise today.
    my friend and i went out shopping with her 7 wk old and she was pretty good for most of the trip. but towards the end (after we’d been out for 3 hours) she was getting hungry again and mom had only brought one bottle which had already been used = but i picked her up and carried her around and she was quiet until we had to go back outside in the 20 degree weather where she started crying again. oh well.
    btw i am 9 mos pregnant and am not expecting my child to quiet down for me. maybe she will for others… but i will try

  48. 2 more things:
    1) BADGER!! SNAKE! Love it for sure. Added to my repertoire
    2) Delivered to me today are my MSF t-shirt and tote bag – everyone should have one!

  49. Hey, Steppie! My 16-y.o. daughter Claire just said, “Thanks for teaching me knittering, Mommy”. We had gone to the yarn store to get me some mitten-yarn and she fell for some thin multi-candy-colored cotton and then spent two-and-a-half hours sitting and knittering. She is a Hank-fan.

  50. My babies weren’t much for making that noise when they were little (prob why I have 7 of them), except for my oldest daughter (now 21) who was known to scream for 45 min (or more) straight (the more you tried to soothe her, the worse it got. We learned to just leave her alone and let her get it out of her system. Earplugs helped). Once we were stuck in a traffic standstill and people in other cars were looking at us. (It was winter in Munich. Very cold and snowy. The windows were up and engines were running. They still heard her.) Payback was dropping her (now 4yo) baby sister into her lap when she started making that noise and saying “your turn”. My kids have been doing the badger, badger, SNAKE for a while now (my oldest sent me a video clip of his entire fraternity dancing and singing at the top of their lungs- damn near peed my pants). I’ll have to introduce them to llama, llama. My 4yo has been enamored of llamas since Rhinebeck. Anxiously awaiting delivery of my new TSF sweatshirt and mug (it’s hella cold here in NY). Any chance of adding a “wool house” sweatshirt to the mix?

  51. Stephanie — for those of us currently without access to a baby, is there a pattern for those magnificent booties somewhere? A new neighbor is being born in March, and I’d love to enable his parents to keep him shod in style. . .

  52. Hi Stephanie,
    I love Quinn’s baby hat and sweater, and am sure they aren’t what’s making her cry. What blows me away are the booties though. They are fantastic. I want desparately to make a pair. Would you be willing to share the pattern, or tell me where I can find it?
    Cool blog! I like it.

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