If You Knit It, They Will Come…

Greenwich must be enjoying some kind of baby boom all of its own – in the last couple of years it’s sprouted at least four shops for well-heeled kiddies. Presumably there is a lot of cash to be had in tiny trews – as long as they’re well-made, bright and cute, there will always be a doting granny, uncle or Phantom…

United Ideas specialises in home-made woollies. They’re designed in England, but made in Peru. I’m assuming it’s all fair trade (note no capital letters) and peasant-friendly, though there is no mention of that on their website. I reckon that they’ve not bothered to go to the huge (and frankly prohibitively expensive for small traders) effort of getting it Fair Trade (with capital letters) certified but given that their Peruvian knitters have names and personalities, I’m guessing they’re not oppressed.

The designs are funky and quirky and brightly embroidered with houses, anchors and, my favourite, a rather fetching rocket design which if they did in Phantom size, I’d be buying myself. I was particularly taken, too, with the knitted finger puppets of all manner of animals and people at a pound a pop. The penguin and the hummingbird were my personal choices. They currently have several woollies on ‘sale’ – I’m assuming that there will be new designs in time for the Christmas rush.

Green Baby (a name I wouldn’t have chosen, especially given that when I tried to google it, I was given two ‘automatic’ options – the shop and the subject ‘green baby poop.’ Ick.) Approximately where the old coins and medals shop was. It’s ok – a chain, albeit a small one – and it sells all the usual stuff, with the not-so-USP-these days of it all being organic. It’s perfectly nice gear, and not just clothes. You can get eco-nappies and washables, if you’re really brave, equipment and furniture (though obviously not on display in store – it’s only tiny.) But when my testers-for-all-things-under-five went in they were depressed by the staff – who seemed to have very little English, slim knowledge of the stock and virtually no concern as to whether or even how they could get specific items ordered-in if they weren’t on show.

Another unpromisingly-named baby shop,Beauty and the Bib (it makes me squirm just to write it) is, despite its moniker, my favourite of the kiddiewear shops tested so far. In the place where Essential Music was, it’s bright, pretty and really rather girly (the pink chandelier’s a bit of a giveaway.) No prizes for guessing the main attraction. Bibs in the shape of strawberries, fairy cakes, bees and stars, bibs with pirates, spots and ladybirds – all sorts. There are bibs in flowery oilcloth, bibs in soft terry, bibs with backs, bibs with bows. Even special-needs bibs for larger children, with apples and hearts and stars.

This store’s mainly for new-borns and very tinies. There are hats and all-in-ones, bootees and changing mats, usually in themes. You can get boxes and gift sets too – I’m guessing that that’s their market – bemused relatives desperately searching for something to present to the stork-botherers.

There’s definitely a cup-cake theme – knitted cake-shaped boxes containing (somewhat randomly) socks, egg cosies and cuddly slices of cake (a strange concept, I know, but it does work. You have to be there.) There are even soap-and-towel sets done up to look like chocolate cakes – perfect gifts for new mums. They come in gold gauze drawstring bags, an added draw for a Phantom too lazy to wrap things up…

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