Tag Archives: baby

WIP Wednesday

Lately I’ve been stuck.  Overwhelmed by the world around me, unable to concentrate, mired in several long and intricate projects at once…generally in a funk.

This week, though, I hit upon a bit of a solution.

I took this fancy new linen bag my mom found for me at the thrift store, stuck a couple little balls of scrap yarn in the bottom, and went on a baby sock knitting adventure.

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When I first learned to knit, I swore I would never be a sock knitter.  The tiny yarn, the slippery double-pointed needles, the complex technique, the repetition (because you have to start all over to make the second sock…) and the need for a fairly accurate fit made a seemingly insurmountable barrier to my ever taking up that particular craft.  But after a couple years, when I had to be knitting for a baby anyway, I finally decided to give it a try.

That first pair of plain Jane worsted-weight cotton (!) baby socks may not be anything special or even particularly beautiful, but they represented a major victory in terms of facing my fears.

As a cripplingly anxious person, to have attempted something so far out of my comfort zone and met with even modest success was a major testament to what force of will could do for me.

In the few years since then, I’ve knit cabled boot socks for Robert, basic socks in shockingly bright colors for the smalls, tube socks I invented myself, intricate socks as gifts in tiny yarns and grown-up sizes, and even a selfish pair of gray show-off lacy socks for myself.

And my baby sock collection has slowly grown to cover most sizes and most needs, because the best way to try out a new sock style or technique or color combo is to make a pair of tiny trial socks, and because baby socks are such an excellent way to use up leftover bits of lightweight yarn.

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This week, I’ve tried roll-top socks, plain socks, and snuggly winter socks (which Ithilien promptly lost somewhere in the nursery), and now I’m working on a second pair of socks knitted lengthwise in a cheery self-striping yarn.

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From here, I’m going to try the really adventurous stuff: manual vertical pinstripes (I’m thinking gray and purple) and Victorian socks on two needles.

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And hopefully, by the time I’m done with all those, the mental fog I’ve been in will lift, the world will be a little kinder and safer, and we can all carry on doing our real work.

WIP Wednesday

IMG_3747start date: today
completeness: 30%

I don’t know what it is about baby vests.

Maybe it’s the fact that they are so versatile: over a shirt for extra warmth, as a shirt to keep it cool.

Maybe it’s that they are long-wearing; slowly transitioning from simple little tunics and shift dresses to shirts.

Maybe it’s that they are quick to knit and a lovely combination of delicate and practical.

Maybe it’s the perfect way they accent round little tummies and plump little arms.

Whatever it is, I love them.  I can’t seem to make enough baby vests.

In fact, in my newborn-size clothes alone, I have six tiny vests of various styles and in several different colors.

I should stop making vests.  I know I should.  I have asked Robert to tell me to stop making vests.

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And for a while, I held off from making more.  But then I saw this little beauty, and I remembered that I had bought some yarn specifically for baby and toddler vests, and here I am.

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Making another baby vest.


This yarn is Berroco Blackstone Tweed in 2646 Saltwater.  The pattern is Eyelet Vest from Special Knits by Debbie Bliss, although I am making a number of adjustments (because I am familiar with Debbie Bliss’ usual design flaws) and modifications to suit a heavier yarn.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Make a T-Shirt Quilt

I had a great idea last week.

I have this lovely, flat-topped steamer trunk that I inherited from my grandparents.  I’ve been using it to store my fabric upcycling, next to the regular upcycling in the sunroom.  My idea ran like this:

We could really use a small table or chest in the library.  Like maybe another steamer trunk.  

OMG I love steamer trunks!  Let’s see if there’s a good one on Craigslist…hmm…not really.  

Damn.  I really want a flat-topped steamer trunk.  

Like the one I have in the sunroom.  The one I have in the sunroom doing basically nothing, full of stuff that should be sorted, condensed, processed, and after all that would probably fit in the cedar chest in the studio anyway.  

I could empty it out, put the fabric upcycling I want to keep into the cedar chest, scrap the unusable crap, and spend a couple of days making jersey yarn.  Then I could put the chest under the window in the library and use it as a worktable for my computer during the day, and it could store baby toys and a throw…

And that’s how my studio came to look like something off of “Hoarders”.  Piles of fabric, old clothes, t-shirts, stacked up in the middle of the room making it difficult if not impossible to access and use the space.  Bits of lace, trim, zippers, upholstery foam, etc. spilling out into the hallway.

Gross.

So first I pulled out all the synthetic knits good for nothing more than making jersey yarn.  And I spent a few days using a seam ripper and an assortment of scissors to strip off the useful stuff (buttons, lace trim, elastic) and cut the remainder into strips.  I rolled the strips up, and stuck them in with my yarn stash.  Someday they’ll make awesome storage containers, like this one I made last fall to hold dishwashing tools:

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Then I went through what remained, and sorted out all of the woolens (sweaters, vests, etc.) and packed them up in old rice bags with cedar blocks.  Someday they will be made into diaper covers like this one, modeled by an impossibly tiny baby Ithilien:

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Or longies, like these, modeled the same day by an impossibly chubby baby Númenor:

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Yes, these two pictures were taken on the SAME DAY– Númenor was almost 1 year old, Ithilien was just over 2 months old– in retrospect it’s no wonder we never had time to cook in those days.

The notions and embellishments I put away in the correct places.  Zippers waiting for the next time I have to make a new hoodie for the smalls, lace to be re-used on hems or as insertions, elastic ready to be stuffed into casings, buttons making a satisfying “plink” sound as I add them to the button jar.

I found several flat bed sheets left over from before my family discovered the Wonders of the Duvet, which is lucky because the fitted sheets for my bed have all decided to quit in the last six weeks and we need more.  I found some flannel receiving blankets from Númenor’s NICU days that will see the light again as baby wipes or a lovey.  I found some church linens my mother gave me when her church couldn’t use them anymore and easily assigned them– a toddler’s poncho, handkerchiefs for me, more linen baby shirts.  Some antique cocktail napkins and a tablecloth with one of my ancestor’s cutwork and embroidery skills demonstrated tolerably well on them I set aside to make a play tent this summer.

Then there were the oddments– a ripped and stained leather motorcycle jacket Robert wore when we were dating that will be cut up to make soft shoes for babies learning to walk, bits of upholstery foam for which I have no particular plan but that stuff is way too expensive to throw away, socks and gloves and mittens to be made into doll clothes and soft toys or unraveled for yarn, a few synthetic knit pieces that weren’t suitable for anything but ripping up for stuffing, and the interesting pieces of boning, interfacing, facings, and other elements I’ve cannibalized from various storebought goods.

All that effort sorting and assigning and putting away, and the studio floor is still positively awash, partially because we have about 30 (THIRTY?!?!?!!!) t-shirts waiting for the muse.  T-shirts that have too much sentimental value to make into yarn.  T-shirts in colors, designs, or themes I’m not interested in seeing my children wear.  T-shirts that vastly outnumber my lifetime’s conceivable use of rags and bags.

T-shirts, in short, just begging to become one of those ghastly t-shirt quilts.

So fine.

I surrender.

I’ll make one.

And I’ll probably even like it.

But I’ll do it because I want to, not because the internet tells me to.


 

P.S.– The chest works beautifully in that spot in the library, just like I thought it would.

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Baby’s Oversocks

NB: Pictures are still in the works for this project.  Please excuse the plain text in the meantime!


 

I was browsing an archive of local historical photos of Native people recently and was struck by the way small children were dressed.

Babies old enough to be photographed alone, without a cradleboard, but still not of walking age were almost universally wearing some kind of soft leather boot or a knitted sock over all the other layers on their feet and legs.

This is a sensible garment, of course, because the cold draft that can sneak up into the gap between a baby’s socks and their pants is no joke, especially when baby is being worn in a carrier or riding in a carseat or stroller.  Wool, which is difficult to soak and does not become clammy when wet, will help deflect any damp from fog, rain, or snow.

So I thought I would make some oversocks, for a sweet little end-of-winter baby arriving any day now.

These are extremely simple, in an allover 2×2 rib for elasticity and reversibility.  One size should fit all infants from newborn to walking age– the cuffs may be folded down if they seem too long on tiny newbie limbs.  If you live somewhere very cold, you could make two pairs, one to be used as oversocks and one to be used as overmittens, and then you would have a toasty baby indeed!

Sizing:

I ended up with tubes about 1.5″ wide (unstretched), 9″+ in circumference when stretched, and 9″ long.  They fit my 0-3months size doll pretty well, going all the way up to the mid-thigh, and I think they should fit most babies birth to walking age.

Materials:

Pattern:

CO 40 sts, join in the round.

k2p2 around for 8.5″

k2p2tog (30sts)

k2p1 around

k2togp1 (20sts)

k1p1 around

k2tog around (10 sts)

Break yarn and draw it through all remaining sts (I like to do this twice for security), cinch to close.

Weave in yarn ends.

Repeat all instructions to make second sock.

By Flashlight

Have you ever tried to find something by flashlight?  Something small, easily mistakable, in a crowded, unfamiliar room?

Joni Mitchell says you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, a sentiment that applies perfectly to electric lighting in many lives.  One moment your life is normal, you aren’t even thinking about the light you’re using to see, and the next moment, you are plunged into darkness.  It takes a bit of mental adjustment before you even know why everything has suddenly disappeared– of course, the lights.  The lights must have gone out.  The power must be out.

A few weeks ago, the whole city lost power during an ice storm.  The outage lasted less than three minutes, but across the city people were momentarily taken by surprise and forced to face their privilege.  Grocery store employees were stuck on stepladders, children scrambled to find their flashlights,  families made noises of outrage at the interruption in board games and TV shows, drivers scrambled to adjust to the lack of streetlights and traffic control lights, and I froze stupidly in the middle of mixing cookie dough, my fingers sticky with butter and molasses, the floor under me awash with a detritus of playthings waiting to stub my blind and stumbling toes.

Númenor and Ithilien, hoopy froods that they are, found their flashlights quickly and were happily using them in less than 30 seconds, the crazed, ricocheting islands of light adding to the choas in my path as I tried to feel my way to the bathroom cupboard to retrieve the candles and LED taplights.  Ithilien, normally afraid of the dark, was reveling in the novelty of its presence here, in his waking hours, unintended and uninvited.  Númenor was full of questions: Are the lights broken? Would we need to replace the lightbulbs?  Does the house need new batteries?  Why did the numbers on the stove timer disappear?

Power was restored just as I approached the bathroom door, which was a relief because I didn’t have to muck anything up with my doughy hands waste any cookie dough.  I took a moment to silently thank the people in charge of managing this utility I take so much for granted, and to reflect on the merits of the fish-killing, native-heritage-site-destroying Bonneville Dam in the wake of an extremely visceral reminder of what it does for me.

Lately I’ve been struggling with finding enough perfection within the lawlessness and tumult of real life to sustain me, or at least the parts of myself that are fed by kairos moments and the illusion of control.  I’ve been stumbling in the dark, stepping on a clearly unreasonable number of plastic lizards, using a little circle of light I claim illuminates my task when all it seems to do is make the darkness thicker and fill it with menacing shadows.

My friend Beth wrote recently about being a little underwater in her own head and life, and I wrote back to tell her that I’m there, too.  Waiting for dawn, knowing (but at the same time having trouble believing) that it is coming.

I always tell people that the hardest part of pregnancy and birth is humbling your conscious mind and surrendering the illusion of control over your life and your body.  It’s a frightening thing to contemplate, that regardless of how we may treat them, our bodies are more than just a physical extension of our conscious minds.  It’s terrifying to know that sometimes the body won’t or can’t, and infuriating to find that sometimes the body trusts its own counsel over yours.

All this is an exceedingly roundabout way of saying:  I’m still here, and I’m still pregnant.  Much more pregnant than I ever thought I would be, in fact.

And I’m rummaging though what, for lack of a better term, we will have to refer to as my soul, looking for faith by flashlight, and not having much success finding it.

The flashlight casts shadows that have the illusion of movement and catch my peripheral vision, dragging me off-task.  It will show me everything in this space, but not without my searching every shelf and every drawer deliberately and thoroughly.  I can’t quickly glance over everything, as I could with overhead lighting, and focus my search on the likely vicinity.  I have to comb over the whole space, taking care to look behind and under, and stubbing my toes in the meantime.

And faith is a small, slippery, translucent thing, with no strong color or definite shape.

In short, it’s a bitch to find and to hang onto.

But I’m looking nonetheless, because I need it and nothing else will do.

With just a tiny amount of faith in my body, I will be content to wait until the time is right.

With just a tiny amount of faith in myself and my skills, I will be my own ultimate birth attendant.

With just a tiny amount of faith in this baby, I will be able to focus on what I can assess and control directly to help everything come out right.

With just a tiny amount of faith in my family, I will be able to ask for and receive help when I need it.

And I know that my faith is in here somewhere.  I believe that I will find it.

And for now, as I stumble around in the dark with my flashlight, faith that I will have faith is enough.

Balmoral Bootikins

I generally consider myself a fairly practical person.

So why on earth am I posting ANOTHER modern re-working of an 1886 Weldon’s pattern?

Because, when I was working on those other booties for my friends’ baby, there was this gorgeous illustration of the Victorian great-grandmama of all baby footwear right next to the so-called “dotty pattern” booties.

I mean, seriously.  Could you pass these up?!

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Sadly, when I sat down to actually knit the bootikins, they were a hot mess.

Let me explain: in order to make these (TINY) baby boots, first you knit the leg from just above the beribboned eyelet row to the top of the foot, then you knit the instep out separately in pattern, then you knit the foot, then you seam up the middle of the foot and the back of the leg (because 1886 means NO CIRCULAR KNITTING, apparently), and THEN you pick up stitches from your cast-on row to apply a knitted edging, and THEN you work a crochet border on top of the knitted edging, and THEN all those cute little buttons and laces have to be embroidered over the front of the foot and leg.

And after all that tedium and fuss, you would have, based on my quick gauge swatch on recommended needles, a very fancy sock for an American Girl doll.

Fuck that noise.

I mean, really.

Let me share with you what I worked out instead.

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This is a fairly straightforward pattern worked in one piece from fancy cast-on at the top to a graft along the center of the sole.  I have adapted it for knitting in the round and tried to standardize and clarify the language.

Please note that I omitted the embroidered faux buttons and loops.  If you love them, you are welcome to add them, but you will want to adjust the patterning on the leg section so that a seed-stitch section of the vertical Roman stitch is centered over the instep.  My instep is centered on a stockinette stripe for simplicity in pattern writing and memorization.

Sizing

This pattern is newborn size.  The bootikins are almost exactly 5″ long from sole to frill. The foot is about 3.5″ long unstretched, and the narrowest section of the ankle is a little over 3″ in circumference unstretched.  These fit a doll that usually wears a size 0-3 month clothing, but getting the ankle over the foot was a bit of a squeeze.

Materials

  • fingering-weight yarn (I used KPPPM)
  • US0 (2mm) DPNs
  • a small crochet hook for the cast-on (I used 2.1mm, but size isn’t crucial)
  • about 1 yard of narrow ribbon or cord (optional, I used half-inch silk ribbon, which was a little too wide but compresses nicely due to being so lightweight)
  • embroidery floss or needlepoint yarn in a contrasting color (optional, for faux laces/buttons, not shown)

Stitch Key

M1— make one, using the backward-loop method

cdd— centered double decrease, aka s2kp2

Pattern

CO 48 sts using the Fancy Formal long-tail method and 4-stitch shells.  Join in the round, DO NOT add stitches under the shells.

For the cuff:
On odd-numbered rows 1-13, knit all sts
R2: *m1, slip 1, k2, pass slipped st over BOTH knitted sts* to end of round
R4: k2, *m1, slip 1, k2, pass slipped st over both knitted sts* until 1 st remains, m1, slip 1, pass slipped stitch over the first two stitches of the round
R6: K1, *m1, slip 1, k2, pass slipped st over both knitted sts* until 2 sts remain, m1, slip 1, k1, pass slipped stitch over knitted st and first st of the round
R8-12: Repeat rows 2-6
R14: *p6, p2tog* around.  42 sts.

For the leg:
R1: knit
R2: yo, k2tog around
R3: purl
R4: *p1, k1, p1, k3* around
R5: k1, p1, k3, *p1, k1. p1, k3* to last st, p1
R6-R12: repeat row 4 and 5
R13: slip 1, work in pattern as established until you come to the last 2 sts, cdd.  40sts.
R14-R30: work three rows in pattern followed by one decrease row (same as row 13) 4 times. 32 sts remain
R31-R46: work in pattern as established
R47: k12, p1, k1, p1, k3, p1, k1, p1.  11 sts remain unworked.  Turn work.

For the instep (worked flat):
R1: slip 1, k1, p3, k1, p1, k1, p2.  Turn work.
R2: slip 1, p1, k1, p1, k3, p1, k1, p1.  Turn work.
R3-R16: repeat rows 1 and 2 over just these 10 sts.  Break yarn.

Using the right needle, pick up and knit 12 sts on right-hand side of the instep, knit the 10 instep sts, pick up and knit 12 sts on left-hand side of the instep, and knit the 11 sts left unworked at the beginning of the instep.  56 sts.

For the foot:
R1: p25, kfb, p4, kfb, p25.  58sts.
R2: purl
R3: p26, kfb, p4, kfb, p26.  60sts.
R4: k29, kfb, kfb, k29.  62sts.
R5: purl
R6: k29, kfb, k2, kfb, k29.  64sts.
R7: purl
R8: knit
R9-R14: repeat rows 7 and 8.
R15: p2, p2tog, p24, p2tog four times, p24, p2tog, p2.  58sts.
R16: knit
R17: p2, p2tog, p21, p2tog four times, p21, p2tog, p2.  52sts.
R18: knit
R19: p2, p2tog, p18, p2tog four times, p18, p2tog, p2.  46sts.

Use a Kitchener graft to close up the sole of the bootikin (23 sts on each of two needles).  Repeat all instructions to make the second bootikin.

Finishing

Weave in ends and block as desired.  I didn’t block mine at all, if I had, the cast-on shells would flop over less.

Weave ribbon, if using, through eyelets at the top of the vertical Roman stitch section and tie in a bow at the front or the back, whichever you prefer.

(optional, not shown) Embroider a series of French knots and long straight stitches down the front of the vertical Roman stitch section as shown in the Weldon’s illustration (top picture) to mimic button-and-loop closures.

Enjoy your adorableness!

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Realism

It’s not my strong suit, especially when it comes to expectations for myself and my creative works.

I like to aim high and be profoundly disappointed in myself when I am, inevitably, not capable of being some unholy amalgam of Ma Ingalls, Maria Montessori, and the Yarn Harlot.

I’ve been watching the weeks tick by with shocking speed and looking at the dwindling but still ambitious nesting list and getting more and more frustrated with myself for not inventing a Time Turner and spending all my doubled days knitting and sewing and deep-cleaning the house.

And that is CRAZY.

So, in the interests of realism, here’s the list of things from the nesting list that I would most like to finish in the remaining time before the baby comes.  I’ve allotted myself one project per week until Christmas, because I know that there will be other things (like gift making for the extended family and baking bread and playing with my children) that will crop up as I try to go about my business.

Top-Priority Nesting List for the Next Six Weeks

  • nursing pillow cover— I have a new, experimental nursing pillow.  I designed it myself after years of struggling with commercially-available options that were either awkward to use, impossible to fit around a pregnant belly, or simply not tall enough for me.  But it needs a water-resistant cover because babies are leaky and it is filled with buckwheat hulls.
  • winter boots for Númenor and Ithilien— For years, we were devotees of Stonz booties, but my children have now outgrown their XL size, and I wasn’t very impressed with the redesigned versions anyway.  So this winter, they need new boots for snow and slush purposes.
  • winter bear bunting– This is one of the things that I added to the nesting list in a panic about having a newborn in the depths of winter and not being able to simply withdraw from the outside world like I did when Ithilien was born.  Babies need warmth!
  • dyeing for my petticoats and the faux Victorian gown– Simply put, dyework is NOT something I’m going to be able to do with a newborn in tow.  Whether I actually get these projects sewn up and finished is another issue, but the dyeing at least needs to be done before the baby comes.
  • Balmoral bootikins– I’m not sure what size these will turn out to be, so it’s important to finish them before the baby outgrows newborn-size things.
  • crib– This is truly the centerpiece of the baby’s space.  Baby clothes will be stored in baskets underneath it, the mobile may need to be re-positioned over it, wall décor will need to move around to accommodate it, and I haven’t quite figured out how or whether I’ll be able to put a dust ruffle on it.  So much depends on having it finished that it’s really not optional.

I may not be posting much as I try to get these things finished, since some of them are sure to take more than a week and I might be interrupted at any moment.

But I’m out there, somewhere, wishing I knew the charms and incantations necessary to be in two places at once.

WIP Wednesday

my project bag sitting in the library with my knitting peeking out of the topstart date: 25 May 2015
time elapsed: 4 months, 1 week, 5 days
completeness: 90%

Stitch by stitch, and row by row, the yarn becomes a blanket.  That’s the way of things: imperceptibly tiny increments of change, overwhelming progress with time.

what it looks like when I take the blanket i'm knitting out of my work bag-- a big floppy mess of knitting

That’s how rivers carve canyons.

That’s how the wind shapes the dunes.

That’s how snow makes the world white and pure.

That’s how coral makes reefs.

That’s how rain quenches the earth.

That’s how babies grow.

That’s how bodies heal.

That’s how lives are lived.

It’s the sudden shifts, the thunderclaps, that make headlines.  Births, deaths, accidents, injuries, fires, earthquakes, eruptions– those things are easy to see, shocking in their suddenness, and widely discussed.

But what matters isn’t the 3.4 seconds of shaking or the height of the ash plume.

What matters, even in a cataclysm, is the incremental work.

How many mineral atoms must be set into their lattice to mend the broken bone?  How many cell divisions will it take to grow new skin over the scratch?  How many rivets are needed to hold the building together?  How many drops of water fill the basin?  How many snowflakes make an avalanche?  How many fetal hiccups will train the muscles to take that first breath?

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This blanket, when it is finished, will contain some 50,000 stitches.  Including going back to fix mistakes and miscellaneous shaping, the total work going into it probably will amount to closer to 60,000 stitches.

Day by day, the baby who will someday use this blanket prepares for hits birth.  Stitch by stitch, I work the blanket to meet hit.

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I can see the end of this period of waiting looming ahead in the distance.  I don’t know exactly when it will come, but I know that the moment of transition will be marked more in the course of history than all the slow, incremental work that built up to it.

But I will always remember, in my heart and in my hands, the process leading up to the change, and the slow, steady work that went into making the magical moment.


Materials notes for this project are available here.  The edging (darker brown) is Cascade Ecological Wool in Ebony.

 

WIP Wednesday

natural linen baby tunics piled up waiting for elasticstart date: 20 September 2015
time elapsed: 3 days
completeness: 98%

Among knitters, there’s a term for starting one project immediately after the end of the last one.  It’s called “binding off to cast on”.  That’s what my life has been like for the past several weeks as I look at the calendar and the nesting list and start to feel a little wave of panic rising in my chest.

I finished Númenor’s coat late one night, and cut out pieces of these shirts the next day.  I finished the last shirt this afternoon, and cut pieces for Númenor’s hoodie before dinner.  Back to back to back to back.

natural linen baby tunic in progress with sewing tools

In the pro column, I sure am productive these days!  In the con column, I’m feeling the strain.  And somehow every Wednesday seems to find me actively binding off to cast on, and therefore not really having a WIP to post about.  (Un)luckily, I have also outstripped my own ability to stock supplies, so I get to share these sweet little tunics while I wait for the elastic I need to finish them off.

Having had a springtime homecoming with Númenor (he was born in the winter but, as a preemie, didn’t leave the NICU until spring), most of our basics are for warmer-weather babies, and these will bridge the gap by providing an insulating underlayer for t-shirts and vests and sundresses and pinafores.

I’ve really enjoyed feeling the crisp linen in my hands as I worked.  There’s something about that fiber, especially in this undyed, unbleached state, that is ponderous with tradition, that hearkens back to earlier times and simpler needs and brings the primacy of preparing for a new baby into sharp relief.

sewing tools in the windowsill at sunset

I could have just three months left now before the baby comes.  And there are still a lot of things that must be done, which is a strange phenomenon when little babies (especially those with older siblings) have such basic needs.

Maybe it’s the basic-ness of the needs that I find so worrying: what if the baby isn’t warm enough, clean enough, dry enough, safe enough, snuggled enough, welcomed enough?

Maybe that’s why my head is so full of bees trying to ensure that everything is ready: while the baby’s needs are simple and few, they are critical.

pieces of new DIY hoodie piled up and ready for assembling/sewing to start

I’m trying to remember that just because it’s critical that the baby is warm doesn’t mean that it’s critical that I finish any particular blanket or piece of clothing.  We have plenty of warmth here already in hugs, and blankets, and a busy kitchen.  We have plenty of cleanliness, too, and, perhaps more importantly, not too much, either.  We have ways to get dry, even if I never re-hem that new hooded towel.  We are safe.  We can snuggle.

And I don’t think I’ve ever truly doubted that we would welcome this new life among us.


 

The fabric in the shirts is an unbleached handkerchief-weight linen I was given as a gift; if you’re looking for something similar, try this.  The pattern is a long-sleeved, tunic-length adaptation of Abby’s infant peasant dress, which I highly recommend, although I can’t speak to the construction tutorial because I’ve used my own techniques.  I have attached the sleeves to the bodice with a French seam and the sides are Elizabethan seams, for maximum durability.  The gray fabric in the pile at Ithilien’s feet is a seconds-quality cut of a long-discontinued organic sweatshirt knit from Organic Cotton Plus.  If you’re looking for something similar, try this.

Feathering that Nest

Happy news has its own special way of completely demolishing a person’s life.

Celebratory things– like getting married, moving in together, having a new baby, starting a new job– they take just as much energy, attention, and time as their tragic counterparts do.  But there’s an added sting: people expect you to be happy.  You should be happy.  If you’re anything like me, you ARE happy, somewhere deep inside, in all that mess of humanity and emotion.

But all you can see on a day-to-day level is how much work it is to be pregnant and trying to raise your older children at the same time.  You feel that anxious pressure over money, time, preparation, and you are seized with that “how am I going to make this WORK?” panic in the middle of your sleepless nights.

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People have all kinds of ways of dealing with this madness.  I have a friend who started posting weekly pictures of her belly on Facebook when she was 8 weeks pregnant.  People who are on bedrest often make countdown calendars marking each day until their due date or safe date as a tiny victory.  Couples, especially first-time parents, sign up for birth and parenting and breastfeeding classes, even though it’s an open secret that this is a laughable prospect.

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All these activities have two goals: first, to keep the mind of the expectant person so full that they can’t spare the time to freak out, but second, to make openings for people in their social networks and general vicinity to offer them help and reassurance.

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A weekly belly pic means a regular reminder of your pregnancy in everyone’s feed.  A countdown calendar gives you an opportunity to remind all your housemates of your incremental but inevitable journey.  Classes are an explicit way to seek new connections and new sources of support based on your status as expectant parents.

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Personally, I knit.  I sew.  And I felt and fold and sculpt and bead and work-work-work as much as I can.  That keeps me distracted from the fact that I have made the incredibly foolish decision to let the children in my family outnumber the adults (oh help!), and, if I work on baby things, it provides a neat justification for talking about the baby, even with strangers.

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Plus, you know, cuteness.  Thriftiness.  Et cetera.  Not all crafting is about insecurity and escapism.  Or, rather, my crafting isn’t entirely about insecurity and escapism.  Not entirely.

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So, to the lady who saw me knitting baby pants in the car outside the burrito place and asked what I was making and complimented my skills, even though it was just stockinette and seed stitch, thank you.  To the friend who doesn’t watch Bob’s Burgers but told me my “Louise” baby bonnet was adorable, thank you.  To the elderly relative who doesn’t quite understand what a sleep sack is or how cloth diapering works but is interested in having me explain it, thank you.  To the understanding partner who listened patiently to a cumulative total of three hours of freaking out about the exact configuration of compartments in the diapering caddy, thank you.

Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone as I feather this nest.