Tweedy Lil’ Pumpkin Hat #2

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With the birth of my stepsister’s baby, I went into baby knitting mode.  One of the items I decided to include in the “Welcome Baby” package was one of my Tweedy Lil’ Pumpkin hats, size “newborn.”  I wrote up this pattern four years ago when I wanted to make my nephew a cute autumn-themed hat.  I haven’t made another since, mostly due to the lack of babies being born into our family, but also because I got wrapped up learning to make quilts and I’ve been doing lots of baby quilts instead of baby knits–but after spending almost all of 2016 making baby quilts, I decided to take a break from those this year.  Voila, back to baby knitting.

 

I love this pattern so much because it’s got classic, basic cables that always look good, and the yarn is DK-weight, which I prefer for baby hats because it’s just a tad less bulky, but doesn’t sacrifice on warmth.

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I went with two different colors this time with this Tweedy Lil’ Pumpkin Hat, the lighter orange and darker green available in Rowan Felted Tweed.  I now have scraps from both hats that I think will knit up nicely in a striped pattern next time there’s another beebs making a debut into the fam.

If you’d like to make a Tweedy Lil’ Pumpkin Hat yourself, the pattern is for sale on Ravelry.  I recently increased the price of the pattern, but you can get it for the original price of $2.50 until October 10th, 2017 with the promo code “babyknitting” (without the quotation marks).

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Happy knitting!

 

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Bread & Butter Quilt

SONY DSCMy roommate from freshman year of college just had her first baby, the third of my close friends from freshman year to procreate this year.  We’ve stayed in touch over the years; she’ll randomly send me a little email here and there and they just brighten my day so much.  She’s always been one of the nicest people I know.

So, of course, when she emailed me early on in the year to let me know that she was expecting, I wanted to go all out for her and her wee one.  I had plenty of notice, so I really sat down and thought about what to make.  I recalled a quilt pattern I’d seen in a book I borrowed from the library while we were living in Australia, and luckily, I remembered the name of the book, Two From One Jelly Roll Quilts, by Pam and Nicky Lintott, and even more luckily, the book was available on Amazon.com (so many Australian books cannot be obtained stateside, but this one was British!), so I ordered it, took a glance at the pattern, chuckled at its cleverness, and committed.

Her nursery has been decorated with an alphabet and storybook theme, and she said she was fond of polka dots, and then she found out she was having a girl, and the Bread & Butter fabric collection popped into my mind’s eye, and I knew we had a winner.

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I’ve been in a lot of pain for the past couple of months so progress on this quilt was very slow.  It was decided that I would have another surgery to help with the problem, and when I finally got a surgery date scheduled, I just had a feeling that I really needed to get this to the binding stage before I went under the knife.  I had to enlist the help of my bestie, Denise, to cheer me on and encourage me, and we hosted a couple weeks’ worth of “Epic Sewing Thursdays” where we’d text pictures back and forth to each other every hour or so to show our progress on our respective projects.  You sure can get a lot done when you’re working “alongside” friends!

My check-in for surgery was at 12:45pm on Election Tuesday, and I was finishing up the machine-stitching portion of the binding at 10:30am.  Why fret about surgery and politics when you can focus on making pretty things for babies?

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The hand binding took two days, and the quilt label took lots of minutes over lots of days because my surgery ended up being a little more invasive than originally planned, and I was put on bed rest for five weeks instead of “three days of resting” afterwards.  Bah.  (Which is also why you’re getting quilt photos in front of the Christmas Tree…I wasn’t allowed to leave the house, ha ha.)

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But in the end, the result was the same:  A beautiful baby quilt for a beautiful baby girl, who has a beautiful mother with one of the kindest hearts you’ve ever met.

Congratulations, Stephanie and Jon, on the start of your family.  Welcome to your life, Baby Sydney…look to your mother’s example and you’ll do well.

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Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

Briar Rose Baby Quilt

Briar Rose quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

Another baby quilt completed during this Year of ALL THE BABIES™!  This was for another friend from college, and I decided to bust out the coveted Briar Rose charm packs that I had been saving for “something special.”  She had mentioned in Facebook comments that she hoped to not “drown in a sea of pink,” and Briar Rose is the perfect amount of girly without a lot of pink, in my opinion.

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

My oldest daughter, Emily, helped me out with piecing the top as part of her summer chores (I’ve assigned one hour of sewing to her everyday in the hopes that she’ll start making  a dent in some of her WIPs).  I then took over from there with the quilting and finishing.

Vine and clover quilting on Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

 

I was stressing pretty bad about the baby quilts when I started quilting this one, and I just decided to let go of all of the expectations of getting gifts done before the babies were born so I could actually enjoy the process of making the gifts.  I was going to burn through the quilting on this with a simple stipple design, but the quilt spoke to me and it wanted some sort of floral quilting.  Floral stipple?  Nope.  Chrysanthemum all-over design?  Nope.  And then the idea of vines and clover popped into my head, and the quilt clapped its hands in excitement, and off we went.  It took longer to do, but I’m so glad I went that route.  It was a good exercise in doing something new.

Back of Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

I tracked down some Briar Rose yardage* for the back, which made my matchy-matchy heart so happy, and I dipped into my preciously-hoarded stash of my own Briar Rose yardage for the binding.

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

I decided to take some time and also have fun with the label, and I love how it turned out…little, teeny pinwheels!  Oh, be still my heart.  Love, love, love.

Quilt label on Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

It’s simple patchwork, yes, but I’m super proud of it–beautiful fabric, new quilting design, and adorable little label.  It makes me smile to look at the pictures every time I see them.  AND it was a joint project with my girl…win-win all around.

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

*I found the Briar Rose yardage at Lark Cottons, and they still have yardage of various prints!

Dr. Seuss Baby Quilt

Yes, it is indeed a post from me, and it’s even about a finished project.  Whew, end-of-school kinda kicked my butt this year, and I haven’t been sewing, blogging, or doing anything beyond mommy duty for months.  Life gets that way sometimes.

Anyway, you’re here for the finished quilt, not my life story.  Here we go…I give you the FINISHED Dr. Seuss Baby Quilt:

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SONY DSCSo, many years ago, I don’t how many precisely (five? eight?), the Dr. Seuss fabric came out and people went absolutely bonkers for it, myself included.  I bought up a couple yards without any plan for them, and, because I was in the midst of homeschooling and really young kids, it went into my stash to hibernate.

This May or June I found out that a friend from college was pregnant…and due to give birth in about three weeks or so.  Now, I’d always liked this friend, but I was in the midst of my “young children” years when she had her other kids and I hadn’t been able to make anything back then, but here I was, all primed for baby quilt-making, just a little short on time…and after a couple of days of stewing over it, I just decided to go for it.  Operation Sew-It-Like-You-Mean-It was a go.

Stash diving brought out the Dr. Seuss goods, which I matched up with some other coordinating fabrics, and I found a fun pattern that looked like it could come together quickly in Amy Smart’s Fabulously Fast Quilts.  Woo hoo!

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SONY DSCIt was fast, and I had a lot of fun making it!  And, to top it off, I bought some of the most perfect binding fabric from a member of my quilt guild.  I love, love, love the black and white stripe!

I used up all of my yellow Dr. Seuss print on the back, bordered with strips of the Dr. Seuss prints from the front.

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I think it’s rather happy, no matter which side you’re looking at.  I hope it’s well-loved, and used until it’s worn out to rags.  That’s Valhalla for a baby quilt.

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And many thanks to my little quilt models…

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…they’re so fabulous.

Fat Quarter Shop’s Top 10 Videos: Star Cakes Quilt

Top-10-VIdeosHello Lovelies!

Star Cakes is another fun quilt in the parade of the Fat Quarter Shop’s Top 10 Videos of 2015.  I chose to make a baby-friendly-sized version, because WOW, you can get FIVE baby quilts out of TWO layer cakes with this pattern, and WOW, I know FOUR women who are pregnant with girls at the moment.

Plus, the Star Cakes quilt pattern is free.  Oh, yes, I’m a very happy quilter indeed.

So, consider this as Cara’s Star Cakes Quilt #1, of many to follow:

 

 

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I used the lovely Gooseberry collection, and Bella Solids in Admiral Blue.  It will make a nice little playmat for my friend’s wee girl.

There are lots of other bloggers who are participating in today’s Top 10 quilt hop, and their work is lovely:

Shruti of 13 Woodhouse Road

Rachel of PS I Quilt

Melissa of Happy Quilting

Tina of Emily Ann’s Kloset

Cara of That Crafty Cara (you’re here!)

Kim of Persimmon Dreams

Pat Sloan

And there’s more fun:  Fat Quarter Shop wants to see YOUR versions of their Top 10’s, and they’re offering a $100 gift certificate to one lucky quilter who posts their photos on Instagram with the hashtag #starcakesquilt and #FQStop10.

Thanks for the opportunity to sew up this great pattern, Fat Quarter Shop!

Star Cakes quilt, a free pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop, made with Gooseberry Fabrics and Bella Solids in Admiral Blue.

Linking up:
Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
WOW Wednesday @ Esther A. Liu
Needles & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

Randomly in November

  1. I saw the sign-ups for the Bee Hive Swap in time this year, and got in!  :::happy dance:::  So excited!
  2. My own swap group that I’m running liked it so much that a bunch want to do it again next year!  So, busy with setting that up at the moment.
  3. Yeah, two year-long swaps…talk to me at the end of next year.  🙂
  4. I wrote up an exhaustive inventory of the many works-in-progress taking up space in my craft room, and then hammered out a plan to plough through almost all of them in the next year.
  5. The first WIP that will reach completion as a result of my awesome new plan is probably a pair of socks that I started back in Australia.

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  6. A newly-finished pair of socks right now is kind of perfect, given that the snow has started.  I was actually thinking the socks would be a Christmas present for someone dear to me, but my feet are freakin’ freezing, so I’m going to keep them.  Mwa ha ha.
  7. The second WIP that will probably get finished is a baby boy quilt I started almost eight years ago.

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    The kid in this photo is Penguin, who is now nine years old.  She’s drinking from the mug I received after giving birth to Junebug, who is now seven-and-a-half years old…

  8. It’s funny how you can start a project with so much excitement, but with each passing year of not completing said project how much that excitement turns into resentment and shame.  So much so that I definitely don’t want to keep the quilt when I’m done, but fear the repercussions of giving a new life an item infused with so many negative feelings from myself.  The act of giving wipes off all the bad juju, right?  Right?

  9. I’ve also fleshed out a “Baby Gift Flowchart” to help me decide what to make for tiny humans on my radar.  In this age of social media, I find that I’m inundated with the awareness of many a pregnancy, and the baby-lovin’ crafter part of me really wants to make something for every one of them.  However, given the physical limitations of time, I can’t.  So I came up with a way to shrink the pool a bit and ease my conscience.  A line had to be drawn somewhere, or I’d never be done with making baby gifts.

    Baby Gift Flowchart

  10. I’m currently aware of nine pregnancies, and of three women trying to get pregnant.  That’s twelve impending births in the next year.  My flowchart narrows the gifts down to five recipients, which is still a lot, but gives me back a bunch of time.  I am raising four children of my own…
  11. My son broke the teeth off of the zipper of his winter parka the first day he wore it.  Of course.  Even better, he broke off enough teeth that the actual zipper pull fell off, too.  So, instead of working on WIPs, my time is needed to repair a zipper in a parka.
  12. Once again, making plans is a dumb idea.

Why I No Longer Give Handmade Items as Gifts at Showers

It’s that time of year again!  Invitations are trickling in each week, enticing me to “join in” and “share in the joy” of a loved one’s anticipation of adding another person to their family, be it in the form of a wedding or the birth of a child.

I, for one, am an absolute, fall-down delirious sucker for babies and weddings.  It borders on ridiculous, and I’m aware of the level of my obsession, but I decided a few years back that weddings and babies are simply on that list of things that spark an air of optimism, joy, and excitement in me, and that’s not a bad thing, so I’m going to roll with it from now on…I’m comfortable with being known as a lady who “has a thing” about weddings and babies.  (Because, seriously, there are way worse things to be known to “have a thing” about…)

So yeah.  Weddings and babies.  Let me at ’em, and please, please, please invite me to the shower, because I am a gift giver.

I love to give gifts.  I love wrapping gifts.  I’ve been my extended family’s go-to gift wrapper since I was six and I offered to wrap my uncle’s Christmas gifts because he kept going on and on about how much he hated gift wrapping.  (Let it also be known that I “have a thing” for gift wrapping, and just cannot understand why people don’t like the experience.  I am also comfortable with this quirk of mine.  Some members of my extended family are very comfortable with my quirk as well, and are quite enthusiastic about embracing it…sometimes I get to wrap a lot of other people’s gifts!  Love it!)

It’s a no-brainer that I would love showers, because showers = weddings or babies + gifts.  That’s my idea of some serious fun.

And then, years ago when I started amassing all these awesome handcrafting skills, showers became an even more fun venue because I also got the bonus of an audience to witness my giving of lovingly created items for my friends and their future family member.  I’m not going to lie, it’s fun to nod your head in response to the question of, “Did you make this yourself?!?!”

When Michael and I were first married, we were strapped for cash, and it was far more feasible to buy a $2.19 skein of sport-weight acrylic that would yield two or three pairs of knitted baby booties than it was to purchase $10 gifts from three different baby registries.  Seeing that we lived in married student wards at BYU, there were A LOT of baby showers to attend, so I knit up a fair amount of baby booties during the years we lived in that area, which was fine because I had just graduated from college with a six month old baby on my hip.  My life had dramatically gone from reading 2-4 scholastic books per week and writing my senior thesis while my husband watched our infant, to me being home full-time with said infant who slept…a lot.

I learned to knit from a kit that I purchased from JoAnn Fabric, one week after my college graduation, when I just could not stand to be in our apartment for one more second.  During my baby’s numerous nap times, and after her early bedtime, I’d settle in on the couch and laboriously knit up baby bootie after baby bootie until Michael got home from school or work.  I about drove myself mad that winter, but it never got old to see a mother-to-be’s smile when she opened up a gift of baby booties I made for her child.

A year later, we moved into the house where we live now, which boasted a completely different economic pool.  I was no longer surrounded by fellow brand-new mothers on beans-and-rice budgets waiting out their husbands’ degree completions; I was now a member of a neighborhood of people who could own two cars, pay full-price to see a movie at the theatre, and who were usually beyond their “first baby” moments.

Handmade baby booties weren’t quite as popular in this crowd, and I’ve come to understand it better as I’ve had more children–by child #3, most moms have given up on socks.  Baby booties are little more than glorified socks that will inevitably be lost at the grocery store because you’re supervising three children under the age of five, and keeping track of lost socks becomes a very low priority when you’re that entrenched in battle.  (If I had a nickel for every time a grandmother stopped to admire one of my babies in public, only to reach out and grab my baby’s naked foot and ask, “Why isn’t s/he wearing socks?!” when that baby had honestly left the house with two sock-covered feet only twenty minutes before…)

So, yeah…the era of the baby booties had ended.  I was pretty OK with that because I’d made way too many of them by that point and desperately needed something else to do.  I experimented with simple patchwork quilts, but the noise of the sewing machine usually woke up my sleeping baby, and the point of nap time was to have her sleep, not cry.  I went back to knitting and started churning out baby hats.  When I’d get bored with that, I’d switch over to crocheting baby blankets.

And that worked for about a year.

Because then I had my second child, and I had made more friends in my neighborhood.  My time for crafting diminished at the same time the demand went up.  I gritted my teeth and sweated it out for about three months before conceding to the fact that I just couldn’t do it anymore.  All the other babies had mothers and relatives who could craft for them, so they could do that.  I would focus on crafting for my own children.

So I did that.  I knitted, crocheted, and sewed (rarely) my way through the arrival of Child #3 (eighteen months after Child #2’s arrival) and Child #4.  During my last trimester of Child #4, in an effort to preserve my sanity, I formed a local knit group that met weekly at my favorite cafe.  We had a glorious two years of dinners together, and my skills increased exponentially as I rubbed elbows with fellow fiber junkies.  Homeschooling began to take up more of my time, and I had to step away from my beloved group just shy of our three year anniversary.  I miss those weekly meetings so much, but there’s just no time anymore.  Those women kept me afloat at a time when I felt so overwhelmed and so ineffective at nearly everything I did–except knitting.

About that time, my kids became manageable enough that I could start knitting gifts for showers again.  And, to my great surprise, I was a million times better than I had been when I quit making gifts some seven years earlier.  I could churn out simple patterns in a few hours, and quickly moved onto more intricate patterns that garnered even grander reactions when they were unwrapped.  I gained a reputation for my crafting skills, and it was fun to rise to the expectations.

Unfortunately, demand began, once again, to rise too quickly.  I found myself dreading another baby pattern, and apologizing to my kids that I couldn’t make them another thing because I was too busy making things for other kids.  I knew I’d need to start stepping back again, but it’s hard to stop when you’re in that cycle…I had made a hat for Friend A’s baby, so I needed to make a hat for Friend B’s baby or her feelings would be hurt.  So I made another hat…a beautifully intricate wool fair isle hat, wrapped ever so nicely, and headed off to the next baby shower.

There was a blossoming crocheter amongst the guests at that baby shower.  Like me so many years earlier, she was adjusting to being a full-time stay-at-home mother of one infant, and she’d picked up crochet to help fill in her days a little bit.  The expectant mother opened the crocheter’s gift–a simple little hat made up in pale yellow acrylic yarn, and the ooh’s and aah’s began, along with that well-loved question, “You made this?!?!”  The new crocheter beamed with pride, and my crafter’s heart glowed with happiness for her pride in a job well done.  (Goodness, do we crafters love to watch each other succeed, especially the newbies because we remember how hard those first projects were to complete!)  The little hat began its “admiration journey” around the room, and the expectant mother reached for the next gift.  I was still basking in that look of satisfaction on the crocheter’s face, so I wasn’t aware of what the next gift was until the crocheter’s face fell as she watched her little creation get dropped onto the floor when the person who had been admiring it got sidetracked by the gasps over the beauty of the next gift–my knitted fair isle hat.

I lost every shred of desire to hold a “reputation” for creative endeavors over the course of the next few seconds as I watched the emotions wash over the crocheter’s face.  My project garnered much more exclamation and excitement, and I looked away when my hat passed her hat, forgotten on the floor, as it made its way around the room.  The crocheter put on her brave, smiling face; but she was crushed.

I knew it wasn’t my fault; that it was the poor behavior of the other attendees that had caused the crocheter’s discomfort and embarrassment, but I couldn’t help but feel for her and remember my own beginning days of yarning for baby showers.  I remembered getting so frustrated with my efforts because I’d make so many mistakes, but pushing through and overcoming those mistakes while envisioning the entire time what people would say when they saw my finished creation.  That transition to full-time mom is hard, and crafting helped to fill in the void left by being done with school and living away from family and having a non-verbal human as my main daily companion.  It means a lot to a new crafter to have their creations admired, and my appetite for flattery had ruined that moment for that newbie crocheter.

And then, to top it all off, a few weeks later a crafty neighbor mentioned that they were afraid to give handmade gifts if they knew I was going to be at the shower too, because their handmade gifts were never as good as mine.  Once again, not my fault or even really my problem, but it also doesn’t make me feel good to make another person feel inferior, especially when it comes to creativity.

The crafting community is an actual community.  The longer you’re in it, the more like-minded people you meet in real life and online, and you become a weird little family that sends each other packages of yarn and fabric and chocolates even if you’ve never actually met each other.  I’ve been one random knitter’s swap partner three different times over the course of five years.  I own a small label CD of another crafter’s harp music because she included it in a swap package she sent me, and it’s one of my favorite CDs.  One of my favorite scarves was made for me by a near stranger who picked out the most perfect colorway after reading every one of my blog posts and deducing what kind of colors I would love together.  I received gift certificates from members of a knitting message board two years ago when I blew out my back, with instructions to “spoil myself a little” while I was stuck on bed rest for six weeks.  I get “doorbell ditched” with boxes and bags of yarn and fabric every now and then by neighbors who are cleaning out their stashes.  I’ve brought bags of no-longer-wanted skeins to Knit Night and given them away.  The worldwide crafting community is a wonderful society.  We get each other’s obsessions with creating, we support each other through learning new techniques (“Don’t give up, trust me–it gets easier the more you practice!”), and we band together to help each other weather life’s trials with donations, words of wisdom, and offers of service.  We are a family.

I upstaged my crafty sister that day.  And I never want to do that again, so I now show up to showers with a nice little purchased gift, and I make sure to lavish a ton of praise on any handmade item that makes an appearance.  It’s scary to give your first few handmades–you hope so hard that they’ll be appreciated, and you feel so much relief and pleasure when they are–I recognize how powerful that validation is for beginners, so I try to give it freely and without interruptions.  This amazing community grows one positive crafting experience at a time, and I’m doing my best to make sure those positive experiences happen as often as they can.

And then later, usually after the baby has been born and I’m taking over a dinner to the new parents, I bring along my handmade gift.  I “have a thing” about post-partum mothers because I struggled so much with my own post-partum periods, so I love the extra opportunity to visit with them and get a feel for how they’re doing in that regard, and I love holding a fresh little babe.  It’s win-win all around without rubbing a newbie crafter’s nose in my skill.  (I am aware of how narcissistic that sounds, but believe me, it’s not coming from a narcissistic place.)  I wouldn’t have continued to become better at what I do were it not due to the positive public feedback I received about my creations in the beginning of my crafting “career.”

I still get a fair amount of positive feedback in regards to my gifts as they get worn or show up in the background of Facebook photos.  The blog also helps fill that little internal well that enjoys being filled with recognition.  I sometimes wonder if I’m “hiding my talents” by taking this approach, but I’m still creating and improving my skills, so it’s not like I’m letting my abilities rot.  How noticeable do our efforts really need to be to count?  The parents and the child still get a lovingly-created gift in the end, and that’s truly all that matters, so I think it’s probably alright.

This new arrangement also allows me the freedom to cut back on my handmade shower gifting so I have enough time to create for my own family.  I can’t create for everyone anymore (my days are much fuller now with four children and the management of their “big kid” activities), and if we’re not close enough friends that I would bring you dinner after your baby is born, then spending hours upon hours on a handmade gift is probably almost inappropriate, given the depth of our relationship.  It’s a little sad, but as we get older, we have to draw a few more lines to keep the right priorities as the right priorities.

This arrangement also works well in that I no longer get surprised by last minute invitations and the ensuing, stressful, late night crafting sessions needed to finish up a project before the shower.

I know my attitude towards handmade gift giving in public settings is probably different from the norm, but I thought I’d share it in case anyone would find it interesting.  It’s amusing how something as simple as gift giving changes for me over the years.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we just had all the time and resources needed to make everything for everyone?  What a wonderful world that would be.

Happy shower season!

Something Beautiful

This is my friend Rachel.  We’ve been friends for a few years.  She’s the friend who “tutored” Bluebird in Latin when we were first starting out two years ago, we embarked on a lofty 72-hour kit creation kick a year ago that she kept up and I did not, and we get to rub elbows a lot in musical pursuits.  I think she is one of the coolest people in the world.  She’s funny, she’s intelligent, she’s…Rachel.

About a year ago we started a short-lived ritual of walking our dogs during my family’s morning recess break.  During this ritual walk each school day (for however long we kept up with it) Rachel and I talked.  We talked about religion, briefly visited politics, talked about the books we were reading, and shared childhood memories regarding various subjects that came up.

We also talked about infertility.  My dear friend wanted to become a mother, and was having a hard time realizing that dream.  I listened as she described what tests and procedures were coming up, I listened as she talked through how she felt about the results, I listened as she thought out loud through something I wished I could fix for her.  I had suggested herbs in the very beginning of her struggle to conceive, but it had become apparent through the years that herbs weren’t going to fix the issue.  I watched her struggle to control her emotions after a round of fertility drugs; she’d wave it off and shrug, saying, “It’s just the hormones.”  So much time and effort to bring into creation a child.  Why wasn’t it working?!?!

I prayed for her and her husband.  My children prayed for one of their favorite people that she could be a mommy like she wanted.  Our family prayed together, out loud, every morning and night, remembering her alongside our cousins and siblings.  “Please, Heavenly Father, if it be thy will, allow Rachel and her husband to become parents.”

I just got home from throwing my friend a baby shower.
She’s due to give birth to a sweet little girl in June.

During those walks and talks I made up my mind, should God bless Rachel with a child, that I would throw the biggest, most beautiful baby shower I could muster in celebration of her impending motherhood.  To work so hard for something deserved a huge to-do!  As luck would have it, other ladies in our neighborhood wanted in on the fun as well, so we went all out.

At Rachel’s request, we had a tea party baby shower; which is funny, because we’re Mormons.  As a collective group, we’re not really known for our tea party-throwing skills.  Therefore, all the “teas” offered were herbal:  Lemon Chamomile, Peppermint, and a rooibos-based Tulsi Dosha Chai.  (I made a little announcement at the beginning of the party that there was no actual tea in any of the teapots, and that no one had to worry that I was enticing them to disregard the Word of Wisdom.)

And it was lovely, oh so lovely.  The looks of delight on the ladies’ faces as they carried their delicate cups of “tea,” the “oohs” and “aahs” over the finger foods…it was pretty, it was refreshing, and it was just wonderful.  I think I’ll be pleased with how well this baby shower went for a long time.  It was one of the nicest things I’ve seen in a while.

Seriously, always throw a party with multiple hostesses.  There were five of us altogether who put the food together, and it went splendidly.  (I didn’t have to touch the Egg Salad Sandwiches or be anywhere near them at all!  Score!)  We all made what we each liked to make, and everything was taken care of.  I was in charge of the tea and scones.  That’s it.  I also made some macarons on a whim, since I’m obsessed with the recipe from Martha Stewart Living and have been waiting for an excuse to try it out just because.

I don’t have a picture with the mom-to-be, but I do have this one with my fellow hostesses.

I told her that I needed a picture of her
with all her swag, and she obliged me so fittingly.
Love her!

There was a good attendance, and we had fun with the various (non-annoying) shower games.  Rachel received some lovely gifts for herself and her daughter, and I saw her make multiple trips to refresh her tea cup.

I took pictures of everything.  I knew I would write a blog post about this awesome party that I helped throw, and I wanted some beauty shots to accompany the play-by-play.  But as I look through the photos, I’m disappointed because they don’t capture the true beauty of the occasion.

Because what is beautiful about all this, after all the tea and finger foods are gone, is that we’re celebrating a miracle.  We’ve watched a heart-wrenching struggle turn into something so joyful that it makes our hearts hurt with happiness, like when you’ve smiled for too long and your cheeks ache.

We gathered together today to bask in the glory of our friend’s answered prayer, to sit together as women and cheer on another one of us who will soon enter the ranks of motherhood.  We thought of our own miracles at home; far, far away from the breakable china we balanced in our hands, while laughing at the realization that we celebrate the arrival of motherhood with delicate servingware and dainty foods when the realities of motherhood dictate that we eat PB&J and drink from plastic cups soon after we are initiated.

We hugged each other, placed hands upon each other’s shoulders in concern, smiled, laughed, and nodded our understanding.  We shared stories of our experiences–stories about our fears of motherhood, our disappointment with some of our parenting choices, amusement over what children say, gratitude for the help we receive and the lessons we’ve learned, and love for our families and friends.  And amidst the clinking of tea cups upon saucers and tearing of wrapping paper, we shared one more thing:  A quiet sense of excitement for Rachel.  She got her wish, her prayer, her love:  She’s going to be a mother.

Which is one of the most beautiful things that this world has to offer.

The Yarn is My Proxy

I’m trying to be a good little auntie.

I have a weird sibling situation that I finally came to a conclusion upon last year about how I’m going to treat all my present, former, and kind-of siblings:  I’m just gonna love them all.  More love always wins, right?

One of my sisters had a baby last week, and there’s nothing like the actual birth of a baby to really light the fire under one’s rear end to finish the crafties intended for said baby.  She had a little boy, and he is beautiful.

I’ve been working on this layette since October.  The plan was to finish it all before Christmas and then ship it so it’d be there before the birth, but…yeah.  Whatever, it’s finished, and it’s heading to the post office in the next couple of days to make its way to the chilly, chilly Canadian town that boasts one more beautiful baby boy as of last week.

The cardigan is the Little Coffee Bean Cardigan pattern, knit up in Plymouth Yarn’s Jeannee Worsted (51% Cotton, 49% Acrylic).  The buttons are from JoAnn Fabric.  I knit up a matching hat following the Basic Hat Pattern in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, by Ann Budd.

The blanket is crocheted, as is every blanket I’ve ever made from yarn.  (The idea of knitting a blanket makes me twitch a wee bit.)  The pattern is “Pastel Waves,” from Leisure Arts Our Best Baby Afghans, which I’ve owned for years upon years.  I used good ol’ Red Heart Super Saver for it, despite its baby-melting acrylic content.  I just haven’t reached the point where I can buy that much cotton yarn at once.  That also makes me a bit twitchy.

So I’ll send this off, with much love and many wishes that I could live closer to this new soul.  It’s somewhat heart-breaking to watch all these nieces and nephews grow up, and know that I’m only seeing it in photographs instead of experiencing it in person.  Sigh.  But, perhaps, they’ll be reminded that I care when they snuggle up in a blanket or sweater I’ve made for them.

That’s the hope–that they’ll feel my love and know that I wish I was right there with them.

Happy BIRTHday, Little Baby J.


This post is participating in Small Thing’s “Yarn Along,”
“Anything Goes Monday” at Stitch by Stitch,
and “Sew Cute Tuesday” at Blossom Heart Quilts.

Cherry Blossom Blanket

We are awaiting a new little addition that will arrive this summer for one of Michael’s brothers (and his wife, obviously) and I simply adore making baby things, so I volunteered to make a blanket for the wee princess.  I saw this pattern and color scheme used in a handmade purse and have been biding my time until I could finally use the combination for a project.

Details
PatternAfrican Flower Hexagon, by Lounette Fourie & Anita Rossouw (Sarie Magazine July 2009)
The edging is #250 “Coming Up Shells” out of 280 Crochet Shell Patterns by Darla Sims.  I figured out the half motifs through trial and error.
Yarn:  Red Heart Super Saver Solids in 0724 Baby Pink, 0774 Lt. Raspberry, 0378 Claret & 0505 Aruba Sea; Caron Simply Soft in 0003 Pistachio.

Hook:  G (4.0 mm) on the Caron Simply Soft & H (5.0 mm) on the RHSS.

Thank you Junebug, for “taking pictures with the blanket.”
(She was overjoyed to help model this finished project, as Bluebird is my usual go-to for photos.  I think Junebug has earned herself a permanent place in my arsenal of models.)

Click here for this project’s Ravelry Page.