Birds on it!

Published on Friday August 31st, 2012

See? I sewed:

As dubious as my little model looks here, this thing came out pretty well. Her actual reaction to the shirt was totally positive; it was just the first time I’ve tried to explain to her how this whole bit with the camera is supposed to work: you stand over there, Mama’s going to back up into these bushes to get far enough away to fit all of you in the picture…. Okay, no wonder she looks like she thinks I’m nuts. “Birds on it! Birds on it, Mama?” she chirped when I showed her what I’d finished sewing.

This, my friends, is the Oliver + S Class Picnic Blouse, and I am making more of them. It was easy to sew but taught me nifty tricks like understitching and stopping the seam finishing a few inches from the cuffs and hem to reduce bulk, thus making me feel I’d gained in competence and might be able to apply what I’d learned in a novel situation. Turns out I love that feeling in sewing just as much as I do in knitting.

This blouse falls right in the sweet spot for kiddo clothing, as far as I’m concerned: easy enough to make that you could whip up another in the next size in just a couple of evenings and wouldn’t cry if anybody drooled cherry juice down the front; cute but not precious; and most importantly, so comfortable your child can forget she’s wearing it and focus on the business of examining very small rocks.

It’s not for Ada, though. It’s a birthday present for her cousin Lucy. (I made sure to mention this right away so I wouldn’t have to wrestle it back from a crying possessive toddler.) The bird fabric is, of course, left over from the quilt I made for my neighbor in May. My remnant was too narrow to make the whole front and back of the blouse in the 3T size (I believe I shall always make children’s clothes a size larger than necessary from now on), hence the contrasting hem. I stitched the two fabrics together before tracing and cutting the pattern pieces; as it happened, the seam was perfectly concealed in the hem finishing. I’ve already cut out pieces from some of the other quilt scraps to make my girl one of her own.

In unrelated news, Jolyon uttered his first giggle on his seventieth day in the world. My friend Mary takes the honors for provoking it. And tonight my children laughed at each other for the first time. There are moments of dizzying magic.

Turning two

Published on Wednesday August 29th, 2012

I’m back!

And with that preface, I’m just going to dump out the news of our last two months. (Right after I apologize that there isn’t actually any knitting when I promised there would be. I don’t have pictures of Jolly in his cute Baby Surprise Jacket and I’m not even sure it fits anymore, but if you’re a knitter you’ve seen umpteen hundred of them, so just picture one in Noro Silk Garden Sock with a baby filling it up and you’ll have it exactly.)

The children and I had three lovely weeks up home with my parents, with Mr. G in and out as work allowed. Some highlights:

Knitters, note that the Minni jacket in size 6-9 months fits perfectly now!

Our Ada is two! Two means lots of new words and new charm and new willpower, as everyone who’s had a two-year-old could certainly have told me. Two is for somersaults. Two is for near-perfect sentences: “I find purple shell for you, Granny!” Two is for swinging on the big-girl swing that Granddaddy erected on the lawn and holding tightly so you don’t fall down. Two is for “NO!” and “MINE!” Two is for “Ada Lillian do it SELF.” Two is for singing songs. Two is for imaginary cooking and imaginary napping. Two is for running and jumping and throwing sticks in the pond and wiggling your brother’s tiny toes and brushing your teeth with toothpaste: “Eat it? Noooo! Rub teeth. Spit sink!” So many things to practice. So many things to try.

We visited my friend Elsa’s horses. The mustang colt was especially friendly. Ada was unafraid and is still talking about the experience: “Baby horse… tickle you bottom… wiv… whiskers!” The cherries from Elsa’s orchard rank equally high in her memory, it must be said. Later we watched some Olympic dressage; Ada clapped for the dancing horses and fed them peas through the television.

The beach. Our beaches are rocky, not sandy, and there seems to be a general compulsion in small children to send all the pebbles back into the sea. My mother coached Ada on her throwing technique so fewer of them would fly off at surprising angles. My girl waded happily into the frigid water and didn’t mind when her clothes got wet. I think I can safely bet it was the first time anyone ever danced the hula hop in the Salish Sea.

Swimming in the lake with the fish who investigated Mama’s bare toes. To hear Ada tell it, sitting on a towel and eating puffs afterward was just as rewarding. (Do you spot a theme emerging?)

Visiting — all too briefly — with our New York family, who made the arduous flight out with their own two-year-old. The little girls played duets on the piano, alternately shared and argued over toys, and kept the house bright with noise and action. Alas, they didn’t alter each other’s habits for the better in the realms of napping, bathing, eating, or going to sleep at night.

Trips to the farmers’ market for raspberries, tomatoes, snap peas, and pizza, plus music and dancing. A friend told me she’d overheard some tourists asking whether the market was real, apparently thinking it was too folksy to be authentic. Five-week-old Jolly was mistaken for a four-month-old.

Evenings of good food and good chat in the tiny cabin of a friend who’s building a straw bale house, catching up with dear people I see too seldom now.

An expedition to the tank at the marine labs, where Ada got to roll up her sleeves and touch the sea stars and urchins. Our friend Aimee gave her a plum afterward, so you can guess how the narration goes.

A new haircut for Mama.

Many pairs of loving hands to bounce and cradle the baby, who gave me his first smiles on my birthday and will now grin and coo irresistibly at anyone who wants to tell him how handsome he is.

So life is sweet here — not without its maddening moments when I turn to Mr. G and mime a Munch-ish scream over our daughter’s head, but as a sage mother of four grown children pointed out to me, if they were perfectly compliant all the time they’d be bland, and who wants to raise bland people?

Next up: Sewing! With pictures and everything! And then knitting. For real this time.