Letters to Little Dipper, 1

Published on Thursday May 3rd, 2012

Hi, baby.

I’m looking at the calendar and finding the number of weeks until you’re due to join us out in the world is alarmingly small. So small that your big sister can count that high without skipping any numbers. You do seem to have made yourself quite at home in there, rearranging the furniture however it suits you, staying up late, eating whatever you want. So maybe you’ll be in no hurry to move out and I’ll be carrying you around a whole month longer than I carried Ada. But it’s definitely time to start getting some things ready for you.

I’ll be honest. Some of the things that are going to be for you were supposed to be for your sister. These booties, for instance.

All I had to do to finish them for your use was to weave the ribbons around the ankles. Ada wasn’t born sporting much in the way of heels, so it was nearly impossible to keep footwear of any kind on her unless you could really cinch it tight around her scrawny little legs. And somehow I never took the necessary ten minutes to scare up a couple of lengths of ribbon and solve that problem with these booties before she grew out of them. (And your sister has tiny feet to this day, so it’s not as though I didn’t have a window of months and months.)

The quilt, though? That’s new. Especially for you. If I can muster the courage, ingenuity, and attention to figure out how to attach and use the walking foot for the sewing machine so I can quilt it before you’re born. (Because after that I’ll still need to hand-stitch the binding, and if we compare the size of that task to the job of putting the ribbons on the booties… I think you can see where I’m going with this.)

By the way, I hope you like green and purple and red. I seem to have stumbled into a bit of a color scheme here.

Contrary knits

Published on Sunday April 29th, 2012

It’s spring. The world is vivid green and brightly spangled with the million blooms the lusty gardeners of this town have coaxed from the earth. Pink cherry blossoms eddy in the streets and bank in pillowy drifts against the curbs — even a peep down a grate to the sewer offers an eyeful of candy floss. So how is it that I find my knitting consists of three brown sleeves?

For some reason I thought the remedy was to cast on a summer-weight vest for Ada. It’s grey. (At least it has no sleeves.)

Another February, another baby cardigan…

Published on Saturday February 4th, 2012

Helena (1 of 2)

This rose and a pitcherful of its friends grew outside my house. In January.

There aren’t many patterns I’ve knit three times, but when you need a pretty little cardigan for a wee girl, it’s hard to go wrong with Elizabeth Zimmermann’s gull lace and garter. This latest incarnation of the Baby Sweater on Two Needles from Knitter’s Almanac is for a baby born in Costa Rica last October, which shows you just how back-logged I am on knitting for my friends’ children. Thank goodness it blocked out like a champ — I thought I’d be lucky if a four-month-old could be stuffed into it for as long as a week, but now it looks like it might fit her next fall!

This yarn is Deep Stash. In fact, in stash terms, it basically dates from the paleolithic. It is so old the internet doesn’t know it ever existed. (Okay, a few other knitters on Ravelry have some, but nothing comes up on Google so I haven’t been able to find out just how ancient it is.) I inherited it from my mother-in-law, and I’d been doubting whether I’d ever use it — cotton and viscose blends are not my cup of tea, and this one proved to be just as splitty and unpleasant on the needles as I’d foreseen. But the yarn, made by Crystal Palace, is called Helena and so is the baby. How could I resist? And I have to admit the finished cardigan is pretty charming in that antique ivory, with the vintage buttons that match so perfectly…

Helena (2 of 2)

(What I’m going to do with the other seven balls, I have no idea. They’re a brighter white than the three I used here. If shiny, splitty cotton-viscose yarn really floats your boat, drop me a line and I’ll mail them to you.)

Ba-baaai, summer! Bwah!

Published on Tuesday September 27th, 2011

Time to say goodbye, Ada style, with a vigorous kiss blown at the end, to the briefest summer in my memory. All night, dozing lightly with one ear cocked upstairs for baby sounds — the only way I seem to know how to sleep anymore — I heard rain on the pavement. This morning I put on a wool sweater (Pas de Valse), a wool hat (“Mama HA’!” exclaims my small one, reaching to pull it off my head and flop it over her face for peekaboo), and wool socks. (Darned if those aren’t still the best-looking socks in the drawer, despite having been knit in 2005. My admiration for Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock grows annually.) Ada is in her reversible brioche cardigan (blue side out today) and her new boots. The boot leather squeaks and she steps tentatively in them, unaccustomed to the stiff soles.

We replenished the bird feeders this morning and discovered a mouse had moved into the seed bin on the back porch. I spotted the evidence right away, but didn’t expect to see Mouse herself peeping up at me from a hole in the bag, all sleek fur, bright eyes, and quivery whiskers. Ada, having been recently enchanted by a pet rat at the tea shop, thought we should pick her up and get to know her properly, but we didn’t. I am tenderhearted about mice, although I sincerely hope this one’s family isn’t expecting to move in with us for the winter. (The cat should be an effective deterrent. For all his faults, he’s a competent hunter and also pulls his weight when it comes to chores like dispatching house centipedes with alarming legs. (Don’t google them. If you don’t know what they look like from personal experience, thank the appropriate deity and go on your blissfully ignorant way.) And while the dog is useless against the creepy crawlies, she’d be thrilled to go all buddy-cop with Mingus on a mouse if he wouldn’t end her for cramping his style. So I’m not too worried about a rodent invasion.) But I’ll be devising a way to lock down the bin lid more securely. In the mean time, the finches seem untroubled to have shared some of their sunflower seeds. I’ve never seen a handful of birds tuck in with more vigor. They must realize summer is fading, too.

While the featheries are plumping up for winter, I’m feeling ready to turn my attention back to the thickest and warmest projects in my knitting basket. If you’re a knitter, there’s an excellent chance you already know what this is…

MiteredCross (1 of 1)

… but don’t tell, okay? Here be secret knitting. And speaking of miters, I’ve nearly finished my Mitered Cardigan: a seam to graft, buttons to attach, ends to weave, and then I cross my fingers and block this sweater like the dickens and, if all else fails, maybe take up running in case there’s a spare inch or so that could come off my middle.