Minnow en Minni

Published on Wednesday November 9th, 2011

I’ve been waiting for the perfect setting and conditions (a non-work day during which there is no rain for a nice window between mealtimes so Ada’s clothes and hair won’t be covered in food, but not so far from a mealtime that she is hungry or tired, and shortly after a wash day so she won’t be wearing the haphazardly clashing dregs of her wardrobe) to photograph Minni, because it’s just about the cutest thing I’ve knit. Needless to say, between illnesses, November gloom, and the whims of She Who Toddles, those perfect conditions haven’t presented themselves. We made do.

Minni_Minnow (4 of 4)

Looking back at my notes, I see that I cast on for this jacket a scant twelve days before Ada was born. I did most of the knitting in the early months of her life, and if you’ve experienced the early months of someone else’s life first hand and full time, you’ll know that means I made a lot of mistakes. I can see some of them right on the front. This isn’t a simple pattern, despite being entirely garter or stockinet stitch, and it isn’t constructed like any sweater you’ve ever made. The instructions run to ten pages, and you’d better be willing to try your hand at short rows and provisional cast-ons and small needles if you want to attempt it. But if you’re a patient, thinking knitter, it’s rewarding. I mean, the cuteness!

Minni_Minnow (1 of 4)

It’s got clever shaping, too… look how the back of the coat is extra roomy to swing freely over that big cloth-diapered bum.

Minni_Minnow (3 of 4)

The back details alone were enough to suck me in. I love the way the design shows off yarns with long color changes (I chose Noro Kureyon Sock for Minni I and have already started Minni II with Crystal Palace’s Mini Mochi), although there are some darling solid versions out there, too. A word on the sizing: Ada is fifteen months old and is a medium-size baby — currently right at the 50th percentile for height. She’s wearing the 6-9-month size jacket, and as you can see she’s got plenty of room to grow into it some more. The designer, Lene Alve, does live in the Arctic Circle, and I suppose by the time I got a six-month-old into enough layers to stay cozy in that climate, she might just about fill up this jacket! But for the rest of us, I’d say multiply the suggested ages in the pattern by 2. It’s a good thing this jacket runs so large, though, even if you wind up having to tuck it away for a year. A pre-mobile baby couldn’t really do it justice, and a crawler would always be running aground on the fronts. (Ada still catches the fronts with her knees sometimes when she’s going up stairs.) You need a toddler to set that sweet hemline swaying, trust me.

Minni_Minnow (2 of 4)

Hands are to hold

Published on Monday October 10th, 2011

So wrote Ruth Krauss in her delightful book of definitions, A Hole Is to Dig, which you should read whether you are a child or live with one or not.

My hands are writing a grant and publishing a curricular journal. They are knitting gifts for friends who read here. They are performing liposuction and a double amputation/reconstruction on a sweater, which I really feel ought to qualify me for some kind of knitting doctorate if the patient lives.

But for most of most days, they are the only pair of hands that will do for holding all 48 crayons until they can be carefully replaced in the box (some of them upside down); the best pair to hold for companionship or to steady against when eagerness outpaces feet; the pair that can do “Itsy Bitsy Spider” again; the pair that can slice cheddar (“tseeeeeese!”) into manageable pieces; the pair that can lift and stroke and comfort after a tumble.

I’m going to be out of a job before I know it. My girl can already fetch her own boots when she wants to go outside; climb the steps of the tallest slide at the park (with Mama’s hands at the ready just behind, of course); put Papa’s socks back in the drawer upon request (Papa himself could learn a thing or two!); carry a dirty bowl to the dishwasher; pat the animals gently; play the “niano;” and pour bath water into a funnel to turn a paddle wheel. One short year ago we were here:

llama_hat (1 of 1)

This photo is blurry because she detested tummy time. (In fact, it may be the only one I ever took… it seemed heartless to point a camera at one’s offspring sobbing into the rug because she couldn’t lift her gigantic noggin.) This is better:

101510_sleeping (1 of 1)

Not to be too nostalgic for this sleepy wee person who exists only in memory; I’m really quite thrilled to see her growing and learning and experimenting. I love discovering who she is a little more each day, and likewise sharing with her more of who I am. (We dropped the car off at the mechanic this morning and walked home in the rain, Ada in the front carrier and the two of us wrapped in Mr. G’s big red raincoat. It was a slow walk because Ada wanted to touch the dripping leaves of every shrub and overhanging tree while I told her the species. I figure if a child can discriminate between polygons by the time she goes to kindergarten, she ought also to be able to tell a maple from a birch and a redwood from a cedar.)

But I did suffer a pang for the fleetingness of babyhood when she fell asleep in my arms this evening, which she so rarely does anymore. I have to remind myself, as I read Barnyard Dance for what feels like the forty-seventh time since lunch, that this is the most important work I can do. That “hands are to hold” is perhaps more obvious than that “rugs are so dogs have napkins,” but no less true and sometimes, when patience is fraying, not much easier to remember. I am keeping my hands ready for holding as often as I can.

How to eat tomatoes

Published on Wednesday September 21st, 2011

Tomatoes (1 of 5)

Tomatoes (2 of 5)

Tomatoes (3 of 5)

Tomatoes (4 of 5)

Tomatoes (5 of 5)

… and maybe even pick a ripe one next time…

Now we are one

Published on Thursday August 4th, 2011

More accurately, now we are thirty-three! Ada and I had birthdays. One of us had cake; the other fell asleep before dinner was over. One of us got a swing and a handknit bear; the other got  a bunch of yarn and a 50mm camera lens.

Ada, 1 year (1 of 6)

Ada, 1 year (2 of 6)

Ada, 1 year (3 of 6)

(Mama needs to practice with this nifty new lens a whole lot. And find shooting locations with more light.)

I think it’s a toss-up which of us had the more wonderful, challenging, mind-expanding year. Like all fresh parents, I can only marvel at the metamorphosis that turns a dozy, squeaky, half-cooked scrap of newborn into a sturdy, busy, willful toddler who comes home from nursery school with marker on her face and glitter in her hair in twelve short months.

Ada, 1 year (4 of 6)

(Like the dress? It’s another vintage keepsake that once belonged to our most excellent neighbor Barb!)

Ada, 1 year (5 of 6)

Ada, 1 year (6 of 6)

Here’s to making the most of every day until we’re 35, my little love.