Big Bottom baby

Published on Thursday April 21st, 2011

Did you like how I baited the weather gods with that taunt about the fifth of July and they FELL FOR IT and gave us a week of sunshine just to be contrary? Granted, it isn’t all that warm, but in the shelter of the back yard it was pleasant enough to shuck off jackets and fleece boots for a quick photo shoot with new summer pants.

Ada, 8 months - small.jpg (3 of 9)

Ada, 8 months - small.jpg (4 of 9)

Ada’s little friend Etta has a pair of these sewn by an auntie; they’re so cute I had to track down the pattern. It’s the Big Butt Baby Pants from Made by Rae, and I could sew little pants like these till the cows come home. Except that we’ll call them Big Bottom pants, because my mother reads here and she thinks “butt” is crass unless it’s a verb, an archery target, a cigarette end, or a cask of wine. No crass pants for your granddaughter, okay, Mum?

I started with the pinky-orange fabric with the jars of tadpoles (can you stand it?), which has been in my stash for a couple of years, and then chose the orange print to go with it. Turns out my orange is just a slightly quieter version of the fabric Rae used to illustrate the pattern — a coincidence, but who could resist orange with circles?

Ada, 8 months - small.jpg (5 of 9)

They’re too big for her right now, and that’s intentional. I made the 12-18 month size so she can wear them all summer. I’ve got a second pair cut out already. I figure she needs one for every day of the week.

Ada, 8 months - small.jpg (2 of 9)

Ada, 8 months - small.jpg (1 of 9)

(Ada is holding a very small stick in this picture; I imagine Lark is either hoping she’ll throw it or wishing to teach her what is best to be done with small sticks: they must be obliterated by crunching them to tiny bits and then rolling in them. At least Ada is already inclined to put sticks in her mouth, clearly promising to be more intelligent than either of her parents.)

Ada, 8 months - small.jpg (6 of 9)

Mama likes to think this twig looks a lot like a #1 double-pointed knitting needle.
Can her first pair of socks be far away?

Ada, 8 months - small.jpg (7 of 9)

And oh, the glories of bare feet and inquisitive fingers and real dirt to put them in! I’m taking real pleasure in watching my daughter begin to explore the little ecosystems between the patio bricks. (And fertile ecosystems they are indeed on our particular patio!) I hope it’s just the beginning of a lasting love for the natural world.

Ada, 8 months - small.jpg (8 of 9)

Ada, 8 months - small.jpg (9 of 9)


Published on Friday January 21st, 2011

Lately I’ve had a lot of time to think between the hours of 4:30 and 7am. Ada has taken to waking up very early indeed, so she and I alternate dozing and cuddling in bed together while it’s still dark and civilized people are not yet beginning the day. And when I say “cuddling,” I mean that one of us is setting a good example by feigning sleep and the other is hooting, flapping the bed covers up and down with vigor, and pedaling the air like a capsized beetle. It’s a good opportunity to cogitate on various ideas for knitting designs, but sadly there are very few arms-free hours for the actual execution of these plans.

I have finished some knitting lately, though. I meant to have finished a second Small Things romper back around Thanksgiving, when my friend Linus welcomed his baby daughter. He and his wife had admired Ada’s snail romper, so I knew I’d have to make them one of their own. Two months on, it’s finally done. I hope the baby hasn’t grown out of it already.

bat_romper (5 of 5)

bat_romper (1 of 5)

This one is Dream in Color Classy; if memory serves, the colors are “Nightwatch” and “Lunar Zazzle.” They’ve been marinating in the stash for several years. The Small Things romper is an irresistible canvas, as I discovered with the snail version. So what did I add this time? A motif that’s been in the back of my mind since I discovered it on a Chinese robe that belonged to my grandfather.

bat_romper (2 of 5)

Chinese lore tells us that bats are symbols of good fortune. I’d thought to make Auspicious Bat mittens, but the orientation of the motif just isn’t right. The bat is too wide; it’s 65 stitches. I love the sweep and curl of her wings and didn’t want to alter them. But a cloth-diapered baby bum? That’s a nice broad canvas. Here’s the front pulled open so you can imagine the wing wrapping around the stern of a chunky little baby:

bat_romper (4 of 5)

When I did Ada’s snail, I used an intarsia technique. This time I had a line drawing rather than a more solid block of color, so I turned to duplicate stitch or Swiss darning, just tracing over the stitches in the contrast color after the romper was already knit. I’m quite pleased with the result; some of my early-morning musings have turned to modifying my chart to create a more solid bat suitable for Armenian knitting, as seen in my beloved missing rooster hat. I suspect that the design as it stands would be too delicate to read well in a fingering-weight yarn, and I do think Ada might need an auspicious bat hat. More to come on that, let’s hope, but as of now my little cherub is awake and only the cat’s antics in a large cardboard box are distracting her from the realization that she is catastrophically hungry…

P.S. Yes, you should admire my restraint in not titling this post “Bat A$$.”

P.P.S. The postman just came, and I’m sort of horrified to discover that having a baby will land you on a mailing list for Weight Watchers six months down the line.

Warm hands, warm hearts

Published on Thursday October 7th, 2010

Betsymittens2 (1 of 1)

Norwegian Wedding Mittens, adapted by Jen and moi the better to suit our Betsy and her Jonathan (Jen’s handsome pair for Jonathan are here)

Mods: Braided cast on (thanks, Nancy Bush, and thanks, clever Estonian knitters), thumbs moved to the sides, palm motifs altered to add an anchor (Jonathan builds boats), a dog and a cat (Jen charted nice ones, but I forgot to copy her charts and made up my own, so our dogs and cats are similar but not identical), shortened the back motif to accommodate my extra-large row gauge. Duplicate stitched red for the central hearts. Added a ribbed cuff liner for extra coziness and a better fit.

Wool: The natural white is an alpaca/wool blend from Imperial Stock Ranch; all else is Hifa 3 from my stash.

Betsymittens3 (1 of 1)

Betsymittens4 (1 of 1)

Betsymittens1 (1 of 1)

And now I’m going to take advantage of Baby Nap Time!!! and go prepare for a conference presentation. Would I rather be knitting more colorwork? What a silly question.


Published on Tuesday May 4th, 2010


We’ve been eking out the last of the frozen berries at our house. Every summer we buy flats and flats of them at the farmer’s market, some of which are gobbled up fresh on the spot. My husband enthusiastically freezes the rest, along with the wild blackberries we gather out at the Sandy River delta, to last us the winter. We’re halfway through the last gallon bag of raspberries, and they’re all the more delicious because I know they’re almost gone.

So today I’ll use this space to bring you a guest poet, my good friend Betsy.


the way to pick raspberries is this:

crouch down as if in homage to

the thorny raspy canes

and leaves like cats’ tongues spilling upwards and outwards from

their espalier of wire and post.

crouch down in the half-shade

of serrated leaves,

gaze up into the green gloom

and you will see them            there            and there:

the fruit hanging in the crosstangle of leaf and stem;

the unripe fruit melon green and hard,

the overripe fruit bruised dark and dropping

unannounced into the dust between the rows,

weighted with juice and swelling seeds.

the perfect imperfect fruit,

firm and pink-red,

dangling in the dappled light above your head,

is seen best from below, where you squat

almost at the roots, face upturned.

you rise on aching thighs and stretch your arm

again and again into the brambles

to slide each berry from its pale hull,

deliberate and repetitive,

until your bucket or basket or box

is full.

above you the lithe branches bend against the blue sky.

above them clouds move across the sun.

a goldfinch flies over, singing his bright

black and yellow song.

Betsy Miller