Dearest Little T

Dearest Little T,

Two days before I went into the hospital to give birth to my little Fraggle, your sweet mama was giving birth to you. It was uncanny how similar our circumstances were – we both had high blood pressure and had to be induced, we each came through our trials with a beautiful baby girl to show for it.

Two baby girls and two mothers who were bedridden with high blood pressure. Two friends unable to help the other. Two lives beginning in more than a few frustrated tears. Your mother and I spent our pregnancy’s together with weekly knitting sessions and lots of dreaming about when our girls would come. It didn’t quite go down the way we thought at first, but here we are one year out, and I couldn’t be happier.

I have so enjoyed our weekly get togethers since you and The Fraggle were born. Watching the two of you grow and change so fast, watching you learn new things and explore the world around you, has been such a joy. Even some of the comparisons give me pleasure (you may be talking up a storm, but The Fraggle will walk first! HA!).

So, this year for your birthday, your first birthday, I wanted to make something special for you.

Go ahead, open it!

Okay, let me tell you about it. The shoes first.

When I showed your Mama the pattern for these shoes, I am almost sure that she swooned, so I knew you had to have a pair. Someday you may understand how much I love you when I say that these were crocheted (huge sacrifice on my part). I used some bits of Knit Picks cotton for the colored sections because I thought it would be sturdy and that you’d like the pink. The soles are made of jute twine so that you can wear them outside. (Ravelry project page here)

The shoes really are the main gift, but not so fun for you, right? I confess that I mostly made those for your mom. The doll is for you.

She is made of wool and muslin and cotton floss. She is stuffed with wool and potpurri that should help you sleep if you cozy up to her and breath in her sweet scent. But the best part is her hair. I know how you love hair, so I gave her a lot. Feel free to pull, tug, and frizz it up because she comes with a lifetime hair replacement guarantee. Whenever her hair gets pulled out or worn to wisps, just bring her by and I will needle felt a new wig for her lickety-split.

Oh, and the bag it was wrapped in should make a perfect purse for your little hands.

I am so excited about the years to come, My Dear. I hope that you and The Fraggle will become the best of friends as your mama and I grow closer as well. I also hope that someday the two of you will sit and knit with us (that would be so cool!).

Happy Birthday, Little T.

S.

Dale & Dolly – His Socks Part 2

Tuesday is Comics Day at Woolandchocolate! 

“Dale and Dolly” is the collaborative work of The Bookworm and I. After I sketch out my idea in goofy little stick figures and scrawled lines of dialog, I hand it over to my twelve year old daughter who works her magic. Her attention to detail and sense of humor make this comic strip what it is and I give her all the credit for this amazing series.  

Highlights

The first camping trip of the summer was a fabulous success. I want to remember…

… when we pulled into the campground and The Munchkin said, “Is this Dinky Cweek?”

… The Fraggle aquired a whole new color – dirt.

… we played at the creek in the icy water and the warm sun.

… s’mores! (we also tried a new campfire treat. It was way yummy and definitely a new tradition for this family. Check it out here.)

… glow stick Ninja with the Bigs.

… waking at sunrise to the happy crew and eating breakfast in the cold morning air.

… all the happiness of just being together.

… cramming back into the car to go home.

As good as it was to get home and take a hot bath and sleep in my cozy bed, I can’t wait until our next camping trip! Oh, and I almost knit an entire sock while we were out, too! See?

That’s my boring sock formula with sport weight on size 3. The jury is still out on if I like it or not… The yarn, however, is awesome! It is Family Pendragon Spellbound Limited Edition Sport in the May 2012 Club colorway, Heartwood with teal trim. love(1000)

I Don’t Talk On the Phone and Other Ways Parenthood Changed My Life

Don’t take it personally. It isn’t you. Really. I haven’t returned your phone call, yet, because I just don’t return phone calls. You see, I have children. Lots and lots of children. And so I don’t talk on the phone very often. When one lives in a small house with six children, one finds themselves having phone conversations like this –

“Hello? Hi! How are you? Put your sister down, please. What? I’m sorry, what did you say? No! Don’t bring the hose in the house. Wow! Really? Oh, just a sec. No, you can’t have ice cream for breakfast. Okay, sorry. Well that is amazing, and then Oh wait. Really? All the toilet paper? Shoot. I really have to go. Can I call you back later? Stop flushing! Better yet, just message me on Facebook.”

One only has to have a few conversations like that to induce one to avoid the phone at all costs.

I do have an answering machine, though, and I did get your message. Well, most of it. You see, somebody dropped a glass jar onto the kitchen floor when your message was halfway through and I had to run off to get the baby out of the blast area before she ingested broken glass and when I returned to listen again, the baby was squirming in my arms in protest because she wanted to eat all that sparkly glass, and her squirming was knocking my hands out of my control for the most part and when I meant to hit “play” I actually hit “erase”. When the machine asked me “erase all messages?”, I was distracted by the barefoot child running toward the minefield of broken glass and hit “yes” instead of “no” and well, what was it you called for?

Getting a hold of me is easiest if you use Facebook messages. Or better yet, just come by. I am here all the time. I don’t leave the house much, mostly because I am a homebody, but also because when one has six kids, one doesn’t get a lot of invites for visiting. Oh, I love to have people over, and I do it all the time. If I don’t, I would never see anybody! And I am not really complaining, though I know it sounds like I am fishing to be invited somewhere. I understand that it is intimidating to ask us over – we must seem like an invading horde or like the clowns in a circus car (“how many people are in that car, anyway?”) as we spill out of our SUV into your clean, quiet, orderly house. And feeding us must scare the daylights out of any hostess. So I just try to keep my house picked up and my bra on in anticipation of drop in guests, but to be safe, maybe you should just expect to find a mess and me in my jammies… just in case.

As a matter of a fact, my house is rarely clean. I didn’t say that I don’t clean, just that it is rarely clean. But, cleaning the house for me looks like this –

Go in kitchen to wash dishes. Find toys all over kitchen floor. Call kids in to pick up toys. Play peacemaker to the bickering about whose toys they are and who put them there. Say in an exasperated voice, “I don’t care whose they are or who put them there. I just want them put away.” Return to the dishes and find that there are no clean dish towels. Go to laundry room to look for a clean towel in the “to be folded” basket and throw in a load of laundry while I am there. Hear the baby waking up from nap. Get her up, change her diaper, nurse her, cuddle and play with her. Smile when I see The Munchkin approaching with a pile of books. “Mama read to me?” she asks in her so cute way. Read a pile of books. All the kids gather round to hear, regardless of age, and I sigh in content as I cozy on the couch with my brood. Then I look up and see all the dishes in the sink. And the toys on the floor. So I do what any good mother would do – I reach for another book.

So parenthood has turned me into an almost-hermit who dwells in a messy house with a bunch of loud kids who only communicates with the outside world through Facebook messages.

And I am totally okay with that.

Dale And Dolly – His Socks 1

Tuesday is Comics Day at Woolandchocolate! 

“Dale and Dolly” is the collaborative work of The Bookworm and I. After I sketch out my idea in goofy little stick figures and scrawled lines of dialog, I hand it over to my twelve year old daughter who works her magic. Her attention to detail and sense of humor make this comic strip what it is and I give her all the credit for this amazing series.  

Two More for the Wardrobe

The sewing machine has been a buzz again and I have two more dresses to show for it.

First up was a kind of personal challenge. I had two yards of jersey knit and I wondered if I could make a dress with it. I had a design in mind and I wanted to be able to nurse The Fraggle while wearing it. I acheived both, but it does require a tank top underneath (I am a modest kind of gal).

This fabric at first did not really do it for me, and I started out using it as a kind of junk fabric to make the pattern with. After it was all figured out my intention was to cut it apart and make the real dress in something more “me”. But, once I put it on I really liked it. I don’t think that I need a pattern to make another one with the originally intended fabric (a lavender and white striped jersey knit). That will be proven (or not) when I next get a sewing bug. I have no pictures of this one, because I can’t find it right now… maybe it is in the laundry? I wear it that much!

The second dress was a variation of the green dress that I made a few weeks ago (blogged here). Using the same pattern, I changed the neckline and the length and fullness of the skirt. This one feels more formal to me and I can’t nurse in it. I guess we will see how much I wear it once The Fraggle is weaned.

This fabric was leftover from a blouse that my grandma made for me when I was a teen (why she had four yards leftover is beyond me. She must have approached fabric purchases the same way that I approach yarn purchases). I was going through the “black” phase, as most teens seem to do and the blouse was a 1990’s fashion wow. I can’t look at this dress and not think of that blouse… and the bangs that I wore with that blouse. In time I hope the negative sentiment fades because I really do like it and I want to wear it. Time will tell.

Oh, and for the bonus, those headbands that I showed you how to make (here)? Yup, I made some for these dresses, too! 🙂

All of this sewing has been very fun, but I am getting frustrated with my lack of knowledge. So far, I have made up each of the patterns that I have sewn, and I have come to the end of that road. So, I just ordered some patterns and some fabric from Etsy so that I can keep going on this quest to fill my closet with handmade clothing. Should be fun.

Tomorrow we will start a new weekly comic strip. The Bookworm and I have been working on it for a few weeks and we are so excited to be putting it on the blog! See you tomorrow!

Letting Go

We all have at least one. I know that I do. It haunts my dreams and lurks in the back of my mind. I tell myself that I will take care of it, but I mostly operate in denial. It holds me back from my full potential and takes up valuable resources. It is time to deal with it. What is this insidious evil lurking in the background of my life? What dark secret am I hiding?

Celandine is it’s name, but yours may go by a different one. A love affair gone wrong, the flames have fizzled, the vision has blurred. I know now that I will never complete this knitting project. It has sat in it’s unfinished state, forgotten and gathering dust, for far too long.

It really is a shame, too, because I had such high hopes for this knit. The silk yarn is amazing (not to mention expensive), the pattern is intriguing, and the color is perfect. I once had visions of wearing this cute little top with my red and white flower print skirt. It was going to be beautiful.

But, reality has to surface eventually, and according to my Ravelry page on this project, I have not touched it in two years (wow! Two years? I started this before I got pregnant with The Fraggle? That is a lifetime ago)! So it is time to let go.

Now comes the tricky part. Frogging. Not my favorite thing to do, but even more so with all these little lace squares. And my heart breaks when I think of all the work that went in to each one. I bought 0000 needles to make them with! But then….

Lightbulb!

Headbands.

Cute, right?

So, I am letting go, but with reservations. And I will wear Celandine in my hair, instead.

Frivolity

It feels good to have some lace on the needles again.

Sure, I always have a lace project in progress (or two…. or three). Alas, the time that is required to concentrate on such complicated frivolities has been quite limited as of late. As in, I’d rather spin. Ha! The lace has been taking up needle space and collecting dust for a few months, now. Untouched, unloved.

Actually, the three lace projects that I currently have on the go have been collecting dust because my knitting has been more utilitarian. I need to make a baby gift for so-and-so. I must finish this sweater for a customer. I should get that test knit finished. And while I would love to while away my time on complicated lace shawls that have no purpose in my life whatsoever, there just aren’t enough hours in my day.

That is why I jumped at the chance to test knit a lace shawl for Cosy. At last, a lacy knit that has a deadline and a reason and a sense of urgency that my other lace projects utterly lack. Besides, look at this shawl that I am testing. Beautiful, right?

And another look:

Mary Louise Shawl in Cosymakes Snapdragon Light Fingering, Red (Raveled here, and Cosy’s finished shawl here)

It feels so good to be working on lace again. And not just because it is so stimulating and interesting. Not only for its delicate beauty or the gorgeous yarn. Not merely for the charm of turning a chart into art. All of that is true, to be sure. But at this moment right now, I am taken with the way an entire large shawl project still fits inside my new knitting bowl. (From Blue Room Pottery on Etsy. A “Happy Nothing Day” gift from the Mother-In-Law from Heaven)

Oh, sweet frivolity!

The Fraggle Turns One – A Retrospective On My Last Birth

This week marks one year since I gave birth to my last baby.

The Fraggle is amazing. God knew that I needed an easy baby this last time around. He blessed me with an eager nursing, long nap taking, not very needy, easy going baby. The Fraggle is responsible for many, many smiles and has caused so much joy in our home.

One Year. The Fraggle is one year. And she is lovely.

In our family we have a tradition. On your birthday, you hear your birth story. It always begins, “______ years ago today…” and what follows is the story of joyous birth. But when I start The Fraggle’s story, I can’t remember joy. I remember this.

One year ago this week, I was in the hospital. It was the last place I wanted or expected to be. Up until that week I had only known easy, peaceful, simple homebirths. But, as I laid in that hospital bed, strapped to monitors and totally exhausted, I was filled with fear, worry, homesickness, disappointment, and stress. With my blood pressure climbing daily and the worries about the baby’s heart and being separated from my five children for days and days, I was a total wreck. Her birth was great as far as hospital births go I suppose, but I wasn’t used to hospital births. Compared to my previous five birth experiences, it was horrible, terrible, awful. A memory that I’d rather not have. An experience not for reliving on special occassions.

But, then I look at this little girl, this amazing blessing, and I wonder if that really matters. Sure it began in turmoil, but the turmoil was temporary, and once she got the “all clear” from the cardiologist and my blood pressure came down, we began a year of bliss. I feel robbed of the blissful experience that I associate with birth, but better and more beautiful experiences followed – an entire year of them. Memories to cherish, documented with pictures, and remembered with joy.

The tears come to my eyes and the disappointment returns to me again as I relive the story of her birth, but The Fraggle is too young to understand what I whisper to her while I hold her tight. I am determined to have a better version to tell her when she can understand. I will find a way to tell the story from a better perspective, when the joys of the years of her life have dimmed the pain of her birth. Just as a mother forgets the pain of labor, so I hope to forget the pains of my heart.

How ungrateful am I to dwell on a painful moment instead of celebrating the weeks and months of bliss? No, I will not do so. I will find the good in her birth and remember that. And where is the good in her birth story? Here. The good is right here.

And today it is right here.

And between those two moments is an entire year of bliss.

Happy Birthday, Little Fraggle! I love you!

(For the full birth story click here)