Sunday, March 23, 2014

Heirloom Bonnet

My Own Original Pattern - and a work of trial and error at that.

It's been a long time since I've knitted anything out of tiny, #10 cotton crochet thread.  For the past few years I've fallen in love with such a range of fluffy and soft, colorful wools.  And spinning!

It took me awhile to get back in the groove of knitting lace from cotton thread.  My last project was a christening or blessing gown.  It's been three and a half years since I finished my daughter's blessing gown - which I discovered a month ago - still fits her!!  Crazy!  I need to take some pictures of that!

My fingers had some remembering to do.  I started a bonnet, but didn't like my tension, and had to rip and restart it a few times.  Then I got into the groove, and didn't like my pattern.  I decided to bravely create my own pattern- probably a first time for me.  It was a bit scary.

I finished it, and all that was left was to sew one seam up in the spiral back. Hand-sewing is an art unto itself, and a difficult one.  In my woolen knits, seams are easier to hide, but I was so unhappy with my hand seam on this bonnet that I snipped my knot at the bottom in order to rip the seam and sew it again.

Only oops!

I didn't cut my seam.  I cut into my knitting.  Of course, I didn't notice this until I had pulled on the threads for awhile.

I ended up with a big hole.

I had to rip all the way back to my edging and begin again.  Then the thought occured to me, that I could have just knit the back in the round and I'd have avoided that stupid seam in the first place!!!

So, take four or five or six.

I ended up with a better pattern because of my mistakes.  My notes are here in Ravelry but I will probably make another bonnet and write out actual step-by-step directions from my notes.

What I ended up at the end was a shape-less mass of lace.  As always, and most especially with cotton thread, it needed some blocking in order to look good.  Creative blocking can also come in handy, since you are able to somewhat control the size of the item you are making.  I knew when it came off the needles that this bonnet was too big for baby's head.

So, I washed it by hand.  And scary yes, chucked it into the dryer.  It came out great.  Stitches nice and even, and about two sizes smaller than it was before.  I needed to flatten the lace points in the edging, but didn't want to re-wet the whole bonnet and stretch it back out again, so I lightly misted only the lace points, and then pinned it flat to dry.

And Viola!  An heirloom.  My favorite way to give away a lace bonnet is to frame it up as in the top picture. Usually it's not too hard to find a good frame, and the recipient can take it out to use it, and the rest of the time it becomes nursery decor.

I knitted some booties to match.  I figured I'd try my hand at designing my own pattern there too, but alas, that didn't work out, and I followed the directions from a book.  

I love spiral backs in baby bonnets!

And the shadow of lace.  Makes me smile.

Sharing with:

Frontier Dreams Keep Calm Craft On
And Ginny's Yarn Along
And Natural Suburbia's Creative Friday

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


I'm busier than ever.
More tired than ever.
More impatient than ever, to be done with this pregnancy, which has a long way to go yet.
So what do I think is the solution for all this?


That's right, 8 baby chicks in a plastic bin in my kitchen.

Maybe it's the fact that pregnancy does strange things to your brain.
Or the fact that spring fever has hit me like a ton of bricks this year.
Or maybe it's the beautiful farm area we moved to and yet I still have no farm animals.

But whatever it is, I wanted chickens.  Right now, really bad.  This week.

The thought of those pretty blue and brown eggs.
And those clucking, happy birds.
Gathering my own food to feed my family.
And feeling the real ups and downs of farm life.
The experience of it all.

Do I really have time for this?  Uhhhhhh no.
Do I need to be focusing on this?  No.
Do I have a clue what the heck I am doing.  Not really. No.

All I do know is that,

For once,  I'm not focused on the difficult things.
For once, I'm not counting down how many weeks I've left to go before baby comes.
For once, I'm dreaming of spring, and smiling, and holding a miracle of life in my hands.
For once, my kids are enjoying this farm experience, of watching things grow, and wondering about the process of it all.  Where does our food come from?
For once, I have the boy who doesn't sit still ever, but is now sitting and observing chickies for a two-hour stretch, inventing the chicken olympic games, and awarding points for different behaviors.

And another boy, who is checking every 5 minutes to make sure that they are all ok, and have food and water.
Another boy, who is completely comforted by the sounds of these creatures and the feeling they evoke.
And let's face it, I have a toddler I'm trying to keep from squishing them..

But really, it all comes down to this:

For once, I'm not just dreaming.  I'm living it.  For real.  And it feels, really, really, good right now.
No more trips to the farm store just 'to look' at the chicks.  This time I brought them home.  Well I almost did, then I didn't, then I almost did again, then I didn't and then my boys urged me along at the last and then......

Nervous and excited, I took that little cardboard box full of peeping creatures home.
I make no promises for the future.  This may yet be a disaster that we laugh at.  But at least, for now,
I did it!

And though we've tried hard to heed the good advice given to us: NOT to name the chickens,  two names have unfortunately stuck already.  Ninja, for the black chick that was obviously older than the rest and is definitely the boss!  And Mellow Yellow, the runt of the pack that is so calm it falls asleep when you hold it, and when you put it back it lingers on your fingers.

Oh, and by the way,

Nope, no coop ready yet!

Wish my luck on my chicken adventures!

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Roller Coaster That is a Family

This past few months have been so difficult for me.  Health challenges, my own anxieties weighing on me, activities, a busy husband, and kids needing so much from their tired and overwhelmed mama.  Sometimes you just feel like you move from one crisis to another without a break in between.  And all the while looking forward to some balance in your life that doesn't come in nice, neat, even stages as you want it to.

Instead all you get are little moments.

Like when your three-year-old pretends to be a kitten.  How could I have forgotten when my other kids did that??  It's the pretend-to-be-an-animal phase.  So much fun.  And suddenly I get more cooperation from that little kitten that I am patting on the head than the stubborn toddler that preceded her.

And that symphony, oh that sound at night of those croaking frogs out in the pond. My favorite sound.

I have to make a choice.

A choice to cling to those moments, or let myself get completely overwhelmed by the other stuff.

Sometimes I do, truly get overwhelmed instead.

But then I miss more moments.  Because the best ones always come when you are completely overwhelmed.

One of these was last night:

Quite a picture we were (wish someone had taken one). Me, lying on my bed, with one pair of hands on my belly, then another boy coming in, and another. Six hands all over my belly waiting, oh so patiently waiting, for that baby kick that never manages to come while you are waiting. And me, silently listening to the entertaining dialogue of three fascinated boys:

 Did you feel anything?
 Anything yet?
 Wait, I felt something! (Then a frenzy) Where? Where? Where?

Oh those boys of mine.  How I love them so much!!

And how I needed that moment to cling to.