Monday, March 15, 2010

Being fruitful

Folks around me sure do seem to be fertile these days--there have been half a dozen single births or pregnancies announced among my circle of friends in as many months, plus one set of twins that's still on the way. Whew. It's made for quite a lot of baby knitting, as you can imagine.

For the last couple years, my go-to baby gift has been the Otto bear by Ysolda Teague--it's super-cute, safe for infants, and a fun knit. (For slightly older kids, I've created a sweater for Otto that they can use to practice buttoning and unbuttoning as a step toward learning to dress themselves; click here to download the PDF for free from Ravelry.)

A slightly younger friend from my knitting circle went through the Year of Friends' Weddings in 2009, so HER friend's recent pregnancy announcement is probably the start of a Year of Friends' Babies for her, too. She said if I wanted to come up with a baby blanket pattern for her, she wouldn't mind test-knitting it. At the time, I was finalizing the pattern for the Beverly cardigan, so my first reaction was "Nah, thanks all the same"...but inspiration struck, I swatched, and less than twenty-four hours later I emailed her a draft of the pattern for a leaf-lace baby blanket that echoes, with some improvements, the one I made for my nephew S.T.B. several years ago. Whaddaya know--designers can be fruitful, too! I prototyped this one in two machine-washable sport weight cotton yarns (Simply Cotton and Shine, both from Knit Picks) and the final version of the pattern is being tech-edited as I write this.

The Larkin Blanket (Ravelry details here) is named for the poet and librarian Philip Larkin, whose short poem "This Be The Verse" is, in my own personal opinion, pretty right-on about the unintended consequences of parenting. Its first line alone might be off-putting to many--as might the last line. (And depending on your job, that link might be considered NSFW, too.) Nevertheless, its overall tone of genuinely mixed anger, resignation, compassion, and reconciliation will also remind some people, as it does me, of how they (sometimes) feel about their own parents, and the daunting idea of becoming a parent in your turn.

I think most of my friends would get where I'm coming on this, and not think it's weird to name a baby blanket for the guy who admonishes us "Don't have any kids yourself." It's a cold, hard world out there, one where comfort is going to be hard to come by. For my friends who have decided against following Larkin's advice, and for their new babies, the Larkin blanket represents my hope of making the world just a little warmer, and a little less inhumane.

As for me, I'm switching to bottled water until this all baby-having business blows over.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chiana: The Sweater

Last September, I had the great pleasure of seeing two friends (who are also cherished colleagues of mine from the film archive world) get married at a beautiful site in the Adirondacks. The bride was rowed by her brother across a lake to the ceremony, and the entire wedding party met their canoe at the boathouse and downed a shot of craft bourbon before proceeding up a winding path to the altar. After Chad and Diana (collectively, Chiana) exchanged vows, we milled around in the tree-ringed clearing, drank champagne while the sun set, and got a closer look at Diana's beautiful dress--a vintage Mexican lace find from eBay that fit her perfectly right out of the mailbox.

The marriage of two archivists, let alone two film archivists, is a rare thing, and one that's well worth commemorating. My envy over the dress was also something that needed to be channeled in a more productive way. I can't spend every day trolling eBay for vintage wedding dresses for myself, after all, and even if I found one, what would I do with it? I didn't wear a wedding dress to my OWN wedding, and wearing a wedding dress at any other time is just too too Havisham-y, don't you think?

Hence, the Chiana sweater: Antique-cream cotton yarn in two different lace stitches, with flared hem and sleeves and a deep Edwardian v-neckline with a wide ribbed collar and placket. I'm still looking for just the right tiny little buttons to finish this prototype off, but when it's done I'm hoping it fits the bride as well as her dress did. And when the Chiana pattern's eventually released, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to support film preservation projects, which Chiana will definitely approve of!