Friday, February 4, 2011

Learning new things

Sometimes a new beginning is a chance for us all to learn a new thing.

Take, for instance, babies.

When I was about 14 or 15 years old, the lady I babysat for had her fourth child. At the time, I was pretty attached to her family. The lady was a very kind and patient person, her husband was likewise laid back. They had three kids, an elementary school girl, next a brother then a very shy little sister. I wish I had time to tell you more about little sister. Maybe another day.

Anyway, along comes child number Four. She had the brightest red hair from birth on, pale skin and green-green eyes. I had never met anybody until then with the colorings of 'Anne of Green Gables' before, I thought Anne Shirley's features must have been complete fiction, but little Bea was a Bea-utiful Baby. (Pun intended.) She'd be in her late twenties by now, I hope she still has her red hair.

I was in agony, because I wanted to give something for the baby and I didn't have enough money to get anything I'd want to give. My Mom gave me the fabric to make her a dress. I hadn't ever made a garment except for dolls until that time, so it was a little over my head. The fabric was a mint green dotted-swiss, and I think I did a kelly green ric-rac around parts of it, I don't remember. ALL. BY. HAND. It had a bodice and flounce for the skirt, buttoned in the back.

What I do remember about the project was all that I was beginning to learn about clothing construction. The back of the bodice didn't just have to be the same width as the front, it also had to have extra coverage for the buttons and the matching holes. Sleeve cuffs had to be big enough to get into and so did the neckline. Selvages needed finished or the whole thing would just fall apart in threads.

The really cool thing about making baby clothes is that they will wear anything you make without complaint. Plus you get to learn all kinds of techniques.

Recently I finished a little sweater for Baby Lena. I was frustrated with the pattern search because I would have preferred it to be all in one piece, but such a pattern was not to be found FREE for the weight of yarn I wanted to use, so I had to use what I had. (Because I prefer jumping in and getting going rather than doing math and figuring it out for myself.) I had some pink, which she so richly deserved having been born a girl with a pretty smile, and I got to use up all that I had left of a self striping yarn.

This means that when the project is not all in one piece that your stripes have to match. This one turned out pretty simple to match actually. There were just a couple of spots that the stripes didn't match up exactly but I was able to fudge the seam a little and it came out perfect, even at the front neckline.

The next part to be particular about is making sure the distance from the bottom of the armhole to the shoulder is not too tight that baby's dressing assistant can't assist her arms into the sweater properly. The cuffs can't be too fitted either for the same reason.

And I hope that all the little ones who received sweaters from me before I learned the stretchy cast-off methods will forgive me if the necklines were too tight to squeeze their heads through. Nowadays, I always check to see if the watermelon that came out of mommy will go through my finished necklines.

I delivered it last weekend, I hoped that it was something to be worn on outside expeditions and that's exactly the first thing Lena's mommy said it would be good for.

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