for the littles

I have to admit that one of the fun things about having a girl is dressing her. Is that sexist of me? It was pretty fun to dress Finn too, actually, though I didn't talk about it as much. But even better than the actual dressing is the making ... baby clothes are just so darn satisfying! Really now, if you have even an inkling of a desire to sew or knit but are intimidated by the whole thing, find yourself a baby who needs something. Simply by virtue of being small, baby clothes are quick and don't take too much material ... which is good, seeing as how they only fit such a short time.
Anyway, I always feel a little shy about showing the things I make here, mainly because it just feels like I'm showing off and who else really cares what over-the-top cuteness I'm sewing for my kids anyway? But since this is as much a record for me of our family's life as it is anything else, I will be shy no longer.
That dress up there, frivolous and unnecessary as it may be for a baby girl who has more clothes than I do (the virtue of having older girl cousins), feels particularly frugal to me since both fabrics came from the stash, as did the piping. The piping actually came from my mom's stash. How frugal is that? Of course, I conveniently ignore the fact that even though the fabrics came from the stash, they were still purchased initially ... although both were from Hong Kong, where fabric is cheap and the time to buy something you like is always now, whether you have a pattern or use in mind or not.
And can you believe the design on that label? What piping would have such design today? The dress pattern is just a copy from a dress she has, and it's a little big, but the idea is that she can wear it as a sundress this summer.
Of course, another reason why I don't post these things very often is that getting a good picture of clothing on children is nigh impossible. I don't feel like my kids are particularly active, but boy, they never do stop moving. Anyway, Finn, not having older boy cousins, isn't nearly as flush with clothing as his sister is, and actually needed some new pants. These were also a trace, made with some lovely bright green flannel that I bought to line his Christmas robe but ended up not using. And I made them extra-long, hoping they might even last until next year. Is that crazy?
And lastly, the handknits ... those striped legwarmers and pixie hat have been worn nearly every day this winter. It's cold down on that floor ... and though she's not crawling very much any more, those little legs still have needed some extra warmth. The pattern is here, and I knit them up in Knitpick's felici sport self-striping yarn. It was a rush, I remember, just barely making it into the stocking at Christmas. But as I said earlier, baby clothes are good like that. Though I have to admit I could very much go for a matching pair for myself, which would take quite a bit longer, I presume. And that adorable pixie hat is my new favorite--essentially just a rectangle, folded and sewn up the back, but oh-so-cute and functional, keeping those ears toasty warm (I used Cascade 128 chunky.)

Making something by hand always feels good, whether it's a halloween costume or a batch of cookies or even fresh orange juice, Finn's feel good accomplishment of the day: "It's my first time making orange juice. I've never done this before!" And while I, of course, have an inclination towards food as my way of loving this little family of mine, there is something about clothing that runs deep as well. Maybe it's all the clothes my mom made for me, all the Easter dresses and Christmas dresses and trips to the fabric store to pick out patterns. Or maybe it's just the dailiness of it, the utter practicality and need of warmth, of coverage. In that way, I suppose, feeding and dressing aren't so far apart--absolutely necessary, both of them. And easy to meet in the simplest of ways (pancakes for supper anyone? At least for Shrove Tuesday we could consider it traditional, not lazy!) but so, so satisfying to add just a little extra: to applique an "F" on a hand-me-down t-shirt, to make a surprise dessert, to add some piping to a simple dress, to put flowers on the table. It's not essential, but it gladdens hearts all the way around. And that, my friends, is worth it.


HK Alphabet :: U

Yes, I'm returning to this series to finish it up. Most of the remaining letters are already written, and inexplicably unfinished or even just unposted. So here we go, returning to June of 2011, when this was actually composed.

U :: Umbrella

Rainy days in Hong Kong can be really rainy. And crowded streets in Hong Kong are really crowded. Put it together, and you get scenes like this:
Though it can be a little dangerous in there--a little crazy--it's also cozy, and I love how people synchronize their movements, raising an umbrella here, holding it close there, all weaving together and avoiding accidents. Watching it--and staying dry!--from the second story of a bus is a great treat of rainy days, all the beautiful colors dancing in a moving canopy.

U :: Under bridge spicy crab
You can hardly tell what's under there, but it is crab. And what's hiding it is the most deliciously obscene amount of fried garlic and chilis (but mostly garlic) that I have ever seen, much less eaten. Needless to say, this is not for the faint of heart. Or maybe it is, because isn't garlic good for the heart? It's certainly not for the faint of nose, anyway. But it is delicious, and so is the crab, though it becomes almost an afterthought to all that perfectly fried garlic. There are a few restaurants that specialize in this dish, also known as "typhoon shelter crab", and they are all located--you guessed it--under a bridge.
We did our best, but couldn't even begin to finish off the garlic.


winter weekend

Digging in the snow, making ice wreaths, knitting in front of the fire, legos, popcorn ... what else should one winter weekend hold?

The weekend has been, and continues to be, lovely, it is true. And I am thankful for the very gifts these days have brought.  But I'm leery of a "today is all there is/seize the day" attitude, because today is not all there is. We live in eternity, but rather than feel panicked by that idea or narrowly focused on some conception of "end times," I feel freed to enjoy this day for what it is; time is made spacious. 
As Ann Voskamp says, "Maybe it isn't so much about carpe diem -- seize the day. Maybe it's about this: God uses the day to seize us. God carpe diems. God seizes the days: God seizes time and uses it as an instrument to transform. God seizes every moment to sculpt souls and shape lives and transform ashes into glory."
God uses every moment. Yes: the beautiful, ice and snow-filled ones, and the harder, headachy, teething, tearful ones. Because those moments were there too, this beautiful weekend. And so, in the variegated, silvery yarn I hold in my lap, in the tears of a child made beautiful in firelight, in the shining of the sun on snow crystals, I catch glimpses of poikilos, that many-colored grace of God, the grace that holds and redeems the gray and brown days as much as the brilliant, light-filled ones. May it be so for us.