Once upon a time I wanted to submit a knitting story to my favorite knitting podcast and blog. However, I got cold feet or procrastinated…ahem… you will see why that’s a bit of a coincidence in a second. Anyway, I never submitted it, however since yesterday was Ava’s birthday and all, I’ll publish it here once and for all.
This knitting story actually begins long before I started putting stitches onto my needles. It actually begins with a pregnancy test. I found out that I was pregnant the day after Christmas 2008. My husband and I were thrilled, and as any good crafter, my thoughts soon turned to all of the wondrous and plush baby things that I would love to knit for our new baby. We are cloth diaperers, so there were the obligatory wool diaper covers, the cute striped beanie hats, booties with ties, and of course no self respecting knitter would be able to welcome her new baby without the perfect hand knit baby blanket.
I had all of these things already made up in my head, and that’s half way to completion right? RIGHT?!
Well, as I’m sure all of you know, that was most definitely wrong. Especially because this was not my first baby. We also have a lovely daughter who was one and a half at the time. After we returned home from the holidays, I just had to get a few things squared away before I could begin knitting for our new baby. First I had to get over the hump of the first trimester yuckies. I’d never experienced morning sickness before, but hoo boy I made up for it this second pregnancy. I wanted to knit, but I had to hug my toilet instead ::2014 sidenote I now know that what I considered hugging the toilet was actually laying on the couch whining::.
Once the first trimester was over and I was pretty much all well again, I was ready to head to my fabulous local yarn shop…except that I had to look for a new house. You see, looking around me, I couldn’t figure out how we would fit another baby, let alone all the things I was going to knit for said baby in the tiny house that we were renting. So we bought a house.
You might think that at this point in early spring that I was ready to sit down and knit. And you would definitely be wrong about that. Now was time to fix up the house…well, it was time for my husband to fix it up while me and my growing belly chased our daughter around the rental house. Finally we got settled in, and it was nearly June, and I hadn’t yet started on a single project for the baby. So, I headed to the library. Surely I could make myself feel less guilty for not knitting for this baby if I picked out a few patterns. After hours of searching online, flipping through tons of pattern books, and agonizing over what pattern would be simple enough and beautiful enough for my neglected belly bump. I found one. It was perfect. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I’m a bit of a knitting novice. Sure I learned to knit when I was nine, but I mostly made scarves until I was well into my twenties and I started making things for my eldest daughter.
So I finally had a pattern, only….only…only I have no idea what my excuse is, but I didn’t get to the yarn shop until July first. July first…yes, if you’re wondering that was almost exactly 1.5 months before my due date, and I had not made a single thing for this baby, who I knew was not going to come out draped in cashmere. I worried that he or she was really going to have to remain naked forever and resent me for the favoritism that I have shown his or her sister because she already has tons of hand knits.
Luckily, I figured I still had time to make it up to the baby. We had a month and a half to go and I had just bought three skeins of worsted weight Dream in color merino yarn in a gorgeous teal and sea green semi-variegated colorway…I thought any baby boy or girl could be proud of that. I was so excited that I cast-on in the car…which for me was a feat in itself…seeing as how car knitting makes me nauseous and at 7.5 months pregnant, I was lucky to fit myself and the baby between the seat and the dashboard, let alone a pair of knitting needles and my very first attempt at a simple lace pattern. Nevertheless, my blanket started taking shape immediately.
The pattern was for a shell and fan crib blanket, and the variegated quality of the yarn along with it’s colorway and the nature of shell and fan reminded me of waves on the ocean. The grown up version of my baby was really going to appreciate it some day.
I was absolutely determined to finish this blanket by the first day in August (more than two weeks before my estimated due date). That gave me thirty one days to finish it and that meant that if I did one repeat of the pattern every day, then I would get it done a day early. So the first day I get a couple of repeats done, the second day was the same way. I was perfectly on track and even ahead until I got to about day 17. At that point, I would have rather done anything than look at feathers and fans, and the whole oceanic colorway thing was making me sea sick. So I put it down, and decided that maybe half way done was good enough for now.
Putting pressure on myself was not the thing to do…especially since the baby could technically come at any moment. The days passed and then turned into weeks, and the break from those feather and fan repeats did me some good. So I picked up the blanket again with new vigor. I began to make real progress. I was within ten repeats from the end, and my due date was in the next few days.
“Maybe I’ll get this done before the baby comes” I whispered to myself and chuckled. I was positive that the baby would arrive at any moment. The baby won’t really know the difference if he or she gets it a little late. babies don’t even care about that sort of thing. Plus we have plenty of hand me downs….It was all very carefree.
Then my due date came…and went…That flipped a special switch in me. The evenings turned into me writhing around on the couch in discomfort. The nights were worse by far. I had to rise every 20 minutes to go pee….and braxton hicks contractions kept giving me false hope that labor had arrived. At my appointment one week after my due date I confided in my midwife that I was pretty sure that this baby was never coming. She chortled and assured me that nothing was wrong. “Curl up with a nice project” she said. “Live your life, and your baby will come when he’s good and ready”. Fine. I thought. Maybe I really do just need to not think about it. So I tried. That day on the way home I stopped and bought more yarn at the most awesomest, best yarn shop on the planet…But I promised to finish the blanket before starting anything new.
I really tried to not think about when our baby would arrive, but as any woman who has ever been nine+ months pregnant can tell you, it’s next to impossible. So I walked. I walked and walked and tried to shake that baby loose, and when I wasn’t walking that baby blanket stared at me. I would work a knit row, and walk some more, then a purl row followed by more walking, followed by the feather and fan row, at which point I would climb up and down the stairs five times.
I commented half hysterically to my mother that I was sure that the baby was waiting for this blanket. She laughed me off, but don’t ever underestimate the mind of a very pregnant woman. Being rational is not in our repertoire. At two weeks past my due date I was sick of that bleeping blanket again, and I was alternating between napping and crying about what could be taking this baby so long. Another week passed. Another appointment came. More assurances that all was well. I needed to relax.
So I got back to work again. This time I knit straight for almost three days (well, that is in between frequent naps, frequent trips to the restroom, eating 7 meals a day, and chasing an active toddler around… so while knitting did take up much of my waking down time…there really wasn’t much of that to speak of). However, with every stitch that I completed, I was more sure that labor would begin as soon as this thing was bound off. On the third day my hands were flying to finish the garter stitch border, and as I finished the last stitch, I definitely expected to feel a gush of water and have to rush around for the impending delivery.
Sorry to dash anyone’s hopes, but it didn’t happen that way. I finished the bind off and wove in the ends. The blanket was complete, but there was still no baby, and no signs that I was any closer to delivering. I looked at my handy work and realized that it was possibly one of the most exquisite pieces that I’d ever knit, and draping it over my belly, I knew it would be a perfect size for our new gender still unknown baby. I remembered that I knit because I love it, and that the finished project is the reward. And how silly of me to think that all sorts of things would happen if I could just get this one project done.
It was the most relaxed that I had been in weeks. I decided to go ahead and cast on for a matching baby bonnet in the same yarn (this time just for fun). I visited with friends and their newborn son that afternoon. I made dinner for my family that night. It was the most leisurely and fun evening we had had for a couple of months. My husband and I laughed about me setting omens using hand knits, and later we baked cookies as a family of three and washed the dishes together while our baby’s blanket sat finished and folded on our bed, where our daughter was born the next morning.