Two days before Naomi’s baptism, her Christening dress looked like this:
Let me back up a little.
I’ve wanted to make Naomi a Christening dress for a while. I couldn’t trace it back to a particular time, but ever since running across a couple traditional Christening dresses in Piecework magazine, I knew that this sort of “masterwork” project was something I wanted to do for this important day in my child’s life.
I don’t know how I found it, but ever since I saw the picture of this pattern, I knew it was what I wanted (picture shamelessly ganked from Ravelry):
The combination of complex lace and garter stitch charmed me to no end, with a simple raglan top, seemed perfect. It became the Aristotelian form of the Christening dress in my mind.
At some point I shared these ambitions with my mother. She looked at the picture and commented, “That’s not a very clear picture, you know.”
Being the good daughter that I am, I ignored her.
Time passed. Naomi was born. My knitting time evaporated. A couple of months went by, and the only knitting time I had was in cars to and from hospitals and doctors’ offices. A little over a month before the baptism was scheduled, I realized I had better get on this.
So I got on ravelry to get the pattern. It turns out that not only is it not available online; it was only published in a now defamed and defunct British knitting magazine. I scoured every single Christening dress pattern on Ravelry, but I had been ruined – no other dress matched the form of the dress that I wanted. I tried to find that Piecework issue that had originally inspired me, and I couldn’t. There was nothing for it; I had had to get this pattern.
In a stroke of brilliance, I looked at other patterns from the same magazine, and found a shawlette that a bunch of people had knitted. I saw a forum where several of them had posted about it, and tagged a whole bunch of them. I was begging – for a copy of the magazine, a scanned copy of just the pattern, anything! And wouldn’t you know, one of these helpful ladies tagged the designer herself. In short order she sent me the original pattern as she sent to the publisher. (Apparently the publisher had mis-printed it and left out a section anyway, so this was even better.) Huzzah!
Here’s the problem. I had both built up this huge ideal of what *the perfect Christening dress* would be like, and it was inspired by that one not-very-clear photo… and the idea had sort of evolved since seeing the photo … and it turns out, I misunderstood the photo. Most of the dress is in fact covered up by the blanket that is part of the set. The skirt is entirely lace, the bodice is stockinette stitch, and there isn’t a bit of garter stitch on the whole thing. It’s still gorgeous… but it wasn’t *the Christening dress* anymore.
So I started adapting.
I started the dress like the start of the blanket, which I had mistakenly thought was the skirt – I just did one repeat of the lace pattern. Okay, I messed about a bit. I added nupps where the pattern had just done twisted stitches, but that’s nothing particularly special if you’ve ever done estonian lace before. And I changed a couple of the decreases that didn’t make sense to me. Because I’ve been around the block, I guess, so I can afford to be fussy.
Then I switched to garter stitch – miles and miles of garter stitch. I wanted it to be more of the traditional length, so I kept going until it looked like the lace would hang below her feet.
Then I thought – it’s May. it’s going to be really hot when she wears this. So instead of doing long sleeves, I cast on as instructed and knit the little lace bit for the cuff, and I designed my own cap sleeves. I was on a total garter stitch jag, so I made the bodice garter stitch too, and instead of raglan decreases I winged some faux-set-in-sleeve decreases. Because, what the hay, while I’m reinventing the wheel, I’m just going to invent a new collar I’ve never done before, a sort of overlapped boat-neck thing inspired by Naomi’s onesies.
I managed to get to Joann’s for the ribbon while we were out on date night, and had to order extra yarn during the last week from Jimmy Beans wool (I used Plymouth Dye for Me Happy Feet – the nicest vanilla yarn I had on hand). I cast off, wove in ends, and blocked it the night before the baptism. I was terrified it wouldn’t dry, but it did, and I sewed the ribbon in place on Pentecost morning.
When Naomi got up from her morning nap, she had no idea what she was in for.
Anglicanism is pretty flexible when it comes to baptizing methods. I’ve always been a fan of dunking, it being in the Bible and all, so when the other family participating in the service wanted to do immersion, we signed right on. In traditional fashion, the baptismal font was at the back of the church near the entrance, representing that this is an entrance into the church family.
Also in traditional fashion, Naomi was stark naked for the baptism itself, and was dunked three times – once for each person of the Trinity. She was understandably shocked, but recovered quickly when Daddy wrapped her in a big fluffy towel afterwards.
The garment was blessed, and it took us a few minutes to get it on her (along with a diaper and a white onesie). But, miracle of miracles, it fit! And once again, in fabric form, I managed to nose my little way into participating in someone else’s big day.
Happy birthday, Naomi. Welcome to the family of God. May you grow to profess the faith that we and your godmother professed for you on that day, and join with us in Christ’s eternal priesthood. We love you, Jesus loves you, God the Father loves you, and the Holy Spirit loves you. And the Triune God wants you to be caught up into their eternal dance of love. Let’s go that way together for a while.