Made by my Village

The phrase “making friends” suddenly strikes me as odd. Are friends a thing you make, like a sock or a pie? If anything, I think I am more made by my friends. They love and challenge and surprise me.

For example, I wrote a couple days ago about how amazed I am when friends reach across long distances to express their care, especially when I have trouble even across town. I’m not exaggerating; most days it’s easier to whip my phone out of my pocket and connect with someone in another hemisphere than to bundle up my family to visit a half mile away. But part of why I moved across the world myself was to get better at that: reaching out across town. And here, I am surrounded by amazing people who are better at that, and they love me anyway, and show me how it’s done.

Two weeks ago, friends gathered to celebrate Baby Ds arrival. It was a great party full of awesome ladies, and D was well and truly showered- especially with DIAPERS! Oh my, cloth diapers. I do love them. I love not having to contribute to our landfill, which is a very big and nasty reality not that far away. And it’s very cool that there’s a cloth diaper store in town called Arctic Cotton, run by a dad who wants to make cloth diapering more accessible and affordable to our town. My friends pulled together to hook us up with a bounty of our favorite kind, the organic cotton prefolds. (With everything I’ve learned about microplastics lately, I love these even more.)

Froggy bum! Such a sweet poo receptacle. D says, “Why yes, mama did make me pose for this picture.”

Anyway I did not begin this post intending to wax rhapsodic about clothing my baby’s bum. Such are the considerations that fill my days, and my fellow war weary mamas understand.

This is nominally a crafting blog, and what I really want to share are all the handmade gifts D was given.*

First off the quilts. Jane made this beautiful piece and free-motion quilted it herself. I can sort of imagine what that means but I don’t really; it sounds difficult. My MIL and I were admiring it and imagining the squares side by side looked like houses.

She made wee matching quilts for the girls to wrap their babies too.

My MIL, whose quilts decorate our house in several rooms, made D her first to be her very own. Do you not love these colors?

I’m still having trouble generally speaking with orange and blue together, but I just love this really red orange, and all the other colors are so fresh and light. Besides which I am very sentimental about all things Maryland since moving away from the US, so I find the crabs and anchors very endearing.

Annie of Monday Nights is another quilter, and made this cozy blanket for D. It’s fleecy, well padded, and sturdy to be a floor mat. All the kids like to play on it now. N in particular has commented on enjoying the colors.

From far away Pittsburgh, D received her very own Barb quilt. They’re thinner and just the right size for snuggling. She’s made one for each child, and they’ve held up admirably despite being intensely loved. Here are all three with their quilts.

My mother made the last blanket I’m going to show you today, but the first one we received. It’s made with several colors of her natural-dyed yarn, with a multi in there just to shake things up. Of course I’m already a fan of my mom’s yarns, but something about this piece – the relaxed gauge and the mix of garter, maybe – makes the most of the drape and weight of this yarn. We cozy up with it a lot.

Have you ever seen a knitted bonnet like this before? D received two: a sweet tiny green one by my friend Atsainaq:

And a terra cotta one, a little bigger, by Hannah.

I’ve never seen this style before but it’s popular up here. Atsainaq and Hannah tend to knit them top down and flat and then sew up the bottom. You need a reliable tied on hat when baby is on your back. And the ruffles… I do rather love ruffles.

And then there’s these wonderful sealskin mitts!

My anaananguaq made them. To Elisapi from Elisapee. They won’t fit her for a bit so I will have to hide them from the big girls. This is such a neat design. Check out the gromets she installed. And the elastic that goes between the layers is very cool. I need to learn how to make these.

Finally, just for D, my dear friend Andrea made this bunny. He is colourful and cheerful and soft and floppy just as a bunny should be. It doesn’t hurt that he reminds me very much of a dear departed pair of handknit socks.

Our baby #3 is blessed with a lot of love. There have been further contributions to her wardrobe from parishioners, friends here, and friends far away. She’s our third, but our first Northern baby, which is its own kind of special. The outpouring of love and gifts and time – we know that handmade gifts are made of time as much as anything else! – is precious. I’m so thankful for our community and the friends we have made, are making, and are being made by. (Oh dear, how’s that for a sentence? Mama needs a nap!)

*Does it seem weird to do a post about gifts? It’s actually part of the culture up here to really show off what you’ve been given. This was super weird for me at first. I’m always kind of awkward about gifts because they feel really personal. But eventually I realized it’s not about me at all; it’s about the kindness of this other person, and celebrating that. I want to celebrate this kind and beautiful person and what they did, and I hope as crafters you are inspired by their work too.

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